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Old 13-01-2006, 06:00   #16
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I believe that the original Columbia 8.7 was introduced in late 1976. They were marketed as having lots of room, looking like traditional above the waterline but below the waterline having a design that was derived from the race boats of that era. I spent a lot of time on one of these boats during the late 1970's and later a second one. I did not have a boat at the time and was helping the owners learn to sail, upgrade, and maintain his boat. I also helped him deal with the manifest list of waranty problems.

We sailed this boat in the rivers and sounds around Savannah, Ga. and out in the Atlantic. This was a period when I was sailing on and helping out with a wide range of boats of this size. It gave me a chance to compare performance, motion comfort, and build quality. The Columbia 8.7's that I knew intimately during this period were just as I described. Compared to current crop of boats in this era and the periods preceeding this era I stand by my comment that these were real turkeys.

In terms of sailing ability, compare the PHRF rating of the Columbia 8.7 at 207, to contemporary boats of that era like the Albin Ballad at 186, Hunter 30 at 177, Irwin 30 at 171, Catalina 30 at 180, or Contessa 32 at 180. More to the point, these boats could be sailed in moderate breezes but really lost out big time in higher and lower winds.

When Columbia went broke, Hughes purchased the molds. Hughes had a long history of recycling molds from other companies. Hughes built a pretty well constructed boat. (I owned an earlier Hughes Northstar 500 quarter tonner.) The Columbia 8.7 shared the same hull and deck molds as the Hughes-Columbia version but in the Hughes literature of that era, Hughes claimed to have re-engineered the entire boat. The Hughes salesmen that I spoke to during that era claimed that Hughes was using a higher density ballast, which is something that I wish I had asked more about at the time and that I could have confirmed. Higher density ballast can have a major positive impact on motion comfort and stability.

Unfortunately the wide body line of boats did not bail Hughes out of their financial problems of that era and ultimately a new bunch of investors came along and Aura was added to the Hughes name. Aura was in trouble from the beginning, and the build quality supposedly went down hill quite quickly during the short Aura era.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 13-01-2006, 09:24   #17
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Tigerlily,

If you haven't seen the Practical Sailor review of the Columbia 8.7, I have a copy I could re-read and summarize here. It was an average review that pointed out both strengths and weaknesses.

Jim H
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Old 13-01-2006, 15:55   #18
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I would love to see it Jeff.
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Old 18-01-2006, 10:50   #19
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I have owned my 1977 8.7 for almost 6 years. I love it. I must disagree with Jeff in most of his opinions. This boat handles very well on almost all points of sail. The wide body does make for some struggle when wind and choppy conditions are in your face. True - this is not a racing boat, but 28 ft racing boats are not this comfortable. I could go on and on. Let me just say to try it before you deny it.

Jeff H - Im sorry you had such a bad experience in your earlier trials. This really is a great boat. Until I read your post(s), I had never heard such a negative report.

Rob
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Old 08-03-2007, 13:51   #20
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Columbia 8.7 re Tigerlilly

I've owned one of these boats for some time. Mine is Whitaker built in Chesapeake VA. I've been very happy with it. When I first bought it, I was a know-nothing saiiling wise, and in retrospect the boat was a pig. I asked a sailmaker from Hood Sails to come out with me and do an evaluation. We completely redesigned the main and had two other sails made: a "drifter/reacher" and a light weight 150. The "drifter" allows to old fuddyduddies to fly a spinaker without a pole and without a crew! With the new mainsail, the boat was a completely different animal. At the time we lived in Conn and for several years berthed at Bridgeport, and later at Mystic Conn and sailed often in Fisher Is sound, Eastern L.I. Sound, Block Island and North to the R.I. and Mass. shore. We were in a club and participated in club activities, and I never had the feeling that I had the dog of the fleet. We sailed with friends who had such boats as Erickson 27, Sabre 36(?) a Valliant 40 and an EO 32 (Taiwan Boat) and obviously the Valliant and the Sabre (15 years newer) were faster because of newer designs and longer waterline length but again, I never felt that I was hopelessly far behind! The EO really was a pig! We were transiting out to Block Is one day in a blow that sent the Point Judith Ferry back to port showing a lot of red bottom paint. I always felt that the boat had an easy "step'' in a sea state and I never felt anything but confidence in the boat. I will reiterate, though, the origional set of sails were useless and would easily put the boat and its crew in jepordy. The cut-away fore foot means that the boat will lay sideways when hove to. I never have experienced the "death spiral" alluded to in these pages. The comments in these pages about tankage are right on target--though that is fixable to some extent. I saw one in Cabo San Lukas the owner had removed the engine and was using an outboard on a bracket! I can't recomend that. It would be wise to build a track above and below the windows so you could slide in an outer plexiglass panel to protect the windows from being forced in if hit by a wave. You shoud also install a 4" scupper in the cockpit to drain water out quickly if you ever got pooped. I would glass behind the engine controls to keep water from the cockpit (again if you ever got pooped) from spilling through to the engine bilge. The boat is what it is. It's not a tall rig. It's not a "fin keel spade rudder" design. If very many of these boats were sold with the sails that mine was, there is not doubt that there were some unhappy owners out there. I have since moved to the Pacific N.W. (jobs) and trucked the boat out here because of the boat market on the east coast at the time of the move. We currently get out into the San Juan Islands for short trips and long weekends. Let me know if we might see you. Cheers, Jon E
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Old 08-03-2007, 21:25   #21
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Good boat for the money

