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Old 25-09-2010, 12:23   #1
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Westsail 32 - Good Choice for the Caribbean ?

I love the Westsail 32. I originally wanted one to sail the Pacific Islands. My wife loves the layout of the Westsail, the looks etc. But, she does not want to do much water sailing">blue water sailing. She wants to island hop over in the Caribbean instead. I have sailed on a W32 once (in light winds).

-I've never sailed the Caribbean and have always been told I need a boat that has...
1. Excellent ventilation.
2. Shallow Draft.
3. Can sail in light winds.
4. Stay away from Teak decks (the get hot and can leak).

----From everything I've read, the W32 does not fit this list.

-From real world Caribbean sailors, can you please tell me if this boat would do well in Caribbean. I've tried search function and did not come up with anything. I'd really love to own a W32, but I don't want to end up motoring around, and be unable to visit some places because of my keel. We are planning to cruise the Caribbean for around 1yr.
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Old 25-09-2010, 12:37   #2
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Years ago we sailed our 32 from Fl and did the northern loop. Never had a problem with any of the issues you mentioned. We had a Genoa and removed it once in the Caribbean. To much sail area. Carried 5' through the N. Bahamas without any issues. All anchroages in the are DEEP!. Get a 32 with the Skylight and you've more then enough wind moving through.

Go Slow
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Stay Long
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Old 25-09-2010, 13:01   #3
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Thanks for the reply Dave, the W32 we looked (factory finished) had 8 very small portholes (only on the port/starboard sides) and only 1 skylight over the V-berth. It was made to cross the Pacific and they wanted a tight ship.

How difficult (and expensive) is it to retrofit and add an additional skylight over the galley area?

-How much time did you actually have to motor around?
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Old 25-09-2010, 13:17   #4
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I haven't done the Carribean, just SoPac in our W32. From my experience in flying in the Carribean, the winds tend to be fairly strong and consistant in direction. That's perfect conditions for a Westsail. Correct me if I'm wrong but believe the Bahamas are the primary area where shallow draft is an issue. Since almost all boats with a fixed keel draw 5' or more, the 5'6" draft of the Westsail shouldn't be that much of a problem. To get significantly shallower draft you'd have to go to a center board boat. Shallow draft isn't all it's cracked up to be. Primarily it means that you get to run aground closer to shore.

We spent two summers in French Polynesia and the boat was comfortable with plenty of ventilation. We did not have a hatch over the main cabin which would be one thing that might have made the ventilation better. All the ports on a Westsail are opening unlike most every other boat. We had an awning that covered the boat from the mast aft which was great for keeping the sun off the deck and the boat cool. Had a pup tent like awning made for the foredeck that acted as a windscoop as well as shade. At anchor almost always had a cool breeze through the boat. The only time the boat got uncomfortable was in the evening when it would get calm between the change from onshore to offshore breeze.

As far as a boat to live on, the Westsail is nearly ideal for a couple. Tankage is very generous. The galley layout is excellent especially if you have a cabinet over the ice box. Storage is capacious. We carried a years worth of supplies when we left for the South. The boats have a very easy motion though they do sail with a bit of heel as do all boats with slack bilges.

The Westsail is surprizingly fast when they've got a bit of wind. We averaged 118nm a day with almost no motor usage except to charge batteries and get in and out of atolls and harbors. Best days run was 178 nm, the worst 26. One thing the W32 won't due is sail hard on the wind in light air and a chop. You either have to motor sail or crack off 10-15 degrees in those conditons. We sailed mostly with a Yankee, Staysail and reefed main. The only sail change we made was a reacher drifter for light air conditions and reaching in moderate winds.

Westsails are not 'fun' to sail. But then you really aren't looking for fun when you are spending days at sea. The boats are very heavy, slow to accelerate and directionally stable. They do not handle like a dinghy which is something I was very thankful for. The Aires wind vane had no problem steering the boat in all conditions. If the boat would sail, the vane would steer the boat.

My wife sounds like your wife. She is not a great sailor. She never got seasick but usually felt a bit queasy and didn't really get into the sailing part of the journey. She did love being there, I liked getting there.

We lived aboard for 2 years and cruised for 18 months and found the boat the boat to be ideal. You would need to go at least 4' and more like 8' longer in length to get the carrying capacity and living space of a W32.
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Old 25-09-2010, 13:32   #5
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Thanks for the reply Rover,
Yeah my wife gets a little seasick and does not like the idea of being offshore for days on end. But she loves traveling and that's why the Caribbean would be a good compromise.

Yeah the W32 feels huge for it's size. I really like the large headroom.
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Old 25-09-2010, 14:06   #6
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Westsails had three port size options. Most boats were built with 8" ports in the main cabin and 6" ports forward. That's what we had and they provided plenty of ventilation. The Anoraks went with the smaller ports and it sounds that's what the boat you saw had.

Cutting in a hatch in the main cabin is not that big a thing but making it look good is. Hatches are expensive and you'd have to make a base and trim out the opening. You are looking at at least a boat unit unless you have the woodworking skill to do it yourself. I wouldn't put a hatch over the galley, in any case. Fans are way cheaper.

