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Thread: Decision time...

  1. #1
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    Decision time...

    We're approaching decision time on a first boat purchase, after nearly a year of searching. I'm pretty sure we'd be most happy with something in the 34-38' range over the long term, but to start with a 27-29' will get us sailing, and learning what we like and don't like in the design.

    In about 5 weeks we're booked for a 7 day training cruise on a Formosa 43, touring Desolation Sound while we both get our ISPA Crew and Day Skipper certification. Soon after that, I'd like to take our new boat into those same waters, and beyond into the Broughtons, so there is little time to waste, and this also means the boat needs to be pretty much ready to sail; no time left for project boats!

    Here's the current short list based on the rather scant listings in Victoria, BC area: (prices in CAD)

    • '74 C&C 35-2, $25K - currently 1st choice but it will probably sell to another buyer who is ahead of us. I'm not waiting to find out if something else suitable comes along.
    • '80 Crown 34 (later known as San Juan 34) - $25K - designed and made in Vancouver, good reputation as a fast, solid boat, but interior layout not quite as functional as C&C. Haven't viewed yet but photos show it in good shape.
    • Two E30+, one Victoria, other in Port Angeles, both around $22K. These may be top of list based on the above two dropping out.
    • '80 C&C 30-1, $23K, very good, almost mint condition. If it weren't for the cramped feeling interior, we might have bought this one already. Everyone raves about how well they sail, so it's still on the list.
    • '73 E29 - $12K - this one just came up, brother of a friend has owned for 28 years, appears very well kept, but spartan (which isn't a bad thing) - tiller model, 3 cyl Beta diesel about 20 years old but looks good, Harken furler, decent canvas dodger, new Origo 3000, but otherwise original, including standing rigging and single life lines. I plan to view this one soon.


    All but the last one represent spending all or most of our $25K initial budget, meaning that the boat should not need anything major (engine, sails, etc) for at least a few years, in theory. The E29 takes us back to our original plan of getting a starter boat around $10K to learn on. If it has good bones, and we are ok with the size and how she sails, then it might even be the boat for several years that takes us to Mexico or beyond. I would be hesitant to spend too much on a boat that will never be worth more than about $15K, although if decide to equip for offshore/extended cruising, then resale is not a big factor.

    We both liked the E29 design, and this one appears to be in much better shape than the two others I've been aboard. Hopefully going aboard her will make the decision clear; if I get a good feeling, we might just go for it. We've also decided that if we get a smaller boat, the search for something larger will continue, just at a less intense pace. If the *perfect* boat appears 2 weeks later, we might have a tough decision to make, but we'll have at least a month of extended sailing in June where we'll be too busy to look at boats!

  2. #2
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    If the E29 shows well, and 'seems' to need no immediate significant $ work, it might be the best way to go, because .... whatever you buy, you'll very soon find things that you decide really need to be fixed/upgraded right away - before you'd feel safe or confident taking on an extended cruise. Your budget will allow you to tackle a couple of those surprises, but buying a boat at the top of your budget may not. I think you're smart considering this first boat to be a stepping stone to one that you'll get later which will be better equipped for extended and distant cruising. Also, starting at a lower purchase price (if you can drive a good deal) means the boat will not depreciate much over the next year or two, and will likely hold its resale value if you do just a few upgrades along the way.
    Good Luck on your inspection.
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  3. #3
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    One factor is that cruising plan.

    If Mexico and beyond is the goal, and not just a maybe-someday-in-some-boat, you will want to replace or upgrade nearly everything on these older boats. It wouldn't be necessary for day sailing or local family cruising, or at least you could put it off. But a long cruise means everything has to work.

    Also, for a long cruise you need satellite gear, self-steering, Jordan drogue, spares and so on, in addition to the boat issues.

    Therefore, oh never mind the "logic": I -- probably not everybody -- decided to look for a boat that was sound (good engine, spars, rudder etc) but with as much worn out replaceables as possible (sails, running rigging, hatches, cushions). Those issues keep sale prices down, and I knew I would replace them anyhow to my taste so the worse they were, the better.

