I currently own a Nic 32 (she's been in my care since 1997) and have a friend with a Nic 31, and so am very familiar with that boat, though I've never sailed it with him. Perhaps I have some gravitas to weigh in here...
The 31 is a bit beamer for her length, and her design protocol benefited from a real change in the understanding of the benefits of ergonomics and comfort, esp. when long-distance voyaging/ living aboard
. In many (small) ways, she will be a more comfortable boat to live with than truly what can only be said to be an antique...
That said, I love the sailing performance of the Nic 32, as she regularly outsails more modern and larger boats, often to the consternation of their skippers. At 6'2, I find I am plenty comfortable while aboard her (and I have cruised her for as long as a month, and lived aboard for a couple of winters here in Maine
during that time...). However, my 5'4 wife complains that she is not all that comfortable, particularly in the cockpit
, though that might be just her perspective, having not adopted the 'stoic old sea-dog persona' that I seemed to have acquired (it may be the only personality flaw she has...). That said, the Mark X version of the 32 did have a new deck mold
that my Mark VI doesn't have, and so is more comfortable than mine is, particularly in the way the cockpit
coaming is shaped.
With either boat, built to Lloyd's standards, their ability to withstand all but extreme stupidity is legendary, and either would make a good choice for any long-distance work you might be dreaming of. The one real difference, from my perspective, is the transom -hung rudder
on the 31, which does have some benefits for its simplicity and it's ability to be repaired in some very-distant port. But, even if you want to set up a windvane
, there is no real-world difference between the two, other than the 32, being deeper in the water
will be (a tad) less likely to cavitate when running off the wind
, esp. if you are flying a spinnaker
MHO is that, were I in your shoes, I would probable go with the older boat, as it has the newer systems, and in 10 years time, that will count for something, esp. if you were to put her on the market after you were done with it. All the things that have been replaced are expensive, and anyone who might be considering purchasing
her will be more apt to consider newer systems in an older boat than original systems in a slightly-less older boat, just as you are now...