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.
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.
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.
Following graduation from California State Polytechnic University, naval architect Carl Schumacher spent four years working as an apprentice with Gary Mull before opening his own shop in Alameda, California, in 1977. He has since designed 37 boats ranging in size from one tonners to 50-foot world cruisers, participated in the design of the front-ruddered Americas Cup boat skippered by Tom Blackaller in the 1987 trials, and most recently designed the Alerion Express boats, which are being constructed at TPI Composites, Inc.
The Alberg 35 dates back to the dawn of big-time fiberglass sailboat building. Its production began in 1961, just a year after Hinckley stopped building production wooden sailboats. Two years earlier, in 1959, Pearson built the first Triton, the boat that was the prototype of the inexpensive, small family, fiberglass cruising sailboat. The Tritons big selling point was a low-maintenance hull that Mom and Pop and the kids didnt have to spend all spring in the boatyard, getting it ready for the summer.
Nearly every owner we spoke to about their Alberg 35 had small gripes about the boats performance, cosmetic defects, and outdated equipment. Nevertheless, it was clear that each had great confidence in the hull design and construction, and took pride in the boats enduring classic aesthetics.
Danish company LM (Lunderskov Mbelfabrik) began as a wood furniture maker in 1940. In the 1950s, the company incorporated the newfangled fiberglass into their furniture, and in 1972, the company built its first fiberglass sailboat, the LM27. Over the next 20 years, it built 3,000 boats in five models, ranging from 24 to 32 feet. All LM models share a similar look-canoe-stern hulls with a pilothouse ahead of a sizable cockpit. All are mast-head rigged sloops, and every owner we talked to said that the boats sailed better than they expected-an experience that we shared on our test sail of the LM32.
In 1985, after nearly a decade of building the popular Sabre 34, Sabre Yachts significantly revamped the design. The resulting boat-beamier, roomier, faster, and more powerful than the original-is usually referred to as the Sabre 34 Mark II. The Mark II, like its predecessor, still hews the performance-cruising line that Sabre established with the introduction of its very first boat, the Sabre 28, in 1971. The Sabre 34 Mark II is not without quirks, but its many positives far outweigh its downsides.
Seawind Catamarans, Australias most successful sailboat builder, introduced its new Seawind 950 last year. The 31-foot cruising multihull can be delivered in two 40-foot containers and can be assembled by two people (with a forklift or crane) in less than two days, ready to sail on coastal passages. The $220,000 Seawind 950 was designed as an entry-level catamaran with a minimalist fit-out. The container concept allows the yacht to be delivered economically anywhere in the world with truck access.
Practical Sailor recently test sailed Hunter Marine’s new Hunter 33, a redesign of the company’s popular compact cruiser. The most noticeable difference between the new Hunter 33 and its predecessor is the new deck plan, which includes a hinged transom cutout that folds down into a swim platform, offering more cockpit space and an expanded main cabin. The hull and steering setup also have seen some revamping, and testers found the boat to be fun to sail, even with in-mast furling and a batten-less main in the test boat. For a new, entry-level cruiser priced at $160,000, the Hunter 33 has a lot going for it.
So, a couple of years back, you acquired a good old boat at a pretty good price-thanks to the market-but now youre wondering how many coats of bottom paint it has. And what kind? Youve put on a few coats of ablative antifouling since youve owned the boat. It has adhered well and has done its job. But each year, the bottom looks rougher and rougher-with big recesses where paint has flaked off. You sweated out some extra prep-work this season, and thought you had a nice, durable subsurface for painting, but each pass of the roller pulls up more paint. Whats going on here?