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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Curious to read the reactions. They essentially rip all modern boat designs, stating that the wide beam, shallow bilge, fin keel, spade rudder concept makes for ill-mannered boats. The analysis is relatively technical, and quite interesting.

The net-net is that modern designs make for more weather helm, and less manners in gusts and higher winds.

They don't seem to focus too much on how the newer boats are much faster (though they mention this, it's presented as a negative, cause the ability to go fast means it's harder to sail (?)), the boats tend to be more user friendly from a sail control perspective, and they are a bit more comfortable off the wind.

You can't say the analysis is "wrong" in my opinion, but I definitely got the sense that the author longs for the good old days, everything old is good and anything new-fangled is bad.

Just my sense. I'll be curious to read other's.
 

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I think this POV has been ongoing for over 30 years now.

I've got some Sailing and Sail Magazines ca. 1973-1978 - and there are similar articles about the so-called go fast boats of the mid-late 70's.

At the end of the day, what matters is what where you sail and how often one uses their boat. I'm happy with my fin keel, wide beam, shallow bilge 1985 S2. Serves my purpose, I enjoy time spent day sailing and beer can racing.

To each their own - as long as we have the time to enjoy being on the water.
 

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Did not read article. But I must admit that I agree with much of the sentiment. While I think that there are a lot of attractive features such as water accesable transoms, I cannot offhand think of a current production boat that I would be wanting to buy, even if I had the money. I used to think that I would want a Caliber 40 but I have since changed my mind. I just don't hear about many HunterCatalinaBeneteaus doing trans-Atlantics. I like boats that are moderate in all proportions. I look at new boats at the dock and they seem way to broad on the beam for my thinking. Additionally, I don't feel that a 36 fter with 5.5 ft draft to be shallow draft.
 

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Daniel,

Did you happen to note the author of that article? Also, which issue did it appear in?

I may try to pick up a copy of PS -- I let my subscription lapse many years ago...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Daniel,

Did you happen to note the author of that article? Also, which issue did it appear in?

I may try to pick up a copy of PS -- I let my subscription lapse many years ago...
February 2009. No author. "Per curiam" to us lawyer types, which means no one was brave enough to put their own name on it, so they just leave it with no author. :) I'm just joking; PS often has pieces with no author listed. I'm not sure of the person who actually writes the articles in those situations.

Cam, I don't think they're saying that NO boats being built today are any good. They really are taking a swipe, in my view, at the mainstream production boat builders who are maximizing performance and space, and not paying enough attention to motion underway and stuff like that. It's hard to say they're "wrong," but I suspect they are the same people who said nothing good would come of roller furling jibs, GPS, autopilots, composite sails, electricity, automobiles, the microwave oven, computers, modern medicine, etc.
 

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Assuming Practical Sailing is still in business 20 years from now, they (and most of those who believe that only the old rugged boats of the past are seaworthy) will be trashing the 2029 production models saying that they just don't match up with the rugged seaworthy boats produced in the late 1990's and early 2000's. They'll be recommending that you go off shore in a large Catalina, Beneteau, or Hunter...unless of course, you can afford a Hinkley, Pacific Seacraft or such from the same period. I don't see many boats around today from the 1930's and 1940's or even the 1950's ( I understand they were wood and fiberglass lasts longer....but there are still those who preach the virtures of wood boats, and even a few who still produce them...consider Wooden Boat magazine). Those boats that were built in the late 1960's and 1970's that are so considered to be blue water boats will be a lot older and most will be retired by that time.

I understand that others feel otherwise, but this is my opinion....just don't trash my Catalina, because it'll be a good commodity in the 2029 used market.
 

