After corrosion destroyed the water-lift muffler aboard his 1972 Irwin 37 (above) and he could not find a replacement, subscriber Gene Millard fabricated his own.
Its hard to mistake the Stiletto 27s appearance-typically with blazing topside graphics and aircraft-style, pop-top companionway hatches. Its also hard for the average sailor to appreciate the sophistication of the Stilettos construction-epoxy-saturated fiberglass over a Nomex honeycomb core. There is probably no production hull built in the U.S. with a better strength-to-weight ratio than the Stiletto. And although the design is 40 years old, the Nomex honeycomb fabrication is still impressive.
This summer, Stiletto Manufacturing will be launching the all-new Stiletto X-Series, including a foiling catamaran, with the first boats expected to splash about the time this article went press. Carrying on the Stiletto tradition, the 10-meter X-Series models are being marketed as high-performance boats that are fast, beachable, trailerable, and affordable, as well as easy to handle and ideal for coastal family getaways.
Hunter Marine began building auxiliary sailboats in 1974, largely as the result of the first oil embargo and the new energy consciousness that followed. Founded by Warren Luhrs, Hunter began as a division of the powerboat-maker Silverton Yachts, which was interested in expanding its offerings and taking advantage of the new interest in saving fuel.
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.
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 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.
In profile, the Island Trader 37 looks like she caught a wave on the chin. The sheer seems exaggerated, rising too high in the bow and stern. The low-aspect rig is short, carrying just 567 square feet of sail on a 30' 4" waterline. Displacement is reported anywhere from 18,600 lbs. to 26,400 Lbs. This gives the 37 an incredible displacement/length ratio of 422, and an abominable sail area/displacement ratio of 10.7, easily putting it in the "heavy" or "motorsailer" category.
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?
For better or worse, the Columbia 8.7 is modern in appearance, with a very straight sheer, pronounced forward overhang, and no overhang aft. The stern is decidedly unusual, with an exaggerated wineglass-section transom. This reduces the apparent size of the back end of the boat, which would otherwise look very ungainly since beam is carried well aft. From an aesthetic point of view, you either like the stern or you don't.