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Do you think this boat is up to the tasks i set for it

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You have the absolute wrong boat if you would "like to be able to take a 120 foot breaking wave broadside and survive". My family owned a Contest of the same era as your boat. While Contests were beautifully finished inside, from a build quality standpoint and mopre specifically from a structural viewpoint, they were very poorly engineered and constructed. While some of the built in defects may have been corrected by prior owners, and some of the could be corrected with a massive rebuilding effort, there is no work around for the poor handling characteristics of these boats.

And while this is true of many boats of this era, structurally, the internal framing of the Contests consisted of softwood framing poorly glassed into the hull. These elements included ncluded the tranverse frames which transfered the keel loads out to the hull.

Another questionable structural element was the mast support. On our boat, the mast would compress the deck to the point that if you chose to close the door to the forward cabin, the deck would compress making it impossible re-open the door again until sheets were eased and the point of sail altered sufficiently to take the strain off of the mast support.

Other build quality issues which may have been corrected by now, included a dubious electrical system which would cut out, and short out at random, black iron fuel tanks and iron engine exhaust systems.

During the time that we owned our boat, my father remedied as many of these built-in defects. The rest we lived with.

But the sailing characteristics was the worst thing about these boats. These were early fin keel-spade rudder boats. The hull forms were such that as these boats heeled over, they would jack up out of the water, and suddenly and unpredictably reach a point where they would aerate their rudders and round up without any warning. I have been on other boats with this same issue, but these were the worst that I have ever experienced. In many boats with this problem, there was some kind of clue that this was about to occur, and you would learn to watch for that clue such as limiting the heel to a maximum heel angle that was safe to prevent the round-up. In the case of the Contest in gusty conditions, this happened so suddenly, and without a 'tell', that you could not play the sails quickly enough to prevent the round up, and the round up could be so quick that it can throw you onto the other tack.

In constant wind and wave conditions this was not much of a problem, you could tweak and feather, but in the larger waves encountered offshore, and with the difference in wind strength between the trough and the crest, these boats would quickly wear down a crew.

For that reason, while these boats might make reasonable coastal cruisers, they would be somewhere near the bottom of a list of boats that I would ever think of making an offshore passage in.

Jeff
I"m just wondering Jeff, What boat do you own?
 

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Thanks for your replay Jeff,
All very nice boats! I'm curious as to what you think about some of the better IOR designs. ie, the Contessa 32, the She 31, or the Sea Cracker/Tufglass 33, and the numbers associate with these boats?

~ Curtis
 

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Thanks Jeff,

I am sailing a Rhodes Chesapeake 32. Narrow beam, pinched in ends, but not a fuller bow above the water line. Full keel modified forefoot. I have had the boat, which is beautiful and a good sailor, for years, but painfully slow. I am looking to jump ship to a more modern, faster, roomier/beamier design, but still comfortable and seakindly in a seaway. Preferably with a draft less than 5'. I am planning a trip through the Antiles and down to S.A. Possibly down the east coast of S.A. as well. Mostly "coastal cruising" as I would call it. No crossings, no real long passages.

I was looking at the Contest 31 because I have heard good things about their sea keeping ability, but your comments have caused me to reconsider. I originally asked you what you were sailing to make sure you weren't someone full of book knowledge sailing a Hunter ;) I am not big on the more modern hull designs. I like a bigger fin keel and a skeg hung rudder if I can't have a full keel boat. Would you have suggestions to this kind of cruiser?

Thanks ~ Curtis
 

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Hey Jeff!

Well I just wrote a long email back to you, and my session timed out and I lost it! So I'm gonna keep this one short... sort of.

First of all, Super thanks for all the recommendations, I greatly appreciate them, and don't expect you to answer all these Qs either, you've given me plenty of your time already

The boats I liked the most and knew about some of them quite a bit were the Choy Lee 32, the Gladiateur which I didn't know of but really liked! It's a bit deep for the islands, and the Chesapeake where I will be sailing it during the outfit, but I am going to strongly consider it anyway. I was familiar with the Wauquiez Centurion 31 however.

