Express 34, Hobie 33, Olson 34

Compared to conventional productions boats of the mid-1980s, the Express 34 and Olson 34 were lighter and faster, but still suitable for distance cruising. The Hobie 33, though most suitable for camper-crusing, was designed to be fast yet trailerable and capable of blue-water sailing.

The Allmand Sail 31

We were somewhat surpised, and impressed by the number of people living aboard the Allmand 31. For her size, she certainly does offer much space below and in the cockpit (one owner said shell easily sit six or seven in the T-shaped cockpit).The wide beam gives her a good deal of initial stability, though this is not the kind of hull form that you want to capsize as inverse stability will be greater than on a narrower boat (and one with a deeper keel).

Three Big-Three 30s – The Beneteau 311, Catalina 310 and Hunter 326

Our review of "entry-level cruising boats" - We chose the Beneteau 311, Catalina 310, and Hunter 326. They seemed to match well in terms of size, sail area, ease of operation, accommodations, and price. Dimensions are comparable, as are working spaces on the deck, the type and arrangement of gear, cockpit size, and space and furnishings below. All are equipped with a suit of sails and headsail furlers.

Hans Christian 34/36

Hans Christian 34/36 - While not a good boat for the weekend coastal cruiser, or for anyone who does much sailing in light-to-moderate air, this is an excellent choice for the serious blue-water sailor. This is a boat that will take you offshore to Bermuda or just about anywhere and will stand up to a gale. The 34/36 won't get you there fast, but it will get you there safely.

The PDQ 32: A Comfortable Cruising Cat

PDQ Yachts in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, launched the Alan Slater-designed PDQ 32 catamaran in 1994 and built 53 of the boats in the following eight years. Practical Sailor first reviewed the PDQ 32 catamaran in April 1997, which happened to be when the test boat for this review update rolled off the production line. Heres a look at what testers have learned from coastal cruising this boat for 18 years and from other owners who live aboard.

PDQ: Rugged Quality

The PDQ 32 is laminated using a modified epoxy resin (AME 5000). Tri-axial knitted fiberglass fabrics are used in the hull and deck. The mast is supported by a carbon-fiber reinforced deck beam. The hulls are solid fiberglass below the waterline and cored with Klegecell foam above the waterline, an arrangement that has proven very durable. Owners have not reported problems with blisters or structural cracking, only limited gelcoat crazing in highly stressed corners. Another PDQ 32 we inspected showed numerous construction shortfalls, including delamination and poor resin wet out, so a thorough survey of any used boat is important.

The Dual-Purpose C&C 33 Mark II

When the C&C company shut down operations in 1986, it was big news in the North American boating community. Since the companys formation in 1969, it had been a stalwart of the industry-the leading Canadian builder, by far, and one of the major brands wherever fiberglass sailboats raced or cruised.

Living Small on the Big Sea

Readers familiar with the work of William Crealock-the renowned designer of the Crealock 37, the Cabo Rico 34, the Dana 24, and at least 30 other production-built vessels-understand that his designs are steeped in practicality. Crealock famously wrote: Seaworthiness in a cruising boat has to be the No. 1 consideration. It doesnt matter how cute the boat is if it doesnt get [to the destination] in one piece. And those familiar with his life are aware that his knowledge of sailing wasnt just grounded in the study of design, but also in extensive hands-on experience at sea-an imperative for any designer of boats intended for offshore.

Hand Laid in the USA

Workers at Pacific Seacraft laminate these hulls by hand, using vinylester resin and layers of biaxial fiberglass laid at 45- and 90-degree axes for enhanced multidirectional strength. The decks are cored with balsa wood except for those areas where fasteners pierce through or fixtures are mounted; those spots are cored with either marine plywood, high-density foam, or solid fiberglass. The two-tone deck is accomplished by masking off the nonskid areas in the mold prior to gelcoat application. This yields a very durable surface.

The Catalina 34, 30 Years Later

American sailboat manufacturers have had their highs and lows, and many have dropped right off the map, but Catalina has been going strong for more than four decades, and looks to be gearing up for at least 40 more. If you want a history lesson in how owner Frank Butler navigated this company through a fickle, cyclical industry, you can check out one of our many reviews of Catalina boats online at www.practial-sailor.com. The more recent trends are the most relevant to this boat review, an update to one originally published in 1991.

What is the Best Keel for A Shoal Draft Boat?

We think the best bet is the modern keel/centerboard. Unlike centerboards of 20 years ago, the new ones are very efficient going to windward with the boards down and not all that bad with the boards partially raised or withdrawn into a stub keel.