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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I'm new to the site and my husband and I are considering a Bombay 31. We would like to know if anyone has any experience sailing the shoal keel version of this boat. Does anyone have any opinion on the general structural quality and design. We will be sailing coastal Maine and are concerned that the shoal keel may not be up to the job. We are also concerned about the general stability because of the ballast to displacement ratio (3900-12,000).

Any insight into this boat is very welcome.
Thanks,
Redhairgal
 

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Freedom 39
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Welcome to Sailnet. I have had a BC31 for three years. It does not have the shoal keel so I can't really help much in describing those particular sailing attributes, only how one with a standard keel sails.

Our boat is used mainly for day trips in a coastal cruising environment. If you have looked at very many boats in the 30' range than you will have observed that the interior of the BC31 seems enormous in comparison. In exchange for the roominess...it takes some wind to get it moving. This is NOT an easily driven hull. Not much happens under 10kts of wind but it will sail happily with winds into the low 20s before needing to put a reef in the main. The boat does not point well, normally mine tacks around 105 degrees, I would suspect the shoal keel would not do as well. The boat is very forgiving and will track straight for long periods of time with little or no steering input once trimmed. It is very easy to get it in the groove it likes, about 20 degrees of heel which generally will give best speed. The boat is built like a tank with a very thick hull and feels very solid when pounding into waves. I have motorsailed into 35kts of wind with 10' foot steep waves and never felt that boat was in any danger. The PHRF rating is very high in the 230 range but I have found it very easy to sail well beyond this rating and beat most other boats in the few races I have entered it in (three 2nds). When pushed too hard, or when hit by an unexpected gust, nothing happens too fast. The boat will gently round up if left alone. There is ample time to take corrective measures. Short of flying a spinnaker in very bad conditions, I can't imagine getting into any real trouble such as a knockdown or broach. It is easy to sail short handed and I would think it could be a very nice live aboard for a couple.

We just returned from a seven day trip around the BVIs with another couple. It was cozy. For a couple it is very adequate for weeklong trips.

Before purchase I would suggest taking a very good look at the wiring by either a surveyer or a knowledgable electrician. Bombays originally came with unfused switch panels that look just like breaker/fuse panels. Unless it has been rewired I would suggest budgeting some money to update the electrical system.

Of course these boats are around 30 years old and many things need to be inspected as they are near or past their useful life.

The aluminum water tank on mine leaked and had been patched many times. I replaced it with a plastic one.

For the money I have invested in mine compared to the nearly weekly usage, I am very satisfied and have no regrets. If you live in an area with light wind and you intend to sail rather than motor, I would look at something that will perform better in those conditions.

Please send a PM if there is anything else I can help you with. Godd luck.

Bluwateronly also has a Bombay Clipper 31, you may wish to contact him directly.
 

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Telstar 28
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While not familiar with the Bombay 31, I'd highly recommend you read the boat inspection trip tips thread before you go to see the boat. The information in that thread should help you decide whether the boat is worthy of spending the money on a survey and proceeding further or whether you should leave it alone.

Hi,

I'm new to the site and my husband and I are considering a Bombay 31. We would like to know if anyone has any experience sailing the shoal keel version of this boat. Does anyone have any opinion on the general structural quality and design. We will be sailing coastal Maine and are concerned that the shoal keel may not be up to the job. We are also concerned about the general stability because of the ballast to displacement ratio (3900-12,000).

Any insight into this boat is very welcome.
Thanks,
Redhairgal
 

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Discussion Starter #4
FarCry, Thank you for the reply. Your info was useful but I would like to get in touch with someone who has a shoal keel. How do I contact Bluewateronly? I don't see him (?) listed on the members list. The issue of not poiting well is a concern since we have a house on a river where the wind blows right up the river. This requires us to tack many times to get to open water. Regarding the issue of need ing 10 knots to get moving, isn't that a problem with many heavier boats?

Sailingdog, the thread you recommend appears to be very comprehensive. It reminds me of a book we have called Inspecting the Aging Sailboat by Don Casey.
 

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Glad to help... never read the book, but I've recommended it to quite a few people. :) While I recommend getting a survey done, I don't recommend wasting the money on boats that aren't worthy of purchasing. You can do a lot of inspecting yourself using the tips in that thread, and save yourself from wasting surveys on unworthy boats. :)
 

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Freedom 39
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You are welcome. I didn't spell bluwateronly correctly, here is a link that will get you there directly http://www.sailnet.com/forums/members/bluwateronly.html I don't recall if his is shoal draft or not. BC31s are not very common. Here is a link to how Robert Johnson bought the molds when Bombay Clipper went out of business and used them to create the first Island Packet. Good Old Boat - Oct. 2004 Island Packet Interview It will give you some interesting background.

