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Waiting For Spring
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all;

Well it seems that I have finally managed to sort through the thousands and thousands of potential boats available. I set a budget of $35,000 - $40,000 and that didn't help at all whittle down the selection as I was flooded with C&C's, Cal's, Watkins, Ericson's, Morgan's, Columbia's... I did my research hear and across the internet and since I wanted a blue water cruiser I used the Updated Offshore list here as well as Atom's site to pear down the list. I then used PHRF ratings and reviews to close up the list a little more and cross referenced with the basic equipment and design concerns (Common engine's, keel design, port holes, head setup, cockpit placement...) to pull the list into a final couple boats.

My criteria was a stable and quick single hand blue water cruiser. Something that would be easy to handle myself when needed, stable at sea and able to deal with some weather if needed. Once I narrowed down the choice of boat I could worry about the electronics, ground tackle, rigging's, galley... and after 4 months of comparing and researching I think I have narrowed it down to a pair of boats.

The Bayfield 32C (1981 - 1987) Vs the Niagara 35 (1981 - 1983).

The Niagara is faster not only because of the LWL 26' 9" vs 23' 3" but because from what I can gather it points better and can better take advantage of light airs. The PHRF rating on the Niagara 35 is 159 vs. a 240 on the Bayfield 32C. There is a little more space on the Niagara and it is well laid out. The problems on the Niagara seem to be watching out for some of the older saildrives. It looses points to the Bayfield on Keel design and rudder setup...

I really like the look of the Bayfield as it is a unique boat. They seem to be built to last and to take whatever is thrown at them. I like the sail plan of the Cutter setup as it gives more options depending on conditions. I like the shallow draft, and the full keel will add to stability and keep her pointed easier. The only real draw back I can find on the Bayfield is the speed.

Both boats are readily available in my area and since this is Canada I can find a quality fresh water boat that has been hauled for 6 months out of the year. This will make a great platform to outfit and spend the next 5 years of my life on.

I know that there are other options and since I am not looking to buy for a few more months I might find another boat to add too my short list but I would like some feedback on these two models. Am I missing something on either of these boats that will preclude it from taking me around the world safely and in a bit of comfort? Being a loaded question, is there a boat I should consider in my price range and why would I add it to my list?

Thanks for any info;

Krozet
 

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While I think both boats have their place, for offshore cruising I would take the Niagara in a minute over the Bayfield. I know it was designed and built for off shore sailing. not so sure about the Bayfield. The Niagara is substantially bigger and is very robust, one of my favorite cruising boats.

good Luck
 

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I second what gary said. What makes you think a full keel is more stable? There are many factors that give stability besides keel, such as waterline beam, hull form, allast ratio, type of ballast (lead or iron), depth of ballast being a few. A seaworthy boat should be reasonably fast and thr PHRF on each will give you a clue to that. While of these two I would take the Niagara, there are others that deserve merit. Here are two I found on Yachtworld that I would look at - both in Ontario and within budget.

1984 Sparkman & Stephens H31 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
1982 Contessa 32 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

They both look to be in good shape, are well equipped and the Contessa 32 is renowned for its abilities offshore. The H31 is a S&S design and I think would compare.
Maybe Jeff will chip in - I'm pretty sure he's not a Bayfield fan.
Brian
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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No comparison - the Niagara is the way to go. It is a superior boat in almost every way compared to the Bayfield. The keel/rudder arrangement on the Niagara gives you more control and better handling and the speed difference is huge. I have friends who took a Bayfield 32 to the Caribbean for the winter and ended up having it trucked back to Toronto from Florida because they could not face the ICW with the poor handling and lack of power in the Bayfield.

One significant problem though - with your budget the only Niagaras you are likely to be able to afford are going to be pretty tired. Prime boats are likely to be in the $50k+ range. Later boats may not have saildrives although the option tends to be a V-drive and that has its own problems. I would worry less about the saildrive and more about the fact that some of the early boats are underpowered with a 23 hp engine. For both of these boats make sure your surveyor is good at identifying core damage in the deck. It is very common with balsa-cored decks. A little is not too hard to fix but a lot can be a significant and costly problem.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Of these you might consider the Contessa

1984 Sparkman & Stephens H31 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
1982 Contessa 32 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

They both look to be in good shape, are well equipped and the Contessa 32 is renowned for its abilities offshore. The H31 is a S&S design and I think would compare.

