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Old 02-03-2016, 12:23   #1
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Why were only 55 of these boats made?

The other day I was lying on the bunk of my new "previously owned" boat with the ports open when I heard someone walking by on the dock say to his companion, "Look a Rafiki 37. That's one of my all time favorite boats." I get that a lot. I have read passing references to the boat as "World class cruiser" "Great passage maker" "One of the strongest" etc. etc. but I can't find much in the way of actual reviews or first hand reports to confirm the truth of that kind of praise.

She seems like a great boat to me so I keep wondering, why only 55 were ever built. I think I read that there were more than 500 Westsail 32's which I think of as similar except for length. Was the Rafiki 37 way more expensive than similar boats? Did she come on the market at a bad time? Maybe all the praise was just the result of good marketing?

What do you folks know or think?
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Old 02-03-2016, 12:49   #2
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

it's so hard to say with boatbuilding. Sailboatdata says built 1975-? She is very traditional underwater and by the early 80's the "boat to get" seemed to be a long fin and skeg hung rudder.... although not entirely true. She probably had to compete with the likes of Valiant 32 , 37 etc.
People think they can build a better mousetrap, but find that it's very hard to make real money with a lot of work. I'm not sure who developed/imported the Rafiki... but people in the industry dabble into things and get out regularly.
As I mentioned in another thread, some of the best boat builders don't last long... likely due to $ losses.
The average joe cant tell a poorly built boat from a well built one.
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Old 02-03-2016, 12:54   #3
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

There were over 800 W32 hulls produced though some of those were kits that were owner finished or still laying around in someone's backyard. The W32's began the heavy displacement deep blue cruiser trend of the in the early '70s and were in production for 10 years, IIRC and didn't have Lynn Vick marketing them. The Rafiki was late hitting the market which was flooded by
robert Perry designs or rip offs and the W32. There was only a market for so many boats of that design philosophy which limited the demandi. Sail area was a bit shy so light air performance suffered, Rafiki Sa/D 13.19 vice W32 15.64. Of course, someone forgot to put a bowsprit on the boat so it looks weird, just kidding.
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Old 02-03-2016, 15:55   #4
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

I hope Mike OReilly chimes in.
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Old 02-03-2016, 20:05   #5
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

I don't think the number made is any indication, although I would shy away from a cruising boat that's had zillions made (because it's obviously cheap). A boat made very well is very costly, so it's not an ideal business model -- few buyers. Lots of superb boat builders have gone out of business because the just refuse to build junk. I think it's a very fine line between success and failure for the quality builders.

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Old 03-03-2016, 00:17   #6
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

Most common issue is a guy who likes to build boats but hasn't a clue how to run a buisness. No idea if that is what happened with your boat brand but that's what I see.

Also the more rare/oddball the boat, the more likely someone is to make a comment about it. No one comments on seeing a searay as there are probably 10 more on your pier alone and another 50 in the marina.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:46   #7
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

In looking for a quality ocean going cruiser and before finding my Shannon 38, I had an opportunity to look at a Slocum 37 and did a good bunch of research at that time. I believe that the Slocum and the Rafiki are very very similar boats and that there had been some financial and related issues with the builders of the Rafiki. The Slocum I looked at was a mid 1980's boat but may be a continuation of a fine design. Why don't you take a look at those as well
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:40   #8
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

The Slocum 37 was made from the Rafiki 37 mold.
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Old 03-03-2016, 11:31   #9
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolboat30 View Post
The other day I was lying on the bunk of my new "previously owned" boat with the ports open when I heard someone walking by on the dock say to his companion, "Look a Rafiki 37. That's one of my all time favorite boats." I get that a lot. I have read passing references to the boat as "World class cruiser" "Great passage maker" "One of the strongest" etc. etc. but I can't find much in the way of actual reviews or first hand reports to confirm the truth of that kind of praise.

She seems like a great boat to me so I keep wondering, why only 55 were ever built. I think I read that there were more than 500 Westsail 32's which I think of as similar except for length. Was the Rafiki 37 way more expensive than similar boats? Did she come on the market at a bad time? Maybe all the praise was just the result of good marketing?

What do you folks know or think?
A wild guess would be a bad business decision producing quality in a market for people wanting cheap..

Enjoy her.
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Old 03-03-2016, 21:36   #10
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

i tried to send an individual thank to everyone who contributed above but they made me log out and log back in for each contribution. So, I am saying thank you to everyone at once.

I really appreciate the history, personal stories, and thoughtful insight you guys shared about my boat.
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Old 04-03-2016, 07:29   #11
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

looks exactly like tayana 37.
rafiki was built during the changeover to new materials and manufacturing requirements laid out by epa.
much restrictions and many expensive changes.
many boat building companies could not keep up and went under.
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Old 04-03-2016, 07:48   #12
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

Hi folks, sorry to be late to this Rafiki party. I've been "cruising" via small motorcycle over the winter, waiting for the water to turn soft again on Lake Ontario.

I can't tell you why only about 50 of them were made, although it's far from the only short-run boat design. My previous boat, a Grampian-34, also had about a 50-boat run. I can tell you I am a happy Rafiki-37 owner. If anyone would like any info about them, I can certainly try and assist.

You're right coolboat30, there isn't much info about these boats online. I did come across a review by a big-time cruiser (whom I can't recall right now) which described the Rafiki-37 as a better Tayana-37. I've also recall reading that when Stan Huntingford designed these boats he polled many of the great designers of his day (including B. Perry) and asked them for their thoughts about what they would do if they had no client limitations for a 37-foot short-handed ocean-capable cruising boat. I'm trying to find those links, but can't put my hand on them right now (damn computer crash).

Sailnet has a small group of Rafiki owners who occasionally chat at each other:

Rafiki 37 owners out there? - Page 7 - SailNet Community

And there is a review page with a few comments:

37 - My Product Gallery
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Old 28-03-2016, 18:17   #13
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

Nice to find a few other Rafiki owners and other interested parties out there. Per Coolboat, there not a lot out there. I should taking possession of 'my' 37 by the end of the week! Surveyor thought it is hull #2, but will need to confirm.

Thanks for the links, Mike. I'll check them out.
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Old 28-03-2016, 19:49   #14
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Re: Why were only 55 of these boats made?

Congrats Jeff. You'll love her.

Here's a link to a John Kretschmer article that includes some comments about the Rafiki 37:

Through the Cracks - SailNet Community

Here's the abstract:

Quote:
The Rafiki, which means friendship in Swahili, looks a lot like a Tayana 37, one of the most popular blue-water boats ever built. Designed by Stan Huntingford, and later morphed into the Slocum 37, the Rafiki's lines are finer and the boat is a better performer than the Tayana. Built in Taiwan, approximately 50 Rafiki 37s were built during a short production run in the mid to late 70s.

The boat has something of a cult following, and like the Rawson 30, seems better known on the West Coast, particularly in San Francisco Bay. With a powerful cutter rig, shippy round bronze portlights, a hefty outboard rudder, and a sprightly boomkin, the Rafiki 37 just looks like it belongs anchored in the tranquil shadows of Huahini or Bora Bora.

While it's easy to spend to close six figures on an older Tayana 37, you can often find a Rafiki in the high $50,000s or low $60,000s. The BUC used boat pricing guide, the industry standard, lists the average asking price of a 1978 Rafiki 37 in good condition at $65,000. Of course there are problems: the teak decks are notorious leakers and the black iron fuel and water tanks will likely need to be replaced. But when you consider that the boat is ruggedly constructed, beautifully finished below with elegant oriental teak joiner work, a spirited sailor, and a proven circumnavigator, the value becomes obvious.
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