We had a loose footed staysail and had winches for that on the cabin top over the galley and chart table. Highly reccomend doing away with the staysail boom, if fitted. The boom is a real head banger, have the scar to prove it; made for a poor setting sail; and was always in the way.
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Old 25-09-2010, 14:07   #7
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Except for the Bahamas,depth in the caribbean is not a problem.In the summer(rainy season) it might get up to the low 90's but you might want a lite jacket in the evening.In the winter(dry season)it might get up to the 90's and the evenings will be so pleasant it can make you sick.Overhead ventalation is a very good idea and a windscoop does wonders.Swim around your boat first thing in the morning before you rub the sleep from your eyes and you will feel so good,you;ll never want to leave.
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Old 25-09-2010, 14:25   #8
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Rover, Yes this has 8 of the smallest size portholes. They all open, but they are tiny.

We live in southern CA and very seldom use our A/C (rare around here). But, we have our ceiling fans on 24/7 during the summer. So being cold is not a must, but we do like good air circulation.

I don't like the idea of adding a hatch, so would try to avoid that option.

-Capt Bob, Thanks for your insight. Can you just use your dinghy in the Bahamas, or will it be a place difficult to visit at all? We also have a 40lb dog that we love. Would she be able to go through the Panama Canal and sail with us in the Caribbean (customs etc)? We have a family member that would love to adopt her for a year (she's amazing) but would prefer to take her with us.
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Old 25-09-2010, 15:45   #9
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I've never carried a pet on board but I've seen critters of all sorts and sizes throughout the aria.You might check with the customs/imigration folk in the places where you plan to visit(bet it'll cost you something for a dog that large).Some places don;t take too kind an attitude towards folks who dinghy ashore with thier pooch and let it do it's business on their beach. There are places in the bahamas where you will draw too much water to get within 12 miles of land but a lot of good stops have nice (or at least reasonable) anchorages where you can dinghy ashore. Check the charts and cruising guides. Don't know about the canal,never been thru it,but you can check with the authorities there.You might have a problem with minimum speed requirements there.
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Old 25-09-2010, 16:06   #10
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I don't know what your budget is but this is one hell of a W32. The couple have lived aboard and sailed the boat to Alaska modifying/upgrading almost everything on the boat as they went. It's really well done and truly ready to go anywhere. Westsail 32.

We took our 60# Labrador with us to SoPac. The dog, though not raised on the boat, adapted to boat life with no big problems. We boosted her up the companionway to get her on deck but, other than that, she did just fine. We tried all sorts of tricks to get her to go to the bathroom including following her around with a bit of astroturf on shore and transfering it to the boat without success. Finally just took her to Catalina and didn't let her off the boat for a couple of days. She finally couldn't hold it any longer and let loose on the deck. No problems after that. She'd do her thing on deck, I'd scoop it over the side and wash down the deck with salt water. We took a couple hundred pounds of dog food with us. Easy to do with the W32's storage capacity. She got around without problems in the mostly moderate sailing conditions we encountered. Making up a pair of socks might not be a bad idea as her claws did no good to keep her from sliding on a canted deck. Didn't hurt the fiberglass, though. You shouldn't have a problem with quarantines as there are no rabies free areas where you want to go. Still, would check with each of the countries you expect to touch. Today, even Rabies free Hawaii no longer has a quarantine as long as the vaccination record is up to date. Unfortunately, our dog picked up a then new strain of distemper that had just surfaced in the Marquesas and died.
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Old 25-09-2010, 16:33   #11
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Are you looking at Drifter (SAN) or Puffin (SFO)?

My wife and I looked at a couple of CA W32's back in Feb/March before we knew what we wanted - Drifter felt really dark and closed in to me, I really disliked the tiny ports and (IIRC) she showed signs of having had water inside. I haven't been aboard Puffin, she looks nice in pics - tons of gear too, but a bit on the expensive (overpriced) side. Both are pushing a year on the market now.
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Old 25-09-2010, 17:52   #12
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Daz, I tried to PM you, but the boards will not allow a new member to send a pm. Could you send me a PM please.
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Old 25-09-2010, 18:08   #13
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PM'd you with my email address.
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Old 25-09-2010, 19:16   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seasthedream View Post

I'd really love to own a W32, but ...
From your list the only thing I would agree with is the teak deck. And not for the heat but rather for the leaks.

You can wet the deck and it will become cool.

If a Westsail is what your heart desires than probably you have already answered your own question. Now just find a good one and go cruising.

My take on the ventilation issue is: stay away from shaded anchorages and shade the deck with awnings.

My take on draft is 5ft on Westsail is a nearly go everywhere.

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Old 25-09-2010, 20:52   #15
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Forget the Wet Snail! Get a Valiant 32 or (if you can afford a few $ more) a Valiant 37 or 40. Great boats, well built, a few years had blisters but they're cosmetic and available for a big discount! More comfortable than a Wet Snail and much faster: night and day! better built too!
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