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Author Topic: Ocean sailing the 34  (Read 6140 times)

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Andyman

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Ocean sailing the 34
« on: September 07, 2008, 01:16:34 PM »

Hello! I'm a new poster to the forum and can say it's loaded with some of the best info I've found. I love the 34 and hope to own one in the next 5 years or so. My plan is to live aboard in the San Juans. My one question at this time is, is the 34 capable of sailing from the Puget Sound to Mexico? Just how far offshore is recommended? I know some of this depends on experience but I'm looking for just overall thoughts.

Thanks!
Andy
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Ray & Sandy Erps

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2008, 01:35:44 PM »

Quote
My one question at this time is, is the 34 capable of sailing from the Puget Sound to Mexico?

We owned a C-34 for three years and loved the boat too.  Would I sail it down to Mexico?  Sure, if I wasn't rushed so I could pick my weather windows.  We plan on making that trip and beyond in a few more years.  With that in mind, we bought a boat that was designed for blue water sailing.  Check this website out for lots of information on what makes a blue water sailing vessel:

http://www.mahina.com/boats.html
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Ray & Sandy Erps,
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2008, 01:41:09 PM »

Going to Mexico need not be an offshore voyage.  Check out George Benson's concept of inshore cruising here:  http://www.georgebenson.us/links.cfm and http://www.georgebenson.us/

His log of his trip from San Francisco to Puget Sound is very good.  I have his book, which is more of a list of harbors with facilities (and no chartlets), so I've found the on-site log to be better reading.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2008, 02:49:50 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Stephen Butler

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2008, 09:29:42 PM »

Agree with the others....one can sail a C34 off-shore, if one prepares the boat well (reinforced forward hatch, storm sail, etc., picks the weather windows correctly, and is definitely not in a hurry.  Having said this and having a little experience, at least in the Gulf, the standard C34 does not have, in my opinion, sufficient tankage or for that matter good storage for prolonged times off-shore.  But can you do it?  Sure, just slowly with lots of stops.
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Steve & Nancy
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waterdog

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2008, 09:56:16 PM »

We're in Vancouver, BC.  We are contemplating taking the boat down to Mexico next year.   We took it north to the Broughtons this year for a little shakedown.  Gave it a little test in 40 knot winds and 8 foot steep choppy seas.   Actually we didn't find the two together - we were motoring up a channel into the wind.   It started gusting 40 and then my little anemometer stopped spinning so we don't really know where they peaked, but the boat heeled over 20 degrees with no sail up!   A bare poles wind test tells you nothing about handling in seas but it was interesting.  One day we were headed south and gale blew all day.   The wind eased in the early evening so we thought we would poke our nose out.   The seas were still heavy.   I'm not sure exactly how large they were but watching my friend who was following in a 48 foot heavy displacement trawler, I could see a good ten to twelve feet of his bottom paint as he came off the waves.   We decided to turn around because we didn't have to be out in the slop.  I was completely impressed with the boat handled.   Turning in seas like that my old boat used to involve a lot praying and some desparate clinging.  The Catalina was beautiful.   Pick a wave.   Spin the wheel.   Around you go and now you have following seas.  Not the least bit scary.   Watching the trawler make same turn, I thought it was going to go over.  

The next day we were motoring into 4 to 6 foot seas for a few hours.   Very well behaved.  No pounding.  Lots of water over the deck.  

Conclusion?   I think the boat can handle anything we will run into on the way down to Mexico quite nicely.   However, I don't think it's a good ocean passage boat.  The same lively performance that allows you to spin on top of a wave is a liability if you are trying to get it to track nicely with some windvane steering or autopilot.  Lot's of crew?  No problem.  Short handed in weather?  I think you would get tired.  Also this boat is wet.   I had vberth cushions that were soaked.  The Lewmar ports are crap in a sea and I have thicker than standard lenses and brand new seals.   The test with a garden hose doesn't cut it.   Take some waves over the deck.  Mystery leaks.  The area under the vberth was also soaked and I think this is a different problem and the whole front end of the boat needs some work.  Do some reading on blue water boats and those with experience don't have good things to say about our type of anchor locker.   But it's not a show stopper for a trip to Mexico.  

Oh.   And get a real anchor.   I thought my 15kg Bruce was a real anchor.   I dragged on two occassions after setting hard.   Mind you, they were big winds, but that's when you want your anchor to hold.   I think a Rocna.  The biggest meanest one you care to drag aboard.   You ought to be able to sleep well at night without being tied up in a marina.  

Overall, my confidence in the boat grows more and more as we get to know one another.   I think our conclusion is that this is the boat we will go away on.  I don't know if we'll turn right and head for the Marquesas, but no reason not to go south some...



    
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
Now 1999 Manta 40 cat

Stephen Butler

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2008, 08:54:51 AM »

For my limited experience, the ports are okay if one replaces the seals, including the o-rings. However, the hatches are a concern, particularly the forward hatch when taking water over the bow, but this can be rectified with either thicker lexan or a plywood cover.  Another issue are the drains....the anchor well needs to be absolutely clean or the small drain will plug and you will be carrying a lot of bow weight.  As for the boat's handling...yes, it is very good, but make absolutely sure about your rudder if your's is an older boat without the newer style rudder.  Just some thoughts. 
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Steve & Nancy
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waterdog

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2008, 11:54:08 AM »

Interesting.  I would have said the same thing about the ports a month ago and I have new seals and O-rings.   And they stand up great to driving rain and garden hoses, but waves over deck = water in my ports.  Is everybody else good with their Lewmars in a vigorous sea?  Maybe I have a problem with the seals - I'll look more closely.

