The first fiberglass auxiliary sailboats were built in the late 1950s. The burgeoning industry reached full bloom in the early 1970s, but the 1960s saw a rapid increase in the number of builders hoping to cash in on the new miracle material of fiberglass. No seams, no rot, no water absorption...or so we thought. Still, the claims were largely accurate, and even though the ad agencies were quick with hyperbole, the public bought it. By 1961, a handful of European builders were also working with woven glass fibers and polyester resin, laying up hulls in female molds. In Canada, one of the first was Grampian Marine Limited of Oakville, Ontario.
Back in 1965, a St. Petersburg, Florida sailmaker named Charlie Morgan, who had been dabbling with custom racing yacht design and had come up with a remarkable string of winners, started producing a series of small- to medium-sized production boats. Introduced late that year, the Morgan 24 joined the Morgan 30, 34 and 38, becoming an instant success as a fast cruiser and club racer.
The early 1970s was the heyday of the Tartan 30' racer/cruiser. In all, no less than two dozen boats of a similar size and type were introduced in just three years, many of them to become highly successful among sailors eager for the performance and amenities of big boats at a modest price. Among the most noteworthy and enduring of the 30-footers from this era has been the Tartan 30.
The Catalina 25 is not exceptionally fast, stylish, or spacious compared to newer widebody models, and while the construction and workmanship are adequate, they too are not exceptional. But because of the builder's strict adherence to a philosophy of offering a relatively spacious design, relatively well made, at a reasonable price, and backing up the product with generally good customer service, the Catalina 25 has turned out to be one of the most successful small cruising sailboats ever built, with 5,332 boats sold between 1976 and 1990, when the company ceased producing the model as demand tailed off.
This 26-footer is totally unlike familiar racer/cruisers from Pearson, Catalina or Hunter. For openers, it looks like a hot rod. The fine entry of its plumb bow and reverse transom give it a grand prix look, as does its 8' 8" beam. The boat displaces only 2,900 pounds on a 22' 0" waterline. It has a 7/8 rig supported by a pair of swept-back spreaders. Standing rigging is 3/16" wire on the uppers, forestay and lowers, 5/32" on the intermediates and running backstays. Ease of movement along wide decks is assisted by inboard shrouds.
The Pearson 303 is a big 30-footer, intended for safe coastal cruising. She admirably succeeds in doing what she was designed to do. The only risk accrues to those who mistake her for something she is not -- an offshore, passage-making boat. While it’s easy to overlook the Pearson 303 as another member of a fleet that looks depressingly similar and lacking in pizzazz, the 303 is a wholesome family cruiser with a workable, traditional interior, acceptable performance and above average construction. Hey, what’s not to like?
The Hunter 27 is the smallest boat in the Hunter line, which runs up to 43' in length. The Hunter 27 is a popular boat with first-time sailboat buyers, and with small-boat sailors purchasing their first auxiliary cruising boat. Since the boat was introduced in 1975, thousands have been built. Judging from the response of Hunter owners we've talked to, all Hunters, including the 27, are purchased for one reason: price. The Hunter 27 is just about the cheapest diesel-powered 27' cruising boat money can buy.
The Dragonfly 800 comes in two configurations, one for racing and one for what the company calls cruising, which is a misnomer only in that it implies a plodding demeanor, which is hardly the case. The essential difference is a taller mast and Kevlar sails for the racing model.
This fast and handsome cruiser/racer from the 1970s is an excellent example of what made C&C Yachts such a successful company. C&C stands for George Cuthbertson & George Cassian, the design team that, in 1969, joined in partnership with Belleville Marine Yard, Hinterhoeller Ltd. and Bruckmann Manufacturing to form C&C Yachts. The company had a tumultuous history, from growing to capture an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. market during the 1970s, to suffering a devastating fire in 1994 while owned by Hong Kong businessmen Anthony Koo and Frank Chow of Wa Kwang Shipping. Along the way, they built a tremendous number of boats, not only in the racer/cruiser genre that was their mtier, but also the Landfall cruiser line, and a few oddballs such as the 1977 Mega 30 with a retractable fin keel; the Mega 30 and a handful of others simply bombed.
C&C Yachts produced four versions-and nearly 1,000 hulls-of its popular C&C 27 boat. Called the C&C 27 Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, and Mark IV, these boats differed in various ways, but the hulls were similar. A fifth design, the C&C 27 Mark V, was a totally different design. Heres a look at the various editions of the C&C 27, and how they differed from one another.
Last year, we ran a review of a Union 36, and the opening photo of the boat featured a unique folding ladder that I hadnt seen before. The ladder, instead of hanging vertically, folded out at a comfortable angle in a way that seemed-at least in the photo-pretty practical for routine boarding. One problem: the maker-the American Ladder Corp., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., appears to be out of business.