    Also, a 32 is better than a 29 for long cruising shorthanded. I have no trouble singlehanding an E38.

    Reading this, it doesn't seem to be much help. Perhaps the part about the dream cruise. If it's 10 years away, the boat you buy today will probably not be the boat you go in, so the current decision is easier.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Williams View Post
    One factor is that cruising plan.

    If Mexico and beyond is the goal, and not just a maybe-someday-in-some-boat, you will want to replace or upgrade nearly everything on these older boats. It wouldn't be necessary for day sailing or local family cruising, or at least you could put it off. But a long cruise means everything has to work.

    Also, for a long cruise you need satellite gear, self-steering, Jordan drogue, spares and so on, in addition to the boat issues.

    Therefore, oh never mind the "logic": I -- probably not everybody -- decided to look for a boat that was sound (good engine, spars, rudder etc) but with as much worn out replaceables as possible (sails, running rigging, hatches, cushions). Those issues keep sale prices down, and I knew I would replace them anyhow to my taste so the worse they were, the better.

    Also, a 32 is better than a 29 for long cruising shorthanded. I have no trouble singlehanding an E38.

    Reading this, it doesn't seem to be much help. Perhaps the part about the dream cruise. If it's 10 years away, the boat you buy today will probably not be the boat you go in, so the current decision is easier.
    At this point, every response is of help, even if it is to just make me re-think things (although I've been doing a lot of that than I'd like lately...)

    I get your point about nearly everything needing replacement, which is why I've considered carefully any boat in the 20K+ price range, only spending time on those that have recent upgrades that I would consider doing myself either for local or extended cruising. (engine, standing rigging, sails, etc.). The Niagara 35 I looked at last week had everything needed for offshore (2 radars, SSB, liferaft, etc.) and had been everywhere apparently, but a lot of the gear was due for replacement, making it of little use. And the boat itself was pretty rough. Too much time needed just to get her ready for this season of local cruising.

    For boats in the 10K range, I'm mainly looked for serviceable engine and sails, and enough space to cruise locally in reasonable comfort for two, anything else a bonus. A 29, or even a 27, seems to fit the bill here. Of course with the fickle winds we see on the inside passage and gulf islands, a good light air boat, and an engine that won't drive me insane are also factors.

    I'm curious about your comment on the 29 vs 32 for long cruising shorthanded - is this in terms of space, or how they handle? Aside from the U shaped dinette, and better galley layout, I don't see a ton of difference between them, but I've not been aboard a 32. I don't think I can get anything newer than a 32-2 with my budget. One thing I like about the 29 is the large quarter berth, which allows for a good amount of storage for larger items, since we generally won't need it as a berth.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by nquigley View Post
    If the E29 shows well, and 'seems' to need no immediate significant $ work, it might be the best way to go, because .... whatever you buy, you'll very soon find things that you decide really need to be fixed/upgraded right away - before you'd feel safe or confident taking on an extended cruise. Your budget will allow you to tackle a couple of those surprises, but buying a boat at the top of your budget may not. I think you're smart considering this first boat to be a stepping stone to one that you'll get later which will be better equipped for extended and distant cruising. Also, starting at a lower purchase price (if you can drive a good deal) means the boat will not depreciate much over the next year or two, and will likely hold its resale value if you do just a few upgrades along the way.
    Good Luck on your inspection.
    Thanks, the boat does look very good in the photos, so it might make the choice easy if we get a good feel from it. The owner was only thinking of selling, but after I spoke to him, he let me know that he'd reduce the price if I were interested in moving ahead soon. Not sure if they are getting out of sailing, or hoping to move up. He is 6'4" so I can understand moving up! And yes, the resale and reduced costs for an interim boat are a factor - we pay a 12% sales tax on boats, so that's a deterrent for spending $20-25K only to find it's not the right boat, and be out a big chunk on taxes along with likely more in depreciation. The only 29 I've seen in really good shape locally sold for $13K with a spotless and rebuilt A4 engine, wheel steering, and a few nice upgrades, and the later interior. So this boat is probably closer to $10K with tiller, older sails, and 20 year old diesel.

