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The email reads, if you had to chose a boat any boat around thirty five feet for cruising. Anything not designed by Lyle Hess what would it be, price cap 100k. Without giving it any thought, I replied Tayana 37. My first question was if you have a 100k burning a hole in your pocket why wouldn’t you buy a BCC. Back and forth we go, I’ve spent days racking my brain, this is an unbelievably difficult task as there are so many deal breakers.

I love boats like the Bristol 32 and Seafarer 31 but both have iron keels as does the Mason 33. Wetsnails would top the list but tend to be used hard as they were built for and in need of much love and a big checkbook to make them smart. They are also fast, have nice wide decks and delicious interiors.

Quality and integrity of both design and construction. They must be easy on the eyes and sail exceptionally well. Things like cored hulls, balsa decks and inboard chain plates are personal dealbreakers as are wheels and poorly laid out decks. As much as I love the lines of the older boats in production in the late 60’s and early 70’s I’m partial to newer builds with all wood interiors. Boats like the 33 Hans Christian may top this list but 30 year old teak on a balsa cored decks are a disaster.

The dumbest thing I ever did was turn down a Baba 30 that I was very familiar with and she was near perfect other than her rounded cockpit which makes it hard to nestle in on long watches, this drops the old Pacific Seacraft 31 off the list as well. While I’m bashing teak decks I should add that too much wood on any boat will make you a Slave to paper and brush.

Simple, strong, tall rigs. For a cruising boat I want to add 10’ to the mast, not subtract. I prefer cutter rigs with real bowsprits but a powerful sloop will do fine for me. I think the Crealock 31 is as close to perfection as one can get minus the ugly bow. He was brilliant when he stole the interior design from Fred Bingham, too bad he didn’t study the hull lines a bit more as the Crealock could have become a heart breaker like the Cape George 31 which would be at the top of the list if it wasn’t for a wood deck which is solid and beautiful but tend to leak at the joint in the older ones that fall in this price range.

It’s been a very interesting few days as every boat I scrutinized had at least three deal breakers while I’ve yet to find a single one in the designs by Lyle Hess although price may sink the cruise they hold their value insanely well. In a day and age where the average joe spends upwards of a grand for a cell phone, pays 5 bucks for a cup of coffee and doesn’t flinch at dropping 50-100 bucks on dinner and drives a 50k car… well reasonable boats seem to be a bargain no matter how you slice it. Below is a copy of the last letter I sent.

My 2 cents which is all it’s worth is that you buy an old Dana 24 for 40k drop another 20k in simple upgrades like stout rigging and ground tackle and a new suit of sails. For 60k you will have a great boat that’s near perfect and a pocket full of money that will easily last three years living quite well. If your still out there after three years you’ll have figured out a way to continue. Should it turn out that the reality wasn’t quite as sweet as the dream you can get almost all of your money back in short order.
PS please start a blog because you will be one of the few out there living and writing about a dream that is attainable to everyone from CEO’s to the French fry guy at Mc Donald’s. Cheers.

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