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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

150 Million Dollor Luxury Yacht Attessa IV By: Ian Van Tuyl

Columbia 36

A bargain-basement racer/cruiser from a granddaddy of American production boatbuilders.

It's hard to believe, especially for those of us who learned to sail in the 1960s, that fiberglass sail boats built back then are now a part of history. The "fiberglass revolution" that seems like just yesterday, is now 30 years in the past. A lot has in the world of boatbuilding since then, but many of those old boats are still sailing.

The Design

The Columbia 36 was in production between 1967 and 1972. One reader estimates that more than 600 were built, making it a very successful model.
The boat was designed by William Crealock, the California naval architect who today is more readily associated with the Pacific Seacraft line of bluewater cruisers bearing his name. The Columbia 36, with its transom stern, aluminum frame windows, and step-down cabin, bears little resemblance to the Crealock 34 and 37, whose canoe sterns and bronze portlights give it a tough, traditional, go-anywhere look.
The Columbia 36 was a pretty slick looking boat in its day, and though its lines have worn reasonably well with time, we're reluctant to call it a "classic." The sheer is essentially flat, with modest spring, the sidedecks wide and the cabin nicely proportioned. The rig is on the small side for this size boat.
Underwater, the divided underbody shows a swept-back fin keel that looks like an inverted shark's dorsal fin, and a skeg leading to the spade rudder. Interestingly, the propeller shaft (not shown in the drawings) is situated at the aft end of this skeg, which places it above and aft of the rudder and nearer the surface than one might expect.
The long cockpit rates highly with owners. One reader said it doesn't feel crowded even with a crew of eight.
The displacement/length ratio is 261, which is a nice number for good all around performance—too high for a hot rod, but just right for comfortable family sailing.
A subtle point about Columbias is the tooling. A wooden boatbuilder in Maine once told us that one of his objections to fiberglass boats was the absence of crisp, sharp lines and edges. Study a glass boat, especially an old one like the Columbia 36, and you'll see what he means. Every edge is generously radiused. Of course, some of this is necessary to pull a form from the mold, but not to the extent that Columbia rounded everything. In our opinion, many of the old Columbia's lose a few points in looks for this reason. An exception would be the Columbia 50, where wooden toerails (instead of the usual rounded, molded fiberglass toerails) go a long way toward alleviating the impression of an amorphous, eggshaped structure.


Like nearly all production builders in the 1960s, Columbia used standard hull laminates of polyester gelcoat, chopped strand mat and 24-ounce woven roving. Columbia was a pioneer in developing what it called the "unitized interior," or fiberglass pan, in which the engine beds, stringers and furniture foundations are all molded. This pan is then "tabbed" to the hull with wet fiberglass and is presumed to provide the necessary stiffening.
Finish work goes quickly after such a pan is in place. Teak trim, cut and milled in the woodshop, is simply screwed into place. The cabinet doors, juxtaposed against the gleaming white pan, and ubiquitous pinrails are as telltale of the late 60s and early 70s as shag carpeting.
The hull-to-deck joint is unusual in that it incorporates a double-channel length of aluminum into which the hull and deck flanges are fitted top and bottom. It probably made good engineering sense, but given the complaints about leaking,  and the fact that this method, to our knowledge, has not been used by other builders, suggest it had its problems. Because aluminum has little or no springback, we imagine that bumping a piling could permanently "dent" this channel, causing leaks that would be very difficult to repair properly.
The deck was cored, and to finish the interior a molded headliner was glassed in. The old Columbia brochures are rather funny to read, showing as they do plant workers dressed in lab coats, installing winches, cleats and windows as if building a boat was no more difficult than assembling pieces from a kit. In fact, Columbia fomented this idea, marketing its boats in kit form and calling them Sailcrafter Kits.
The basic structure of the early Columbias was reasonably sound, and sold with a two-year warranty. That many of those boats are still around says something positive about general construction quality.
On the other hand, the boats were pretty much bare bones. No frills. But then, they were more affordable than a comparable boat today. We don't mind the opportunity to do our own customizing, but the interior pan limits what you can do.
Most readers responding to our Owner's Questionnaire rate the construction quality of the Columbia 36 as above average. No major problems were reported, though we do have some complaints of deck delamination. In all fairness, separation of the fiberglass skins from the coring is common in many older boats and should not be judged as a weakness peculiar to Columbia. But you should have your surveyor check the deck for soundness before buying.
Miscellaneous complaints include inadequate ventilation, need for a sea hood ("The companionway hatch is a joke"); various leaks at windows and hull-deck joint; and mainsheet and wheel poorly located. The brochure says the keels are lead, but at least one reader said his was iron.

