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Old 21-06-2022, 19:13   #1
GRH
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Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

Hi everyone,

I'm planning on buying my first sailboat after I complete ASA 103 (within the next couple of months). I'll be sailing on the Chesapeake, and I'll be single-handing most of the time. I'd like to pick up a boat that's capable of coastal cruising as well. At the top of my list right now is the Catalina 30 and the Pearson 27, and I've started reading more about the Beneteau 281.

I've read that the Beneteau 281 is set up well for single-handed sailing, and I like the cabin layout as well. I read one owner review that claimed the boat doesn't point well. I read the same thing about the Pearson 27. Is this a common shortcoming of boats with shorter waterlines? Or is it a combination of both a shorter waterline and a (relatively) shallow draft keel? The Beneteau 281 has a 4' draft, and I believe the Pearson 27 is even shallower. I realize the shallow draft is a big plus in the Chesapeake (especially for a green sailor).

Aside from my question above regarding pointing ability of the Pearson and Beneteau, can any of you offer your thoughts on the overall pros and cons of the Beneteau 281 in terms of the build quality, performance and seaworthiness? Thanks so much for all helpful replies!
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Old 22-06-2022, 04:08   #2
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

The Chesapeake is a great place to sail, and there are many coastal hops you can enjoy in the area. As the prevailing winds are SE to SW in the Summer, you will end up doing a lot of tacking and running downwind (along with a fair amount of motoring). With Chesapeake chop, a boat with a little more heft might serve you well.

I would not limit your search to any particular model. Almost any well-made boat in the 30 foot range would suit your needs. Find one with a working diesel engine. The Catalina 30s are very popular and well suited for your purposes. They often carry a premium price for their vintage.

Personally, with similar goals, I looked at C&C, Ericson, Pearson, Sabre, and Tartan. For a great value for a new sailor, you cannot beat the Shaw designed Pearsons - I would check out the 28, the 30, the 32, the 10M, and the 35. Look at the Mahina Expeditions bluewater boat recommendations if you have any greater aspirations in mind.
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Old 22-06-2022, 04:31   #3
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

The 281 is a great little boat. I 3D print a few parts for them. The anchor locker hinge is cast and breaks. I print a replacement in stronger poly carb.
A few things on the brakes fail. Silly stuff like end caps. The hull deck connection is weak if hit.
The Catalina after 1994 will have Vinylester laminate like Jeanneau huge bonus for old boats.
Iím seeing lots of 1999 1998 Jeanneau 37 2 cabin well kept 50-60K. They point well and are sassy quick.
The down side of the $5,000.00 boat is the 30,000 in parts they need. It doesnít change much as the price goes up either.
The C&C May have an Atomic gas engine. I kinda like them but get dirty looks saying that.
I also print a European water fill if you buy the French boat. Says holding a hose to fill tanks.
Ask your insurance company about the 281 before you buy it. May need rigging.
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Old 22-06-2022, 09:32   #4
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

Quote:
Originally Posted by GRH View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm planning on buying my first sailboat after I complete ASA 103 (within the next couple of months). I'll be sailing on the Chesapeake, and I'll be single-handing most of the time. I'd like to pick up a boat that's capable of coastal cruising as well. At the top of my list right now is the Catalina 30 and the Pearson 27, and I've started reading more about the Beneteau 281.

I've read that the Beneteau 281 is set up well for single-handed sailing, and I like the cabin layout as well. I read one owner review that claimed the boat doesn't point well. I read the same thing about the Pearson 27. Is this a common shortcoming of boats with shorter waterlines? Or is it a combination of both a shorter waterline and a (relatively) shallow draft keel? The Beneteau 281 has a 4' draft, and I believe the Pearson 27 is even shallower. I realize the shallow draft is a big plus in the Chesapeake (especially for a green sailor).

Aside from my question above regarding pointing ability of the Pearson and Beneteau, can any of you offer your thoughts on the overall pros and cons of the Beneteau 281 in terms of the build quality, performance and seaworthiness? Thanks so much for all helpful replies!
I was in a very similar place, I looked at the Pearson 27-2 and 28, the Precision 28, the Bene's, and a Nonsuch 26. Basically the smallest boats with an aft cabin (except the Nonsuch). They all were shallow draft and that will in general reduce windward performance. Also you may still run aground, so I would avoid a wing keel as they can get stuck. I'm in escrow on a 35' shoal bulb keel (slightly less stuck than wing?) because of the sardine can feeling in the saloon. The Nonsuch felt the most spacious however being young I decided it's a better boat to one day retire to.

I'm not sure how LWL will affect windward performance, it does affect hull speed. The boats you mentioned are more on the cruiser side of "racer-cruisers" IMO, maybe a Bene FIRST series will point better. Also the Precision 28 would be a good performer, as it is fractional rig sloop, plus is also a bit newer (late 90-s - 00s).
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Old 22-06-2022, 15:39   #5
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

Sailor Sailor, thanks for those great boat recommendations and overall advice on buying the first boat. I will take a closer look at the Shaw designed Pearsons.
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Old 22-06-2022, 15:44   #6
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

Rumrace, thanks for your take on the 281. I will have a look at the Jeanneau 37. Although, I think I would prefer something closer to 30 feet just to keep things simple (since this will be boat #1 for me).
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Old 23-06-2022, 10:45   #7
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

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Rumrace, thanks for your take on the 281. I will have a look at the Jeanneau 37. Although, I think I would prefer something closer to 30 feet just to keep things simple (since this will be boat #1 for me).
Let us know how it goes! The other thing that changed my desire from a high 20's to mid 30's ft boat was tankage (water and diesel) and storage/lazarettes but if you're not going to leave the Bay then might not be an issue.

