Endeavour 32

Though now a bit dated, the Endeavour 32 is a comfortable, capable cruising boat.


The Endeavour 32 began life back in 1970 as the Irwin 32. Ted Irwin designed her as a dualpurpose cruiser-racer before the development of the IOR. By 1975, the IOR was in full swing, and boats such as the Irwin 32 were obsolete as racers, since PHRF had not yet emerged to help handicap non-competitive boats raced at the club level.

Endeavour 32
Endeavour 32 Specifications

Although the Irwin 32 had been out-designed for racing, the hull was still a comfortable design for cruising. The molds for the Irwin 32 formed the basis for Endeavour Yacht Corporation, which continued to build the boat as the Endeavour 32 until 1982.

Although the Irwin 32 and the Endeavour 32 look identical and have the same displacement, the Endeavour 32 is listed by the builder as being 4″ wider, 4″ longer overall, and 6″ longer on the waterline.

The Irwin 32 was originally available as a keel/centerboard boat drawing 3′ 6″, or with a long fin keel drawing 5′. The Endeavour 32 was originally a keel/centerboarder with the same configuration as the Irwin 32, or with a fixed shoal keel with 4′ 2″ draft. The original Irwin deeper keel was discontinued. Beginning in 1979, the keel/centerboard model was discontinued in favor of the shoal keel version.

Sailing Performance

Although the rig of the Endeavor 32 is fairly large, her relatively heavy displacement compared to dualpurpose 32-footers built today makes her somewhat slower than a more modern boat of the same overall length. The Endeavour 32’s ballast/displacement ratio of 40% implies a fairly stiff boat, but because of the boat’s shoal draft and narrow beam she is not as stiff as newer, lighter boats of the same length. While the Endeavour 32 is not a tender boat, her narrow beam and relatively high center of gravity mean she will heel fairly quickly.

Unless you buy a boat equipped with fairly new sails, there’s a good chance that the sails that come with a used Endeavour 32 will be approaching the end of their useful lives. Cruising sailors are notorious for making their sails last forever. After all, they’re cruisers, not racers. But cruising boats usually need all the power they can get to drive them due to relatively inefficient hulls and rigs.

The Endeavour 32’s PHRF rating of about 186 to 192 suggests a boat that is significantly slower than modern 32-footers, but comparable in speed to other boats of her vintage. The original Ericson 32, for example, has about the same rating, while the original Pearson 33 is about 10 seconds per mile faster. Owners report the Endeavour 32 to be underpowered in winds of under 10 knots. Owners in our survey have mixed opinions about the boat’s balance under sail, with some reporting excessive weather helm while others feel the boat to be well balanced. One advantage of the centerboard version is that the center of lateral resistance can be shifted by moving the board, reducing weather helm on a reach.

With the keel version, you don’t have the luxury of shifting the center of lateral resistance. We doubt that the keel version will go to weather as well as the centerboard boat. At the same time, the keel version does have a slightly lower vertical center of gravity, and should be somewhat stiffer when it breezes up. The specifications for the original Irwin 32 claim an extra 200 pounds of ballast for the centerboard boat, but the Endeavour brochure does not specify any difference in ballasting between keel and centerboard versions.

The rig is a simple single-spreader masthead rig with double lower shrouds, stepped on deck. No owners in our survey reported any problems with the deck-stepped spar, and one owner had sailed his boat to Bermuda and back. Tuning of the rig is straightforward, even for beginning sailors. Rigs don’t get much simpler than this.

We would be tempted to replace at least one of the mast-mounted halyard winches with as big a two-speed winch as we could fit. You don’t necessarily need it to hoist sails, but you’re also going to take crewmembers to the masthead on the winch. People on 32-footers weigh just as much as people on 40-footers, yet the standard halyard winches on the Endeavour 32 and most other boats in this size range make it impossible for a smaller crewmember to hoist a larger one to the masthead. It is one of the perversities of two-person sailing that the larger of the two—usually a man—insists on going up the mast, while the smaller—usually a woman—cranks the winch. You will also see the same logic prevail in anchoring: the man steers while the woman muscles the anchor up and down. It’s sort of like having the jockey carry the horse around the racecourse.