The Columbia 36 was intended to be something of a hot boat when it was introduced. In fact, it was offered with a trim tab on the trailing edge of the keel for better control off the wind. A brochure credits the inspiration to the Twelve-Meter Intrepid's "lopsided defense of the America's Cup."
We don't know how successfully the boat was raced, but do know that its PHRF rating is about 162, making it just a hair faster than a Catalina 30 (168) and a Cal 34 (168). None of our readers indicate that they race. One said, "Built for comfort, not speed." Typical reader ratings for speed are "average" upwind and "above average" off the wind. Several note the importance of sail trim (true of any boat!); annoying weather helm (excessive weather helm is unforgivable, but we suspect there's always a few whiners in this department who must not understand that a boat without any weather helm is a bear to steer); and one reader noted that the spar doesn't bend much to optimize sail shape (bendy rigs weren't in vogue at that time).
The standard sloop rig doesn't carry a lot of sail. One reader said he had a "tall boy" mast, which presumably was available as an option, as was— surprisingly—a yawl rig.
The only unusual element of the Columbia 36’s interior layout is the placement of the chart table forward, opposite the head, rather than in its more common location near the companionway. Since radios and instruments are usually mounted near the nav station, we prefer it aft.
Overall, readers have positive remarks about seaworthiness, stability and balance. "The boat is a very good sailer," wrote one reader, adding that his boat "...has taken all Lake Michigan has to offer and never broken."
Most Columbia 36s were equipped with Atomic 4 gasoline engines. Several readers complain that the 30-hp. doesn't move the boat fast enough—about five knots. One reader had an Albin 20-hp. diesel. Another said engine access was very poor: "No room even to check oil."
Fuel tankage is 29 gallons; water is 44 gallons.


The layout of the Columbia 36 is standard, with a Vberth forward, U-shaped dinette amidships, and quarter berths aft. The sideboard galley puts the cook in the way of traffic, and the sink may have difficulty draining on port tack.
The most unusual feature of the plan is placement of the chart table opposite the head. This certainly isn't convenient to the cockpit for navigator-helmsman communications, but it does allow two quarter berths instead of just one. Readers note that the boat sleeps an honest six people, and tall ones at that. Headroom is listed at 6' 3".
Fiberglass interior pans tend to make for a rather sterilized appearance—the proverbial inside look of a refrigerator or Clorox bottle. We're not fond of them for several reasons: Pans restrict access to parts of the hull, tend to make the interior noisier and damper, and make it difficult to customize. But, that's the way it is with most production boats.


The Columbia 36 was a popular boat in the late 60s and early 70s, and still has its fans today. The basic structure is good. The interior is plain. We suspect that prospective buyers will find a wide range of customizing by previous owners. The quality of this workmanship will have a lot to do with your decision to buy or look elsewhere.
The BUC Used Boat Guide lists average prices for Columbia 36s ranging from about $25,000 to $33,000, depending on year and condition. Our original research showed those prices to be reasonably accurate. In today's market, you should be able to pick up a Columbia 36 in decent shape at a great price. One reader wrote, "The boat can be bought at bargain rates as it is the most underrated boat on the market."
Prices for all boats tend to be higher on the West Coast than the East Coast. Freshwater boats from Canada and the Great Lakes are most expensive (BUC Research says 25-30 percent more), and those in Florida and nearby states are the least expensive (about 10 percent less).
We think the boat represents an outstanding value for the person who wants the most boat for the least money. On the other hand, it suffers from the usual economies and slap-together techniques of large production builders. And the design is beginning to look a bit dated. We doubt that you'll make any money on the boat.

For more information please contact Ian Van Tuyl the yacht specialist. Please feel free to contact me at any time day or night and I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully earning your business.


