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Old 10-05-2012, 08:57   #1
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Our First Boat

Hello! My boyfriend are are ready to buy a boat for cruising in the caribbean and are looking at a Rafiki 37 vs a 38 Heritage West Indies Ketch. Any thoughts on these boats? We are pretty new to Sailing so your experience is welcome!
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Old 10-05-2012, 16:46   #2
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Re: Our first boat

Get the boat that you fall in love with. Caribbean is so romantic. You do not want to sail in an ugly boat.

Make sure she is sound. Avoid boats that require much maintenance. You want to sail, not spend your life fixing old boats.

Avoid dark decks - they get to hot in the sun. Look for big water tanks, unless you are buying a watermaker too.

Go for simplicity. Low running costs are a huge bonus.

If you intend to sell the boat one day then get one with good resale market.

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Old 10-05-2012, 17:24   #3
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Re: Our first boat

I'm totally in LOVE with the Rafiki 37.... But feel like its a good idea to keep shopping within the price range so that I don't miss a better boat blinded by my love :-) I'm currently waiting to hear back from the owner regarding what sort of up grades she needs & has had. I know the engine is new but I don't know if the gas tank has been replaced, which is apparently a must on Rafikis. She also still has teak decks that I'll have to re calk....or replace with Fiberglas...
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Old 10-05-2012, 20:15   #4
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Re: Our first boat

That's another story now. If you want to spend time fixing up an old boat this has little to do with cruising in the Caribbean!

But, off course, if this is what gives you a kick, then get a fix-me-up and rather than go snorkeling or beach-combing build a nice canvas shade and spend time sanding, varnishing and caulking. Except that, in such a case, get a boat that is already there - sailing to the Caribbean in a fix-me-up boat could be a bad idea!

Rafiki are very pretty indeed. I like their looks! Our boat a double-ender too just way smaller.

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Old 10-05-2012, 23:50   #5
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Re: Our first boat

Yeah, I'm really not a beach or snorkel kind of person....so boat up keep is where I'll spend my time. & the boat I want is already there, plus she is not a huge project. There have already been several upgrades done so it's really just the teak decks needing love, maybe a little scrubbing on the Fiberglas ....have you sailed in the Caribbean?
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Old 10-05-2012, 23:55   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miu Miu
I'm totally in LOVE with the Rafiki 37.... But feel like its a good idea to keep shopping within the price range so that I don't miss a better boat blinded by my love :-) I'm currently waiting to hear back from the owner regarding what sort of up grades she needs & has had. I know the engine is new but I don't know if the gas tank has been replaced, which is apparently a must on Rafikis. She also still has teak decks that I'll have to re calk....or replace with Fiberglas...
Don't fall in love until you marry the boat. Until then consider it dating and be critical of every flaw. Plenty of beautiful boats in the world. Less so the marrying kind.

What's under the teak? PM zeehag, probably one of our many teak experts...

She'll probably tell ya to get it anyway (she loves teak) but if ya push her she'll tell you what you are looking at in terms of restoration...
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Old 11-05-2012, 01:21   #7
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Re: Our first boat

<After a quick google> Its an apple vs orange.. One is Centre cockpit one is aft cockpit. One ketch- one sloop. I think you need to consider how you want to live. Aft cockpits are attractive to live aboard as they generally have a bigger main bed than many similar sized aft cockpits. The also have their pitfalls (search this forum on CC's)

Ketches, although a somewhat dated rig style, can provide easier balance of sail and lesser loads on the hands (once again, do a search on this forum on ketch vs sloop- lots of info and arguments for both)

They both appear to be classic and seaworthy designs. good luck
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:18   #8
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Re: Our first boat

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Originally Posted by Miu Miu View Post
Yeah, I'm really not a beach or snorkel kind of person....so boat up keep is where I'll spend my time. & the boat I want is already there, plus she is not a huge project. There have already been several upgrades done so it's really just the teak decks needing love, maybe a little scrubbing on the Fiberglas ....have you sailed in the Caribbean?
Yep. Two winters. Very good sailing there (at least in the Eastern part) - most of the time there is good wind, unlike in many other cruising destinations. There are also some decent chandleries, some of which tend to be 'pricey'. Many people buy materials and tools in St. Martin, etc., and quite many drag the whole stuff along from their home countries.

If the economy here (we are in Canary Islands, just across the pond) continues to sink at the current rate, then we may be in West Indies again this winter.

We are minimalists of sorts - plastic decks, SS rigging, alloy mast (one only), dacron sails ... - nothing to maintain really. But I can easily imagine being on a boat in the Caribbean and fixing things may be just another kind of fun. Have a friend who restored a Baba 35 there - he did everything while at anchor. (To me, personally, it is too hot midday and the mornings and evenings are too short, to do any serious work there). So, build an amazing awning, stock up on sodas, then off to work, errr....;-) to pleasures!