I may have exaggerated a little on the ten knots. But not by much. My sails were new in 2005, still in very good condition, made by Quantum and the genoa is a 150. In other words I carry a lot of sail and generally end up with the motor on in single digit winds unless, for some bizaar reason, the sea is very flat and I am on a reach. At a boat speed of 3kts or less the motor usually gets started because the ride can be very hobby horse like at such low speeds.

In re-reading your original post I would have no concerns over the strength of the boat for any normal coastal cruising circumstances you are likely to encounter including grounding.

The pointing of the boat is what it is. With the boat being so short and beamy the shrouds prevent the jib from coming inboard enough towards the centerline to get close to the wind at all. To get inside the shrouds would require a very small jib. The boat really needs all the power it can get from the front sail. A barber hauler really can't help either. The jib track is as far inboard as possible against the cabin top.

If you need to do a lot of tacking to get to open water, a BC31 will give you a lot of practice. What are you sailing now and what angle does it tack through?

Maybe SD or some of the other knowledgable folks could comment in general how a shoal keel affects upwind performance when compared to a standard keel. What does the seller say about the upwind performance of the boat you are interested in? Can you take it out with the owner and see how it performs before getting too deep into the purchase process?

Good luck and keep us updated on what you decide and why.
 

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Shoal keels generally can't point as well as deeper draft designs, which generally generate more lift. It's a rough generalization, but applies for most boats that were offered in shoal and fin keel designs. In some cases, the shoal draft version of the boat will be a keel/centerboard design to give the shoal draft version decent upwind performance.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you both for all the info. Based on what you have written and what we have gleaned form the internet we have decided to look elsewhere. The boat is in Florida, we're in NY so sailing her is problematic. The owner agrees that she needs some wind to get moving and she doesn' point as well as some other boats. He doesn't find this a problem but he's on the west coast of Fl. where there are't many obstructions like we have in Maine (2 shores, ledges, lobster pots etc.) We now have a Precision 21 which is too tender for our puposes not to mention it has a center board where we really want a full keel for sailing in the waters of the Maine coast. What do you think about cape dories? We're considering a 25D (diesel)?
Redhairgal
 

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Freedom 39
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SD is far more knowledgable than I about boats in general and he will probably respond regarding Cape Dorys. I would suggest you use the search function on this site, if you haven't already. I am sure Cape Dorys have been discussed here before, and then, if you still wish for more information, start a new thread with Cape Dory in the title like you did for Bombay Clipper.

Good luck on your search. Given your circumstances it would seem that there are better choices for you than a BC31. Just don't let SD try and drag you into the "dark side" of sailboats with training hulls like his.:)
 

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Hello Redhairgirl, I think the Bombay Clipper31 is a great boat here's why: The interior has lots of room and is designed well, plenty of headroom, even my tall friends can stand up. The bathroom/shower is really big for a boat this size. I love the way this boat sails it's like being on an aircraft carrier yes, she dosn't point that great but there is always comprimises in boat design. My boat has a modified full keel with a 3.5' draft and let me tell ya it has saved my butt a few times coming into the San Leandro Channel which can get really shallow if you don't watch the tides. I like the fact that it takes a bit of wind to get her going because I sail the San Francisco bay and things can get crazy fast. I like being able to sip a soda when I see other boats reefing and heeling hard and that's when she comes alive. I noticed you decided to look further and I wish you the best of luck on your choice.
 

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I can't begin to tell you how difficult this decision has been. We keep waffling back and forth. I'll tell you more about of the story so you can understand, then I'm going to ask some more questions.
We have a 32 foot Winnebago we've been trying to sell with no takers so I came up with the idea of trying to trade for a boat. We have someone who is very interested, the owner of the BC31. He even said he would give us cash to cover ther difference in value. If we went for this boat we would kill two birds with one stone. Our concerns are the pointing problem which would be frustrating because we have to tack so much getting out of the New Meadows River into the wind but also how easily do these boats resell? No one I've spoken to knows about them except people who own them. The boat is in Florida, you're in Ca and we're in Maine. No one in Maine knows these boats and shallow draft is not necessarily desireable in ME.

So my questions to you are:
How difficult do you think it is to resell this boat? Is there any kind of following?
Given we accept the pointing and light air problems is this a boat you would be comfortable with on a limited blue water trip? We're thinking about sailing from downeast Maine to Nova Scotia.

Are there specific maintenance problems or weak points that should be looked for when inspecting the boat? Leaks, delamination, blistering, rigging weaknesses etc.
Are there any big problems with the weather helm?
 