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An Exclusive Look at the Classic 1968 Columbia 36 By: Ian Van Tuyl

Friday, December 1, 2017

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Onboard the Jeanneau 57 in 18 Knot Winds! By: Ian Van Tuyl


The Baja Ha-Ha Cruiser's Rally begins every year around the first of November in San Diego and ends in Cabo San Lucas. Some call the Ha-Ha a race, the organizers prefer to think of it as a Cruiser's rally so that no one has to feel bad about all the cruising junk on the decks.
This year represented the 22nd Baja HaHa which will begin on October 30, 2016, in San Diego and will land in Cabo on November 11 and the eventending November 12, 2016, in Cabo San Lucas with the "I survived the HaHa event.
The crowd of more than 180 registrants bodes a little better for the cruising season this year. Although far more boats come down independently of the HaHa, it is always a good barometer of the volume of tourists in the year to come.
The Baja Ha-Ha makes the 750 mile trip down the Pacific coast of our peninsula in three legs. The first goes from San Diego to Turtle Bay. Turtle Bay is just south of Punta Eugenia, the elbow in the middle of the west coast. It is a common refueling stop for both north and southbound cruisers and usually a pretty good anchorage for the large number of boats. In Turtle Bay, the contestants will enjoy a potluck supper.
Turtle Bay isn't much to look at anymore. Some years ago, the late '80s or early 90's as I heard) the tuna cannery closed and the population of the town dropped from about 10,000 to about 2,000 today. The rusting cannery and huge boilers from the steam plant are about all that is left of the industry that once powered the town. Things will continue to expand in that area, however, as Pacific development moves their way. Things have changed much I hear since I was there several seasons ago. Still, beware the "laundry scam". 
But the comradely is the thing, and by Turtle Bay, the bonds are beginning to form and the mutineers identified. For many of the participants this has been the longest leg they have ever sailed, and as any sailor who has been on a multi-day passage will agree, the third day out is the toughest.
The Potluck gives the crews a little liberty and time to explore the little town. For many, it is the first taste of 'real Mexico' as well. Small blocks cut with narrow dirt streets where the children play soccer and an occasional low-rider passes by. (yes, it's a little non-sequitur) Do beware the laundry scam, though. Cruisers anxious to get some of those mildew clothes off the boat will find the negotiated price changes on delivery.
The second leg of the rally is the jump to Santa Maria Bay. This is one of the most beautiful places on the Pacific Coast in my humble opinion. When we walked the beach there almost 6 years ago, we shared the 4km of white sands with a coyote and some of the largest sand dollars I have found anywhere. Cruisers really feel like they are reaching the tropics in Santa Maria as well, as it is one of the first places you see the Magnificent Frigates, with their 6-7' wingspan circling the bluffs overhead.
The participants get a day off there, in Santa Maria to explore and take a breather from the shipboard life. I highly recommend taking your camera and taking the short hike to the top of the bluff near the point. Looking back down on the boats in the blue-green water below makes a spectacular vista.
The final jump is about a 36hr leg to Cabo San Lucas, where the race ends and the party begins. An arrival night fiesta on November 8th kicks things off, as even the last straggler has usually made it into port by Happy Hour.
With the fleet of 140+ boats that will arrive in Cabo, if you don't have a marina reservation, you are probably going to be at anchor in front of Medano Beach. Having anchored there for years, I highly recommend doing so about 200-300 yards off shore in front of the arroyo. Take the time to set your anchor well despite the urgency of joining the party. The year we passed through two men were in such a hurry to get ashore the Mexican Navy retrieved their boat about a day later, some 80 miles out to sea.
On the 9th participants enjoy a Cabo Beach Party and on the 10th the awards banquet takes place on the marina's edge. It is a fun crowd and almost everyone I have spoken to about their experiences enjoyed it immensely. The advantages to participating are many. For a large number of the participants, it is their 'first time away from home'. The benefit of group support and a large number of helpful opinions when it comes to in-transit repairs is obvious. With the number of boats, you are likely to find other cruisers of your sect, tech-heads, old salts, sea virgins, families and more. Cruisers find and form their own little cliques and many form bonds that are enjoyed well beyond the end of the race.
On November 20th there will be a welcome party in La Paz for those who turn north into the Sea of Cortez.