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Old 12-05-2012, 06:44   #9
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Re: Our first boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miu Miu View Post
Hello! My boyfriend are are ready to buy a boat for cruising in the caribbean and are looking at a Rafiki 37 vs a 38 Heritage West Indies Ketch. Any thoughts on these boats? We are pretty new to Sailing so your experience is welcome!
Hi Miu Miu, I just noticed your post here. As you've noted, I'm a very happy Rafiki-37 owner. I'm unfamiliar with a Heritage 38, but I can certainly say lots of nice things about the Rafiki, and if pushed, I can also tell you about the down sides of these boats.

First off, we simply love our Pachina Mia. As Barn says, this is vital, and not to be overlooked. You gotta love the boat you're with. As with human relationships, love can smooth over a lot of the lesser issues; and like with any older boat, there will be lots of issues with any Rafiki-37.

Rafiki-37s (there is also a 35 version out there, but it's quite different) are beautiful, classic-looking boats. Lots of teak inside and out, very solid construction, full-keel, heavy displacement, double-ender. They were designed and built as serious sea-boats with a short-handed crew in mind.

You've already spent a lot of time looking at them, so you probably know most of this, but ...

The good:
  • They have very wide side-decks, high (teak) toe rails, and flat/wide cabin tops. All this makes her an excellent working platform when the seas get steep and ugly.
  • The stout cutter rig, with its self-tacking jib, and a high-cut yankee, gives us lots of sail-plan options. My previous boat is a ketch, so I appreciate the versatility of that extra sail.
  • Although they are heavy, they also carry a lot of sail. Rafiki-37s are not racers, but they're no slouch in the speed department, even in light airs.
  • She has clear lines of site from the cockpit. Even while seated at the tiller I can easily see forward, around the beam and over our dodger (and I'm a short guy). It's a small thing, but one you learn to appreciate.
  • Good galley layout, with decent counter space. There's never enough counter space, but for a 37-footer, she's pretty good.
  • Large tanks. Ours has a 200 gallon SS water tank and 125 gallon diesel, although one of the diesel tanks have been decommissioned (more about this in the bad).
  • Cored hull is a great insulator. I was initially hesitant about having a cored hull, but having recently installed a new depth transducer, I can attest to the solid and thick construction of the hull. I have no worries. But an unexpected benefit of the core is the insulation value. Keeps the boat warmer and cooler. Nice.
  • Good storage. Lots of easily-accessible cabinets and lockers.
  • Teak decks. Again, initially I was put off by the decks (and there's good reason to be wary), but I now love them. They are great underfoot in all sea conditions. Easy to maintain (except for the leaks), and they give the boat that aesthetic je ne sais quoi.
  • Boomkin. That extra two feet (or more) sticking out the stern is where we carry our windvane and windmill. Ours is heavy SS pipe (a previous owner was a metal guy), so is very stout.
  • Aft-hung rudder and tiller. I was initially concerned about a tiller for this size of boat. Love it! Wouldn't go back. And the simplicity of the rudder is a real bonus. It's all out in the open, so any problems are immediately obvious, and easy to get at for repairs.

I could go on with the good. Feel free to ask if you have any specific questions. Here are some of the bad, including some less-obvious considerations:
  • Teak. Lots of it. Decks require little effort (aside from the leaks), but we are varnishing the rails, trim and cockpit. Cabin is all teak. Doesn't take as much constant care, but when it's time to re-do, it will be a large job. The nice thing is that there is never the question of what to do today. If there are no other projects, then there's always varnishing .
  • Teak decks. They are screwed in. They will leak eventually. We have a few small leaks right now. We're learning to deal with them.
  • Diesel tanks. Our tanks are the original black iron. We had them cleaned, fully inspected, and pressure-tested before purchase. One passed (with flying colours), the smaller one failed. We're easily running with just the one tank (90 gallons), and are still figuring out what to do with the other one. Might become deep storage, or perhaps we'll insert a flexible tank. Getting them out will be a huge job, but one that might have to happen in the future.
  • Bow roller/anchor storage. The rafiki's were designed with one stout roller/holder. I prefer having two bowers (a plow and a danforth). Deploying a second anchor is not easy with this arrangement, so I'm going to add a second roller/holder somehow.
  • No mid-ship cleats. We have stout cleats everywhere, but not mid-ship. Luckily the yankee track runs along there, so we've added a track cleat, but I'd appreciate a proper side-deck cleat for spring lines or rafting.
  • Six-foot draft. Limits some gunkholing.
  • Manoeuvrability. Or the lack thereof. She wants to go straight. Trimmed properly she'll sail herself unattended for quite a while on just about any tack, but manoeuvrable she ain't. Add the fact that she's very heavy (27,000#) and this means docking is always a thrill.