Brian
If you are interested in offshore work I would stay away from the Hughes 31s. They are not particularly well-built and were never intended for offshore. The Contessa might work well but there are a couple of caveats. Many were bought as a hull and deck for owner completion. This can be very good or very bad. Also they are quite trim. I am just under 6' tall and find my head bumping on the deck in most of the interior other than right ont he centerline.
 

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The Contessa 32 in the link was custom built for the owner of JJ Taylor, the Canadian builders of the Contessa 32 & 26, and I don't recall kits ever being available for the 32 or 26.
Brian
 

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Waiting For Spring
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello;

My budget is based on the following:

$35,000 - $40,000 for the boat.
$12,750 for upgrades.
$25,000 left for cruising, this money is set in an investment account with a mix of stock and bonds. The account is yielding 10.5% annually.

The back story in a nut shell is that ever since I was a kid I have always wanted to wake up in exotic places, to learn about weather, the stars and even do battle with mother nature if necessary all from tiller of a sail boat. This past May I took my first sailing lessons (ASA 101, 103, 104, 105 & 106) and I have been hooked. I have spent the last ten years living cautiously and saving my pennies, I am thirty and I am planning to take 5 years off. Maybe 5 years will turn into 10 or 15, who knows.

The Plan is to purchase the boat this winter / next spring and move aboard her. I like my job and have had it for 10 years, I will live on my boat and continue working while taking her out into Lake Ontario next summer / fall whenever I can. If I am comfortable enough, after hurricane season i will head south and spend the winter in the islands. If not I can haul her out and store her for the winter and start the process over again in spring. I can spend winters in the islands for a couple years and sail back to Brockville, Ontario where my parents live in the spring / summer / fall to work and build my cruising kitty if need be. This will give me a few years of ICW sailing and island hopping experience.

I know that there will be people criticizing my decisions because I do not have enough experience but I could spend the next ten years thinking about doing it and finding reasons not to. I am careful by nature and a quick learner, I am very meticulous and always want to know what I am doing before I do it. I love to research and am always learning and most importantly I feel that this is something I want to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
While I think both boats have their place, for offshore cruising I would take the Niagara in a minute over the Bayfield. I know it was designed and built for off shore sailing. not so sure about the Bayfield. The Niagara is substantially bigger and is very robust, one of my favorite cruising boats.

good Luck
Thanks for the feedback. I know the Bayfield is build for blue water cruising but it definatly has it's drawbacks vs. other boats. I have been to see two Bayfields and they seem very sturdy if not a little quarky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I second what gary said. What makes you think a full keel is more stable? There are many factors that give stability besides keel, such as waterline beam, hull form, allast ratio, type of ballast (lead or iron), depth of ballast being a few. A seaworthy boat should be reasonably fast and thr PHRF on each will give you a clue to that. While of these two I would take the Niagara, there are others that deserve merit. Here are two I found on Yachtworld that I would look at - both in Ontario and within budget.

1984 Sparkman & Stephens H31 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
1982 Contessa 32 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

They both look to be in good shape, are well equipped and the Contessa 32 is renowned for its abilities offshore. The H31 is a S&S design and I think would compare.
Maybe Jeff will chip in - I'm pretty sure he's not a Bayfield fan.
Brian
Sorry, I have been doing a lot of reading maybe i got my wires crossed on the Keel. John Vigor's book The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat talks about the advantages of a full keel, I guess I was looking at one component of the whole boat when it comes to Stability.

I have done some digging on the Contessa 32 and they are nice boats. I had not passed on the idea of owning one but was up in the air on it. When push came to shove though the narrow beam dropped it off the final two list. That's not to say I wont fall in love with a Contessa and end up sailing with her. In fact I have seen that boat on Yacht World.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No comparison - the Niagara is the way to go. It is a superior boat in almost every way compared to the Bayfield. The keel/rudder arrangement on the Niagara gives you more control and better handling and the speed difference is huge. I have friends who took a Bayfield 32 to the Caribbean for the winter and ended up having it trucked back to Toronto from Florida because they could not face the ICW with the poor handling and lack of power in the Bayfield.

