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Old 17-02-2009, 14:09   #1
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Cape Dory 36? Pros and Cons

Looking at one but have heard they are wet, don't track and are very tender.

The one I'm looking at is a pretty good deal (I think) but can someone let me know of any experiences?

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Old 17-02-2009, 15:26   #2
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have heard many had osmosis problems, (not just the 36). the thing to remember is these boats were designed to the CCA rule so they will be wet if you sail them hard
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Old 17-02-2009, 16:30   #3
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Older design, maybe a little slower than a new design due to shorter Waterline length, but I'm surprised they "wont track". Appear to have a long enough keel to track well if sailed well. They may be considerred "wet" due to narrower beam than a lot of current designs. Older designs were meant to be sailed heeled over. No hands on experience though.
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Old 17-02-2009, 17:40   #4
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"Don't track" sounds odd to me, too, given the CD 36's large keel area. Blistering... eh, almost any boat built with fiberglass and more than about 10 years old either has 'em or will have 'em (again). As long as the hull isn't compromised by blistering (need a surveyor to get this right), it's just a negotiating point.

The hull is relatively narrow, has a lot of overhang in the bow and stern sections and doesn't carry the beam close to the waterline, so some tenderness is inevitable. However, some of this could be due to comments about boats with tired, baggy, poorly set sails - that will put almost any boat over on her ear. Wet...? Again, not a lot of beam and a hull section that doesn't keep spray away. Weather cloths might help here.

I think the real problem with the CD 36 and boats of similar design is the narrow beam and overhangs, which mean the boat may be long on deck but not have much room below. Add in the predilection for pilot berths above and outboard of the main cabin settees, and room really is at a premium.

These are well built boats that sail well. Because of the strong owner community, prices may be a little higher than comparable sized boats without the same "magic" name.

Good luck with the search!
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Old 17-02-2009, 17:47   #5
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Long overhangs and narrow beams certainly make a boat pretty.
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Old 17-02-2009, 18:12   #6
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The Cape Dory 36 has only a 4" narrower beam than my 42 Cascade. Looks proportional to me.
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Old 17-02-2009, 19:35   #7
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CCA rule?

They were not designed to the CCA rule. Osmosis is unknown in most, such as mine and four friends boats, but can happen to ANY boat. These boats are popular for a reason but I admit I'm biased. Carl Alberg was one of the best designers of full keel yachts and he was in his prime when he designed the Cape Dory's.
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Old 18-02-2009, 08:50   #8
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Thanks to all for the input. I'm still looking at it but looking into others as well.
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Old 18-02-2009, 11:34   #9
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The perfect boat has yet to be built. The trick is to find a boat that offers you the most pros and the fewest cons, or at least cons you can cope with.

In great measure, you're in a buyers' market and have time to look for The Boat instead taking the approach of "well, it's only close to right but it's 'snooze or looze' time". We spent the roughly six months actively looking for the boat we have now, and we think we were a bit on the fast side of the search process. We saw a number of interesting boats, almost pulled the trigger on a couple of them, and count ourselves lucky that we didn't do it.
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Old 18-02-2009, 11:44   #10
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Outthere...the fact that the CD36 is still being built in Maine as the Robinhood36 after all these years says something about the integrity and capability of the design for doing whatever cruising you want. One in good condition would be on my very short list of affordable and comfortable boats suitable for singlehanded world cruising.
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Old 18-02-2009, 12:09   #11
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The Cape Dory 36 is a great boat. They do like to sail heeled more than a modern flat bottomed boat. Their stiffness does not come into play until they are heeled 15 degrees or so. They track like trains. They handle heavy weather nicely and heave to with the best. They are not as slow as some would like you to believe.
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Old 18-02-2009, 15:39   #12
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RBEmerson put it very well (above). also, I thought Alberg designed them but wasn't sure. Having said that, Personally I wouldnt pay extra for the CD name. From what I've seen they are just well built (ie: not great built), traditional (IE: short waterline), possibly a little wet (ie: not much freeboard)designs. I had a friend call that was looking at a 36 in FL about 6 months ago. To me it was way over priced and they were avail at half what the particular owner thought. I've always really liked Alberg's designs, but at this point there are drier, roomier boats, that aren't...35-40 years old (?) designs. Of course if you are more a traditionalist, dont mind spray in the face, etc, Alberg has a rep for sweet boats....
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Old 18-02-2009, 21:01   #13
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Cape Dorys

The boats are sturdily built, but with this much time out of the molds the boat's condition is going to depend to a large extent on how well it has been cared for.

My CD has evidence of one of the known problems with Cape Dorys: two thick coats of gelcoat. The extra heavy gel coat means it can be revived even after the gel coat has gotten pretty oxidized, but gel coat is brittle and may crack as the hull flexes. Most of the hull is solid fibreglass, but the deck of my boat has balsa core. No leaks or rot so far, but my boat was well-cared for: decks should be particularly well checked by your surveyor.

I haven't sailed the 36, but I know of one which sailed around the world. The owners of that boat felt the boom was too long and shortened it, and the mainsail foot, when they got to Australia. It's noteworthy that they never added a windvane, and burned up only two tiller pilots in an 11 year circumnavigation that included the Med and Europe; I expect the boat tracks pretty well or they'd have been chewing through tiller pilots more often. The Canadian couple who took that boat around didn't do a whole lot to make the boat sea worthy before departure, but did take apart the hull liner and install insulation en route.

Are you aware of the Cape Dory Owners Association, especially the forum?
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