The fiber-to-resin ratio was increased through a vacuum-assisted resin infusion, a process that better wets out the laminate and simultaneously squeezes out all the excess resin. The mechanical properties and blister resistance of vinylester resin are better than its polyester cousin, and this uptick in materials and laminating process dovetailed with the use of Divinycell foam to deliver a strong, stiff, one-piece hull with a an inward-turning flange. The BJ40 hull carries a 10-year warranty against osmotic blistering.
The Gulfstar 36, also called the Gulfstar 36 Auxiliary, was the smallest boat built by Gulfstar Yachts. Gulfstar, which produced 2,500 boats in the 1970s and 1980s, was launched by Vincent Lazzara, one of the early experts in fiberglass boat building. The Gulfstar 36 design is conservatively traditional-it was never called a racer-cruiser, but it was similar to many popular racer-cruisers and coastal cruisers of the time, with modest overhangs, a longish waterline, a moderately long fin keel, and a skeg-hung rudder. The designers are listed as R.C. Lazzara and David Jones.
Florida-based Island Packet targets a relatively narrow niche, so the toughest competitors to its new boats are often older Island Packets. Introduced in 2010, the 36-foot, shoal-draft Estero is the company’s latest attempt to introduce a distinctive model that doesn’t stray too far from the company’s proven formula for success: moderate displacement, full-keel cruisers designed to be lived on, sailed far and in comfort, and endure the bumps, scrapes, and storms that cruising boats inevitably encounter. After sailing the Estero on Florida’s Sarasota Bay and inspecting its interior, construction, and systems, Practical Sailor testers noted that the shoal-water cruiser will appeal strongest to Island Packet fans who’ve been waiting for a shoal-draft, easy-to-sail boat that compares to the IP37 in terms of interior space. These strengths will be most apparent on intracoastal or riverine adventures like the Great Loop.
Island Packet Yachts has been building cruising boats for over 32 years. It builds five different hull designs—about 80 boats per year—to American Boat and Yacht Council and European Category A (offshore) standards.
The Catalina 375 replaces the very popular Catalina 36, which was launched in 1982. According to Catalina Yachts, better performance was at the top of the improvements list, and giving the 375 a longer waterline and greater sail area-displacement ratio than the C36 ensured success on that front. Clearly, the 375 has a greater potential for faster passages than its predecessor, but it is, for all intents and purposes, a family cruiser, with safety, and comfort taking precedence. A spacious interior, ample on-deck storage, and in-mast mainsail furling are a few of the features Catalina included in the C375 to meet owners lifestyle needs. On the water, the boat moved well in light to moderate breeze, but beating in gustier conditions revealed symptoms of the disease that plagues similar wide-bodied cruisers.
While not the best boat for light-air sailing, the Union 36 is a good sailboat for the bluewater cruiser. It won't get you there fast, but it will get you there comfortably and in one piece. The boats teak decks and lavish use of interior wood is attractive but requires much upkeep and maintenance. A product of the Taiwan-U.S. boatbuilding industry, the Union 36 is a heavy-displacement, full-keel, cutter-rigged double-ender designed for ocean sailing. The Union 36 is nearly identical to several other boats built during the same period: the Hans Christian 36, Mariner Polaris 36, and the EO36. According to well-known naval architect Bob Perry, the Union 36 and its cousins are all based on the design of a 34-footer that Perry was commissioned to create back in the early 70s.
Buyers looking for a good used sailboat should ask themselves, When is a bargain really a bargain? The time-tested Pearson Rhodes 41 is one of the most popular boats on the used-boat market. They have a strong following, and an aging Pearson 41 with a previous owners accumulated TLC is one of the smartest buys among used boats. The Pearson 41 is a modest draft sailboat with a lean, long overhang and real sea berths. It features a solid fiberglass hull with encapsulated lead ballast. The low-aspect sailplan, which relies on a big genoa to boost horsepower. The Pearson 41 has an easy motion and enough functional space to qualify as a good inshore or offshore cruiser. It makes an excellent DIY candidate. Most of the 50 Pearson Rhodes 41s, built from 1961 to 1968, are still around today and have a cult following, making it one of the most sought-after used boats.
After sifting through the field of sailing sports cars on the market today, Practical Sailor identified five very different watercraft that met our speedster criteria. At the top end of our size and cost profile is yacht designer Bill Lees legacy, the Santa Cruz 37, a wolf in wolfs clothing that offers performance as priority one, two, and three. Next in line is the Andrews 28, a breakaway racer/cruiser that packs performance and a Spartan minimalists cruising package into a 25.7-foot waterline. Hard to miss is the Open 6.50, an out-an-out go-fast sportboat with room below for little more than a cooler and bevy of high-tech sails. For the diehard dinghy sailor, we highlight the quick-planing Stealth, a 14.5-footer that redefines reaching, and in true giant-slayer fashion, can fly by most 40-footers on a power reach. And if thats not action enough, we hop aboard a turbo-charged windsurfer, the Starboard Futura. Powered with a Neil Pryde sail, it runs away with the award for most speed and fun for our dollar.
In a search for a budget cruiser, Practical Sailor examined a field of used sailboats costing less than $75K and built between 1978 and 1984. We narrowed the field to boats with sufficient accommodations for four people and a draft of less than 6 feet. One way to approach a used-boat search is to look for sailboats with informed, active owners associations and high resale values. Practical Sailors quest for recession-proof cruisers led us to the Allied Princess 36, Bristol 35.5C, Endeavour 37, S2 11.0, Freedom 36, ODay 37, Niagara 35, C&C Landfall 38, and the Tartan 37. The report takes a more in-depth look at the Tartan, C&C Landfall, and Niagara.