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Freedom 39
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Our concerns are the pointing problem which would be frustrating because we have to tack so much getting out of the New Meadows River into the wind but also how easily do these boats resell? I don't know how far you need to go down the New Meadows River but there is the iron genny alternative. Five knots is an easy cruise speed with my little QM15, six knots if you are trying to hurry and wish to burn more fuel.


How difficult do you think it is to resell this boat?
BC31s do sell, I bought one, Bluwateronly did as well and you are obviously contemplating it too.;) I have no concern at all about selling mine if that day should come. It is stable, forgiving, easy to sail, has over 6' of headroom and an enormous interior for a 31' foot boat.Yachtworld only has three listed now but last year there were ten or more a lot of the time. I have noticed in the past two years a steady increase in asking price.

Is there any kind of following?
Besides Bluwater, myself and possibly you...not much that I know of. Dare to be different!!!

Given we accept the pointing and light air problems is this a boat you would be comfortable with on a limited blue water trip?
I am not sure what "limited blue water means". My boat was raced a lot before I bought it in all kinds of conditions. All of the chainplates and standing rigging were replaced and are very sound. I have replaced many of the blocks, cam cleats and much of running rigging. I would be comfortable with my boat's integrity in heavy weather far beyond my limited heavy weather sailing skills.:( The worst I have been out in was 30kt winds gusting to over 40 and seas over 10 foot. That was beyond my personal comfort zone, maybe next time I will be more relaxed. That day I had a much more experienced sailor along who was amazed at the way my boat handled the conditions. His current vessel is a 36' well known production brand (that I will not name) and he said it would have been flexing and trembling violently in those conditions when falling off of waves and having many break over the bow. Would I be comfortable in another BC31 or any other 30+ year old boat in the ocean...not until I had spent a lot of time and at least had a rigger go over things. I don't know of any design or structural flaws that exist. Almost any boat of this vintage is going to have some problem areas someplace. Perhaps you could go to the boat buying assistance part of this forum and see if somebody would be willing to look at the boat for you. Depending how it was maintained will make a huge difference on it's value.

We're thinking about sailing from downeast Maine to Nova Scotia.
My lack of knowledge about that area and the typical sea conditions is vast. I did sea the Perfect Storm a few times.

Are there specific maintenance problems or weak points that should be looked for when inspecting the boat?Nothing specific to this model that most other boats of that era will not have. SD's inspection list should cover most things. Weak is not a term that I or the others that have spent time on my boat would probably use. In the 70's fiberglass was still an evolving technology, there is a lot of it thickly applied on a BC31.

Leaks, delamination, blistering, rigging weaknesses etc.
Once again this all goes back to how the boat has been maintained and not really how it was designed or built. My boat has four or so blisters on the keel that I have generally ignored after researching it.

Are there any big problems with the weather helm?
No problems if the sails are trimmed and\or reefed if the conditions require it. I find the boat very easy to trim well enough to be able to walk away from the helm and retrieve a beverage or change CD's down below with the course not veering more than a few degrees.

I am not sure that anyone will be able to help much more. You are considering the purchase of a decades old boat. You or some independent third party, really needs to closely look at the boat in question. I can appreciate your situation but I liken it to asking questions about a '79 chevy Nova that you have only seen pictures of. Could you safely drive it accross the country...maybe. Will it be easy to resell...maybe.

It all goes back to maintenance.
 

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Hello Redhairgirl, sailingdog gave some good advise on a book to get to know what to look for when buying a used boat, trust him he knows his stuff. As far as resale I have no idea with the way the market is today don't think to many people are buying right now however, seems like the Bombay Clippers that I have seen for sale in the past are sold so should say something. The pointing issue is not that big of an issue imho I have had no problems she tacks real easy. Issues with the boat are mostly wiring problems which Farcry also mentioned and I agree. Don't know of any blister problems but should get her hauled out and surveyed to be sure. Make sure the motor is in good shape cause a repower can be very pricey. Don't know what motor is in the one your looking at but, mine is 30hp Watamota Seapanther (Westerbeke L25 diesel) and the parts are available from england and not cheap. How are the sails, furler, rigging etc that stuff can add up real quick. I live on my boat and she has plenty of room for me and my hound. I think the boat can handle bluewater if set up right and sailed right, I have been in some big winds on the bay and the boat did great never felt like she could not handle more. Hope this helps and any chance to go from a land home to one on the water is a no brainer to me;)
 

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One thing about the Cape Dory 25D... it has NO V-BERTH—NONE. It's also got some decent standing room for a 25' boat. The forward part of the boat is taken up with a relatively huge head and a decent anchor chain locker. That said, it's a decent boat, and sails well.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you all for your help and input. we have decided to spend more time researching, looking at boats and hopefully sailing some in the spring. For now we''l stick to our Precision 21.
Redhairgal
 
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