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Pearson 323 - suitable bluewater cruiser??

31475 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  jandkellis
Hi all,

I am planning a trip to Bermuda next may/june aboard my 1979 Pearson 323 and I was wondering if that boat is considered an suitable bluewater cruiser. The rigging is in good shape, the diesel runs very well, and the boat is in great condition overall.

This is going to be my first major passage and I''m looking into all aspects of it so I can avoid dissaster while at sea.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

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I can''t say I know much about your specific boat, but it is my understanding that Pearsons don''t suffer from being underbuilt. There are certainly a lot of people out there in older Vanguards and Tritons doing a lot of offshore sailing. A beautiful Vanguard just graced the cover of Cruising World a few months back as a matter of fact. The boat was highly recommended as an affordable / upgradeable offshore cruiser. I own a 1969 Morgan 33, and have the same reservations regarding a "vintage" boat and all, but after studying the boat, talking to other owners, and working hard to upgrade the right systems, I feel confident that it''ll do just fine. If you do the same, I''m sure you''ll find you feel the same way.

Good luck

If you want to see what would make a Bluewater Cruser. Here you can find a template that will give you some numbers. You might even want to download the data base and see if he has done the math on the boat you have.
He has data based over 1600 boats. Check it out you might like it.

Mike, there''s been some other discussion on Pearson 323''s elsewhere on this Board; you probably would find it worthwhile.

Bill Shaw did not endorse the idea of this design family going well offshore. I''ve got a 424, a larger sister to your boat with the same design parameters, and I know of 2 which have circumnavigated. Despite this, I don''t think our boat is truly offshore capable. Having said that, we recently cruised to Trinidad from the Chesapeake and found 323''s all along our (island hopping) route. I''ve seen others in south Florida that came from San Franciso. The main difference is that, given the many sources of wx info these days, you are reasonably certain of the weather you accept when making 2-3 day passages, and all these transits can be broken down into those small chunks. That is not true once you head for Bermuda, e.g. - the voyage is just too long for any wx f''cast to be truly reliable.

I''d encourage you NOT to make your decision based on some design parameter methodology. This issue is not just is the *design* seaworthy, but is the boat built to be so. There''s a huge difference, as I''m sure you can appreciate.

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Pearson 323


I recommend the P-323 for off-shore work. I bought a new one while living in Puerto Rico in the early 80's; she was hill number 201. My wife and I learned to sail aboard her and enjoyed safe, confident and comfortable cruising throughout the Caribbean from PR to St. Maarten and back. She is very stiff and strong assuming good repair and she is comfortable in a seaway. I traded her for a Bristol 40 in 1989 and in the six years I lived aboard that boat in retirement sailing from Maine to the Bahamas, I never felt as comfortable as aboard the 323. I recently bought hull number 51 here in Eastern North Carolina which I have just finished restoring and I am amazed at how well she has held up through the years. This boat has the Atomic four which I would not chose over the Volvo MD 11 C diesel for ocean passages but it will serve me well for coastal cruising.

I would also recommend the bow tank for extra water capacity and a 135% genoa for off-shore vs a 150 genoa. The best upgrade I made on the boat was a three blade Maxprop; it gave the boat an addirional knot of speed under sail and no loss of performance vs. my fixed three blade prop which was originally installed. The Volve with either three blade prop pushed it thorough head seas when necessary with power to spare and would drive her above hull speed on flat water easily.

The boat is very well built and in many cases overbuilt relative to materials and workmanship; she is a solid design with solid construction to which I can attest having maintained and restored two 323's.

In my six years of cruising, I saw several 323's, 365's and 424's with happy owners from Maine to the Bahamas and while the 323 seldom out performed the 424's, it was never overtaken by a 365 under sail.

The one negative of the boat is her behavior at anchor where she sails back and forth significantly; I used a 35 pound CQR as a working anchor and wouldn't recommend anything less given her activoty at anchor.

As you know, she likes a bit of breeze to do her best but she was a delight to sail and did well for me in the Caribbean, the Chesapeake and Long Island/Rhode Island sounds.

If you would like to discuss the boat's suitability for open water further, I can be reached at [email protected] or 252 975 4694.

I'd be happy to further discuss the boat with you,

Jim Ellis (Hull No. 51)
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