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Old 17-11-2008, 20:26   #1
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1982 Hughes Columbia 36 Centre Cockpit

been looking for a cruiser for 3 of us.
anyone out there have comments on this boat?
build quality, sailing ability, sea worthyness, comfort at sea, storage/living space.
I have sailed many different sizes and types of boats and do understand that this is a curising boat but... I still want to be able to sail every where.
Thank you
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Old 17-11-2008, 20:46   #2
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My first live-aboard was an 8.7 and I found it to be a comfortable great sailing boat so would assume the 36 would be also. They do have some short comings in the decks and rigging that might give me pause for long distance offshore use. We all want to be able to sail everywhere but the reality is that we don't. So to answer your question you really need to define the where and when your cruising will actually take place.
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Old 18-11-2008, 07:28   #3
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Check the structural members in the bilge. As I recall they are mild steel and prone to rusting away. Boat does not have enough draft to sail well to weather.
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Old 18-11-2008, 14:39   #4
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the draft/keel shape was one of my concerns. My plan is to depart in about 4 yrs and do the Carib and Venezuela for a year than bring our daughter back for post secondary education. What happens after that, who knows. Who knows if we ever come back. The S. Pacific is the ultimate destination.
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Old 18-11-2008, 15:06   #5
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there are probably a lot more suitable boats out there for this kind of cruising.
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Old 18-11-2008, 15:10   #6
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Any Columbia built after the '60s is pretty much a POS. A barn inside but extremely ugly out, very poorly built and structurally questionable. There is a reason they are so cheap.

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Peter o.
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Old 24-11-2008, 18:25   #7
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Smile Hughes Columbia 36 centre cockpit

A Hughes-Columbia 36 cc (HC36) is not a Columbia. I own one. It points quite well to weather for a shoal draft owing to the modified fin keel. There are no steel structural members.

The design is a Bill Tripp flush deck stemming back to his flush-deck designs of the 50s and 60s. It was first produced by California's Coronado as the Coronado 35 (C35) from 1971 to 1975. Coronado produced it and the identical stretched C41 to compete in the cruiser category with Morgan Out Islands and the Westsails. C35s are found from California to Sea of Cortez to Central and South America. Some are in the Caribbean. A Spanish company built them in the later 70s in Barcelona and they are widely seen in the Med. Columbia acquired the Coronado name plate in 1975 but never produced this boat.

Hughes Boatworks of Ontario bought Columbia in 1979 and became (for 3 years) the largest production boat builder in North America. Hughes renamed itself Hughes Columbia. Hughes built Fatty Goodlander's S&S designed Hughes 38. Hughes built the HC36 between 1980 and 1982 which Hughes Columbia went bankrupt in the financial crises of the early 80s (high interest rates) which wiped out the sailboat production industry in Ontario. HC36s are found mostly in the Great Lakes as they were made in Ontario. I do know of 2 in the Gulf and 1 which was a liveaboard for 10 years in Bahamas and Cuba. The boat was also produced with other modifications as the Watkins 36 with centre and aft cockpit models.

The Hughes-Columbia differs from the Coronado 35 in a number of significant ways:
1. HC36 has a 6800 lb lead keel, C35 has a 4800 lb iron keel
2. HC36 displaces 15,500 lb vs C35's 13,000 lb
3. HC36 is 35'10" LOA, 6" longer than C35 allowing for a 6' x 1.3' x 2' lazarette. HC36 also has a bow anchor locker.
4. HC standing rigging is beefier at 1/4 side stays and 9/32 fore and aft.
5. HC36 is solid glass hull 3/8'-1/2' below waterline and 3/8" to deck; C35 is I believe cored;
6. HC36 came with 3GM30 engines, 44 gal s/s fuel tank vs. 22hp Albin and 25 gal tank for C35
7. HC36 came only in a sloop rig vs. C35 almost all had ketch rigs;
8. HC36 has a 4 foot draft and the C35 came in 2 versions 5'6" and 4'6" but the rudder unfortunately was about 5' deep (is slightly less than 4' on the HC36.)
9. HC36 has hydraulic steering.

