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Old 25-03-2021, 20:35   #1
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Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

I'm always looking for another boat. I had noticed one for sale on CF some time ago..."Brio". Lovely lines and not too expensive. Started doing my homework and found they were built in San Leandro and only 18 were built.

I found one for sale in Napa Ca. and with a friend, went to take a look.
At first, al was positive...well for a 1978 boat. We went inside and found the interior very appealing. I'll mention here that the lower shroads were attached to the cabin sides which frees up movement on deck.

Inside the boat we noticed the boat cabinetry sitting off the under deck by 1/2". and tapered down to "0" 5 feet either side of the chainplates. The lowers were actually pulling the deck up off the cabinetry and bulkheads. The tabbing from the bulkheads to the deck underside were broken away.

What a shameful design flaw. Here are some pictures.
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Old 26-03-2021, 11:55   #2
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

Ouch! Could become a convertible perhaps?
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Old 26-03-2021, 14:55   #3
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

G'Day CS,

Can't say that I'm surprised at what you saw. Very close friends had that designs little sister, a 29+foot version built by the same folks in San Leandro, sold under various names including Farallon 29 and Golden Gate 30) and it had the exact same failing in the lower shroud chain plates. We cured it by adding an additional hard point on the inside of the hull in line with the shroud and connected to the bottom of the original chain plate with a rigging screw.

This was a bit in the way, but eliminated the tendency for the side of the coach roof and deck to pull up from the hull. I agree that this is a pretty bad design failure!

Their boat was an OK sailor, but was way too tender for SF bay winds... sailed with a reef most of the time, often two... but they loved her despite these things...as you tend to do when you commission a build and see it through.

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Old 26-03-2021, 15:15   #4
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

I remember both those boats, and they looked pretty enticing to me back then. But the problem is the cabin trunk isn't supported to withstand that shroud. Fiberglass flexes ... a lot. I have seen boats with a chainplate just attached trough the deck with a backing plate glassed underdeck. And I didn't like that design either although it's probably supported better than those being close to the side deck structure.
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Old 26-03-2021, 20:06   #5
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
G'Day CS,

Can't say that I'm surprised at what you saw. Very close friends had that designs little sister, a 29+foot version built by the same folks in San Leandro, sold under various names including Farallon 29 and Golden Gate 30) and it had the exact same failing in the lower shroud chain plates. We cured it by adding an additional hard point on the inside of the hull in line with the shroud and connected to the bottom of the original chain plate with a rigging screw.

This was a bit in the way, but eliminated the tendency for the side of the coach roof and deck to pull up from the hull. I agree that this is a pretty bad design failure!

Their boat was an OK sailor, but was way too tender for SF bay winds... sailed with a reef most of the time, often two... but they loved her despite these things...as you tend to do when you commission a build and see it through.

Jim
I looked to see if additional bulkheads or support rods would fix the problem...one rod would be in the head and terminate in a very "sensitive" area.


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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
I remember both those boats, and they looked pretty enticing to me back then. But the problem is the cabin trunk isn't supported to withstand that shroud. Fiberglass flexes ... a lot. I have seen boats with a chainplate just attached trough the deck with a backing plate glassed underdeck. And I didn't like that design either although it's probably supported better than those being close to the side deck structure.
Not only does f/g flex, it also gets a memory after a short period of time. I found that out the hard way when my Ingrid 38 had too long of screws from under the deck pushing on the deck skin. It was that way when I purchased her. Took the screws out but the indentation never went away. Same for my Westsail 28...mast support heel failed under the sole to the top of the keel. With a 36" crowbar, it would not move.
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Old 28-03-2021, 01:01   #6
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

So here is a question for anyone who has experience with this sort of thing...the question is:- Does fiberglass have a memory? What I mean by this is if this deck has been sprung upwards (1/2") for a length of time, will it be set in the sprung position if the lower shrouds were relaxed?
I have a Westsail 28 currently...the mast heel step failed at some point and the compression post at the rear of the head which carries the load to the keel via the sole, via the mast heel. The sole in the area of the compression post looked as if it may have collapsed 1/8". I pried with a 3 foot bar to attempt to "flex" it up to gain that very small amount back but nothing would budge. Maybe the 1/8" was already there from the factory, I don't know.
I'm wondering how a repair for the NorWest 33 might be achieved? On modern yachts with cabin side chainplates eliminate this problem by simply running a rod down to an attachment point relative to the keel. That would not work with the Norwest. But maybe chainplates attached to the side of the hull with knees under the deck and glassed into the hull. A massive amount of work. But if the deck would not spring back, you would have that additional problem. Any ideas?
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Old 28-03-2021, 01:29   #7
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

That's not a design 'flaw', that's a feature so you don't break the mast or shrouds.