John E.
I'm about to replace the original main on my 1977 8.7. While I haven't experienced any problems with the original sail design, I'd be interested in seeing the re-designed sail you had built.
While the 8.7 tends to hobby horse a bit sailing wing and wing, it isn't really uncomfortable in the cockpit. I never have the opportunity to spend any time in the cabin while sailing, so can't speak to the comfort level there.
On all other points of sail, I've found the 8.7 to be very forgiving. I had mine out last week in light wind, less than 8 mph, and with head sail only had no problem maintaining 5 kts over ground. I've had it out in 30 mph winds, with no problems, and find it very forgiving As has been said, it's not a race boat, but a very easy to handle coastal cruiser, and I know of a couple that have done very well on trans Atlantic crossings. To be fair, I haven't sailed on alot of other boats, so I don't have much to compare it with. I'm happy with mine though, and for the price, couldn't come close to matching it in size,space, or quality.
Someone commented on headroom. I'm 6'1" and have never felt cramped in the cabin.
I also have a Yanmar diesel, which is a great improvement over the Atomic 4. (Noise level aside)
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Old 09-03-2007, 18:08   #22
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I can't find the actual specs of the main I had made. Quite conventional, really. Not high tech or fully battoned. We kicked out about a foot of roach, which moved the center of effort slightly aft, and the new sail had a deep draft--a lot of shape. I use a flattening reef with above about 10 kts of wind, and to keep the boat standing up "on its feet" reef often. Have at least 3 reef points put in your new sail. As you've probably learned, the boat gains a lot of wetted surface and hence a lot more drag, when it is heeled over. Have fun! jon
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Old 09-03-2007, 20:01   #23
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Jon,
Thanks for the timely reply. So what you're saying is that I need to add a reef and some roach to my old blown out main? LOL.
I'll give your suggestions to the sailmaker and see what he comes up with on paper.
Larry
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Old 18-06-2008, 20:54   #24
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I recently purchased a 1979 Columbia 8.7 #334 here in Western New York. The hull and deck are in great condition but the interior is in bad shape from leaking portlights. Oh well, one can't have everything. I bought her cheap and plan to fix her up better than new. I absolutely love the lines of this boat. All that room down below is nice as well. I'll let you all know how she sails next year. Until then I am sailing my ODay 23.
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Old 19-06-2008, 13:12   #25
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Wow, I started this thread 2 years ago before I bought my boat, and now I am in the bahamas on my 8.7...and I must say it is a solid boat and pretty comfortable to live on for the size.
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Old 03-09-2008, 10:19   #26
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The Nay Sayers and Yea Sayers on 8.7's

The thread continues yet further,

Earlier this year when I was looking to buy an 8.7 I came across this thread and read with interest. I have to say that seeing so many negative and dubious postings left me in a quandry about buying the boat and in fact delayed the purchase for a couple of weeks. For its age (78) the boat was in great shape, motor ran but needed work, the head worked but needed also to serviced and some of the rigging swages were scarily cracked but on the whole things looked fine...only the negative comments stood between me and a unique deal...was this the reason it was a good price?

I bought it, did the work took it out on San Francisco and everything seemed fine. Since then I've had it out in 25-30 knts outside the gate, seas that kept many others safe at the dock and all in all the boat has perfomed very well. It needs a lot of sail in light air but thats not too often a problem over here on the Bay.