As I say, there's probably lots more. I have copies of the original blue-prints, so I know exactly how they were constructed. I can't send copies (they are too big), but I could answer any specific questions about build or design if you like.

Bottom line is we love our Rafiki-37, but it's not the boat for everyone.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:36   #10
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Re: Our first boat

Wow! I've gotten so much great information from this feed!
@ Ex-Calif... I am not typically not one to fall quickly for a pretty face ;-) and am making sure to really check the market across the continent for comparable boats in my price range....but I can't stop thinking about her. & thanks for the tip on seahag, I will be contacting her very soon!
@ oz skipper I do tend to like the aft cockpit style myself
@barnakiel Thanks for the tip on a big awning! I will keep it in mind for sure!~ My English/Irish skin doesn't care for the sun as much as I do :-)

& @ Mike...tons of good information, and the bad doesn't scare me away! I'm glad to hear you are still able to run with the old iron tank, as I was talking to another Rafiki owner (who had already replaced his and wanted me to buy his boat) was telling me that there were non that could go without being totally replaced at extravagant costs...which I sort of doubted. One more question for now if you don't mind, how far could the 90 gal tank take you if you weren't able to use the sails at all?
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:06   #11
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Re: Our First Boat

What do you guys think of Full Keel vs' Fin Keel vs Long Keel with a retractable center board? I've been given the advice to stick with a full keel, like the Rafiki but keep running into people who don't agree.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:51   #12
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Re: Our first boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miu Miu View Post
& @ Mike...tons of good information, and the bad doesn't scare me away! I'm glad to hear you are still able to run with the old iron tank, as I was talking to another Rafiki owner (who had already replaced his and wanted me to buy his boat) was telling me that there were non that could go without being totally replaced at extravagant costs...which I sort of doubted. One more question for now if you don't mind, how far could the 90 gal tank take you if you weren't able to use the sails at all?
I've done a fair bit of research on these old tanks. The main problem with them is moisture, so keeping water out of the tank, and off the exterior walls, seems to be the key. I certainly would not rush to remove them if they are not leaking, and I've certainly heard of much older tanks that are in good condition. I would have them cleaned and pressure-tested if you can.

As to how far we can go on 90 gallons ... I can't tell you exactly b/c we don't have a fuel gauge, and we've never really tried to figure it out. We have a Perkins 4108 (40 hp) rebuild with 900 hours on it. We fill the tank for winter storage and then run through the season. We've never come close to going empty, but we tend to sail more than most sailors around here. My estimate is that we burn about 2/3rd gallon per hour, and tend to motor about 6 knots. So the math says we can go about 800 nm on a tank. Seems about right.

As for the whole full keel vs fin ... it's a bit of a religious debate that I don't want to foster here. It's like asking which anchor is best, whether you should carry a gun, or dare to say something negative about Hunters or Westsails. Suffice to say, each keel has its strengths and weaknesses. It comes down to the type of sailors you and your crew are, where and how you plan to sail, and (to a certain extent) how many crew you have. Neither one is inherently better or worse.

I would not base a boat purchase solely on keel design, but knowing who you and your crew are as sailors will help you make this choice. Personally, my ideal keel is more of a modified fin (~3/4 length) with a solid skeg. But each boat is a compromise. I've learned to love the full-keel, much like I've learned to love varnishing .
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Old 01-06-2012, 17:12   #13
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Re: Our First Boat

dear mike

i am thinking of purchasing a rafiki, my biggest concern is the airex cored hull. have you had any issues with yours.

thanks
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Old 01-06-2012, 18:50   #14
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dear mike

i am thinking of purchasing a rafiki, my biggest concern is the airex cored hull. have you had any issues with yours.

thanks
Hi Padadd, I was also initially concerned about this, having only ever owned solid hulled boats. I did a lot of research and found no reports of problems. I also managed to speak with two other current owners, again no problems. And after two years of ownership we've certainly had no problems. I installed a new depth transducer last season, so had a chance to get up close and personal with the hull's cross-section. This confirmed for me the strength and quality of the layup. My boat also came with a near-complete set of blueprints (courtesy of the designer, Stan Huntington). The hull, and indeed the whole boat, is very solidly constructed. I have no concerns about the cored hull.

BTW, I've come to love the core. The insulating quality of the core means our interior maintains heat and coolness, much better. We no longer suffer from much interior condensation (a problem up here in the cold waters), and it also blocks sounds quite effectively - a nice quality when on the hard in a noisy boat yard.

Don't be complacent about the hull, and make sure your surveyor looks carefully at it, but I am very confident that you'll have no problems with the hull. Now the teak decks might be a different story...
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