My wife and I are currently looking to take a large step up from an '83 Catalina 22 to a much larger sailboat. The short list is a '86 Catalina 34, '88 Pearson 36-2, '96 Catalina 320 and, of course, an '83 Ericson 38. They are all fairly close in price but the Ericson seems to be the favorite. First of all it has been upgraded and refitted to the max. Almost everything electronic, plumbing, sail/rigging done in the last 2 years. The only negative I can find is I prefer the aft cabin/head layout of the Pearson/Catalinas mentioned but the separate shower of the Ericson sorta makes up for it. Naturally I have a few questions:
1) This Ericson will be moored and has more gear on it than I need for its intended use. I like the size, can live with the layout, but it may be overkill. The intended use is in and around Narragasett Bay, RI. Maybe some trips to nearby Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, etc. but work and money constraints will keep us close for a while. Mostly I expect to day trip, weekend sail around the bay both single handed, and with wife, and naturally groups of friends. Is this much boat overkill for this application?
2) This Ericson has a fin keel with a bulb on each side at the bottom. Draft is about 5' 6" My research indicates that it should either have a shoal keel of 4' 11" or a deep fin keel at 6' 6". As I understand it the keel I describe was installed on much later Ericsons. Was this upgraded? Complete keel replacement or a bolt-on deal?
3) The PHRF rating is quite good. I don't intend on racing however I do sail "hard" and enjoy getting the most out of whatever I am sailing. I am one of the few people that enjoy beating to weather and find it a challenge. So the question is, does the Ericson 38 with this keel do reasonably well to weather?
4) Single handing. I have single handed all sorts of small boats and sailed on many 30+ footers but nothing quite this big. Instinct tells me that if I am smart, conservative and cautious that single handing a 38 shouldn't be too bad. All lines lead to the cockpit so it would seem ready for such use. Not to worry, I have some expert sailors to call on for help so I won't be putting to sea without thorough lessons on this boat.
Any input is appreciated. Thanks, RT