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Way back in the old days of 1982 when we bought J24 #1 it was bought and USED as a weekend boat for two young couples BECAUSE after suffering through the piss poor sailing performance of a (??? 25) :D

We wanted a boat that COULD sail upwind and it did, you pack some food and drinks and lash some solar showers to the mast and i tell you what it far more comfy than any tent camping we ever did

The original sail plan with TWO reefs in the main and a second tack and clew in the 100% jib that took it down to about 70% allowed the boat to be sailed safe in anything we ever got caught out in


So now it 2009 i have J24 #2 and we DON'T camp anymore BUT the old shoe still sails better than most boats
 

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I have to say I found the article very useful. For you see, I have one the boats they are talking about. For months now I have been wondering what I have been doing wrong sailing my boat in those gusting wind conditions that PS talks about. Well they answered my on going doubts. I for one appreciate PS in-depth articles for us novices out there. As for the debate old vs new, coastal cruiser vs bluewater cruiser, I will leave the discussion for another thread that has been beaten up here many times on Sailnet.
 

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Cam, I don't think they're saying that NO boats being built today are any good. They really are taking a swipe, in my view, at the mainstream production boat builders who are maximizing performance and space, and not paying enough attention to motion underway and stuff like that. It's hard to say they're "wrong," but I suspect they are the same people who said nothing good would come of roller furling jibs, GPS, autopilots, composite sails, electricity, automobiles, the microwave oven, computers, modern medicine, etc.
I take the same swipes every time I go aboard new production boats at the Boat Show. I don't see enough positive lock-downs, backing plates, lee cloths, sea berths, bridge decks, sufficiently high lifelines, sufficiently robust gasketing, sufficient handholds in the cabin, blah blah blah. All of which is fine if the thing's only going out in 10-20 knots 10 to 20 NM off the coast on sunny days.

I know these boats are fast, but they are complicated (too many electricty-only systems, like pumps and winches), too wide and open below for me to feel good about going offshore.

On the other hand, I love and familiarize myself with most of the new nav aids, and the advent of "broadband RADAR", AIS and protocols like NMEA 2000, as well as the improved ability to nab GRIB files offshore via satphone or SSB has made offshore sailing much safer, and are going on our boat in addition to Ashley's Book of Knots and the nautical almanac and the chronometer that needs a key and the lanolin, y'arrrrrrrr....rrrrr...rrrr. :D

The fact is that most people never leave sight of land unless they are crossing a big bay, so they can have floating condos with front-opening refrigerators (what the hell?). The other fact is that a lot of boats never leave the dock.

I like performance cruiser/racers. I own an old one. But I don't propose to take it across the Atlantic, because even if it survived, I would probably arrive with a broken arm, pneumonia and a couple of gashes in my head. And we would have run out of rum!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Come on now, you have to do better than that

I take the same swipes every time I go aboard new production boats at the Boat Show. I don't see enough positive lock-downs, backing plates, lee cloths, sea berths, bridge decks, sufficiently high lifelines, sufficiently robust gasketing, sufficient handholds in the cabin, blah blah blah. All of which is fine if the thing's only going out in 10-20 knots 10 to 20 NM off the coast on sunny days.

I know these boats are fast, but they are complicated (too many electricty-only systems, like pumps and winches), too wide and open below for me to feel good about going offshore.

On the other hand, I love and familiarize myself with most of the new nav aids, and the advent of "broadband RADAR", AIS and protocols like NMEA 2000, as well as the improved ability to nab GRIB files offshore via satphone or SSB has made offshore sailing much safer, and are going on our boat in addition to Ashley's Book of Knots and the nautical almanac and the chronometer that needs a key and the lanolin, y'arrrrrrrr....rrrrr...rrrr. :D

The fact is that most people never leave sight of land unless they are crossing a big bay, so they can have floating condos with front-opening refrigerators (what the hell?). The other fact is that a lot of boats never leave the dock.