Kinda like the 'deformable' hull that separates to keep the keel from breaking off, as was explained to us in the Hanse rebuild thread a few week back...
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Old 28-03-2021, 12:45   #8
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

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Originally Posted by jimbunyard View Post
That's not a design 'flaw', that's a feature so you don't break the mast or shrouds.

Kinda like the 'deformable' hull that separates to keep the keel from breaking off, as was explained to us in the Hanse rebuild thread a few week back...



OMG!
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Old 29-03-2021, 12:44   #9
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

I too looked at this boat a few weeks ago. It looked to me that someone in the past reinforced that area by cabin chainplates with biaxial glass tape. I noticed this because they glassed over the painted surface which turned me off. I think if the lowers were loosened over time the cabin top might go back down.. It's similar to deck stepped mast being unstepped for long period and the deck creeps up. Or boat on the hard that gets dimples where the stands were.

The build quality of these were amazing. I believe the builders used Isophalic resin.
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Old 29-03-2021, 20:32   #10
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

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I too looked at this boat a few weeks ago. It looked to me that someone in the past reinforced that area by cabin chainplates with biaxial glass tape. I noticed this because they glassed over the painted surface which turned me off. I think if the lowers were loosened over time the cabin top might go back down.. It's similar to deck stepped mast being unstepped for long period and the deck creeps up. Or boat on the hard that gets dimples where the stands were.

The build quality of these were amazing. I believe the builders used Isophalic resin.

The build quality is good. But I also noticed saltwater in the bilge from a leaky seacock in the engine area. The water level was up above the bottom the aluminum fuel tank and the fuel tank did not look that great to begin with. I thought of a couple of fixes. Definitely would have to relocate the lower's chainplate tying them into the hull. Couple of ways of doing that. Still, not for the price they are asking.
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Old 29-03-2021, 22:07   #11
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

I remember when those boats came out, they were quite well-respected as I recall, so much so that I thought I'd like to get one one day way back then. A friend of mine used to rave about them back then. Too bad they have that design flaw, but still... it is kind of an old boat... and still sailing.. that oughta be worth som'n.
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Old 29-03-2021, 22:23   #12
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

Well, that's it...Although that defect is glaring and no doubt most of them if not all are constructed this way, the rest of the boat is very well put together. In my opinion, this is how I think it should have been done...
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Old 28-05-2021, 01:14   #13
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

I have Nor’west 33 hull number 9 built in 79’ which was the first year they realized this and moved the
chainplate outboard to the deck and tied into the hull and is quite beefy in reinforcing from the yard. The original tab on the cabin top is still seen from the mold where they were on hulls 1-8.

This is unfortunate, I LOVE Catbird and am currently prepping for a circumnavigation starting 22’ or 23’.

Tons of pics at @catbird_adventures on IG.

Adam
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Old 28-05-2021, 07:10   #14
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

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I have Nor’west 33 hull number 9 built in 79’ which was the first year they realized this and moved the
chainplate outboard to the deck and tied into the hull and is quite beefy in reinforcing from the yard. The original tab on the cabin top is still seen from the mold where they were on hulls 1-8.

This is unfortunate, I LOVE Catbird and am currently prepping for a circumnavigation starting 22’ or 23’.

Tons of pics at @catbird_adventures on IG.

Adam

Hi Adam...Even though you have been a member here for a year, I see you only have a few posts, so welcome to the forum. I had contacted a few owners of these to try and find information about them. Information was scarce. I really did like the general quality of the construction. This is the first I heard that the problem had been corrected. Too bad recalls weren't a thing in the 70's and the other hull fixed.
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Old 28-05-2021, 07:22   #15
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Re: Looked at a Nor`West 33 today

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
Hi Adam...Even though you have been a member here for a year, I see you only have a few posts, so welcome to the forum. I had contacted a few owners of these to try and find information about them. Information was scarce. I really did like the general quality of the construction. This is the first I heard that the problem had been corrected. Too bad recalls weren't a thing in the 70's and the other hull fixed.
Thank you!

Information is a bit scarce online, fortunately the first owner of Catbird kept impeccable records including a full binder of articles, original brochures, and even “baby pics” of when she was being built. I have found the boat to be of extremely high build quality, and your account is the first I’ve come upon structural concerns.

The entire cabin top was molded in one piece, with end grain balsa, and the hull to deck joint is quite a stout design, I could almost see why the designer may have thought there was margin for lower shroud loads on the cabin sides. Maybe there was and something else happened to this one..

Cheers,

Adam
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