The engine is housed directly below the center cockpit and the fuel tank is directly above the engine. Access is by all four sides and there is at least 6" above the engine below the fuel tank. Everything is highly accessible on the HC36 including the rudder post stuffing box. The HC36 has non-motorized bullet proof hydraulic steering and installing a hydraulic below deck autopilot is easy. The steering column is directly above the engine and directly by the electrical panels. This boat is really an easy boat to work on. You can access everything easily.

The bilge is shallow being a 4 foot draft and the 55gal fibreglassed (done properly) water tank is below the v-berth in the fore cabin. The 30 gal fibreglass holding tank is below the port settee. Headroom is 6' + from bow to stern. The berths are full sized and the vberth is one of the largest I have seen. There is also a fully separate aft cabin with a huge (larger than queen sized) berth. Both cabins have large hanging lockers, and drawers. Below both berths are more lockers. The head is adult sized. There is storage beneath the starboard settee and at the bow and stern extreme ends of the cabins beneath the lazarette and bow anchor locker (the fore end being where I am installing a chain locker.)

The boat is heavily built. The deck-stepped mast and boom are truly overbuilt. The deck is alternating 6" stripping of solid fibreglass and balsa cored fibreglass. The areas around my deck hatches leaked badly but fortunately the water damage was limited limited to the 6 inch stip and the water did not migrate any further. The outer 3" of deck by the gunwales are solid fibreglass also so that the stanchions and cleats through bolt to backers on solid glass.

The chainplates run thrudeck perpendiuclar to the gunwales and attach to the hull by four bolts each (5/16") 4" long into 4" by 4" fibreglassed boxes glassed integrally to the hull with ply coring through which the bolts run. I removed all my tangs and was happy to see that there was absolutely no play in any of the bolts. The assembly is concealed by some teak boxes which can be easily taken apart.

The centre cockpit design affords a huge interior for a 36 footer. The centre cockpit is also really nice for cruising. Visibility is great. The footwell is small but seating is expansive. The seats are long enough for sleeping on. The wheel comes off easily for storing away when at anchor.
The flush decks are great to move around on. The draw back is that you cannot run your main halyard to the cockpit easily. The mast is so close that I have not bothered trying.

The boat does have a high freeboard. That and the centre cockpit keep you very dry. Pros and cons for high freeboard. Con is that combined with the skeg-hung rudder (hinged 6" above the bottom) means steerage can be "interesting" in tight quarters when windy. Sailing, I have never noticed any problem. The boat cuts through the waves and doesnít pump. I generally sail in lighter airs and have a 155 genoa. The boat starts to move and accelerates quickly in over 7-8 knots and on all points. I was happy with how high she points. However, less than 7 knots and I am motoring. In 10 knots + she moves. Other owners in the Gulf and Great Lakes tell me the boat sails really well in heavier winds and waves. The HC36 has a cruising rig and the mast is only 40' above deck with single spreaders. While it is not a racer, the HC36 is also not tender.

I donít know if this is a boat for sailing the south pacific. I do know the HC36 and itsí C35 cousins are sailing the Caribbean, the Med and the Pacific coast down to South America.

Some of the HC36's numbers are:
motion comfort - 36
hull speed - 7.1 knots
stability - 1.63
D/L - 315

To me, the HC 36's livability, accessibility, affordability and cruising performance make this a beauty in my eyes. The shoal draft is also suitable for my goals of island hopping the Caribbean and maybe coastal cruising the Med. I don't think the draft is necessarily a deal breaker. The Island Packet SP Cruiser and 370 are 4' drafts also. It is worth a look.
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Old 04-12-2015, 11:52   #8
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Re: 1982 Hughes Columbia 36 Centre Cockpit

you have just convinced me that this is exactly the boat I want to get. hands down beats anything else Id want options wise - thanks for a fantastic post! very very informative! Just hope theres a cheap oe laying around in the next few months
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