I like performance cruiser/racers. I own an old one. But I don't propose to take it across the Atlantic, because even if it survived, I would probably arrive with a broken arm, pneumonia and a couple of gashes in my head. And we would have run out of rum!
My Freedom didn't have the floorboards locked in place with mechanical fastners. Labatt's Passport doesn't have a valve on his below-the-waterline through hull for the bilge pump. Valiants in the 80's blistered. Tartan's in the 2000's crack in half and sink. :eek: I'm not aware of any boat that comes with lee cloths (as if you can't buy or make those after market for virtually nothing, not to mention that complaining about a lack of lee cloths is akin to saying a boat's no good because you don't like the winch handles).

I'm just poking fun (and please don't take this post any other way), but to be serious for a second, your comment epitomizes the point -- for whatever reason, production boats get taken to task for the types of problems that virtually every builder has. Wanna bet that I could go on to any boat at any boat show and find a long list of things that I would consider "not right?"

Oh, and by the way, the PS article had nothing to do with crossing oceans. It was talking about how new boats perform in relatively protected waters during your typical gusty daysail.
 

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Actually, my boat came standard with lee cloths.

I think the Hunter/Bene/Cats are really, really good at their intended purpose. If you need an easily handled 40' that can sleep 3 couples, or a couple with kids and friends, for a weekend somewhere, plus entertain at the dock, these are great boats.

If your intent is to spend a lot of time sailing, and spend some of that offshore, sailing overnight shorthanded, spend weeks at a time at anchor away from docks and harbors, they are long on berths and short on stowage and tankage, and are more sensitive to being overpowered than I care to deal with. But I'm very old school.

The PS guys are old school too, and think of cruising boats as getaway vehicles, Rozinantes to carry them to beaches with fewer footprints.

For this you need stowage and tankage, good seaberths, and easy handling that won't put too much strain on the autopilot.

But the fact is that most people don't have time to use old school boats in an old school way. The large scale manufacturers build boats for the way that most boats are actually used, and that's a good thing.

Think about the guys still building old style boats. The Morris 38, 42, 46 look like 25 year old designs, as do the Pacific Seacrafts. The Hinckley designs are all over 25 years old, as are the Valiants and Shannons. These guys know that a good boat is a good boat, and the nature of wind and sea doesn't change. They're not under pressure to fit another double cabin or a hot tub in a 40'. For people who really know that they want something like that, it's available at a price, but they sure don't build many of them.

I think there will always be a market for a used B-40, because it's pretty and it works, and like a cockroach it will survive the nuclear holocaust.
 

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I read the PS article, and I didn't read it as them claiming old is better than new. I also didn't read it as being about build quality or anything like that, at least not primarily. There were plenty of poorly built and/or designed old boats, and there are plenty of good new ones (and vice versa).

I took the article as pointing out a design trend that has more recently become increasingly pervasive. While that "trend" has been around for a long time (and discussed extensively), the boats we called "wide-beamed" and "flat bottomed" in the 80s were nothing compared to these modern boats. The 80s boats, by comparison, still tend to have less beam aft, and have somewhat more "V" to the hull shapes than the latest modern boats that PS is talking about.

The tendency of boats of particular hull forms to behave in certain ways in the conditions PS mentioned, is fact and science, not opinion. There are exceptions to the rule of course, but there are scientific explanations.

Anyway, my real point was only that I didn't take the article as PS bashing new boats, just pointing out that some of them have some negative characteristics for cruising specifically. I don't think PS was saying this is universal, just a trend. I also think that modern boats offer many advantages over older boats (accomodations, speed, ease of handling, etc.), along with the disadvantages described in the article. And lastly, this is all about trends, not absolutes.
-J
 

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A friend of mine and I were sailing across the bay on his new Hunter and we were discussing that article, and we came to the conclusion that it was a nice day, and we didn't really care what the guys at Practical Sailor thought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think the Hunter/Bene/Cats are really, really good at their intended purpose. If you need an easily handled 40' that can sleep 3 couples, or a couple with kids and friends, for a weekend somewhere, plus entertain at the dock, these are great boats.

