Boat shows present a wonderful opportunity to not only explore boats well beyond your price range, but also to observe how designers answer the many compromises that each boat design requires. Some designs succeed, and some don't-and often the weak spot is a simple failure to understand the customer.
In the June 2001 issue, Practical Sailor looked at financing boats and recommended that prospective boat buyers “stick with the pros.” We recently set out to see what had changed in boat financing since the 2008 U.S. financial crisis. After interviewing industry experts and related organizations on the state of the marine lending and boating industries, we assumed a boat-buyer’s role and sought financing help from marine loan specialists, large banks, and small lenders. We looked at cash versus financing, borrowing against your home, finance products, rates on boat loans, collateral on the loans, insurance issues, pre-approvals, repossession, and borrower qualifications.
The cost of buying and maintaining a sailboat has spiraled to an all-time high. There are a few steps sailors can take to help keep boating cost effective, including buying a sound older boat and finding a boatyard that is friendly to do-it-yourselfers. In an effort to support affordable boating, Practical Sailor has launched a reader survey on DIY yards, where boaters can rate their favorite boatyard on criteria such as protection from foul weather, boat hauling equipment, service quality and availability, Travelift operator skill, and yard ambiance. These are among the criteria PS Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo used to rate our sample DIY yard, Galesville Harbor Yacht Yard on Marylands western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Our look at Galesville and some tips on choosing the best do-it-yourself yard offer valuable insight for the DIY boat owner looking for a place to haul out.
Comparing the J/80 with the Melges 24 may provide a frame of reference because of their similarities and differences. The Melges is clearly a faster boat, rating in the 90s, despite being nearly 2 shorter.Both have cavernous cockpits designed and rigged to maximize performance. Though waterline length, draft, and beam measurements are close, there are major differences. The Melges has a retractable keel and performs like an overgrown dinghy; the J/80 has a fixed keel. It is less buoyant and more comfortable going to weather in a chop.
The PDQ 32 was introduced in 1996. The concept was to offer a smaller, lighter and less expensive alternative to the PDQ 36. One of the things we like about PDQ boats is the quality materials and generally clean workmanship. A modified epoxy resin (AME 5000) and tri-axial knitted fiberglass fabrics are used in the hull and deck. The mast is supported in part by a carbon fiber-reinforced deck beam. The hulls are solid glass below the waterline and cored with Klegecell foam above the water, an arrangement we think makes a lot of sense. Each hull has an air-tight comparatment forward, which provides a measure of safety in the event of collision, and the keels also have sacrificial sections. When you poke around in lockers, you don't see a lot of unfinished glass.
The Sanford Boat Co. launched its first Alerion in 1978 and eventually built 20. Edward Sanford says there are still several around, and owners have included such notables as America's Cup winner Bill Koch and singer Jimmy Buffet. In the late 1980s Ralph Schacter commissioned West Coast naval architect Carl Schumacher to draw a boat that combined traditional appearance with modern materials and contemporary "go-fast" thinking. The result brought so many comments and inquiries that Schacter joined with Holby Marine of Bristol, Rhode Island, to build the boat on a production basis.
The F-31 presents an aesthetically pleasing design with its fine entry; low, 27-inch freeboard; and fine lines. A flat aft section prevents the stern from burying when the bow rises in heavier breezes. Even when sailed on a broad reach with the windward ama out of the water, Farrier believes that his multis are more comfortable than a monohull sailed at a comparable angle of heel. Owners agree that being able to launch from a beach, or sail into a shallow anchorage, adds to the boat's overall utility and their enjoyment of the sport.
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.