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Old 15-03-2012, 20:46   #1
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Bristol 41.1 for Offshore / Bluewater

Hi all, Im fishing for comments / opinions re the Bristol 41.1 with swing keel as a offshore cruiser, seem to get good reviews on other forums. I'm trying to get as much information on suitable boats for myself and first mate to start our cruising retirement.

cheers Bob
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Old 15-03-2012, 21:36   #2
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Re: Bristol 41.1 for offshore / bluewater

There's a guy here called Ainia, for whom I've crewed, who has a Bristol 45.5 with a swing keel.

That boat's now taken them halfway around. I think they are real "get you home" boats, and well-thought out.

I would imagine the 41.1 is of a similar quality.
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Old 15-03-2012, 21:54   #3
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Re: Bristol 41.1 for offshore / bluewater

From what I can find, seems like a decent boat for offshore.

It's a touch light on sail area, outfitting for light air should be a priority or you will spend a lot of time motoring.

From the photo looks like a center cockpit boat. My take is the there is a slight preference for aft cockpit boats offshore for various reasons, but I wouldn't let that dissuade you if you really like it otherwise.
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Old 19-03-2012, 22:48   #4
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Re: Bristol 41.1 for offshore / bluewater

Forty plus years of sailing, inshore and offshore, and I have owned a Bristol 41.1 for the last eight years, so that should give me a small amount of insight.

This boat has a centerboard, not a swing keel. The difference is that swing keels generally are heavily ballasted, and center boards typically have little added weight. There are also form and hydrodynamic differences between the two appendages. The advantage of the CB is that you are far more likely to travel the ICW or the Bahamas without plowing thru the bottom. My boat draws about 4-1/2' at lightship conditions, near 4'10" worst case fully provisioned for 8-10 months - with the CB retracted.

The Bristol is a high ballast, heavily built boat with a very gentle motion. It does not tack as quickly as fin keeled racer, nor accelerate as quickly in puffs. Instead, it fares well going to weather, with far less green water over the bow due to forward buoyancy. When things go pear shaped, and at some point it certainly will, this is a boat that is far easier short-handed than a lighter, flat bottomed, narrow bow cruiser/racer.

Center cockpits has pluses and minuses. Do your own research on this. I have owned both center and aft cockpits, and can be happy with either.

In general, the boat is built to a high standard and is intended for blue water cruising, with an acceptable turn of speed. Storage is far better than most modern production boats, it has a real bilge, ventilation is good, and fuel and water tankage is typically very good.

These boats were expensive when new, and were mostly built on a semi-custom basis so there are differences in each boat. They are also 25-30 years old and updating/refurbishment should be expected. With prices currently so depressed they can be excellent bargains.

A good pre-purchase survey should always be made.

Hope this is helpful.
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Old 20-03-2012, 06:30   #5
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Re: Bristol 41.1 for offshore / bluewater

We have had our 41.1 for eleven years. Our previous boat was a Pacific Seacraft Crealock 37, that we cruised for almost 10 years in the Eastern Caribbean. We decided that we wanted a quality, well found boat, good looking, and affordable. The Crealock was a tough act to follow, but we found it in the Bristol. Yes it is heavy, but it flattens the short chop in L.I.Sound. Due to a severe accident my wife suffered, we have been unable to go long term cruising again, but we have spent alot of time in the Sound, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, etc., and truely believe in a seaway, this will be a superb boat. It is a center cockpit, and it is NOT wet, and it does NOT have a strange motion. As a matter of fact, due to the fact the cockpit is closer to the center of the boat, the motion is quite nice.

We are taking the boat south this fall and plan to winter in the Bahamas. We have set the boat up with a Leisure Furl boom, changed some running rigging so that I can single hand, as my wife has some mobility isues. It will be perfect for the Bahamas draft wise, but still more than capable if we do decide to go further. It is my understanding the previous owner crossed the pond a few times, and sailed to Bermuda several times.