If your intent is to spend a lot of time sailing, and spend some of that offshore, sailing overnight shorthanded, spend weeks at a time at anchor away from docks and harbors, they are long on berths and short on stowage and tankage, and are more sensitive to being overpowered than I care to deal with. But I'm very old school.
I can't help but think I'm getting drawn into something here that I probably should avoid. Oh well, no one will ever accuse me of good judgment and restraint. :)

I just can't agree with the above. If your intention is to round the 5 capes, regularly cross oceans, sail the high latitudes, etc., then I certainly would not take a mass produced boat straight from the dealer and head right off (and there are precious few boats I would do that in). But that's a far cry from saying these boats are not suitable for cruising and spending weeks at a time at anchor. There are probably more Beneteaus, Hunters and Catalinas swinging on hooks in the Bahamas than any other boat. Likewise, the Copelands circumnavigated in a Beneteau First 38. The Geissmans cruised long and far on an Out Island 46. Sue and Larry Hamilton went far afield in a stock Beneteau 461. More Beneteaus are in the ARC this year than any other brand. A Beneteau 36.7 just won the Newport-Bermuda Race. I'm sure there are Hunters that have made it out of the channel without sinking, and I bet there's even a Catalina or two that actually come with sails and don't have oversized grills hanging off the back. :p

Do these boats have shortcomings? In the words of one particular Alaskan governor with high ambitions, you betcha! But that doesn't mean they are unsuitable for cruising, and it doesn't mean they can't handle 18 knot gusts without rounding up and falling over.

And Jos, I hear your point on the PS article. But I read somewhere (can't remember where) that the original title for that article originally was going to be something a bit more acerbic towards modern production boats (something like "Production Boat Roundup;" that's not it, but it was something akin to that). I read the article as having an undertone of being critical of these boats. Maybe I'm just too defensive. Why can't everyone leave me and my BendyToy alone!!! :( :( :(

I like PS. I like the publication a lot frankly. They give great information. But usually they review gear, specific boats, and provide results of tests they actually perform. I found it a little surprising that they would devote multiple pages to a critique on modern boats generally, which was not at all based on testing, and which read to me like it was opinion dressed up as science. To be perfectly candid, I found the article a bit disingenuous, particularly considering they've reviewed several of these boats over the years and gave them very positive reviews, including on performance. In connection with helping my buddy in his boat search that I mentioned in another thread, I just read yesterday a PS review of the Beneteau 343, and it was not at all critical of the boat's performance, even though they sailed it (to the contrary, they complimented how she performed). So that's the rub. I thought it was an article that was a bit out of character for a rag that prides itself on reporting the facts, and nothing but the facts.
 

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I read the PS article as bemoaning the current design trend of boats being

basically triangular in plan view, with a sharp, pointy beam and a wider beam carred aft to a wide stern.

The theme I took from the article is that the triangular shape can be fast, offers lots of interior room (particularly for one or two aft cabins), and a scoop stern, all of which many folks like.

However, unlike the last generation of designs where the plan shape was more diamond-like, PS argued the new boats change their underwater shape much more when they heel than more traditional boats, making many of the newer boats harder to sail well when winds vary in force.

I found it to be an interesting article.

I didn't think the PS writers were arguing that old is better, per se. For example, I doubt they favored the IOR rule boats commonly found in the 1970's and 1980's. Many of those were a handful, too, due to designers looking for loopholes in the IOR rule that gave them a favorable rating but not great boats, with their bumped out beams and pinched ends. Many of the CCA design rule boats were slower than they needed to be, wet when sailed into the wind, cramped down below, and hobby horsed in a chop.

Moderation in design and build is what I favor, but I can understand others looking for something else in their boats.

Maybe the only point all designers will agree on is that every yacht design decision is a compromise of one sort or another. As long as the purchaser understands that, and is OK with the compromises his naval architect decided upon, all is well.
 
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