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Old 17-01-2006, 19:03   #1
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Mason 43 ?

We are currently looking at several boats with the intention of cruising the west coast of central america and possibly into the south pacific. The size and layout of the Mason 43 is very attractive; we have a son and daughter that are both 9 and are planning to begin our cruise in about two years. Does anyone have any first hand experience with the Mason 43 and/or any insight into their pros and cons. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


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Old 17-01-2006, 20:09   #2
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Mason 43

Years ago I sailed on a new one -- It was surprising "tender". I thought it would a lot "stiffer" but it really would heel in relatively light winds -- it stabilized at about 20 degrees.

The boat seemed well constructed (as I recall, but what did I know then) ;^)

The design depends on a relatively large foresail to keep the boat moving in light air. It's part of the "package" of the design.

What attracts to the boat? What other boats are you considering?

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Old 18-01-2006, 12:32   #3
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I have also heard that the 43 is a bit "tender" which surprises me for a heavy displacement boat. I have not had a chance to sail one yet so I haven't experienced this. From what I have heard the boats have a good reputation for their build quality. I have been interested in the boat primarily for its size and layout which seems to give ample space for everyone on board while cruising and also good storage.

The downsides that I have heard about the boat are from the short water line and the forward placement of the rudder which can make it difficult to handle under power in tight areas.
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Old 18-01-2006, 17:25   #4
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Mason 43 Tender

When the Mason 44 replaced the Mason 43, I was told by one of the three partners at PAE (the importer) that one improvement in the 44 was to stiffen the boat. Evidently, the 43 was considered by PAE to be too tender.
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Old 18-01-2006, 19:01   #5
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Start teaching those kids how to varnish and care for teak now.

You'll soon appreciate their expertise with a brush on a Mason.

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Old 19-01-2006, 04:54   #6
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We became friends with another American couple who were sailing along England's S coast at the same time, and later wintered together in London across the dock from one another. As a result, I got a pretty good feel for a M43 tho' not in a sailing sense. Based on being aboard the boat a fair amount and also hearing their comments (they liked the boat a lot but of course also had some 'issues' with it...) here are the cautions I would pass along for your consideration:

1. Cockpit functionality & ergonomics are pretty poor for cruising purposes; very little protection without an expansive, expensive dodger...and it would be difficult to integrate with working the boat. I'd put the cockpit issues at the top of a 'disappointments' list. (During extended cruising, you four will each use the companionway perhaps 10,000 times - don't think I'm kidding; do the math - think about how convenient you find that hatch & ladder). Think about a 4-hour watch in sloppy/windy conditions and try to find a place in the cockpit, out of the spray, that would suit you. Can you find decent back support anywhere?
2. Engine access is poor, which is typical of under-sole installations; ventilation was another problem as the engine-related hardware would easily rust given the last of air flow; they ended up installing a forced ventilation system for the engine bilge area and e.g. pulling the raw water impeller was quite a challenge with arms that only had one elbow each. Take a close look at your stuffing box location, evidence of corrosion from bilge flooding, and so forth.
3. This is a LOT of boat in displacement terms (tho' pretty typical re: layout for a 43/43' LOA hull). In turn, it requires a LOT of sail and a tall rig (which is part of the reason you hear about it being tender). My experience when cruising with kids suggests that they sometimes require some help/care/support which is going to leave one adult to handle the boat. Does your wife feel comfortable being that one adult on a boat of this size? Do you really need that much displacement (and windage) given your space, tankage & storage requirements? The boat is strongly built and 'feels' very substantial, but IMO at a huge displacement penalty.
4. The underbody is very conventional; some folks like this a LOT in a cruising boat design. It will track well at sea...which is another way of saying it's not highly maneuverable and a bit of a pig when maneuvering in a small basin. Add some wind and current and you'll have your hands full. Similar to #3, do you really need that much keel (and an unbalanced barn-door rudder, which is going to build up large weather helm, working the a/p harder in heavier going) to suit your purposes? Great boat to cross the Pacific in...but a bit of a handful at both ends.

There were some other issues which I'd describe as more minor. Aft cabin berth (source of warmth when occupied) coupled with fuel tank right under generates huge quantities of condensation when water temps are lower. They tried to address this over two London winters without complete success. Chart table on 43 is too small and a real limitation as, on many boats these days, we use the laptop and some radio & other electronics as more of an all-purposes ship information center than merely a chart table when at sea; seems like ours is always in use and I'd find the 43's nav area dimensions to be a bit too small for our needs (which in truth are pretty basic). They had to renew their teak decks - at some considerable expensive - and of course those decks only add weight and maintenance; do you need/want that liability? They were pleased with their boat and were able to handle it in some stiff conditions, and so I think they would offer much praise for this choice, something to keep in mind when reading my 'issues' list.

Good luck on the boat search and the prep, truly when cruising really begins!

WHOOSH, Pearson 424 Ketch
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Old 21-01-2006, 18:24   #7
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Thanks for the well thought out information. Some very good points that I wasn't aware of. We'll keep looking for the right boat.

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Old 22-01-2006, 16:09   #8
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The Mason 43 is aesthetically one of my favorite boats. They are a little tender, so you reef. I am aware of some of the issues raised by Jack, but some of those issues will apply to many boats of this period. I like the aft cabin layout. I think it works. I prefer an aft cockpit. They have a lot of exterior wood, but I own a Bristol...I like real wood below and that usually means wood on top. I do not like an engine in the bilge, but at least she has a bilge. Cutter rig means easier to handle head sails. Over 40 feet, I would want cutter or ketch.
If you love the "feel" of a Mason, check out Bristol 38.8 and 41.1 . They came along later and, IMO, solved some of these issues. They are still "of a type" and not for everyone. Jack's boat, Pearson 424, and the 422, while very different, would also meet your space requirements.


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Old 18-08-2016, 19:30   #9
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Re: Mason 43

We love our mason 43 its true with hi winds we ten to reef at 18 knot or better
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Old 19-08-2016, 08:33   #10
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Re: Mason 43

Welcome Harley,

However, resurrecting a 10+ year old thread is not good news...

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Old 19-08-2016, 09:29   #11
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Re: Mason 43

Oh I don't know, a thread about Masons is always good to resurrect! One sailed into my cove a while back, in beautiful shape on its way to distant shores... I was a bit envious, I admit.
1962 Columbia 29 MKI #37
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Old 19-08-2016, 10:17   #12
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Re: Mason 43 ?

I agree, can never get enough starin' at a Mason
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Old 30-08-2016, 11:24   #13
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Re: Mason 43

I'm glad you reopened. We are considering a 1999 Mason 44. We were told to look at Hallbergs, but we found the 37 while in our price range is too small and the 43 is too rich for our budget. However, the consultant my husband hired says we should wait and look at HR39 or HR40 as the "materials used in the Mason (for tanks, rudder and steering castings, etc) are not of the same quality as the HR." He also said the Mason will "require more money to maintain and will be more difficult to sell, but it is, without a question, a very lovely design".

Anybody have thoughts to share on this?

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