Originally Posted by iSaint
What's your opinion on Bruce Roberts
designs? I saw this 36 for sale
for $29,900 in Texas
. I see differing opinions, one being that it's slow. My son and I liked first looks and I'm looking for a liveaboard
What follows is writtten in a friendly tone of voice. I say that because some of what I may write may appear critical to some readers.
I took a look at that boat (BR Spray 36) online (via your link) in order to answer your question or request for opinions. I will offer an opinion, but you should look for others too.
First, I have not owned a Bruce Roberts
Spray. So, my opinion is just an opinion and not based on my personal experience with that boat or that design.
I have not sailed on one yet, but would be happy to go for a sail on any (in case any CF member
wants me to see how their boat sails).
I have considered buying
one in the past, and even saw a Junk Rigged one for sale
last year that caught my attention, and another for sale
last year that looked special (more below). So, I am not "anti-Spray" by any means. But, it is unlikely I will buy one as I have my heart set on something else for my future.
I have mixed feelings about the BR SPRAY design. I mean that as "some good, some bad." In some aspects I respect the boats (some) and would not mind owning one (if it was exceptional). But, I also see some of the limitations and commonly seen faults.
My remarks below are focused on the BR Spray design as shown in typical boats built and listed online. Bruce Roberts has many designs and so my remarks about the Spray design should not be taken or applied to ALL of the BR designs or boats.
Since most are "home built" or DIY
boats, the quality of the construction will vary by builder
. So, one needs to look very carefully at the individual boats and not make any assumptions about quality or condition based on another Spray boat one may have seen. However, since there are many on the market (usually) it does allow one to make a comparison.
As I have looked at many (dozens) BR Spray boats online over the years, my impressions are these:
1. Most seem very crudely built and finished, usually in steel
. Most appear "home built" (naturally as that was the intent of the BR designs). Some look so poorly built that I think they may be unsaleable and possibly unsailable too. In other words, some look awful, ugly, crude, rough, etc. Some are priced very low, for a reason. Some are unfinished. Some steel
hulls may be questionable for their longevity if they have not been properly painted inside, etc.
2. Most look suitable for a "live aboard" boat, but many do not look ideal for extended cruising
(but perhaps OK for extended motorsailing). Some exceptions exist (see more on that below).
3. Because the design has a famous name "Spray" (Joshua Slocum's boat) and because the boat design plans were available for many years and inexpensive, it is a upbiquitous design. You can see BR Spray boats all around the world. That does not necessarily mean they sailed around the world, though some may have.
I once had a question about the Spray design and wrote to Bruce Roberts. He answered my inquiry quickly and politely. I mention this because he has had a very succesful career marketing
his plans. I learned about him decades ago. He is still in business, and still answers his mail. That can be a plus.
4. The BR Spray design is popular (many built) but that may be for reasons that have nothing to do with sailing performance. In short, the design's popularity may be due to low cost plans, a target market that wants to DIY
home build a boat with simple skills (steel welding) and a market full of people who want something cheap
5. I have never sailed a BR Spray, but would like to some day. So, I cannot speak about their sailing performance from personal experience. But, I have read many comments from sailors who say they are slow (look at the hull
design, which is very broad) and "pigs" and will not move in light air (wind). Since the boats are usually steel hulls, and may have heavier than needed construction ("overbuilt") by home builders, and because they may be loaded with lots of heavy plywood
and other stuff inside, they may be heavy and slow.
But, that may not matter to some sailors who simply want a big roomy boat to live in at a marina, and for whom motorsailing is the usual form of sailing anyway, and in that they would definitely NOT be alone. Motorsailing is not unusual, just look at all the charter
mono boats and modern charter
catamarans and weekend sailors that do it, so this boat design may be fine for that type of boating
. If you are OK with running the engine
, and would likely do that anyway, it should not matter too much if your boat does not move in 4 knots of wind
While I like fast sailboats (see my CF Profile About Me page), I also like "slower" designs such as Colin Archer designs and so I can appreciate that going fast is not the only good reason for choosing a particular boat design.
Now for something more POSITIVE.
6. I looked at that boat you linked. It is a recent build (2000) and appears to be nicely finished inside and out. I like what they have done with the interior
, which has a mix of varnished wood
and some painted wood
too. I happen to prefer a mix like that, with mostly white painted wood interiors (a more traditional look).
space looks very clean.
I am not sure about that water heater
, and perhaps someone else can comment on that as to whether it is suitable and looks secure etc.
The deck paint
I don't like the hull
color, but that is just a personal taste thing. Something about that particular hue of blue just doesn't appeal to me, though I generally like blue hulled boats.
For a "live aboard" boat, that one looks like it would be comfortable to live on.
Is it worth $29,000?
That is entirely up to you. I have looked at many Spray boats online, and that one is one of the nicest I have seen, with an appealing interior
, it is not too old (2000), and it appears to have been maintained in a clean condition. All those things are positives. I suppose if I were in your boatshoes, I would consider what else is on the market for $29,000 asking price
and weigh my own plans for sailing too. The rest (the decision) is up to you.
7. My earlier comments above may seem negative about the Spray design. I want to make sure to include something positive about that design. Here it is: I have seen TWO different SPRAY replicas (both BR designs) that were very nice. One was for sale
last year (sold) and looked outstanding. It was sold
for about $20K or less and was a smaller version (as I recall
30'), and had sailed around the Caribbean
. Perhaps some CF member
bought it. It was white with what I recall
was a light oak interior.
The other and the MOST outstanding BR Spray I have ever seen is owned and cruised extensively by a CF Member. As I recall, they were in Japan
last year cruising around the Pacific. When I saw the interior (and plan) of their boat I was amazed and very impressed by what they have. Their boat looks great inside, and I like what I see outside too. Unfortunately, I tried to get the link to their blog from their CF Profile to share here, but for some reason the link does not work
. So, I will just encourage you to send them a PM and ask if they have another blog link or some photos online you can see. They do participate in CF and I have seen photos that made a strong positive impression of what a Spray COULD look like if well built and finished well.
The most outstanding BR Spray I have ever seen is "SOBRAON."
Cruisers & Sailing Forums - View Profile: sobraon
I hope this helps you and others, and I hope I have not offended the many BR Spray owners out there.
And, as I mentioned up above, I would be happy to take a tour of a Spray or go for a sail on any by invitation from any CF members in the future (just send me a PM and tell me where).
I have tried to present a balanced and honest opinion here. YMMV.