    Our budget is a bit of soft limit - I am prepared to pay more than $25K, maybe 2x more, for the right boat in good shape. But I don't think I'm experienced enough to know what the right boat is, so a $10K boat and some time aboard should help resolve that.

  6. #6
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    What Christian said makes a lot of sense (as usual). A good engine and drive train should win over the entire combination of sails/rigging/galley. Even if all the latter cost about the same as the engine, they are still way way easier to replace, and can be done piece-wise: main this year, jib, next, furler next, etc. so look for good bones. (I'd include the mast and boom as bones, as they are hard to either find or make later).

    Another point I'd consider is the PHRF rating, or equivalent for each boat. It might seem a minor point but it makes a big difference if you're going any distance. You don't have to be a racer to appreciate longer hops when the weather permits. The PHRF rating of 123 for the E35-3 was a strong selling point for me. Mostly the speed is a function of waterline length for boats of the same general configuration. Something to consider.

    Your list
    74 C&C 35-2 - rates 120 that's a fast boat! especially for 1974
    80 Crown 34 - rates 134 (there are a few keel variations I think, not sure which this if for)
    E30-1 - rates 216 1967-1971 : this is pretty slow, slower than a Catalina 27 (PHRF 207) even.
    E30-2 - rates 168 1977-1979 : much better than the -1 speed wise
    80 C&C 30 - rates 174 between the E30-1 and -2
    73 E29 - rates 201 (there's a tall-mast version that's only slightly better at 195)

    So if you compare the CC 35-2 with the E29, there is an 80 second-per-mile difference. Each mile you sail, you'd lose more than a minute to the CC, so at a nice sailing clip you're losing about 7 minutes an hour, or a whole hour over a long day sail. If you're doing day sailing in a bay that performance difference is almost meaningless and the smaller boat will be much less expensive for everything all around. If you're trying to make distance vs. time its a big thing.
    (edit: having thought about this I would ad> if you're really trying to just make distance vs. time then maybe a sailboat is the wrong vehicle!)
    Last edited by debonAir; 04-15-2019 at 02:24 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by debonAir View Post
    What Christian said makes a lot of sense (as usual). A good engine and drive train should win over the entire combination of sails/rigging/galley. Even if all the latter cost about the same as the engine, they are still way way easier to replace, and can be done piece-wise: main this year, jib, next, furler next, etc. so look for good bones. (I'd include the mast and boom as bones, as they are hard to either find or make later).

    Another point I'd consider is the PHRF rating, or equivalent for each boat. It might seem a minor point but it makes a big difference if you're going any distance. You don't have to be a racer to appreciate longer hops when the weather permits. The PHRF rating of 123 for the E35-3 was a strong selling point for me. Mostly the speed is a function of waterline length for boats of the same general configuration. Something to consider.

    Your list
    74 C&C 35-2 - rates 120 that's a fast boat! especially for 1974
    80 Crown 34 - rates 134 (there are a few keel variations I think, not sure which this if for)
    E30-1 - rates 216 1967-1971 : this is pretty slow, slower than a Catalina 27 (PHRF 207) even.
    E30-2 - rates 168 1977-1979 : much better than the -1 speed wise
    80 C&C 30 - rates 174 between the E30-1 and -2
    73 E29 - rates 201 (there's a tall-mast version that's only slightly better at 195)

    So if you compare the CC 35-2 with the E29, there is an 80 second-per-mile difference. Each mile you sail, you'd lose more than a minute to the CC, so at a nice sailing clip you're losing about 7 minutes an hour, or a whole hour over a long day sail. If you're doing day sailing in a bay that performance difference is almost meaningless and the smaller boat will be much less expensive for everything all around. If you're trying to make distance vs. time its a big thing.
    (edit: having thought about this I would ad> if you're really trying to just make distance vs. time then maybe a sailboat is the wrong vehicle!)
    Thanks for the comments; this confirms some of my thinking also. I've been using the PHRF ratings, and also comparing specs of similar boats with the online calculator to get an idea of how they might perform, or what kind of interior space they will have. The C&C 35 is an exceptional boat, and probably their best, especially for a 1969 design. The Mk 2 extended the LWL to over 30' and improved the rudder for even more speed, although the -1 is reportedly still better in light air. I never expected to find one in my price range so had settled on a C&C 30-1 instead, until I came across some Ericsons that I liked. The Crown 34 is not well known outside of the PNW, but is also a very solid boat, and has won the Vic Maui race a few times I believe.

