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Old 22-02-2004, 10:00   #1
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37' Prout Elite

I know this is a little strange, but I am hoping this thread will cause "Exposure" to tell us more about his boat. I am interested in finding out how the Prout was chosen, what is good and bad about the boat, and what challenges have been overcome.
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Old 22-02-2004, 15:23   #2
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Yikes!

Well, Ok. This could require a bit of keyboard time. Since I have just bought the boat and it is sitting several hundred miles away since I bought it, I’ll have to limit myself to answering the first half of your question, why did I buy the Snowgoose Elite, and what do I think it’s good points are. I say think because only time will tell if I am right.

Let me start out by saying that I don’t consider myself as having cruising experience and most of what I know is a result of reading, research, using my engineering eyeballs and judgment, and drawing on my weekend sailing and charter experience. My “offshore” experience is limited to a four day passage from Florida to the Chesapeake and a couple of overnight coastal trips.

With that in mind, I’ll start off with my requirements as I went boat shopping. I was looking for a proven boat that was a least capable of running around the Caribbean carrying my family of four safely, without feeling like camping. A world traveler would be noce. My hobby and part time profession is photography, and I wanted a suitable working area and a stable platform for my digital darkroom pursuits (hence the name of the boat, Exposure). With this in mind, and after reading and visiting the boat shows, the SSCA Gam, and a few boats for sale, we made the decision to look at cats.

Now the tough part, money. Most cats were out of my price range, even after adjusting for inflated asking prices. We were limited to a boat in the $130’s, and could only afford that, if we did not need to invest a bunch of money into a refit. And on top of that we did not want to go older than about 1990 just for good measure. Most brokers seemed to roll there eyes when we said this. But, with a little looking we found these possibilities…

Lagoon 37
FP Tobago, Athena or Antigua
Prout 37
Prout 39 (One in my price range)
PDQ 36
Wildcat 35
Plus couple of less common names like Dean and Kennex

With this in mind I looked at several examples at 2hulls, Catamaran Company, Chesapeake Catamaran Center and a few other brokers, all on the US East coast.

I’ll talk about what I saw on these visits next time.

Woody
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Old 23-02-2004, 10:18   #3
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I started off looking at boats in general, and quickly learned that excellent condition depends heavily on your reference point. I looked at one late 80’s center cockpit ketch with one end of the dolphin striker completely rusted through, dangling in the water. This was a boat that was “ready to go”!

My first big shopping trip was to the Catamaran Company in Fort Lauderdale. They had about a dozen boats on show for an open house. This was a great way to get a feel for what was available. Most of the boats were near new, and well over $200k. The exception was a FP Athena 38. It was a bit worn from charter service, but still very serviceable. What struck me about this boat was the lack of storage and two heads that required you to nearly sit on the toilet to brush your teeth. It seemed to me that a charter layout was a big compromise for cruising. I would rather have one good size head than two small ones. The galley had only one sink, the ice box was under insulated with no hope to add more. There were nearly no storage cabinets in the cabins or the galley. The nav station was very small, with little room for normal charts or to add an SSB and Pactor modem. There was nowhere to store a significant number of charts. The rigging was only just adequate in size, but all done with swages that were not in very good condition. The sails were limited and tired. The asking price was $160k. I felt I could get it in my budget, but would not be able to fit it out with the money that was left. I also knew that I had seen these boats listed in the $130 range out of charter. More on this later. On the plus side, the boat had lots of open space and views. The cockpit was great. It had twin engines as well, although they were tired, and located under each rear berth with almost no insulation for heat and sound. I had more looking to do…

I went to look at a PDQ 36 in Sarasota. It was listed at $170. I liked the layout for cruising. Three possible berths, good storage, a fiberglass hardtop. The rigging was decent. In talking with the owner I could see that he would not be interested in coming into my price range at the moment. The other down side was that it had outboards for power. This makes engine changes cheap and easy, but the lack of power and electrical generation, along with having to live with large amounts of gasoline on board made me nervous. Although this one was out of my price range, I did keep the PDQ on my list.

A trip to Annapolis had me looking at several PDQ’s, a couple of Prout 37s, and a FP Antigua. Here I found PDQ 36s in my price range, Harriet’s included. I also got my first good look at the Prout 37. There were two listed with CCC, a family plan at their docks, and an open plan they had not yet put on yacht world that was located at Herrington Harbor. Both looked interesting to me from various prospectives.

At the boat show I had the chance to speak with several folks about both the PDQ and the Prout. These included John from 2 hulls, Chuck Kanter and a couple of lesser known people at the Multihulls magazine tent. What I learned was that the Prout 37 was not a speed demon and did not have as much space as other designs in her size range. But, she was a solid design with few bad handling properties. The Prout has been proven in several circumnavigations. Most were well rigged for owners and not for charter.

