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Old 15-11-2007, 19:22   #1
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Baba 30 vs Willard 30 with Mariner 31 / 32 (Just to Confuse Things)

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forum and am working on buying my first sailboat. I plan to live on it in Moss Landing, CA for a year or so while saving up and gaining experience. Then the plan is for my girlfriend and I to head down to the Galapagos Islands and off into the south pacific. I'm looking for a small, seaworthy cruising boat. I just put an offer in on a Baba 30 but someone beat me too it so my offer is a "back up" offer and I think I'm unlikely to get it.
I'm trying to restrict my purchase to less than $50K. I could afford more but, the more I spend on the boat, the longer it will take me to be able to leave on it.

If I don't end up with this Baba, there are some other models I'm considering. The Willard 8-ton cruiser is also a 30ft double ender that seems to be aimed at the same sort of purpose as the Baba and they seem to typically be cheaper. Do any of you have experience with these boats? Specifically, I'm wondering about sailing characteristics. I certainly don't expect any of these boats to be real fast but I don't want to end up with something that sails horribly. I've read favorable reports of sailing the Baba but haven't seen anything about the Willard.

I've also looked at a couple of Mariners. In particular, I saw a Mariner 31 that I really liked. My impression is that the Mariner isn't as well suited to open ocean and heavy weather as the other two boats. Has anyone had any experience with heavy weather on the small Mariners or used them for long distance cruising?

If anyone has information that would help me, I'd appreciate you passing it along. If you have other suggestion for boats that might suit my purposes, I'd like to hear those as well. One thing that I have to consider is headroom. I'm 6'3" and while I don't mind occasionally hitting my head on something, I don't want to be hunched over all the time.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 15-11-2007, 21:43   #2
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Hi there,

I'm just going to put a shame-free plug in for Westsail 32's. We looked at a slew of boats in the 50K range (including Baba 30s and Williards) and decided you can't get more for the money than with a W32. They're solid, sail well (don't laugh - I click along at 4 knots in 5 knots of wind, sipping a coolly while the windvane steers 50% of the time), and a boat packed and ready to go can be had for the 50k you're interested in spending.

Baba 30's are beautiful, sail well (sailed three), and are comfy (except the awkward wheel/binnacles.). That said, my boat is beautiful, sails well, is comfortable all over, and I enjoy that it has a tiller and stern hung rudder along with a bunch of other things.

Best of luck on your search!

Fair leads,
Aaron N.
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Old 15-11-2007, 22:39   #3
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Will second the W32. Did well over 10,000 miles in ours and lived aboard for 4 years. A very respectable 118nm per day according to the Walker log with almost zero engine time. Easy to sail and will carry all the junk you tend to accumulate. Our Aries steered 98% of the time. The boat was very comfortable for the two of us and really has the interior volume of a boat nearing 40'.

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Old 16-11-2007, 11:59   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I did consider the Westsail 32. In fact, it was the boat that I initially thought I wanted. I know there are a ton of people that absolutely love them but I've found there are some pretty consistent criticisms of them as well. I've read that they're slow (even by the standards of full keel cruisers), wet, initially tender, and tend to not balance out very well - especially going upwind. Please don't be offended. I haven't actually sailed one so I only have what I've heard from others to go on. Overall, I have the impression that they'll get you where you're going but aren't very pleasant to sail.

I did go and look at one that was for sale. It was definitely well built. It was a factory finished boat and the interior was beautiful and there was an impressive amount of storage. I was already a bit on the fence due to some of the unfavorable things I'd heard about their sailing characteristics but what really killed it for me was the lack of headroom. I'm 6'3" and there wasn't any part of the cabin that I could stand fully upright in. The Baba 30 has a touch more headroom and while there are a few places I can bonk my head, for the most part I can stand up and walk upright.

I understand that the Willard was also designed by William Crealock and I've seen a few sources that claim he wanted to address things he saw as shortcomings in the design of the W32. I'd love to hear from someone that had sailed both the W32 and the Willard and could compare the two. I'm hoping to go and take a look at one on Sunday so at least I'll know if the headroom situation is any different from the Westsail.
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Old 16-11-2007, 12:56   #5
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I haven't sailed any of them, but I have looked at all of them. I am pretty much in the same boat as you. As a matter of fact, I have a feeling I was also interested in that same Baba (in San Pedro???). I did a lot of research on the Willard, and looked at a couple. Not much is available on the internet, but I did track down some current and past owners. Get me your email and I can forward all of the info/reviews/opinions I received.

Other boats I have looked at are the CT34, Formosa 34, Downeast 32, Mariner 31,32,36. I have thought about the Westsail 32, but was leary from all the negatives I've heard as well...no actual experience. I find that both sides are very aggresive in their arguments, so it is hard to make a judgement without actually having first hand experience.

If you have any boats you liked/disliked in this category I would love to hear your opinions. If you have any suggestions they would also be helpful.
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Old 16-11-2007, 15:00   #6
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There are some problems with the W32 but not what you've been told. I can only think they are people who've never sailed on a W32 and/or are jealous.