    The lack of speed is a small concern with the E29, although there are lots of boats in the 25-28' range around here (but I suspect that few of them venture beyond Desolation Sound, or even the Gulf Islands).

    btw, I guess PHRF ratings can vary quite a bit. I've been using a table here http://solovalcour.com/doc/PHRF.pdf which shows the 32-2 with an average of 156. Perhaps a typo? Anyway, I've also been using the LWL as a guide when comparing boats of otherwise similar design. By this measure, the C&C 35-2 (and the 80s Ericsons) do quite well compared with most earlier designs.

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    I looked at a couple of C&Cs and really liked the overall design. What struck them from my list was that the ones I was interested in were 30+ year old boats with balsa cored hulls. Unless somebody has put a lot of continuous attention, money, and time in, it is pretty hard to find balsa coring that old with out some wetness somewhere.

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    FWIW, I think the E29 is a great choice for a first boat. I'm still on my first boat (E27). It's a great way to learn, make mistakes, and figure out what you really want to do next. The E29, like my E27 has an encapsulated keel. So no keel bolts to worry about and very little chance of it ever coming off. I am biased about the tiller and vow never to own a boat with a wheel. I love the room it gives in the cockpit, the accessibility to the lines and controls and I love feeling the boat directly. But that's just me. Good luck on you choice. I'm sure you will make it workout.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Kicker View Post
    I looked at a couple of C&Cs and really liked the overall design. What struck them from my list was that the ones I was interested in were 30+ year old boats with balsa cored hulls. Unless somebody has put a lot of continuous attention, money, and time in, it is pretty hard to find balsa coring that old with out some wetness somewhere.
    Yes, this was a concern for me also, and one reason why the 30 and 35-1/2 are on my list, as they do not have cored hulls. IIRC, all the boats below 35 use solid hulls; the 35-3 is cored, but the mk 1 and 2 are not. The Niagaras are also cored, and every one I've seen has seen extensive offshore use, so a careful inspection is definitely a must.

    As for designs, I prefer the 70s C&Cs over Ericsons of the same period, generally speaking, but the 80s Ericsons just seem to get nearly everything right, whereas C&C started to wander in their design goals and outcomes. Ericson has never produced an ugly boat; the same is certainly not true for C&C!

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    Quote Originally Posted by G Kiba View Post
    FWIW, I think the E29 is a great choice for a first boat. I'm still on my first boat (E27). It's a great way to learn, make mistakes, and figure out what you really want to do next. The E29, like my E27 has an encapsulated keel. So no keel bolts to worry about and very little chance of it ever coming off. I am biased about the tiller and vow never to own a boat with a wheel. I love the room it gives in the cockpit, the accessibility to the lines and controls and I love feeling the boat directly. But that's just me. Good luck on you choice. I'm sure you will make it workout.
    Thanks for the feedback. For a while, I was convinced that encapsulated keels were the answer, but discovering that Ericson made the switch with the later boats, along with spending some time on the C&C list convinced me otherwise. I have spoken with several long term C&C owners who have no concerns with keels bolts, even after occasional grounding incidents, and re-torquing is just a standard maintenance item. (as with newer E-boats). One issue with encapsulated keels is the possibility of water intrusion between the lead and the glass if the boat is grounded, and the hollow space at the rear of the keel on the 27/29 could allow water into the boat if damaged.

    I have changed my mind on the tiller vs. wheel debate a few times, but on the early E-boats, the forward tiller placement seems to make some sense as it allows for steering while under the cover of a dodger when the weather is less pleasant. I hope to view the E29 with tiller this week and will spend some time assessing this.