In all honesty, the only two issues I have is one, being a heavy displacement, going into a slip, or along a dock in a breeze blowing me off the dock has become a challenge. I do understand spring lines, but it does take a few seconds to stop all way, and in that short time, there is some windage. The other, i the water tanks were installed, the the floors build over them. When time comes to replace them, it is major surgery. They are the only items on the boat that are very difficult to deal with. Everything else is accessable, with some creativity.
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Old 21-03-2012, 15:39   #6
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Re: Bristol 41.1 for offshore / bluewater

Someone had pm'd me about older boats. I thought I would post my response here:

Is 30 years too old for offshore? No, not at all. In fact, the further afield you travel, the older it seems the boats become since this allows cruisers of more modest means an opportunity to live their dreams, rather than make boat payments. I had some sailing friends that took their late '60's Pearson around the world - their only complaint was that they should have taken four years rather than the three years they did it in.

For any boat you might consider, the condition, as determined by a competent surveyor, will be the determining factor. I would much prefer a well-loved and maintained 30 year old boat than a neglected and/or abused 5 year old one [not that I couldn't love a brand new boat ]. There are life cycles for every item on board. A seven year old boat is probably looking at its first new set of replacement sails, while the twenty year old boat likely has its third set. You don't avoid maintenance and/or repairs on any boat. I'm re-varnishing the interior of the heads this week for instance.

The current Bristol I own has a cabin sole built from 3/8" (unvarnished by the way) solid teak, laminated to 5/8" marine plywood. Try to find any recent boat that has more than a paper thin veneer used for the sole. As a matter of fact, many boat builders, including good builders like Hallberg Rassy, are now building their interiors from less desirable woods than teak. And most builders now use fiberglass interior structural grids, rather than framing the boat the traditional way. Saves time for the builder, but creates real headaches for access in the future, and you are relying on "super glue" to hold things together.

When it comes to interior function, many newer boats (my friend's Beneteau 46 for example) sacrifice storage for open interior space. This works great for entertaining at the dock, but not so much offshore - when you are needing to go forward and there are no hand holds from the companionway until the forward bulkhead. I have tons of storage, so much so that I have to have a treasure map to remind me where I have stowed things.

I have also watched as boat designs have moved to much wider sterns as manufacturers have tried to include larger aft cabins in their designs. As the boat heels, many of these designs develop strange handling characteristics, especially when going to weather. The Bristols have a very comfortable motion in a seaway, something that will be appreciated by you and your crew.

My advice, look for a boat that you find pleasing to the eye. One that is suitable to your realistic needs. One that has been well maintained and has made some successful journeys. Figure a reasonable maintenance budget (5% of your purchase price for annual costs - 10% if traveling extensively offshore). Get to know your boat and trust it. It will see you through the rough times if taken care of.

If possible, get a chance to spend some time underway on some of the older designs.

Cheers!
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Old 22-03-2012, 00:04   #7
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Re: Bristol 41.1 for offshore / bluewater

I concur with Redsky's opinions, particularly as they apply to build quality and the handling of stowage. A pet peeve of mine on new boats is the paucity of handholds, and the rarity of positive lockdowns for easily displaced floorboards and/or cabinetry. It's dangerous in a seaway.

Time spent as crew on delivery with the boat you like, or something basically similar, will tell you more in a couple of days in 25-40 knot conditions (or 5 knot conditions, for that matter) than weeks on websites.
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Old 09-10-2015, 15:56   #8
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Re: Bristol 41.1 for Offshore / Bluewater

Great advise. Thanks. 10% of original sale price for annual maintenance of an off-shore retirement boat or 10% of the as-is 2nd owner purchase price?
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Old 09-10-2015, 17:11   #9
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Re: Bristol 41.1 for Offshore / Bluewater

I had forgotten about this thread.

I threw out the 10% (of purchase price) number rather arbitrarily. For any boat, new or used, there will be commissioning, upgrading, repair, replacement and/or renovation costs.

The point was to make sure that you, or anyone who is considering this, go into this with their eyes fully open. Full time cruising will require maintenance, even if mostly on a mooring, anchor or slip.

The southern latitudes, say Florida and south, will increase that maintenance. You will find that everything will either melt, mildew, rust, chafe, rot or break, sometimes faster than you can keep up.

Once you have brought your vessel to initial sail-away readiness, maintenance begins. If you are willing and able to perform the majority of the work yourself, you may be able to limit your costs to the 5% level. If you farm out the work, you might be at 10% or more. Note that these are annual budget numbers. Some years costs will be more, some years less.

Conscientious preventative maintenance will delay many costs, but this is really just a delaying tactic. You must maintain the boat. Not only is it your home, your means of transport, it is also a sizable investment. Treat it as such.
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