The boats are not wet. I had the distinct pleasure of beating into strong tradewinds and 6' plus waves for 4 days. The motion was as comfortable as it could be under the circumstances. Boat was dry with almost no water coming over the bow. It essentially steered itself which it would do on the wind in every condition we encountered. Oh, it averaged 125nm per day for the 4 days under those lovely conditions..

As far as fast, we averaged 118nm per day through the water. No boost from currents or whatever, it was measured by a Walker Log backed up by a B&G knotmeter/Log. Included two crossings of the doldrums which gave us new apprecitation for Coleridges 'Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner'. Used the engine only for battery charging and getting in and out of port when we couldn't sail out. Best days run was 177 nm, did 185nm on another W32. Did 900 miles in 6 days. Also had a 15 mile day ITC and 4-5 days of 50+ average crossing the ITC on the way back to Hawaii. Did all this with the boat either self-steering or the Aries at the helm. If the boat sailed, I wasn't doing it.

The w32 is not a good light air boat. Boat will sail but will not win any races. in under 5mph winds, any fin keel boat will literally sail rings around a W32 and any other full keel boat, for that matter, because of the wetted surface. The biggest negative was the poor performance beating into a chop in light air. The boat would hobby horse and literally go sideways. In the onr or two instances that we encountered these conditions, we motor sailed with the engine ticking over just above idle and pointed higher and footed faster than any IOR boat. The w32 is not a boat you try and pinch up in. We found the secret for speed was to keep the boat moving. Falling off a few degrees made the track over the ground way higher and the VMG way better.

As far as being tender initially, yep But all full keel boats that aren't total pigs in light air will be tender inititally. To cut down on wetted surface, full keel boats are designed with slack bilges. Instead of the flat bottoms of the fin keel boats, full keel boats have a gentle slide from the watrer line to the keel. It makes them initially a bit tender but also makes the motion slower and less violent. It also means they harden up as the angle of heel increases and have much greater ultimate stability. You know, the kind of stability that saves your ass when the **** hits the fan.

They will sail to weather without a hand on the helm. As the speed increases there is significant hull induced weather helm sailing off the wind. They will not balance, but then I've never been on a boat that would except low aspect ketch rigs that gave new meaning to slow. Since the Aries did all the steering, the weather helm was never an issue and certainly didn't hurt performance.

The W32 is an FRP variant of the Atkins 'Eric/Thistle' design. Don't know how much work Crealock did in making the conversion. One thing I heard was moving the prop into an aperture in the hull instead of mostly in the rudder and the deck design when Westsail took over the hull molds. The W32 was originally built by a guy named Kendall in the flush deck Thistle variant of Atkins design.

As far as headroom, there were differences in the deck molds. Early boats, like our #163, had an error in the mold that produced a lot of sheer in the cabin top and cut head room down by at least 2". We are not headroom challenged so it didn't bother us and actually considered it an improvement as it looked better. Later boats had a deck without much sheer in the cabin top and a lot more headroom. Also, the deck beams that were options on the W32 were strictly cosmetic. They can be removed with impunity to increase head room by 1 1/2", if they are present. You might want to check out a couple of different W32's, especially one's after around #225 to see if they might have the headroom you want.

As far as being fun to sail, the W32 is a bus. It is not quick on the helm or light on it's feet. That's anathema to the around the buoys, inshore types. For long passages, it's a godsend, however. It's the difference between going cross country on a 998 Ducati or a motor home. The Ducati may get you there sooner, if you don't get arrested by the CHP, your butt and back hold out and you take nothing with you but a change of underwear. The motor home will get you there at or above the legal speed limit with all the things you need to live with for long periods though the drive may be a bit boring.

I'm not familiar with the Baba 30. It looks like a good small boat capable of doig what you intend, though a little cramped. Correct me I'm wrong, but wasn't the Willard 30 hull also offered as a trawler. It would lead me to believe that's it a motor sailer. Doesn't seem like it would be an improvement on the sailing abilities of a W32 and probably a goodly step behind.

By the way, I don't have a dog in this hunt. We've long since sold our W32 which has gone on to cruise for another 50,000 miles. After a long hiatus from sailing, thought about buying our old W32 back. Since I'm strictly going to be coastal cruising decided it was too much boat. Bought a Pearson 35. It's probably a better boat for coastal cruising but it's not a boat I'd want take where we went in our W32.

Don't listen to the detractors of the W32, most haven't gone anywhere and certainly not in a W32. Yes there are better boats but none for the price of a W32 that are built as strong, sail as well, and carry as much as the W32.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 16-11-2007, 16:18   #7
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You are correct, Willard was never exclusively in the sailboat business. I had also heard that they did build a trawler from the same exact mold. From what I understand the government hires them to build boats. When they are between contracts, they design and build boats for the general public as a way to keep their staff employed and keep them from going elsewhere before the next contract comes up.
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Old 16-11-2007, 17:19   #8
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Peter,

Thank you for that response. It's nice to hear the thoughts of someone who's spent so much time on the boat in question and, as someone who raced a brutally uncomfortable vintage ducati, that particular analogy came through loud and clear. I feel like I might prefer something a little more nimble - more like a camper van on the Ducati to mobile home spectrum. I may check out a couple more westsails though. If I find one with more headroom, it could be in the running.