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgwright67 View Post
    Yes, this was a concern for me also, and one reason why the 30 and 35-1/2 are on my list, as they do not have cored hulls. IIRC, all the boats below 35 use solid hulls; the 35-3 is cored, but the mk 1 and 2 are not. The Niagaras are also cored, and every one I've seen has seen extensive offshore use, so a careful inspection is definitely a must.

    As for designs, I prefer the 70s C&Cs over Ericsons of the same period, generally speaking, but the 80s Ericsons just seem to get nearly everything right, whereas C&C started to wander in their design goals and outcomes. Ericson has never produced an ugly boat; the same is certainly not true for C&C!
    Good point about it being some C&Cs and not others. To further complicate things, some were only cored above the water line.

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    Lightbulb Shapes under the water

    As for design... note that in the mid 70's C&C used the "scimitar" rudder (and keel) due to prevailing wisdom that something shaped like the fin of a fish must be fast. Turned out not to be so. At all....

    Bruce King seemed to have a better grasp of the whole foil concept, IMHO. Matter of fact, so did George Hintohoeler, after he left C&C and re-started Hinterhoeler Yachts. The 'fins' on my Niagara 26 were very fast and the rudder was near-neutral.

    Hull material: When shopping I passed on a C&C 32 with a clear demarcation forward on the hull surface where the bow reinforcing of the balsa coring ended on each side.

    While I like the idea of coring to give the hull an "I beam" strength effect, below the waterline this has caused Very Expensive problems for many other-wise decent designs.

    Happy shopping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Kicker View Post
    Good point about it being some C&Cs and not others. To further complicate things, some were only cored above the water line.
    Yes, but there is a wealth of information on the C&C list, similar to this forum (although not nearly as easy to navigate being an old school mailing list!), and with Rob Ball, a past C&C designer as a member, most questions are quickly answered. With C&Cs outnumbering Ericsons by at least 4 to 1 up here, there is lots of local knowledge around also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Beach View Post
    As for design... note that in the mid 70's C&C used the "scimitar" rudder (and keel) due to prevailing wisdom that something shaped like the fin of a fish must be fast. Turned out not to be so. At all....

    Bruce King seemed to have a better grasp of the whole foil concept, IMHO. Matter of fact, so did George Hintohoeler, after he left C&C and re-started Hinterhoeler Yachts. The 'fins' on my Niagara 26 were very fast and the rudder was near-neutral.

    Hull material: When shopping I passed on a C&C 32 with a clear demarcation forward on the hull surface where the bow reinforcing of the balsa coring ended on each side.

    While I like the idea of coring to give the hull an "I beam" strength effect, below the waterline this has caused Very Expensive problems for many other-wise decent designs.

    Happy shopping.

    This is another area where the C&C 35-2 is different - it uses a semi-balanced high aspect ratio rudder unlike the Mk 1 (and some Mk 1s were retro-fitted with it), no coring in the hull, and a LWL of over 30', which was unheard of in '73 for a 35' boat; most 38s were barely 30'. It was also one of very few boats to win races under both IOR and CCA rule. It's a shame that not many were made, and being 45 years old, most are probably pretty tired.

    The C&C 32 is not a cored hull, but what you were probably seeing is the point where the lateral stringers were showing through on the hull, which is apparently common on this model. I witnessed this last week when kayaking alongside a 32 and I could see the outline of stringers on the hull every 16" or so on the mid section of the hull.

    Sorry, don't meant to make this a C&C discussion! One thing which has made an impression on me is the consistency of Ericson's designs, right from the early models up to last ones, and from the 23' up to 41', including the two Ron Holland boats. There is also a clear consistency in execution of their molds and assembly processes which speaks to a high regard for quality control and detail. (ok, so they may have missed a few backing plates and didn't seal every bolt hole, but they're not alone, I'm sure!). I think the only detail I'm not a fan of is the rubber toe rail and cast end caps used on 70s boats, which don't seem to age all that well. I've seen at least one example where the seam was ground flush and painted over (and reinforced on the inside) which looked good. I wonder if a strip of plasteak in place of the rubber would look ok? How often does that rubber actually prevent damage anyway? It seems most damage is usually well below it.

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