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OK I have been looking mainly at Newport/Columbia/Pearson/Catalina sailboats in the 30 to 34 foot range. But 2 more expensive and better built boats have caught my eye and I may try to find the money to get. They are quite different boats, so it may seem strange to look at both, but I am looking into my options. The first boat I am looking at is the mid 80's Beneteau first 345. I like the lay out, and it appears to be well built and has an excellent reputation for good sailing traits but looks are very utilitarian. The other is a late 70's Downeast 32. I really like the traditional looks of the Downeast. I could not find much info here on sailnet on them. There is a good .org site about them, but of course that is all from folks who love them. I am making arrangements to see them both. the Beneteau is close to me, but the Downeast will be a drive to look at.

Here are my goals:

Live aboard on the Hudson river (have slips arranged for summer and winter and is where I happen to currently be working) and possibly move to the RI/CT coast for the next few years to be with my oldest daughter and near some soon to come grandchildren. With some trips to Block Island and Bermuda. Then I want to take off on a couple year solo cruse down the coast and through the canal, possibly leading me to Hawaii, where I have family and a job if I want it. I may actually not wait as long to do the cruise, depending on the situation.(kids that do not live with me) This is why I am starting to think the costal cruisers may not be enough boat for me.

Originally I thought I would get a costal cruiser for a few years then jump up to a Blue water cruiser, but with the economy the way it is there are some good deals out there and I may be better off jumping in and just getting one boat and not stuck trying to sell in 2 years and not able to get out of a boat.

So what do you think, would the First 345 be up to the task? Seems like it would be the better sailor on the river and coastal waters. But the Downeast is so beautiful and appears to be more blue water capable. They are about the same price, both have good diesels and fairly recent electronics and sails and other upgrades. Both will need some minor cosmetic work to get them up to my standard. And of course I will have a survey when I get closer to purchase. What are the advantages of one over the other. I intend to do my own maintenance work, and the amount of bright work on both seems doable. I want to sail, and not be a slave to keeping the boat looking nice, but do love the traditional look of some teak.

The costal cruisers I could pay cash for, but likely would have to get a loan for a couple of years for the First 345 or Downeast, but should be easily doable. I am getting excited about simplifying my life and getting aboard.
 

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As you say, two very different boats.... as a solo voyager I think the 345 could be a handful compared to the surely more sedate DownEaster. It will be interesting for you to compare the interior volume of the two with a view to living aboard. I've always found the Beneteaus to have "nice" layouts but berths that are definitely on the tight side, esp the Vberths as they are pushed so far forward.

Either will likely do for your plans, but my gut reaction to your situation is that the DownEaster may better suit. (on the subject of wood on deck, IIRC the 345 cockpit seating is all teak slats - tough to keep looking nice unless you like the silvery weathered look.)
 

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MiataPaul,
We are very much in the same position. I am also looking at a smaller sail boat between 30-34 ft, and two vessels that have taken my eye are a First 325 and a Cape George. I love both of them and they are poles apart. One has bright work, one does not. One has a full keel and the other does not. One can carry a lot of crap and one can not. I'm in total confusion about it but if I had to pick right now, this instant, I would pick the Bene First 325.

Primarily because I want to sail more & maintain less. I want to use the engine less. I want to encourage myself to keep things light, in order to keep the good sailing characteristics.
I love the feel of a responsive tiller. One thing they do have in common is the tiller. Good luck! It will be interesting to see which one you pick.
 

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The thing that struck me most about the Downeast 32 (after hearing of its displacement) is the tiny cockpit. It's more of a foot well - for two pairs of feet. Obvious blue water benefits here, I'm just sayin'...
 

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Find the right 30ish boat on your first try and you won't have to move up to sail into the blue - especially with some of the prices out there today. We've been everywhere and in some of the worst possible weather in our Bristol 29.9, I assure you that size of boat doesn't matter as much as the quality.
To respond to your first question, I would take the Down East in a heartbeat over any Beni
 

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Some thoughts ....

My father and his wife circumnavigated on a Downeast 38 in the 80s/90s..

1) The tiny cockpit; Really good if you wind up with a wave in the cockpit, as there's not much to drain. They used low beach chairs in the cockpit to sit on.

