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· Old enough to know better
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There are very few 30yr old cruisers that could make upwind VMG better than a properly sailed Nonsuch, and none easier single or doublehanded. They can outpoint any full keel cruising sloop, but I rarely hear anyone say "don't buy a Westsail, they don't sail to windward". If a Nonsuch has one fault for a sailor, it's that they are relatively boring to sail. The old joke is that a racing crew has three people; helmsman, trimmer, & wine steward! Nonsuches have collected enough pickle dishes in whitesail & shorthanded races to prove their sailing abilities. Their rig just sails & trims differently.

They're not a boat for rounding the Horn or exploring the NW Passage, but anywhere you'd take a cruising catamaran you could sail a Nonsuch, and for a couple do it far more cheaply with almost as much interior living space.
Well I can think of no boat that gets discouraging reviews more than the Westsail 32, other than perhaps the McGreggor 26 with the 50 horse outboard. The term "Wet Snail" comes to mind. Most 30 year old cruisers will be fin keel anyway and will obviously point a bit higher given a decent set of sails. But for me it is the potential of dipping that big sail when going down wind (also the best point of sail for the boat) that is most concerning.

I like some of the Cat Ketch rigs like the Freedom and Offshore for sailing simplicity. Gives more choice as to the sail configuration and has smaller easier to manage sails. So there are some boats to compare and the Freedom's are certainly of similar quality build. I think Nonsuch's are lovely boats, I just think some owners are very unrealistic as to what they are worth, and I am seeing them at much more reasonable prices than when this post was started about a year ago. One boat that was listed at 89,000 is still listed (at least as of a month ago) and the last asking price was something like 59,000 certainly more realistic. It looked to be very clean and well maintained but has been for sale for a couple of years now.
 

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But for me it is the potential of dipping that big sail when going down wind (also the best point of sail for the boat) that is most concerning.
For me, the best point of sail is a beam reach. Down wind is easy because I can head DDW or even sail by the lee by at least 15 degrees because I can let the sail out more than 90 degrees.

I don't think that dipping the sail is a big concern in most conditions. There is a way to minimize the possibility, however. Just do a "half-reef"--that is, reef the clew but not the tack.

And $89K for a 30 is just crazy talk. More in line if it's a nice 33 or an average 36.
 

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Yeah I saw a 30U that was going for stupid money, a 30 Classic will be down around $30-$40k. Which is where you'll find a decent Niagara 35, Hinterhoeller's sloop.
They just made solid above average boats that hold their value unless a PO has buggered them up.

There's a Nonsuch 30C going for $10k, mostly because a PO sunk a through hull where he shouldn't & rotted the hull core.
 

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I sailed a nunsuch back to ct from block island.

This particular model, somewhere around 36', If i remember right had the end of the boom right over the helmsmans head.

It was not safe to motor sail because the wind was veering too often to dead ahead and we were motoring.

With the sail up and the sheet tight the bendy mast would allow the end of the boom to bounce much too close to my head.
 

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Davidpm, that boat was not rigged correctly. I had a 30 and the end of the boom was never close to my head. If you were motoring you could have raised the topping lift. When you are sailing the sail holds the end of the boom even higher than the topping lift level.
 

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High quality, decent performance, simplicity and huge accommodations for a given length make this a pretty appealing package. The only downside seems to be sail plan flexibility.

Has JeffH weighed in on the nonsuch?
 

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High quality, decent performance, simplicity and huge accommodations for a given length make this a pretty appealing package. The only downside seems to be sail plan flexibility.

Has JeffH weighed in on the nonsuch?
One of the great things about the Nonsuch is it only has only one sail to deal with. One of the bad things is it has only one sail! :) As the marine architect who turned me onto the Nonsuch said it is sailing simplicity. My sail has provisions for three reefs though I only have rigged two and I can do all reefing from the cockpit. Some days while sitting in the cockpit nursing a boat drink I contemplate how I could rig up an emergency sail. Since the mast is unstayed and is essentially a big round stick it looks like it would be fairly easy to rig up. I may try it one day if I get ambitious enough. Though I doubt I ever need it considering my current sailing plans.
 

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One of the great things about the Nonsuch is it only has only one sail to deal with. One of the bad things is it has only one sail! :) As the marine architect who turned me onto the Nonsuch said it is sailing simplicity. My sail has provisions for three reefs though I only have rigged two and I can do all reefing from the cockpit. Some days while sitting in the cockpit nursing a boat drink I contemplate how I could rig up an emergency sail. Since the mast is unstayed and is essentially a big round stick it looks like it would be fairly easy to rig up. I may try it one day if I get ambitious enough. Though I doubt I ever need it considering my current sailing plans.
How does reefing effect balance? By the 2nd or 3rd reef the center of effort has been moved significantly forward.