Thanks again,
-Jared
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Old 16-11-2007, 18:07   #9
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I occasionally dive off of a Willard but it's not a sailboat. It's a rigid hull inflatable with an inboard diesel that was given to UC Santa Cruz by either NASA or the Navy (I can't remember). It's kind of a cool boat but, of course, that doesn't really say much about the sailboat.

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Originally Posted by jpcraw View Post
You are correct, Willard was never exclusively in the sailboat business. I had also heard that they did build a trawler from the same exact mold. From what I understand the government hires them to build boats. When they are between contracts, they design and build boats for the general public as a way to keep their staff employed and keep them from going elsewhere before the next contract comes up.
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Old 17-11-2007, 00:34   #10
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pacific seacraft mariah

Check out the Pacific Seacraft Mariah 31. You might find some in your price range. Inspired by the Westsail 32, but 5000 pounds lighter, and with a cutaway forefoot. Headroom is 6'5 throughout the whole thing. Even the head. I'm 6'4 and can jump slightly in places
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Old 29-08-2011, 10:19   #11
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Re: Baba 30 versus Willard 30 with Mariner 31/32 just to confuse things

Hi there,

I am a former yacht builder and would like to throw out a few comments to you:

1). The Baba's are very well designed and built sailboats. Some of my friends did a 25 year world cruise on a Baba 40 and I saw them (and the boat) when they returned. The boat still looked fantastic and did right by them in every respect. I can't think of any vessel made in the U.S. , in your size and price range, that compares with it. I also had friends in Honolulu who had a 30 for a number of years and dearly loved it.

2). I am also quite familliar with Clair Oberly's lovely little Mariner boats. There was a time when I considered one of his Mariner 40's. Good workmanship, beautiful below, but small. They are essentially of the Bill Garden design philosophy (but not the same as the Taiwan Garden boats, fortunately). Beautiful, salty and shippy. However the Baba is a Bob Perry design, which will out perform the Mariner on all points of sail. Having said that, I place comfort high on the list, but so is performance. The ideal boat will compromise very little on both. Incidentally, I assume the Mariners you looking at are all Ketch rigged. The "benefits" of a split rig on a boat that small are of little consequence.

3). The Westsail 32 has a nickname which may, or may not be, totally deserved: Wetsnail. Don't pound on me, W-32 owners. They are very well made boats. I know that because their hulls and decks were laid up by the people who did mine, Crystaliner Corp. in Costa Mesa. In all fairness, my comments regarding these boats is based on a couple of personal preferences: I don't like double enders and, to paraphrase Mr. Perry "Hobby horses belong in nurseries". Sorry about that!

Hope that helps a little, I am not out to confuse anybody.

Do a lot of research, make an educated choice, and then enjoy the hell out of it.

Best of luck to you.

Garry Powell
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Old 29-08-2011, 10:30   #12
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Re: Baba 30 versus Willard 30 with Mariner 31/32 just to confuse things

Myfriend had a Baba many years ago. a great little home. Not a great sailor, but then it's a relative. If a Westsail gets you more room and more waterline for less $ it should be a consideration. I've never heard good things about the construction of Mariners, and arent most of them getting real long in the tooth? Another consideration is the amount of exterior teak. You'll never keep up with the Baba. On the other hand, i guess you have to buy what turns you on.. Whatever you do... dont pay too much, you should be settling about 40% less than asking price right now... GENERALLY speaking. There should be lots of options for $50k in today's economy... probably to 36 ft or so...
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Old 29-08-2011, 10:49   #13
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Re: Baba 30 versus Willard 30 with Mariner 31/32 just to confuse things

Cheechako:

My comments regarding the Mariner boats should have stated that I was referring to the original ones he built, I believe, in Yokohama. When the tooling was brought to California, the boats were never the same, to the best of my recollection.

You're right, they are getting "long in the tooth".
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Old 29-08-2011, 11:29   #14
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Re: Baba 30 versus Willard 30 with Mariner 31/32 just to confuse things

I just looked at a Baba 30 that's for sale in your price range in Alameda. It's too small for my family, but we jumped in to take a look anyway. My wife was overly impressed with the efficiency of the layout... had as much room in there as some of the 36 footers we were looking at earier that day. Beautiful wood finish (though it's be a FULL TIME job maintaining all of it to the standard it was presented in). Overall... I was impressed and I believe it's still for sale
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Old 29-08-2011, 13:11   #15
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Re: Baba 30 vs Willard 30 with Mariner 31 / 32 (Just to Confuse Things)

I currently have a Mariner 31 that I'm refitting prior to selling her. Nice little boat, great interior. She handles quartering seas better than my bigger and older boat, not much yawing with that cutter style keel. Great little blue water design with a 47% ratio of ballast to displacement, 11,500 disp and 5,000 ballast. Able to go in skinny water with her 3'8" draft and can do grounding on the grid for bottom work because of the wide keel and shallow bilge. Decent in light air as I found out. Short sticks with an easily handled sailplan. Nice little boat. I'd take her to sea. Best of all, cheap...
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