The family plan at the CCC dock was best layout for my needs, but it was well used and needed some work. Not a lot of work mind you, but more that the $190k price tag deserved (it has since dropped to $170k). The open plan at HH was immaculate. Hardly used and it was listed with everything a cruiser might want, down to the weather gear">foul weather gear, numerous spares for everything, radar, SSB, two water makers, mast steps, all dyform rigging, complete staylocks, dual electric windlasses, great ground tackle, etc. Check it out for yourself at …

http://www.prout37cat4sale.o-f.com/

The only problem for me was the layout that had two cabins. I have a son and a daughter. Having them sharing a berth was not the best plan. There were also two listed with 2hulls in Florida that sounded promising so I kept looking.

The FP Antigua was another example of a tired out of charter boat. The few cabinets were a pressboard material and were falling apart. The wiring was terrible and there was not gear to speak of. All of this for an asking price in the 130s.

At this time there were no Lagoon 37s to be found in my price range. Since then a couple have come on the market, and I would take a good look at them if I were still in the shopping. Both are owners versions listed around $170k. I think they would likely stretch my budget a little too far.

A note on the Wildcat. I got a chance to look at a new one at the boat show. They were selling them for $160 NEW! But, I spoke with more than one person who said that they were involved in purchases with the company and the boats delivered were done so late, and with numerous defects that needed repair. And, repairs were nearly impossible to get from the builder. There were three of these listed used when I was looking. Even the brokers had little good to say about them. Reading through back issues of multihulls, there were a couple of stories of Atlantic crossings where they either delaminated or cracked at the keel. Both boats made it, but not without a great deal of concern. Practical Sailor found one with delaminated decks during their charter review issue. Finally, I spoke with a surveyor that was involved with a claim where one had sunk at the dock, from water entering a fitting on the rear step where the watertight bulkheads then failed. All of these problems were with new, or near new boats. No thanks!

A short time later I did a trip to 2hulls with my wife. We looked at two family plan Prout 37’s, a Prout 38, and later a PDQ 36 with another broker.

FYI, there was an Athena 38 at the dock that had just sold. I think it went for around $110k. There was a large crack in the keel found during survey, but the buyers still wanted it! This boat needed major work from top to bottom. I could not see paying this much for a boat that had a major structural problem and was just plain wore out. This was a boat that would take $40k easy to go cruising, if you did most of the work yourself.

The Prout 38 looked decent, but had water leaking in everywhere when it rained. It had the early style companionway door that seems to be the root of some structural problems. There is a well-known web site that points these problems out. It was listed at $190. It had had an offer on it, but the buyers had bailed on it after the survey.

One of the Prout 37s was in excellent condition, but had sold just prior to our arrival. The other was a possibility, but a very tired example. My wife decided she liked the Prout layout, but did not like the one we were looking at. She also liked the PDQ layout, but at this point we decided that we wanted a diesel engine, and a boat capable of extended blue water sailing. We just did not feel comfortable with the PDQ on a possible Atlantic crossing. The hatches were a bit of a weak spot and the rigging and sails would need upgrading.

We looked at one other Prout, an 80’s model. If my budget were lower and outfitting desires more bare bones, I would take a good look at that one. But when compared to the price I got on the ’93 model, I would have had to spend too much money to outfit it to the same standard.

With this in mind, we made an offer on the boat in Herrington Harbor and settled after considerable negotiations. It surveyed very well, and we closed the deal! Now time will tell if it was the right thing…

Whew!!!
Sorry for the long winded post.

Woody

PS Next time I'll talk about the boat and what I like and don't like.
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Old 23-02-2004, 14:44   #4
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not long winded at all, just informative and enjoyable.
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Old 26-02-2004, 20:24   #5
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To continue…

If what I have said doesn’t fit with your idea of a “good” boat, I am not surprised. There are as many different needs and opinions as there are people. Keep in mind that I was looking for a blue water boat to cruise with at family of four for about three years. If I were buying a weekender or even a boat to cruise for a few months once in a while, I might pick something different. Probably something a little lighter and more spartan that would offer better sailing performance with less conservative rigging and construction. An Athena 38 might be just the ticket. And even boats like the Athena have circumnavigated (see http://www.ladybugadventures.com/ ), so perhaps I am just a little concerned for no good reason. But, I have been offshore in nasty weather, and I know what I feel comfortable with.