And any storm sail smaller than that would push it even farther forward risking significant lee helm.
 

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How does reefing affect balance? By the 2nd or 3rd reef the center of effort has been moved significantly forward.

And any storm sail smaller than that would push it even farther forward risking significant lee helm.
I've not sailed a nonsuch, but I have to think that its cat rigged sail is cut to accommodate a reefing.

However, I'm inclined to agree that a storm sail would seem to present a problem. I just don't think Nonsuchs were design for conditions that would necessitate a storm sail. Noting, those conditions are quite infrequent, which doesn't much limit a Nonsuch's coastal cruising capability.
 

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High quality, decent performance, simplicity and huge accommodations for a given length make this a pretty appealing package. The only downside seems to be sail plan flexibility.

Has JeffH weighed in on the nonsuch?
I have weighed in on the Nonsuch in some past discussions. My point of view is similar to your own. I strongly believe that Ellis did a miraculous job designing these boats, and Hinterhoeller did a great job building them. I have always been impressed on how well they sail, especially to windward which is thought to be their worst point of sail, and in light air. In most regards they strike me as being better sailing boats than most coastal cruisers.

The issue of weather helm or lee helm when reefed is not as bad as most folks assume. The wishbone boom allows the sail to be bladed out fairly easily in that tightening the outhaul with geometry of the the wishbone, allows the boom to act as if you are 'vang sheeting' and the tapered spar is somewhat self-depowering as the wind starts to build.

I understand from Nonsuch owners, that by the time that reefing becomes a good idea, there is enough weather helm due to hull geometry and heel asymmetry, that moving the lead forward actually balances the helm nicely. (I have not experienced that myself so that is strictly second hand.)

I do have some reservations when it comes to the Nonsuch as an offshore distant voyager. I think that they would be fine making passages to the Bahamas and down through the Caribbean. But when it comes to ocean crossings, as a personal preference, (that admittedly maybe a personal bias) I would want the ability to fly a storm jib and storm trisail and heave-to to wait things out if things got ugly for any length of time. I can't imagine how you would do that in a Nonsuch, (which should not be interpreted as me saying that I have the experience with these boats to know whether there would actually be a problem heaving-to in these conditions).

For me they are a great boat for someone with limited sailing abilities (either physical or experiencial) because the self depowering aspects of the sail will help keep them out of trouble in gusty conditions.

As to the prices these boats demand, I can't say whether they are fair or not, but I would say that these are unique boats in many ways which includes that were very well constructed, offer a lot of interior volume, sail well and are generally good all around boats. As a practical reality, there were a limited number of these boats built, and so it does not surprise me that the prices for a Nonsuch may have be bid up some by the demand vs. supply. Obviously, they are perceived as being worth it to the folks who pony up and buy them. I think that is what counts. It does not matter what the rest of us think.

Jeff
 

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I've not sailed a nonsuch, but I have to think that its cat rigged sail is cut to accommodate a reefing.

However, I'm inclined to agree that a storm sail would seem to present a problem. I just don't think Nonsuchs were design for conditions that would necessitate a storm sail. Noting, those conditions are quite infrequent, which doesn't much limit a Nonsuch's coastal cruising capability.
I've have sailed double reefed in near gale conditions and the boat behaved well. Like any boat you have to get to know it's tendencies. That said the 52 foot mast up forward does tend to make the bow fall off. Which may be useful if one were to employ a sea anchor technique ala Lin and Larry Pardy's recommendation in Storm Tactics. Not that I plan on trying that anytime soon. :)
As far balancing the sail effort. Since the Nonsuch is so different from other boats use of a Storm Sail might have to be rigged differently too. With the mast up forward. My feeling is that a storm sail might have to be rigged more toward the back of the boom not at the mast. This to compensate for the bow mast windage . What size it would have to be is just a guess on my part. I'm thinking 50 sq feet. But, again I don't ever plan on being out in conditions where I would need to test this theory. :)
 

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The prices between Nonsuches & Niagara's are fairly comparable, Hinterhoeller just knew & cared about building top shelf boats. Even his smaller solid glass sloops have held their value.

They did build 600+ Nonsuch, so they're not exactly rare. Hell they're still being built on a semi-custom basis. How many other 30yr old cruising boats are still having new builds commissioned?
 
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