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Old 02-02-2009, 23:19   #1
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Denis Ganley 34

Anyone have experience regarding the Denis Ganley boats? In particular I'm interested in the 34' steel versions. How do they sail? General opinions, etc.?
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Old 09-02-2009, 23:16   #2
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No one seems to be helping you on this so I will give what I can.

I have never sailed one of Denis's Shadow 34's but have seen a number of them finished and a hull under construction in an engineering yard. I have been on a number of his other designs.

The 34 is very well regarded as a heavy cruising boat and they have sailed the world, they being designed for the heavy conditions around this part of the world. Like all his designs the chines (if it has not been radius chined) are well hidden both below the waterline or into the conic curves of the plating. That unlike many other designer's designs where the boat looks slab sided with flat plates welded together eg Roberts 38 which are often referred to as "banana boats" because with the chines they look like bananas side on.

Denis also did a 35 foot version of the same boat.

The issues with them that I know of is that almost all were amateur built so subject to amateur "good ideas", "adventures" or lack of knowledge in their construction and fitout. I know of cases where amateurs have thought it a "good idea", for example, to increase the plating thickness by a millimetre which only serves to make the boats heavier than they already are. Coatings, the "hungry horse" look, quality of gear, etc, etc are all likely potential problems on such boats as well as strange concepts that cause me great wonder as to the sense of some.

I know of some that were built longer than the 34 foot by amateur builders and I would be very suspicious of those - as said above Denis later produced a 35 foot version himself.

As far as I remember these boats have a steel skeg and rudder - while I have no history for the Shadow 34's it is a fact that steel sail boats with skegs and which have sailed many miles are prone to fatigue cracking of the welds at the skeg/bottom plating interface (and sometimes the plating itself), so is something to check for. It is difficult to build a weak small steel vessel so I would expect few other problems, apart from cosmetic, regardless of the ability of the welder.

Like all small steel sail boats under around 40 foot they are heavy for their size (I am sure that someone in love with their little steel boat will come along and dispute that but it is a fact) but if it has been well built to Denis's scantlings and you are commited to steel for a boat that I would suggest that they are better than most other steel vessels of the same size.

As you may know, Denis and his wife were killed in a car accident back in early 1997 so it is not possible to discuss his designs with him.
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Old 10-02-2009, 19:14   #3
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Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

I spoke to the seller and it is indeed a boat he built. It welded by a professional welder but he did the rest. It looks good but has a bit of a different layout in the cabin.

Do you by chance know what the plate thickness is suppose to be?
I think he said she weight 16,000. Does that seem right?
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Old 10-02-2009, 19:56   #4
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Sorry, no I don't know what the plating thicknesses are but I would expect the hull bottom and topsides to be 4mm and the deck and cabin trunk 3mm. If the bottom plating is 5mm then someone has been adding not needed thickness and weight - even Denis's much bigger boats are 4mm plating.

Regarding the weight - if the 16,000 you mention is 16,000 lbs and not 16,000 kgs then that sounds in the right ball park for such a boat especially if includes tanks full, etc rather than bare weight. But I don't know what the target weight for the Shadow 34 was. If the boat you are considering is 16,000 kgs then run away from the boat fast, it is way, way overweight. In fact disasterously so for one of Denis's boats as he emphasised getting his boats light.

I had been told some time back that Denis's daughter may still have and is selling his plans so I did a bit of a search and came up with this site http://www.ganleyyachts.co.nz/. I don't know how current the information is but if is current Denise should be able to give you the weight and plating thickness details. Keep in mind that Denis typically slightly underestimated the finished weights of his designs so if the boat you are looking at is a little heavier than his design estimate it is probably par for the course. His weights are also typically for an empty boat.
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Old 11-02-2009, 22:08   #5
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Once again thank you for the very considerate information. I do believe I also came across that site.

The boat is indeed 16,000 lbs not kgs. The current owner tells me that is the about the same weight as a Crown in the same size boat. I don't know if that's true. It could be researched pretty easily.