Ok, now I will cover what I like and don’t like about the Prout 37. This is mostly supposition since I have not actually sailed the boat yet! I’ll start with what I don’t like…

For a 37’ cat this boat has a narrow beam, 16’ verses the 20’ you can find with the other designs. This makes the accommodations a little small for its length. Of course, it is large compared to a 37’ monohull. With my family of four I am concerned about having enough space. Yes, I know that people do it with less. But, people go over Niagara Falls in barrels and I don’t want to do that either. So, I am concerned that we’ll have enough room to live in relative harmony for three years. It also does not have a separate room for each of my two kids. We’ll see how this works on a two week shakedown trip down the ICW in May. If things don’t work out we’ll convert the sit shower to a berth, as the original Prouts were made. The shower will then be installed in the head. You can see a layout here if this link works…

http://cruisersforum.com/photopost//...t=7&thecat=501

The other thing I am not thrilled about is the refer and freezer. Don’t get me wrong, they perform well, with a minimum of 6” of insulation in all areas. But, they are located under a berth and you have to lift cushions to get to them. They are also engine driven. This may be fine, but had been more interested in 12 volt systems.

From a sailing perspective Prouts have a signature rig with the mast stepped well aft. This makes for a small main and a large foresail. It also has a short mast that will probably translate into sluggish sailing light airs or upwind.

The boat has hydraulic steering that I think could be more of a maintenance headache than cables. And, most cats have dual engines where this one has a single unit with a steerable outdrive. Two engines would be nice for steering and redundancy.

Finally, there is not much bridge deck clearance. Prout uses a nacelle that forms almost a third hull in the center. This gives more space in the bridge deck and is supposed to deflect some of the wave action, reducing the slamming sound. I have heard mixed reports on this, and I am sure the nacelle creates unwanted drag.

Now the good side. Many of the bad side items also have some benefits. The nacelle does create space for the designers to work with. At the bow it creates a nice pair of lockers for the anchor and other stuff. This boat is equipped with a CQR and a Bruce, with 300’ of 5/16” high strength chain. Each end of the chain is attached to one anchor. You can put both out 150’ each on full chain, or one out 300’. There are dual windlasses for all this chain. There is also a fortress on the stern with a web rode on a reel. It’s a neat arrangement.

In addition to a furling genoa, there is a hank on staysail and a fully battened main. All sails can be raised from the cockpit thanks to the aft stepped mast. They are also set up so my 4’-11”, 90 pound wife can handle them.

In the saloon, the nacelle provides more headroom for the low profile cabin deck. In the cockpit it provides room for the fuel tank. Aft of the cockpit the nacelle creates the engine compartment. This puts the 38hp Yanmar and the fuel tank outside of the boats interior. BTW, the engine only has 350 hours. Access to the engine is through two hatches aft of the cockpit that provide nearly full access all around, without having to tear any of the interior apart. This also puts the heat of the engines outside the boat. This is even more important since it is an engine driven refer that will probably require daily run time when away from the dock. It has a 110V compressor for use when shore power is available.

The cockpit is a reasonable size and is covered by a nice fiberglass dodger. There is a large aft deck providing nice space for dingy storage and for hanging out on the hook.

The galley has room for two to work comfortably, with lots of counter space and easy access to the saloon. There is abundant cabinet space in both hulls, including pantry style cabinets forward of the galley. There is a three burner force ten stove as well.

The nav station includes a pull out table that is huge. There is ample space for equipment, and good storage for my photo equipment, hopefully including my large format printer.

The head is also large. There is plenty of room to take care of all of your business without banging your elbows. Yet, it appears logically laid out to be useful when in a seaway.

The saloon has seating for six at the table, and good space for kids when home schooling. Forward in a great stowage, in addition to room under the seats.

This boat really shines when it comes to extra equipment. As the owners were getting out of the cruising business, they included everything extra with the boat. So, in addition to the SSB and the two water makers and two GPS’s and galley equipment, there is a whole locker full of stuff. It includes never used cockpit cushions, rigging tools, two dahon folding bikes, a 12’ inflatable that is set up as a coastal life raft and with a sail rig. There is a barely used 4hp 4 stroke, a cruising spinnaker with a sock, two poles, an Icom vhf handheld, two sets of foul weather gear, dozens of extra sta-lock fittings, 75’ of rigging wire, and so on. There are more spares than I can begin to list. The total equipment list was 50+ pages and the spares list was around 30 pages.

Anyway, this whole story should give you a good idea of why I feel that this boat is for me. I looked at a lot of different boats and all had there merits and downfalls. This one was the right boat, at the right time, in the right place, at a price I could deal with.