* The boat I liked the most, and didn't know about, was the Ericson Independence. My Q is, can this boat be safely/practically out fitted with a tiller? A tiller is a very strong consideration for me. I am a highly skilled woodworker and have worked on many boats, so I'm capable of the work. Have you seen one with a tiller? Do you think it's a possibility?

* The other boat I am thinking about, and would like to ask your opinion of, is the NIcholson 31. Obviously a very well thought of boat. I'm assuming faster than the Chesapeake as it's sail area is considerably larger, and the boat is beamier. It does have a longer keel however. What do you think of the ballast to Disp. ratio of this design. About 36%. What do you think of this era/style of boat design in general?

I am very picky, but won't go into the explanations about why I didn't consider some of the others. I should probably just build my own boat. I like wide side decks, a bridge deck is imperative! I like the nav station to face forward or aft, not a beam, and I like the galley to be well arranged with a solid stand and a place to clip in. All these boats share these qualities, and I will be looking for them specifically in my search for my next boat.

Thanks again for your time Jeff,

Best ~ Curtis
 

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Hey Jeff, Thanks for all the info! It's a pleasure to be able to be able to talk with someone who really knows sailing. I hung out with a guy named Greg Forbes for a few years in St. Augustine Fl. He taught me a lot about setting up/what a good cruising boat was. He was in the "Queens Birthday Storm" in a Westsail 32. He now is sailing a Roberts 36 flush raised deck.. though I have no idea where he is. Did you know him?

The Galaxy has quiet the Bridge deck no? Very interesting boats for sure. I'll add them to my list of the contenders,.. which at this point is really only the Ericson 31. Not the cruising 31. I like the galley better, and the port holes rather than the lights in the first 23 models. I think it's a more well rounded boat, with the ability to do shorter passages, but be a great coastal cruiser. I still like the Choy Lee Offshore 32 too, but not as much. I think the two second choices for me would be the Seafarer 34... or the Nic 31, even though it's a slower boat, I know what they're made of, and may be able to get one for a good price that's actually here in the states.

There's a few other boats that intrigued me some time ago, but one in particular was interesting because of the controversy surrounding it. The Carter 33. Every one was talking about the Bal/Disp ratio being low, coupled with the beamy flatter hull. Not great numbers either, and looks like what would be a poor righting ability. But they have some really nice qualities too, including a really well set up interior with lots of space/storage, huge side decks, and nice tight cockpit. Heard of them? I see now the problems with the IOR boats you have been mentioning... but they're always intriguing/appealing to the eye.

Thanks for all the help Jeff, I"ll keep you posted. There happens to be a E31 in Norfolk for a decent price. Needs some interior work, but after 25 years of woodworking, I think I can handle it if the price is right.


~ C
 

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Hey Jeff, I was looking at a Contest 31. I remembered seeing your post on them over the summer, and just went and found it. Not a lot of good things to say about them I see, and things that can really matter in a seaway as well! Can you tell me what make and year the one your Father owned was, and if you know what year Contest/Conyplex may have addressed these issues?

The soft wood for the transverse framing is a particularly disturbing issue!!! The Contest 31 has an encapsulated lead ballast with in integral keel. Are we talking about the same boat here?

You also said in your reply to the original post that they were a fin keel/spade hung rudder, but the 31 is a fin keel/skeg hung rudder. Again I'm wondering if we're talking about the same boat?

Thanks Jeff, hope you're doing well!

Curtis
 

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Hey Gerard!

Thanks for the reply, and the good report on a Contest 31. We did actually buy the boat, and for a song too! She is in reasonably good shape for her age, and neglect. Same yr as yours '72. Hull #15. Mostly cosmetic stuff.

We are currently on the hard with her doing a bit of a refit, but not much at this point, as her engine and tranny run well, and she is totally able to sail. We did a sea trial with her first too, in which she sailed beautifully in 10 to 12knts of wind, with a barnacle laden bottom to boot. Just rewiring the mast, and then set to step the mast in two weeks and splash the following.

It would be great to be able to speak with another Contest 31 owner, as there are plenty of things only pertinent to a Contest that I have Qs about. if you ever had the time and were so inclined, feel free to give me a call. 434-987-5997

Thanks again Gerard!

Best ~ Curtis
S/V Adelie
 
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