Going back to something you said in your last post. You said something about Denis emphasizing getting boats light. So do I assume at 16,000 lbs. this would be considered light for a steel boat? I ask this because I like the idea of a steel boat for a variety of reasons, but I can's stand the thought of being stuck with a slug. I guess I'm looking for that balance. A boat that's seaworthy, seakind, capable to sail anywhere. A boat you could take up a river somewhere if you needed to. But at the same time in my heart I'm a performance sailor. I'm a rather difficult customer to please.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 12-02-2009, 01:58   #6
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So do I assume at 16,000 lbs. this would be considered light for a steel boat?
I would be guessing a bit as I don't recall the beam and waterline length of the 34 but 7.25 tonne (16,000lb) I would think comes in pretty well compared to many other steel sail boats of similar size. Put it this way, if that is the true weight of the boat it certainly would not be classed as being heavy for a steel sail boat of similar size and I doubt one could be built very much lighter without going to extremes.

Also, I am assuming that it is the fin keeled Shadow 34 that you are looking at which is the boat normally referred to as the 34 and which was very popular. However, Denis also designed a number of other steel sail boats around this length but all of those that I recall are rather "folksy" (straying from the conventional fin keeled cruising boat into bilge keels, his very sharp chined boxy "Pine Island Clipper" and "Chevron" styles {I think they were called}, etc) none of which I would touch myself if looking for a good cruising boat - the Shadow 34 looks like this Ganley 34 YACHT 10.4m 1985 for sale - TradeMe.co.nz - New Zealand and is the design with the good reputation.
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Old 12-02-2009, 15:10   #7
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You are once again are correct. It is the Shadow 34 with a fin keel. In fact you see it at Yacht World. Just punch in Denis Ganley into the search engine. It is the second from the last on the page. The very last boat there is also very interesting. This was produced in South Africa but I don't know if it has a spray-up insulation. Please have a look at it. I would be very interested to hear your opinion.

By the way, the link you sent was for a Shadow in Tauranga. I was there last year. When I turned down the Contessa 32 I went to buy, I took time to drive all over the north island. My God what a beautiful country. I just love NZ. I'm not stroking you here. I could really see myself living there some day. NZ only has one problem...it's so damn far from everything. Perhaps that's why it's as good as it is. Loved it.
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Old 12-02-2009, 15:44   #8
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For what it is worth to you.....

I have a Murray 33, designed by Ted Brewer. 33 loa, 27 lwl, 10-1/2 beam,
long fin keel, skeg hung rudder.

Ted lists the displacement at 13,000lbs. However the boat was weighed at launching as 16,000lbs, sans rig.

She is of 10gage steel, hull and topsides.

Roughly speaking the boats sound similar so I would expect the weights to be roughly equivalent.
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Old 12-02-2009, 16:44   #9
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Solo Sailor, If you live in NZ you ARE at the centre of everything, it is those who don't live here who are far from everything!
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Old 12-02-2009, 18:56   #10
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Ah, my mistake. It really depends on perspective I suppose. Ok, from now on NZ is the centre of everything. I have no problem with that. Bye the way what time is it there? Will have to change our clocks. From now on I want everybody to Auckland Time.

Oh, and Steve Pope: thanks for the input. I believe the decks are 12 gauge.
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Old 12-02-2009, 19:25   #11
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Originally Posted by Solosailor View Post
...In fact you see it at Yacht World. Just punch in Denis Ganley into the search engine. It is the second from the last on the page. The very last boat there is also very interesting. This was produced in South Africa but I don't know if it has a spray-up insulation. Please have a look at it. I would be very interested to hear your opinion...
Is very, very hard to comment on quality based on broker's photos except in a general sense.

I found two boats at Yacht World, a 1986 one which I think is the one you are looking at, and a claimed 1995 one.

First the 1995 one, it is by an inexperienced builder. I wouldn't go near it as whoever built it has raised the cabin trunk and that is far away from the plans (and in my own view looks bad in profile). This will have raised the centre of gravity at least some and possibly the rig but the main problem is it leads me to wonder what else there is hidden in the boat's structure which is another amateur adventure.