So does anybody have any comments or care to write a similar story about there own boat selection process? How about just a list of what the pros and cons of their boat are? I am sure it would be useful to those who are currently shopping.

Fair Winds,
Woody
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Old 27-02-2004, 05:22   #6
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Much appreciated. I'll likely go through it a number of times, and may bother you with questions.

Your experience in tracking down and figuring out what you wanted mirrors mine, although in the end I surrendered lots to a broker. I looked at the Prouts for a long time, but only was able to get on a few tired 35s. These experiences may have unfairly sent me looking elsewhere. I'll try to find time to write up my search as well. Right now I am in the middle of a Ham radio course - one more little item I think I need before setting sail.

Thanks again for the great narrative.
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Old 27-02-2004, 07:52   #7
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Timing plays a large a role in what boat you pick. You may want a wizbang 300, but unless there is one in acceptable condition on the used market, or you can afford to build new, you may have to settle on something else.

You certainly could find a good prout somewhere for sale now. There are several prouts for sale in Malaysia. But this doesn't do most folks much good. It just doesn't make sense for me to fly half way around the world on specualtion. I have a family to feed and a 9-5 job to keep.

I have a friend who keeps saying I should fly to South Africa to but a boat cheap. But he doesn't have to work for a living.

Just like you saw nothing but older prout 35s when you were shopping, all of the ex-charter boats I found were in bad shape and formed my opinion, right or wrong hwen I was shopping. I think the process really comes down to settling on a couple of models you could be happy with and looking when the time is right for you to buy.

Woody
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Old 28-02-2004, 09:49   #8
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One other thing that had me focusing on cats other than the Prouts was the necessary stooping required to get to almost anywhere within the 35s. Not a problem for my 5' wife, but with ten more inches of height, it made me worry about old back traumas. Can I assume the 37s are an improvement in this regard?

I should add that the extra rigging on these boats certainly appealed to me. The French cats seem to "put their eggs all in one basket" with respect to shrouds.
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Old 01-03-2004, 11:47   #9
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The only place I do not have enough head room in the 37 is standing just inside the companionway. Everywhere else there is plenty of room. I am just shy of 6' tall.

In newer prouts I have seen a small pod built just over the companion way. I htought it was kind of neat. It looks like you could stand there and look forward and aft, as well as up at your sails, without leaving the cockpit.

I have looked at a couple of Prout event 34's. I am not sure how they differ from a 35, if at all. The 34 looses a couple of feet in length and width to the 37. It is just enough for me to experience what you described. The hulls are a little narrower which means the berths are narrower and it is harder to get around someone in the galley.

Woody
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Old 01-03-2004, 11:48   #10
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I should add that I have had two back surgerys, and am also sensitive to the stooping around.

Regards, Woody
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Old 04-03-2004, 07:31   #11
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Thanks to exposure for the great posts. I'm sitting my husband down to read everything. It's so helpful to hear about what others have found in their "hunting".

happy sailing!
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Old 04-03-2004, 11:01   #12
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Just for fun, you may want to check out this site. It is a couple of your Chicago neighbors setting off on an around the world trip in a Wildcat. This is a boat that was for sale when I was shopping.

http://www.bumfuzzle.com/

They are very inexperienced, but they seem to have the right attitude and it makes for a good read.

Woody
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Old 07-03-2004, 07:21   #13
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Wow, Bumfuzzle is entertaining on a number of levels - great read. The troubleshooting he is going through probably reminds all of us of our first repairs.

Their food issues are quite entertaining -lots of bars, burgers and fries- hope they are getting their vegetables !
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Old 07-03-2004, 17:53   #14
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I have been reading up on the bumfuzzle site - every
Chicago reference cracks me up- especially the photo of their apartment downtown w/ snow- could be the exact photo of our place in Chicago a few months ago!. It is so ironic - my husband and I met Belinda from 2hulls when we were boat hunting and she mentioned this couple to us because we were also from Chicago, about the same age, as well as many other similarities. I almost fell off of my chair when I clicked on the site and saw their names- Who knew? I am feeling much better about my cooking skills, however we know all too well about the joy of good burger and the lack thereof.
Thanks for the link! These guys are great!
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Old 09-03-2004, 08:46   #15
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I have just finished reading the logs from bumfuzzled and I must admit, I truly appreciate the fact that we are all very different in how we approach this "way of life" and the people/places we visit. After further review, I understand the similarities to this gutsy couple that were attributed to us, but I also recognize we have many differences. I am absolutely certain that with our experience, we will be just fine out there after reading along... I am going to send an email with a recipie for a nice white wine sauce for fish. I must remeber that 8 yrs ago at their age, I too was cunilarily challenged.
Ha!
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