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Tim_H 15-05-2010 22:36

Thomas Gilmer Aries 32
Anyone familiar with these boats built by CC Chen?

This looks like a great offshore boat. Chinese builders dont seem to have a good reputation though.

1981 ARIES 32' - Ocean Cruising Full Keel Sloop Thomas Gilmer Designer / CC Chen Builder sailboat for sale in California

Solosailor 17-05-2010 23:36

That's still on the market! I saw that last winter and wondered about it myself. I will follow this thread with interest.

Tim_H 18-05-2010 13:35

I am almost tempted to fly down and take a look.

Les Blagg 02-06-2010 07:37

I have owned #17 (1977) Skidbladnir since we bought her new in Sausalito CA. Shipped her to Michigan, the Great Lakes for years, took her down the Mississippi, five years liveaboard through out the Caribbean. Now in Naples FL, patiently waiting our retirement and some more extended cruising.

With boats this age, maintenance is everything - could be an excellent buy ready for cruising or the proverbial hole in the water. Our hull has been excellent, always afloat except for periodic haulouts, minimal blistering. We did take the bottom to the gel coat and apply Interlux barrier system about 20 years ago at the first sign of pox.

The interior joinery has been a constant souce of pride, like living in a piece of fine furniture.

The deck is 1" marine ply overlaid with fiberglass, still in great condition with only a few spots where leaks caused local rot. Cut these out and West in new ply and good as new. The house is planked tropical hardwood and has been no problem.

Taiwanese stainless hardware was not the best but has been serviceable. Frequent inspection and prompt replacement of any fastener or part showing corrosion is the key (and just good seamanship)

The Westerbeke 30 was a jewel and has only been replaced in the last year. It's the same engine as a Perkins 4-91 and would have taken its second rebuild but the parts have gotten too expensive and hard to find so ...

At about 8 tons in cruising form, light air performance is problematic (did I mention the Westerbeke?) put she points well with the right sails and trim in good air. In heavy air or storm conditions, she is a strong boat which handles well and stands up to her rig. The few times we have had to heave to under storm jib it was like that was a designed in feature of the hull form.

If anyone has more specific questions I would be happy to try to answer them base on very extensive experience with a very limited number of boats (one)

SaltyMonkey 02-06-2010 09:12


Inner halyards?

How about that cockpit size?

Whats the bilge like?

Engine access?



Rocking horsey?

Tim_H 02-06-2010 09:16

And engine access. I have heard there are issues with this.

Les Blagg 02-06-2010 10:23

The mast is square sectioned of spruce-looking wood with external halyards and a two inch square wire chase up the middle. Never had any rot but I have been liberal with CPES and epoxy every time its been off the boat. It is deck-stepped in a very heavy s/s support. Under the deck is an substantial arched support of laminated ply and the framing of the head and handing locker create a box structure below this. The head door has never binded so I know the stay compression doesn't flex the deck.

The cockpit size is smallish - a self-draining foot well of about five by three with the seats a little less than six feet, seats at deck level with high coamings for backrests and to keep green water out. The companion way sill is at deck level so the front of the foot well ends as a bridge deck. The size and drainage are such that I have not worried about taking a full cockpit of water from a boarding sea. The double-ender design has always seemed to keep following seas from breaking on us more than a time or two. A good one person cockpit to brace into and be able to reach all the sheets. A second person is acceptable if they have a reason to be there. More than two people not good except at anchor.

The bilge is too flat over the encapsulated ballast (concrete and s/s machine punchings below a fiberglass covering). I have mostly solved that problem by "digging" a 10" by 10" sump into the ballast at the low point of the bilge (sealed with epoxy) and mounting the primary bilge pump in the sump.

Engine access is as good as it could be in a 32ft sailboat. The entire front of the engine is exposed with the engine box joinery is disassembled (designed like a jigsaw puzzle - no fasteners required). There is about a foot on each side of the engine. The back of the engine, tranny, exhaust and stuffing box are reached thru a 24" aluminum man-hole cover (heavily dogged) in the bottom of the footwell. There is a teak grate that covers the whole footwell and effectively hides the hatch cover. I am having more problems working in the "hole" than I did 30 years ago, but can still do it.

The hull form and the weight guarantee a stiff boat. It takes about 10kt breeze to get to a 5-8 degree heel and then it stiffens up hard. Probably won't see 15-20 degrees of heel until 25-30 knots unless you are overpowering the boat. The outboard rudder and tiller allow you to really feel for balance and trim accordingly. We use an Autohelm 3000 autopilot and the unit moves very little and not very often in most wind and wave conditions. Never had a hobby horse that was more than wave pattern dictated, i.e. not undamped.

Not asked- but the ice box is not adequate OK size about 5 cu ft - but just ripped it out and found only two inchs of plain white styrofoam under the stainless steel skin. Explains the three Adler Barbours I have killed over the years. Going to Seafrost holding plate system and so will need to beef up the insulation a lot - which will be a trick without really modifying the cabinetry. (following the Aerogel thread with intense interest)

Also not asked - headroom is about 5' 10" except in the galley area where a dog-house takes it to about 6' 3" (I am 5'8" so never been an issue) Not all the Aries have had the dog-house aft in the cabin so than would be an issue for people carrying excess height.

Tim_H 02-06-2010 10:32

You said your cabin trunk is wood? It seems that these boats came in a lot of different configurations/construction methods.

What year is your boat?

Les Blagg 02-06-2010 10:35

Mine was built Febuary 1977, hull #17.

SaltyMonkey 02-06-2010 12:48 spelled.

Does anyone have experience in issue with "cement" ballast in an old boat?

SaltyMonkey 02-06-2010 15:11

bad news guy. Just heard that aries sold via broker. Had some chain plate problems picked up in the survey and maybe some other issues.

OaklandSailor 18-07-2010 01:04

For what it's worth, I toured the Aries you are discussing and was very attracted. In fact, intended to make an offer but decided to continue looking. I believe that she sold to someone here on the SF Bay. Very fine cruising boat from all I can gather.


Aries 32 10-12-2010 17:17

Purchased her in June
1 Attachment(s)
I purchase her back in June, Les Blagg is pretty much on in his description and sailing qualities. Very stiff but that's a good thing on SF Bay. Chainplates had some rot in the teak block that was glassed in to fir the plates onboard to clear the toerail, a straight forward repair. I've moved her to Berkeley.

Ciabi 11-12-2010 10:28


I can echo most of Les's comments. The Chester P is hull #23, built in August of 1979. I found her rotting in the Newport Beach Marina last May.

The chain plates were pulled in the last month, Les. I'm also extensively going through hull #23 from stem to stern, Almost 200 photo are at Flickr: chuckbullett's Photostream as we plow (plough?) through the restoration if you're interested.

TNT's cabin trunk configuration match's that of The Chester P, but my cabin layout is unlike any other I've seen to date. Harmony, out of Sausalito, and a raised cabin trunk, for instance, with a teak companionway bulkhead. I've sat in her cockpit and it looks like it the headroom is really nice. Anton could comment to this.
Flickr: chuckbullett's Photostream

iraspira 22-03-2011 00:36

Re: Thomas Gilmer Aries 32
Hi There Les & Ciabi,

Nicely said. I've got Roughwater #16 (3/80) up in the Puget Sound. Great boat. Ciabi, looked at your pics, beautiful job.

Would love more info/pics on the chainplates. I've heard there is a horizontal bar welded across all 3 hidden behind the blocking. Have you seen this? Anyone drilled out the bolts from the outside and pull them for inspection?

Thanks, Ira
RW33 Enchantment

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