There are some downsides to participating in the Baja Ha-Ha as well. The organizers of this event do a fabulous job from all accounts I have heard from participants. Yet 140 boats is a lot of boats. As I said above, many of the participants are sea (cruising) virgins. For them, it is very reassuring to have some of the veterans around who may have participated in 2 or more HaHa's.
Dragging anchors, wrapped head stays and worse do occur and can present a problem with such a crowd. Only Turtle Bay really has space to comfortably anchor that many boats and like a swarm of locust, they strip the little tiendas of food and prices go up for a few weeks following the passage of the fleet. Every once and a while, trying to maintain the fleet's schedule puts you to sea on days you might rather not.
The biggest single downside I see to participating in the Baja Ha-Ha is the amount of Baja you miss in between. Even today much of Baja's rugged Pacific coast can only be visited from the decks of your own boat.
When we sailed down in 2000 as a solo boat and departed San Diego on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was spent in Ensenada and on the 26th we learned all about doing our own paperwork and checking in. Neither my girlfriend or I were particular 'joiners' and we had been training both physically and nautically for more than a year for a voyage that had intended to be longer than just the trip down Baja. I had been sailing for more than 30 years and had a few trans-Atlantic passages under my belt, so we had no qualms about doing the trip without a buddy boat or fleet.
We explored our way down the Pacific coast, spending a few days in San Quentin and exploring the estuary there. There is San Martin as well, an island obviously volcanically formed, that juts up like a black cone from the Pacific.
One of the most magical stops for me along the way was San Jerónimo Island, not much more than a large rock about 4 miles off the coast and just north of the famous Sacramento Reef, the graveyard of the Pacific. The tiny island is home to an old lighthouse and a tiny fishing camp. The lighthouse maintains it's authentic look but the equipment inside and the lighthouse keeper have been replaced by modern gear.
The amazing inhabitants of the island were the elephant seals. These enormous sea mammals make for a National Geographic moment that is certainly worth the photo opportunity. Do beware, though, these animals are not used to human contact, are WAY bigger than you and will charge to defend their young or territory.
When we stopped on San Jerónimo on December 31, 2000, we rounded north of the island, avoiding the reef passage in the first few minutes of the new millennium. It was a new moon night and with zero light pollution, we enjoyed a spectacular show as the dolphins raced through the iridescent rich waters around the boat. So bright was the illumination the sleek bodies of the dolphins appeared to glow and their swim trails could be seen hundreds of yards off into the calm night sea.
We met other 'pods' of cruisers along the way, some of whom I am still in touch with or run into around The Sea today. It is a deeply bonding experience.
We also took the time to dive and explore ashore in some areas. Cedros Island, for example, was once a watering stop for the Manila Galleons returning from the Philippine Islands loaded with treasure on their way to Acapulco, where it was mule trained across Mexico then ship bound for Spain. The now denuded islands were once covered in cedar trees, all cut down for spars and such over the years.
At the north end of Cedros on New Years night we traded a few cans of beer and a bottle of cheap wine to some partying fishermen for four of the biggest Pacific lobster I have ever enjoyed. In Santa Maria, we traded two company ball caps for several kilos of jumbo shrimp, direct from the gunnels of a shrimper. We hosted a shrimp-a-thon for our little fleet of 4 or five boats that night and had a memorable evening with new friends.
In all, it took us 28 days to sail from San Diego to Cabo, where as the Ha-Ha-ers cover it in 10. It's different strokes for different folks to be sure. Sailing solo might not be recommended if you are too green at the cruising life or if you enjoy the comradery and support of the group. But if you have the time and the huevos taking the time to explore the Pacific Coast is a rare opportunity I am thankful I didn't miss.
Either way, almost everyone ends up in Cabo San Lucas and for some, it's the end of the journey. For many, it is a place of goodbyes, with some cruisers headed to the mainland, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta and points even further south. For others, like myself, they take the turn north, up into the Sea of Cortez. You can spend years exploring the magic of The Sea or you might end up here longer - But as Homer wrote a couple of thousand years ago... The Journey is the thing!

Onboard the Jeanneau 57 in 25 Knot Winds! By: Ian Van Tuyl