In the previous article we explored our list of requirements for selecting a sailboat. As it turns out, that list significantly narrows down the options available to us and for that we are thankful. Having applied our list of must-haves we're left with three salty blue-water "take you anywhere" sailing vessels: the Alajuela 38, Cape George 36 and Westsail 32.
From what we can tell, the decision to make the tiller-on-rudder a necessary feature is probably the most consequential factor in narrowing down our list of sailboats.
The Alajuela 38 is the largest of the three vessels on our list. She's a derivative of William Atkin's Ingrid 38 Ketch but with one mast she meets our other requirements, too.
The Alajuela's hull is super thick and is molded in one-piece from hand-laid fiberglass varying in thickness from 3/4 inch near the bilges to 1/2 inch at the topsides. With a displacement of some 27,000 lbs, a ballast of 10,000 lbs and a very full keel the Alajuela sits well within the heavy-displacement category. The 880 sq. ft. of sail area gives her enough power to push that weight around, especially in trade-wind conditions.
There are few 38' models of this boat currently available for sale. If that is any indication we might have difficulty finding one that fits the bill. This makes sense when you consider that the Alajuela 38s had a total production run of only 81 vessels.
Cape George 36
The Cape George 36 packs great all-around sailing capability with room to spare. We like the large cockpit - though perhaps somewhat exposed during a storm - and note that the length at the waterline (LWL) is a mere 1' 2" less than the Alajuela. She weighs in at 23,500 lbs with a 10,500 lbs ballast and manages to set a respectful 780 sq. ft. of sail area.
The Cape George cutter comes in 31, 34 & 38 foot versions which increases the odds of finding a suitable Cape George in another length.
There are more Cape George 36' vessels for sail than Alajuela 38s so it seems somewhat more likely that we would be able to find one that meets our needs.
Although the Westsail 32 is at the smaller end of our list of vessels she is renowned for the ability to carry a very large load, although the ride may be wet if the boat is loaded to it's maximum carrying capacity. The Westsail hulls were built to incredible thickness with a hull close to 3/4 inches near the topsides to 1 1/8 inches at the turn of the bilge. The ballast weight varies depending on the age of the boat and who finished it.
According to bluewaterboats.org "the Westsail 32 has a reputation for getting cruisers where they want to go though not very quickly" largely due to their relatively small sail area of 629 sq. ft. and some design choices although many of those can be overcome. Many Westsail 32s have survived incredible conditions with the S/V Satori of note. That particular vessel survived the "The Perfect Storm" after being abandoned by crew and captain and a beaching at Maryland's Assateaque State Park. She continues to sail to this day.
Of the three vessels that we're looking at we've noticed that there are far more Westsail 32s available. This is not surprising as there were more than 800 boats produced by Westsail during their heyday. Perhaps on this basis alone it's more likely that we'll end up with a Westsail.
It's far too soon to make a final decision!
It'll be some time before we're in a position to make our purchase and we've lots to do to make ourselves ready for that time. It's possible that we may end up with a different vessel not unlike one of these choices however we suspect that is unlikely.
Speaking of those things that we need to-do, it would be a good idea to revisit our list in our next article. Stay tuned!
Until next time, may you have fair winds & the best of company.