One significant problem though - with your budget the only Niagaras you are likely to be able to afford are going to be pretty tired. Prime boats are likely to be in the $50k+ range. Later boats may not have saildrives although the option tends to be a V-drive and that has its own problems. I would worry less about the saildrive and more about the fact that some of the early boats are underpowered with a 23 hp engine. For both of these boats make sure your surveyor is good at identifying core damage in the deck. It is very common with balsa-cored decks. A little is not too hard to fix but a lot can be a significant and costly problem.
Hello killarney_sailor;

My hope is to find a solid Niagara without all the bells and whistles. If I am going to spend time on the ICW and Caribbean do I really need solar panels, water makers, radar... I can add these as I need them and when cruising starts to take me farther and farther from easy shores. I have been surprised at the drop in prices though as motivated sellers seem to be lowering the cost across the market. If need be though I could push off launch for a full year and sock away another $12,500 bringing my boat purchasing budget closer to $55,000.

I have noticed that the engine seems to change depending on the seller, everything from a 14HP Volvo to a 50 HP Westerbeke. For the Niagara's displacement of about 7 tonnes and looking at 4 HP per tonne (The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat by John Vigor) I would be looking at a 28 HP or greater engine?
 

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Many years ago, I owned a Bayfield 29 and make no mistake, the Bayfields are seaworthy and they handle well in a blow - the guy I sold it to took it on a world circumnavigation - and, yes, he made it all the way around and came back to Texas. However, the upkeep on all the wood is very time consuming.
I sailed a few times aboard a Niagara 35 that was down the dock from us - nice boat - I'd go with the Niagara.
 

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I for one don't criticize your intentions. I think you can daysail for years and still not be prepared for real offshore sailing. A cruise south harbor hopping and watching weather windows will easen you into it. You will of course have experience in Lake Ontario, a fairly large lake:D .
As far as design, a boat that is not as beamy and fat assed as some will sail better in most cases and gripe less when heeled a bit. The Contessa is a bit less roomy below than other 32' boats, but is a solid boat that can take what comes its way. See "Fastnet 79" by John Rousmaniere - the Contessa 32 was amongst the smallest survivors. Several have circumnavigated as well.
Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Many years ago, I owned a Bayfield 29 and make no mistake, the Bayfields are seaworthy and they handle well in a blow - the guy I sold it to took it on a world circumnavigation - and, yes, he made it all the way around and came back to Texas. However, the upkeep on all the wood is very time consuming.
I sailed a few times aboard a Niagara 35 that was down the dock from us - nice boat - I'd go with the Niagara.
Hello johnshasteen;

The Bayfield 29 was the first boat I considered buying, I almost bought one before I even took my ASA courses in the Virgin Islands. It was everything I wanted plus the unique and roomy head was a plus. Then I got to thinking, with any wave action isn't using a head at the bow of the boat going to be a challenge? Funny images of me being tossed from the head in a storm bounced in my brain for a bit... That is why I started looking at the 32C, good offshore pedigree with a more normal setup below. The 29 carries a nice amount of sail for it's size.

Thanks for the input.
 

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Hello killarney_sailor;

My hope is to find a solid Niagara without all the bells and whistles. If I am going to spend time on the ICW and Caribbean do I really need solar panels, water makers, radar... I can add these as I need them and when cruising starts to take me farther and farther from easy shores. I have been surprised at the drop in prices though as motivated sellers seem to be lowering the cost across the market. If need be though I could push off launch for a full year and sock away another $12,500 bringing my boat purchasing budget closer to $55,000.

I have noticed that the engine seems to change depending on the seller, everything from a 14HP Volvo to a 50 HP Westerbeke. For the Niagara's displacement of about 7 tonnes and looking at 4 HP per tonne (The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat by John Vigor) I would be looking at a 28 HP or greater engine?
Good luck with your search. You never know what you might find if you have cash in hand and the asking prices are only that. You need to check around to find the truly motivated seller. One suggestion, you may find that you get a better deal in an area where a particular boat is less well known. For example, I boat my N35 in Nova Scotia and did much better than if I had bought a similar boat in Ontario where they are much more popular. Hinterhoeller also had a very successful dealer in Essex, CT so there are lots of Niagaras and Nonsuches on Long Island where prices are firmer than elsewhere. It has also been my experience that boats in saltwater locales have had the exposure to salt to consider but have had more money spent on them - eg new engines, upgraded winches and the like. Remember if you are buying a Mark I (Encores are much more expensive) that it is likely more than 25 years old so updated, needed equipment is a real plus and much cheaper to get with the purchase than to put on yourself.