Also always good to check with your Admiral in case you have one, she didn't like the Nonsuch 26 so that threw out pretty much every sub-30ft sailboat out... Fun fact, the NS26 has more headroom than the Dufour 35...
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Old 23-06-2022, 12:11   #8
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

Being a power boating sailing or winging it I stepped down in size over 40 to just under. Sitting back behind two wheels at the back vs cushy chair multsceen two level helm is intimidating. Now I’m comfortable and have eyes on something bigger. I point out the old Jeanneau cause it was in crazy good shape. Captain passed. It’s kinda the bottom of what that boat should be worth but likely the best one showing. Twin cabin great storage it’s a sweet boat. Backing in they are all the same size. Approach the dock at the speed you can afford to hit it.
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Old 23-06-2022, 12:21   #9
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

Nonsuch are odd ducks. Talk about a beautiful build though. Like old world craftsmanship. High maintenance wood beautiful glass works someone moved the mast. Every owner I’ve met on them are always charming relaxed folks. They have predictable owners maybe.
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Old 23-06-2022, 13:11   #10
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

Quote:
Originally Posted by GRH View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm planning on buying my first sailboat after I complete ASA 103 (within the next couple of months). I'll be sailing on the Chesapeake, and I'll be single-handing most of the time. I'd like to pick up a boat that's capable of coastal cruising as well. At the top of my list right now is the Catalina 30 and the Pearson 27, and I've started reading more about the Beneteau 281.

I've read that the Beneteau 281 is set up well for single-handed sailing, and I like the cabin layout as well. I read one owner review that claimed the boat doesn't point well. I read the same thing about the Pearson 27. Is this a common shortcoming of boats with shorter waterlines? Or is it a combination of both a shorter waterline and a (relatively) shallow draft keel? The Beneteau 281 has a 4' draft, and I believe the Pearson 27 is even shallower. I realize the shallow draft is a big plus in the Chesapeake (especially for a green sailor).

Aside from my question above regarding pointing ability of the Pearson and Beneteau, can any of you offer your thoughts on the overall pros and cons of the Beneteau 281 in terms of the build quality, performance and seaworthiness? Thanks so much for all helpful replies!
Congratulations! Pearson 28 is great I have a Pearson 303 and it's the whole scale better in my opinion. Easily single-handed and plenty of space. Good luck on your search.
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Old 23-06-2022, 13:32   #11
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

I think the word single hand seems to get over used or Iím just too newb.
I single hand my boat all the time. I have a single winch electric in front of each wheel.
A real sailor pointed out how hard it was to single hand both sheets with one winch.
Didnít know thought that was the norm but the 44í version has two winches on each side and none on couch roof. Sweet.
My Dads sailboat which we wrecked in 1959 had two pulleys one winch engine mounts and no engine. They are all fun
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Old 23-06-2022, 13:51   #12
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

I had a 1990 285,Very responsive great first boat or weekender, single handing is very easy, I had mine for 2 years and sold it for what I paid.
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Old 23-06-2022, 16:09   #13
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

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Congratulations! Pearson 28 is great I have a Pearson 303 and it's the whole scale better in my opinion. Easily single-handed and plenty of space. Good luck on your search.
Thanks, rmesfo... I'll definitely have a look at the Pearson 303. Maybe that hull would offer a little more room to grow into, both literally and in terms of leaving the Chesapeake and doing some coastal crusing.
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Old 24-06-2022, 14:09   #14
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

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Rumrace, thanks for your take on the 281. I will have a look at the Jeanneau 37. Although, I think I would prefer something closer to 30 feet just to keep things simple (since this will be boat #1 for me).
Then take a look at the Jeanneau Sunrise 34 / 35 ft. Designed as a cruiser racer and better performance than later cruiser versions with wider stern and more cabins for the charter market. Deep fin 1.8m or lift keel with stub keel, draft 1.2m about 4 feet, hull re-enforced with Kevlar. Problem might be finding one in the US though.

With new sails and keep the weight out, they will go to windward.

Pete
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Old 24-06-2022, 15:43   #15
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Re: Thoughts on the Beneteau 281

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Then take a look at the Jeanneau Sunrise 34 / 35 ft. Designed as a cruiser racer and better performance than later cruiser versions with wider stern and more cabins for the charter market. Deep fin 1.8m or lift keel with stub keel, draft 1.2m about 4 feet, hull re-enforced with Kevlar. Problem might be finding one in the US though.

With new sails and keep the weight out, they will go to windward.

Pete
Thanks very much, Pete7. I will definitely check out the Jeanneau Sunrise 34/35. Looks like your boat is a Moody 31? I've heard great things about Moody boats. They're out of my price range (for now), but I'm curious... what do you like most about your Moody 31?
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