Shrouds are mounted at the edge of the deck, but since the boat is relatively narrow, this position does not dramatically reduce windward ability. For reaching, it is possible to sheet the genoa to the slotted aluminum toerail.

One change we would make to improve sail handling for cruising would be to add self-tailing winches. The original winches for the boat are too small for easy trimming of a big genoa, and self-tailers are simply a must on any cruising boat. The coamings are wide enough to go up one or two winch sizes.

We also recommend a modern roller-reefing headsail system for cruising. To use it effectively, it will be necessary to install a genoa track inboard of the lifelines on both sides of the boat. As a rollerreefing headsail is reduced in size, the sheet lead must move forward to accommodate the change in clew position. To do this by shifting the position of a snatch block on the toerail is grossly inefficient, and means you will probably never have the lead in the proper position. Even without roller-reefing headsails, the genoa track is a must for decent windward performance.


All Endeavour 32s came with diesel engines, but there is a lot of difference in the engines that were used. In 1975, 1976, and 1977 models, a 12 hp Yanmar diesel was standard equipment. In our opinion, that engine is simply too small for a boat this size. It will be fine in a flat calm, but there’s not enough power to push the boat into any wind or sea. Some boats in the same period were equipped with the Westerbeke L-25 engine, and others with the Yanmar 2QM20. The bigger Yanmar became standard in 1978, but a three-cylinder Universal diesel of about 24 hp was also an option in late-model boats.

Endeavour 32
Endeavour 32 Cabin Layout

With every engine except the single-cylinder Yanmar, performance under power is more than adequate. Our own engine preference would be either the larger Yanmar or the Universal diesel. The most serious complaint voiced about the engine installation is noise. The engine compartment has no sound insulation. Access for service is reasonable.

A surprising number of owners responding to our survey report that the boat is impossible to back down in a straight line under power. Part of the problem may stem from the hull shape, but there is little doubt that much of it comes from the extreme downward angle of the prop shaft. In reverse, the water is thrown against the bottom of the boat, which we suspect does little to help steering.

A two-bladed fixed prop is standard. A three-bladed prop was optional. We wouldn’t want to drag around a three-bladed fixed prop due to the boat’s exposed prop installation. The best choice by far would be a three-bladed feathering prop, which we suspect would also improve the boat’s handling in reverse.


No owners responding to our survey report major structural problems. There are, however, reports of hairline gelcoat crazing on both the hull and deck. One owner also reported extensive deck delamination. Still another comments that a surveyor found loose tabbing around a bulkhead in the forward cabin. In general, there were a higher than average number of owner complaints about gelcoat.

The frequency of bottom blistering reports is about average for boats generally sailed in warmer waters.

Another odd complaint from one owner concerns flaking gelcoat inside the integral fiberglass water tank under the forward berths. The tank was all but unusable until he cut openings in the top and resurfaced the inside. In addition, once inside the tank he discovered that the internal baffles had come loose. A water tank this far forward in the boat can significantly affect trim as water is consumed. Several owners report that the boat normally sits down by the stern. A full water tank forward will offset this problem, at the expense of increased pitching moment. As a rule, heavy consumables such as water and fuel should be carried near the middle of the boat, where the effect on trim will be minimized.

Several owners mention that their boats are equipped with gate valves rather than proper seacocks. This should show up on any survey. We feel that gate valves are inappropriate for use below the waterline, and should be replaced.

The lead ballast is carried inside the molded fiberglass keel. While this eliminates keelbolts and their associated problems, it means that you should pay prompt attention to any grounding damage to the keel, which could allow water inside the laminate.

On older boats, there is no deck fill for the water tank forward. Later boats do have deck fills, and some owners of older boats also installed them. They’re a good idea, since dragging a water hose below can be a real nuisance, and filling the tank from jerry jugs would almost be guaranteed to cause a mess below.

There are no deck scuppers, so water tends to pool at the low point in the sheer inboard of the aluminum toerail. Likewise, the cockpit scuppers are not flush, so the cockpit does not drain entirely.