Let me know if I can help you will this in any way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I was really trying to subscribe to the go small, go now philosophy but if I am looking at spending $60k to $70k on my boat it might be a few more years before I can cast off. The other worry was that I was prepared to insure the boat for the first two years as I sailed on the great lakes and get use to the boat but then go sans insurance. If the boat's value was low it would have made no difference but that's a lot of money to be spending on a hole in the water to not insure it.

I was prepared to put in some sweat-equity but if the issue is going to be a wet core well there is very little I can do about that. I knew that the Niagara had a cored hull and was not foolish enough to buy without a survey but it makes sense. If the resale value is high, and I have found some beautiful Niagara's for up to $100k then one selling at $40k must have a reason; motivate seller or not.

Decisions, decisions....
 

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Wet hull core is relatively rare; deck core is common

Niagaras are built with solid glass anywhere a hole needs to go through the boat (eg for thruhulls). The exception to this is on boats with a rub rail. Generally if the cored area has not been compromised it should not be wet. In contrast, there are several dozen holes through the core in the deck. If the bedding has not been looked after here there can be a problem here.

The reasons for the huge price differences include one or more of the following:
- Encore or Mark I design; this is tied to the age of the boat, the Encore model was introduced late in the boat`s run
- sellers not realizing how much the market has changed; if you paid $100k for the boat five years ago and spent quite a bit of money on it since it is hard to accept that your boat is now worth $60k
- fundamental differences in the boat value eg new engine, updated sail wardrobe and electronics
- seller motivation

If don`t want to wait, you might want to go with something like a Contessa (better than the Bayfield in my view). You might also look for two other related boats - Niagara 31 - looks like a 35 but different designer (Frers) and the Aloha 32 (Mark Ellis design - quite like a N35). These boats are not all that common but good boats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Not in a hurry, I wasn't planning on buying a boat for another 5 months. The plan was to buy next February - April. I am just trying to get my head wrapped around the last bit of the detail work. I had not scratched the surface of what could be wrong with a boat, I was going to get a survey done and when the time was closer I was going to start doing more research on what to watch out for. Right now I was just narrowing down what I was looking for. I suppose buying a boat is like nothing else, you really can't do that much research. you can have an idea of what you want but in the end you might be looking for a Niagara and end up on an Aloha, Alberg or even a Grampian (well probably not a Grampian). :p

Maybe its the excitement of it all, I am finding the hardest part of looking to be just not running out and buying something.
 

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Bayfield or Niagara

Hi to all.You all have missed one boat that is better than any of the ones that you have mentioned.It is Alberg 37.More seaworthy than all those otherones put together and on top of that faster too if that is of interest to you.I am a owner and the only reason that I am writing this is because wife and kids changed their minds and the boat is kind of too big for me to sail mostly alone.It is for sale.Location is Bayfield on lake Huron.Dockage is paid for 2010 season at Harbou Lights Marina.Boat is listed on (Deleted as an advertisment which is not permitted by forum rules. JHH)

Hope you read this.All the best.
Good discussions.:D
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I basically agree with the general direction that this discussion has taken (i.e. the Bayfield is a very poor second to the Niagara as an offshore cruiser) but have a couple comments:
-While the Contessa 32 is often cited as a reasonably good offshore cruiser and has a reasonably good track record, the reality is that these boats are very long in the tooth and have a variety of design issues related to rig and hull form that make them less than ideal as distance cruisers that will spend a lot of time offshore. I personally view them as coastal cruisers which can be taken offshore. That said, I would definitely prefer a Contessa 32 to a Bayfield as a blue water cruising boat.

- My assumption about Branko's love of the Alberg 37 is clouded by his desire to sell it. My sense is that it may be faster and more seaworthy than the Bayfield, but would not be faster or more seaworthy than the Niagara or Contessa 32. But more to the point, the hull design and rig proportions make it less suitable to the OP's needs than the boats that he has targeted.

- Having owned one, Grampians do not have the build quality to qualify as a blue water cruiser.

-While Hughes did build some designs that would make a reasonably good blue water cruiser, the Hughes 31 (which began life as as a Columbia Widebody 31) certainly isn't one of them.

Jeff
 
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