Here is my perspective, FWIW. My wife and I owned a rather funky old 31 that had been down the west coast
, through the Panama canal
, across to St. Lucia, and then sailed to Florida
after the PO died, demounted and trailered to northwest Washington
where we bought her. First of all, the layout. The centerboard
and center cockpit
combination is great. It's rather restrictive for moving around, but is as neat and seamanlike arrangement. The mast
in the cockpit
makes sail handling easy, but lacks a lot of room for the halyards and other sailing gear
. The 31 has great single
bunks forward, a very nice dressing compartment with lots of usable storage
around the sink. If you don't try and make it a full time floating home, it is a good all around sailboat. Certainly not the fastest, but stable and easy to sail. The tiller in the cockpit
means you can steer with your foot while scanning the horizon.
Now for the disadvantages. The aft dinette is great- very cozy and convenient, but since it has to double as the master berth, it does double duty. This makes your bunk the central gathering area. Not a problem with a small crew, but privacy is an issue. We have sailed with other couples, and they had the forward bunks, and we had the aft. Drop boards in the cockpit were a royal pain. We had to remove and install a minimum of seven boards to move from the aft bunk to the head
and back. A PITA in a pouring rainstorm, even at the best of times. The removable cross arms are a problem as well. Jim Brown acknowledged that they were adequately strong, but just barely. The connectives to the hull
Also, hopping from the float to the net to the deck
board to the main hull deck
is a problem. The nets can be walked on, but it is hard to do so. Doing the side net hopscotch while sailing is challenging. From what I can see of the interior
, it looks Spartan, but functional. These boats need to be kept light, or they will bog down and sail like slugs.
Bottom line- the searunner
31 is a good, but rather dated design with a very functional layout and very seakindly handling characteristics. You certainly can't build one for what they are asking for it. There doesn't seem to be a lot of problem with dry rot
, but a boat of this vintage probably has some. Check around the cockpit seats, the forestay tang and around the crossarm connectives.
Now for our perspective. We read a book by Chris White called the Case for the Cruising Multihull
, and he sums it up very well. He started out building his own 31- Shadofax and sailed it far and side. When he pulled the crossarm connective out and had to limp back to port, he had a lot of time to design his next boat. What he had was a boat that was smaller than what he wanted, of questionable quality and had no real interest in putting a lot more money
in her. What he wanted was a simple, rugged powerful offshore
boat that would take him anywhere he wanted to go. His solution was Juniper- a constant camber boat about 60 feet long, with wooden crossarm and two freestanding masts. Our solution was to build our 44 Constant Camber trimaran
. We liked the Searunner
design so well that we copied it in the 44 and added all of the features of a big, powerful offshore
boat. (Sorry, we are still building, but plan to launch in the next year). Our 44 is everything that our 31 was not. But then we have four children
, so we need the extra space. BTW, we had both a small Yanmar
inboard on the 31, and a small outboard
. The outboard
was not our favorite choice. It had the feature of being hard to reach and control, and the unnerving habit of roaring and bogging down as it hobbyhorsed up and down. Nervewracking, to say the least. We do not have open wing decks on our 44 and it is going to provide enough room for two 12 foot ridgid dinghies, as well as plenty of space for just laying around. Also, I have a big four cylinder diesel engine
in the bilge
and I am in the process of installing.
I guess, you need to identify what are your requirements. The 31 can be easily (sort of) dismounted, loaded on a cradle
and shipped as deck freight or slid into a shipping
container. Our 31 was shipped from Florida
state on a single
trailer and pulled by a station wagon. Certainly doable, and in a lot less time than two months. Your actual results may vary. Hope this answers some of your questions, and good luck with your choice.