2) Bowsprit: Are you going to be paying for the extra few feet of the bowsprit in the marina?.. Could get expensive fast.

3) Windows: The Downeast 32, like the 38, has large cabin windows, and they are vulnerable to damage. There has been at least one sinking, when a wave stove a window in. Lots of water came in fast and sunk the boat. My father had a similar experience, but was able to board up the window before dangerous amounts of water wound up below.

4) Due to the full keel, the Downeast 38 is a real bear to back up. He never quite got the hang of it after 15 years on the boat, and usually warped his way off the dock.

5) Loaded down with stuff, his 38 was slow. 4 knots was good. You'll be slower.

I don't mean to be overly negative, and I don't know how applicable this all would be to a 32, but I hope this information is helpful to you.

Best wishes,

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Some thoughts ....

My father and his wife circumnavigated on a Downeast 38 in the 80s/90s..

1) The tiny cockpit; Really good if you wind up with a wave in the cockpit, as there's not much to drain. They used low beach chairs in the cockpit to sit on.

2) Bowsprit: Are you going to be paying for the extra few feet of the bowsprit in the marina?.. Could get expensive fast.

3) Windows: The Downeast 32, like the 38, has large cabin windows, and they are vulnerable to damage. There has been at least one sinking, when a wave stove a window in. Lots of water came in fast and sunk the boat. My father had a similar experience, but was able to board up the window before dangerous amounts of water wound up below.

4) Due to the full keel, the Downeast 38 is a real bear to back up. He never quite got the hang of it after 15 years on the boat, and usually warped his way off the dock.

5) Loaded down with stuff, his 38 was slow. 4 knots was good. You'll be slower.

I don't mean to be overly negative, and I don't know how applicable this all would be to a 32, but I hope this information is helpful to you.

Best wishes,

David
Thanks for some good input. I am a bit worried about number 3, as they are kind of big. I will likely have to look into options for replacement. The rest of the issues are typical of any vessel that is intended for open seas. I think it would end up with a lot of motor usage on the Hudson, but that is to be expected on a river even one as wide as the Hudson. I don't think the bow spirit is nearly as long on the 32 as the 38. it likely brings it up to about he same length as the Bene. Good to hear of a circumnavigation as that is in the back of my mind, but not really something I am thinking about, unless I win the lottery! Got to work to cruse.
 

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He replaced the material in the windows, and how it was framed. I'd be happy to ask him how he did it, if you wish.

David
 

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I have a 86' First 305....and depending what you're looking for...it seems you are looking at two boats that sail quite differently. My boat is very tender and responsive....shockingly so to those on her for the 1st time.

I've been sailing for 10 months and have owned the boat for 9 (crazy math there, I know)...mostly singlehand on Lake MI. The boat has never had one drop of water in the bilge. Not one.

You'd need some good cushions for over the cockpit teak slats...they're not so comfortable.

If you have any specific questions....I'll try to answer.
 

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We've sailed a First 345 on LIS for the past four years. Delightful to sail - points well, very responsive. Seems like it might be a bit tight as a liveaboard and not a lot of storage. If you're still thinking about the 345 send me a note and I can go into more detail on what we've fixed, changed etc.
 

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Middle ground?

Is there a middle ground vessel someone would suggest I consider? I'm in the same situation. The Downeaster sounds great but I fear it will be a drag in the coastal waters and light breeze around Cape Ann, MA. The Beni seems slick (my wife would like it) but I want something that sits in the water better and can handle a blue water passage but still looks good. And something that won't break the bank. Was looking at Cape Dorys and Allied Luders. I'm also looking for something that is manageable solo. I started looking for a Beneteau with a swim platform but am now leaning towards a full keel jobber with blue water credentials. Took a long look at a 69 Cheoy Lee Offshore 31. I know I'm asking a lot but really looking for more excuses to look at other great boats.
 

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Allied boats are go any where boats if they are in good shape.Not that familiar with luders but most have good storage & sail well.marc
 

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We live on our Downeast 32 and find it to sail great (especially with the cutter rig, the previous owner didn't use the staysail but we find it adds 1.5kts to our speed going upwind). Another benefit is that it draws only 4'9" which is helpful for getting into tight anchorages and cool inlets around Casco Bay... And boy, you can't beat the interior volume for length on this boat! It's HUGE inside!!
 
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