Despite the 'now I've bought it I'd better like it' syndrome, the 8.7 has proven itself very capable, predicable and easy to manage single handed even with standard running rigging; and I've sailed enough boats to know the difference. Its hard to imagine someone with the skill and reputation of Alan Payne spending two years on the design and ending up with a lemon. Two thumbs up from this skipper.

TP
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Old 04-12-2009, 22:36   #27
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More 8.7 tails

I purchased an 8.7 in 2006 and sail in and around Kachemak Bay in Alaska. Mine is a 78 model, and suffered from leaking portlights and some neglect. I agree with some of Jeff's comments concerning the motion of this boat - is can be uncomfortable in some conditions, but in really poor conditions (short, steep chop) I feel it does better that most boats in this size range. I agree with others who find this boat easy to handle across a wide range of wind conditions. Winds around here often go from zero to twenty knots and then back over the course of the day. During races, I often find myself flying a my 180% genoa and full main as the winds build to 20 knots to finish an upwind leg. Not optimal, but the boat is easy to control even though it is overcanvased. The boat is also very forgiving when flying a symmetric spinnaker - which has saved my bacon a couple times! I agree with the other poster, that this boat is easy to single hand even with the standard rigging. Also, it is nearly impossible to bury the rail on this boat, and it very dry on deck until seas exceed 6-7 feet.
Since these boats are getting old, the will inevitably require some renovation and maintenance. The interior build on these boats make removing bunks and panels very easy. Everything is screwed together. I think a dedicated worker could take the entire interior (minus bulkheads) out in just a couple days with nothing more than a screwdriver! The exception is the headliner. This is removable, but will take a lot of patience to replace correctly. Note that on my boat, the side decks and cabin house sides are cored with plywood and not balsa. I suspect the cabin top and curved sections are cored with balsa. Some other odd items include the chainplates. On my boat they are aluminum. I don't know if these are original. Mine show no wear of the clevis pin holes, and seem to be in great shape. Also, mine came with the yanmar QM15 installed at the factory. The engine mounts have some problems where the rubber is bonded to the steel base. Otherwise, this engine is a real champ, and moves the boat at a maximum of 6.3 knots is calm water. Comfortable cruising speed under power is 5.6 knots and just over 1/3 gallon per hour for fuel use.
If you are considering a purchase, carefully inspect all the keel bolts. My looked beautiful until I backed off the nuts. Some of the bolts were so corroded that I couldn't get the nuts off because all the threads were gone from the top of the nut down.
Overall, this boat was both cheap to purchase and has been very economical to maintain.
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Old 14-06-2010, 08:57   #28
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Hughes Columbia 8.7 SOLID PURCHASE!

I recently moved Up to a 1981 Hughes Columbia 8.7 & I LOVE this boat.
The boat will track straight (almost steers itself) in any breeze I have been in. Mostly 15-22knot breeze. I sail on Georgian Bay.
This is a new to me boat, & has in my opinion weathered the years well. This to me shows not only pride in ownership of the past captain, but a complement to the high quailty of build & components used by the manufacturer. Most parts on this boat were designed for 35 footers. I was a Catalina man, & my friends with Catalina 30's are envious.

My only complaint is the side access to the motor. Front access is wonderful. But if you wan't to adjust your stuffing box, pack a lunch & dinner. And maybe a swear jar.

Overall. I think that if you wish for a sturdy well built boat, that sails well in light & heavy weather. This is a good choice.

BY the way, I read Jeff's comments & cannot for the life of me figure out where they come from. Hope this helps anyone out there looking at this model. I don't feel that all the negative comments are true about this model. So, try one & see how it works.
If I ever need something larger, I would certainly look at the 8.7's bigger brother the 10.7. As it came from the same creative Genius of Alan Payne & from the performance I get from my current Hughes Columbia built 8.7.
Thanks for a Great Forum.
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Old 20-06-2010, 12:05   #29
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great forum 34 columbia mk2

just getting started again my daughter just bought a 34 colm mk2 i raised my family on seafarer 38 island trader in 1980s trying to help her get started w/her boat she cant find # on hull also where can i find history on these mk2 thanks for any help butch
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Old 30-06-2010, 07:15   #30
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Seafarer-7. There unfortunately is not much out there on the internet, however there is a Columbia owners web site that is fairly useful (but does not appear to have been updated in a while). I just googled Columbia sailboat & found it.
Hope this helps.
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