Eval of an Islander 36

It was pouring rain, but we enjoyed climbing through the Islander 36. The good news was that my wife and kids liked it (a lot), and my co-captain felt we’d be able to handle it just fine. It seemed like a comfortable size for a month or more up on the inside passage toward Alaska.

Things I liked: most of the teak inside was nice, and the 3 cyl 30 hp Yanmar has around 1500 hours or more on a rebuild, but it is the original ’72 power plant. I liked the hart inverter and five new batteries, very nice stainless winches, and the base of the mast showed no corrosion at the step. I also liked the tiller and the looks of the standing rigging. There were no obvious blisters on the deck or topsides. It was a ‘tall mast’ with a 53 foot clearance height. There was a dodger and full length bimini, which needed the clear plastic replaced but we appreciated the rain protection while in the cockpit.

Things not so great: there was some general cracking on deck, but nothing looked structural. (There was less than what we just repaired on our ’67 Cal 20.) There was some significant rust and flaking on some of the keelbolts. With the help of the pouring rain, we also found more evidence of leaks than we would have liked, on both sides of the cabin (puddles under pads, some damaged wood). There was not visible leaks from the windows, but the water may have been running internally. All of the wood on deck would have to be refinished or replaced.

It was too wet to pull off the sail cover and inspect the main sail. We didn’t take the time to look at the sails below decks. There’s six sails, but no roller furling. The sellers have had the boat for 4-5 years, but it was the owners before them who put the serious mileage on the boat (racing, a trip to Hawaii, etc.). As a result, not everything may be fully functional, like the autopilot. Most of the electronics, like the radar, looked about 5-6 years old. The GPS/Chartplotter looked newer, maybe 2 years old.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to look at, and the price wasn’t bad. The six foot draft wouldn’t be the best for the Columbia River or parts of Puget Sound, but this could be a great boat (when brought up for specs) for longer coastal cruising (if the claims of good sailing characteristics are true). Maybe we’d take it south at some point in the future.

What we need to think about is the optimum length for us. Now that we’ve seen an Islander 28 (great for day sails and shorter trips) and an Islander 36 (possibly great for the “big cruises” and for our growing kids), we hope to find some good examples of appropriate 30 and 32 footers to consider. The traditionalist in me wants to see a 30 foot Cape Dory, while my performance side wants to see a lighter C&C with good light air performance. Budget-wise, they’re roughly in our range now, and more easily in range in 12-15 months.

Meanwhile, I hope we can sail our Cal 20 tomorrow. I wish we had more Sabre and Tartan sailboats on the west coast to look at (not to mention Bristols).

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