What's the concern with the hatch?   Are we trying to defend against breaking seas over top of the boat?   If so, I think there are a lot of other concerns on a c34 that require attention.   Have a look at those big locker doors in the cockpit and the weak little hinges what would happen if you had boarding seas?  It's not a bluewater boat that will stand up well to knockdowns off Cape Horn.   Philosophically if you feel that any voyage out of sight of land is the same as crossing oceans, this is not the boat to take.  If you are comfortable with the notion of short hops and predictable weather windows, it's more than adequate.   

The must haves for me on this boat for an extended trip down the coast are really very simple:

1) strong rig (for me this means new standing rigging)
2) strong rudder (for me this means replacing the 20 year old one)
3) serious ground tackle
4) appropriate safety gear

I have lot of other things on my list, but they all come down to comfort and convenience items.  Having said that, I already put thicker acrylic in my forward hatch!
 
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2008, 12:08:49 PM »

In addition to Steve's excellent suggestions, cruising requires a certain amount of "independence from the grid" electrically.  Seems we "just may have" discussed a lot of these electrical issues in previous posts. :D
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 12:09:13 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Rick Johnson

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2008, 12:47:53 PM »

I would agree with the upgrades mentioned before taking a long trip.  The C34 is definitely a coastal cruiser.  That said, if you put the C34 in the same category as the C36 (which I would), I know of one C36 that has sailed from the west coast of the US to American Samoa, one to Australia and one that has finished a circumnavigation.

Cheers,

Rick

http://sailblogs.com/member/winddancer/
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 12:49:07 PM by Rick Johnson »
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Rick Johnson, #1110, 1990, s/v Godspeed, Lake Travis, TX

waterdog

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2008, 01:35:09 PM »

Rick, you are absolutely correct.  (In fact you can cross oceans on rafts made of reeds.)  This is all a matter of risk management.   You would probably be just fine crossing oceans on a much lesser boat than a c34 - most of the time.   A well trained crew of a c34 with modern GPS, weatherfax, EPIRB, series drogues, SSB and shore based weather routing,  liferaft etc etc probably faces a much lower risk of perishing at sea than did those crossing oceans in the best bluewater boats 50 years ago.   The one factor that remains the same is seamanship.  Part of that is balancing the risks against the rewards and the costs.   I would much rather take my family to Mexico on 40' Hallberg Rassy than a C34, but I can't afford it, yet I still think the risk is worth it.  Others would stretch it further and cross oceans on a c34 / c36.   Still others would prefer something custom made for Holland America.   None of the choices are right or wrong.  They just respresent different risk tolerance.   

The only thing that is inexcusable is putting the lives of others unecessarily at risk when a bit of knowledge could have mitigated the risk.  That's why forums like this are great because they are really helpful for those of us try to shake off our ignorance. 
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Steve Dolling
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waterdog

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2008, 02:17:22 PM »

In addition to Steve's excellent suggestions, cruising requires a certain amount of "independence from the grid" electrically.  Seems we "just may have" discussed a lot of these electrical issues in previous posts. :D

Stu is absolutely correct.   I have a great little generator than I'm willing to part with for about half the price of a Honda.   I'll post it in the Buy/Sell section...
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Steve Dolling
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Ron Hill

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2008, 07:55:12 PM »

Guys : Catalina lists the C34 as a "coastal cruiser".

The is an old saying in aviation that can be easily adapted to sailing - you fill in the words :
THERE ARE OLD PILOTS AND THERE ARE BOLD PILOTS, BUT THERE ARE NO OLD BOLD PILOTS!!!!
 
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Ron, Apache #788

waterdog

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2008, 09:36:42 PM »

I think if we take Ron's philosophical approach and apply it to Rick's data set, we come up with the following: 3 Catalina 36s left North America - only one of them made it back alive...   
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
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Rick Johnson

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2008, 10:39:43 AM »

Actually, all I could swear to - is that the C36 made it back..... The crew???????   :shock:

Cheers,

Rick
« Last Edit: September 09, 2008, 10:40:22 AM by Rick Johnson »
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Rick Johnson, #1110, 1990, s/v Godspeed, Lake Travis, TX

Stu Jackson

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Re: Ocean sailing the 34
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2008, 03:59:04 PM »

This is a link to co.com where someone copied some of Skip Allan's log on the loss of his boat WILDFLOWER on his way back from Hawaii only a few hundred miles off our coast.  He had lots of weather tracking information and still got caught out.  One of the things that I noted was his discussion of water coming in his hatchboards.  Given the construction of our hatchboards, I doubt if they'd pass muster.

The trick is to NOT get caught out.  I've spent a number of days on the ocean out the Golden Gate, some great, others exhilarating, some boring, and some where I didn't go too far and came back for safety.

I can only conclude that, yes, our boats CAN sail on the ocean, but, they are NOT ocean going boats.  Coastal cruising within reasonable distance of safe haven is prudent seamanship in our vessels.

http://www.sailboatowners.com/forums/pviewall.tpl?&fno=21&uid=73200280089&sku=2008253051151.67

10/14/08 - This link doesn't work anymore since co.com upgraded their software.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2008, 12:02:11 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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