Several owners of centerboard versions complain about the exposed centerboard pennant. With the board fully extended, about 3′ of wire is exposed and vulnerable below the boat. This is an unusual arrangement required by the very high aspect ratio board.

In general, owners of the Endeavour 32 feel that the boat is sturdily built, and reasonably finished, with the exception of the large number of reports of gelcoat defects.


For a relatively narrow boat, the Endeavour 32 is roomy. Headroom on centerline is about 6′ 4″. The original stepped cabin trunk—an Irwin design trademark—was replaced in the middle of the boat’s production history with a more modern-looking cabin trunk which is slightly tapered in profile. Cabin headroom was not significantly altered. Headroom is carried well forward over the forward cabin.

There is no door between the main cabin and the forward cabin, which limits privacy when cruising with more than two people. A privacy curtain was an option.

Storage space is used very effectively on the Endeavour 32. Since the water and fuel tanks are located in the ends of the boat, there is a lot of space available under the settees in the main cabin.

The galley is fairly small, which is typical of boats of this period. The icebox, however, is huge—about 10 cubic feet. We’d be tempted to reduce its size by adding more insulation on the inside of the box. Six cubic feet of icebox is more than adequate for a boat this size.

There are three legitimate sea berths on the Endeavour 32: the port and starboard main cabin settees, and the port quarterberth. These berths are all parallel to the boat’s centerline, so your head is neither above nor below your feet when the boat heels. Berths at odd angles to the centerline may be interesting visually, but they’re only functional when the boat is at rest.

Adding overhead handrails in the main cabin would be useful; there are very few things to grab onto in a seaway.

There are 10 opening ports in the cabin trunk of the Endeavour 32. This makes for very good ventilation when the boat is docked or anchored, but does nothing when the boat is underway and the ports are closed. If you leave ports open underway, you’re asking for a drenched interior from a stray wave or powerboat wake.

Ventilation would be greatly improved by installing cowl vents in dorade boxes. We would put two at the aft end of the main cabin, just forward of the dodger breakwater on later models, one over the head, and one over the passageway between the main cabin and the forward cabin. Be careful not to place the forward vents where they will interfere with working at the mast.

The biggest single complaint about the interior of the Endeavour 32 is the lack of a navigation station or chart table. When this boat was designed, navigators of even 40-footers frequently had to work on the cabin table or icebox lid. Today, almost every boat over 30′ has some sort of nav station—a must in the days of electronic gizmos.

All in all, the interior of the Endeavour 32 is comfortable and workable. Joinerwork is of good production boat quality. In later boats, the interior teak is varnished. There’s no  reason you couldn’t do this to an older boat if that finish appeals to you.


The Endeavour 32 is a comfortable, reasonably capable cruising boat. It would make a good coastal cruiser or island hopper. The basic design and construction are sound enough to justify the numerous additions and modifications necessary to make the boat suitable as a limited offshore cruiser for areas such as the Bahamas or the Caribbean.

The most troublesome aspect of the boat is the large number of owners in our survey reporting gelcoat flaws. While in most cases these are cosmetic, they are expensive to repair, and unsightly if not repaired.

Later boats with the more modern deck molding—recognizable by the lack of step in the profile of the cabin trunk—are in our opinion more desirable than the earlier boats. Likewise, look for a boat with a bigger engine than the original 12 hp Yanmar diesel.

To make it easier to handle, you’ll have to spend a fair amount of money on upgrading things such as winches and sail handling equipment. This is only worthwhile if you plan to keep the boat for a while.

The Endeavour 32 is quite a bit narrower than a modern boat of the same length, which makes the interior look a little smaller. At the same time, the beam is carried well aft, which tends to increase space in the cockpit.

Because of the lack of privacy below, this is not really a good family cruising boat for long periods of time. A privacy curtain forward would help, but a door for the forward cabin would be even better.

In appearance, the Endeavour 32 is somewhat dated, yet we would hesitate to call her appearance “classic.” Still, her styling may be a little easier on the eye long after today’s Euroboats have gone the way of tailfins and chrome bumpers.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at darrellnicholson.com.