The 1986 one is also by an inexperienced builder. As I say it is really impossible to tell from photos but on the surface (so excluding electrical, plumbing, etc, etc) looks reasonably well fitted out and tidy for its age and as an amateur build. The cabin trunk on this boat looks to plan or close to it as best I can remember so maybe no amateur structural adventures in this boat - in my view the hard dodger though looks inappropriate for the boat in profile though due to its height but that is an aesthetic thing. Pushpit, etc appear to be painted mild steel rather than stainless steel which may indicate severe budget constraints when the boat was built which may mean that some other things such as the original coatings, ports/hatches, etc, etc (you mention insulation) are not of particularly good quality and I would personally want to go through everything to see what else may have been scrimped on.

This boat has a linear galley which is a real amateur adventure in layout in such a small boat and apart from taking up saloon space the galley will be useless in other than calm sea conditions and useless when the boat is heeled sailing - but that may suit if calm flat sailing is the type of sailing anticipated (however, if that is all that is anticipated then one would be better off with a fibreglass boat rather than steel in my view). For myself that would disqualify the boat.
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Old 12-02-2009, 19:28   #12
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Currently Friday the 13th 1519 hrs, would have to be the Friday the 13th wouldn't it.
Denis Ganley had a strong following in NZ with those who liked the strength of steel with a generally acceptable cruising design. The smaller ones were considered heavy in comparison with similar sized yachts in other mediums, they were never as far as speed goes in the hunt with the cruiser racer designs like Lidguard, Birdsal or Spencer designs yet probably more Ganleys have circumnavigated than the other 3 put together.
Me, i'm sold on alluminium, light, strong and no paint needed except for anti fouling and aesthetics if you feel the need.
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Old 12-02-2009, 20:03   #13
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Given the much better understanding of aluminium around today and the more reliable quality of the alloys I would go for an aluminium boat too today Steve, if was to be a metal boat.

Need to be wary of some of the older ones though as I have seen some real disasters due to material and poor construction practice problems (and in some cases due to poor care).

Unfortunately one still sees in the amateur community lots of strange myths about aluminium and corrosion, the painting of it, etc. Commercial small vessel world is by far now weighted towards aluminium as far as new builds are concerned.

Mmmm, a bit of thread drift .
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Old 12-02-2009, 23:39   #14
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No it's not a thread drift at all. This is all very good information. I'm glad you shared it. I too was wondering about the galley in the main salon. Too bad, I was hoping it might make a good "Bush Plane" kind of boat. Something that manages long blue water legs and then is tough enough to make it up river.

You make a very good point about trying to cook at sea like that.

As for Aluminium vs Steel. That is a long debate. From what I have read on the net I thought the pros and cons were rather close. Close except for the cost that is.
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Old 13-02-2009, 03:22   #15
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I built 2 Ganley hulls - a Pacemaker 40 and a Shadow 34 pretty much exactly to spec. The 34 has 3mm plate for the hull, deck and cabin. When Denis designed his yachts he was going to great lengths to keep his boats light as well as strong and the 34 is a good example. The things to look for are mostly to do with corrosion, and fatigue as MidLandOne commented on. Denis's designs have the plating attached to the longtudinal stringers only, not to the frames. The frames are clear of the plating so its easier to sand blast the interior and generally the boats suffer from less corrosion anf fairer shapes as a result. They are really strong boats and many have gone offshore. Rudder and skeg are pretty well bulletproof and a very simple design to build too. I used a wheeling machine to form some compound curvature into the hull plates and this resulted in very fair hulls, even though it took quite a bit longer to form each plate. If you tortured them over the stringers, without wheeling, they tended to raise unfair bulges at the plate joins that were less than perfect. Paint system is important - we used Altex Devoe and had no problems.

Overall the Shadow 34 is a great boat for cruising. Denis was a visionary designer who had (and still has) a strong following. Denis and Phil were lovely people too!

Mike
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