Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Meet the Contenders: Radiance

Just down the dock from Oz was another Gulfstar 44, this one a 1984 model, listed by the same broker and priced slightly higher at $129,900. There were a few similarities: both had behind-the-mast roller furling (which I'm not a huge fan of, but is at least better than in-mast roller furling), recent, nicely done cockpit enclosures, dinghy davits, updated galleys, and similar layouts. Like Oz, Radiance has her original Perkins 4-154 engine. But like most Gulfstar 44s, Radiance is a sloop rather than a cutter like Oz - not a deal breaker, persay, but many experienced cruisers prefer a cutter rig for offshore work as it gives you more sailplan options to keep sailing & maintain steerageway in higher winds. Radiance isn't set up for wind or solar, which is our preference, but unlike Oz does have a genset, watermaker, and SSB. The electronics were mostly updated, and owner recently added an expensive bow thruster. Some but not all of her standing rigging has been updated; the chainplates are original.

But whereas Oz showed really well cosmetically, Radiance had a somewhat worn look to her both topsides and below - you couldn't really tell this in the Yachtworld photos, but it was apparent in person. The reality is that cosmetics are about the cheapest thing to upgrade on any sailboat - it's mostly elbow grease. Only the deck paint and nonskid would cost much at all to refresh. But as new sailboat shoppers we found it difficult to look past the lack of spit & polish. I think Radiance suffered for having been shown immediately after Oz, and now that we've seen a couple of truly rough boats I think Radiance would show better. That wouldn't change the fact that she's one of the higher-priced boats on our list, would still require some refitting and budgeting for an eventual repower, and even then would still be a sloop with diesel-dependent systems. She wasn't a bad boat, but she wasn't a great value in my mind, and Dawn didn't like her nearly as much as Oz.

Visiting Oz and Radiance together did have one big effect on our boat search. Prior to seeing the boats, Dawn thought she would really like a centerline walkaround queen master berth as opposed to athwartships, offset, or V- or U-with-inset berths. It seemed more like our bed on land, I suppose. Boats with centerline queens aren't extremely common (except on Hunters, Morgans etc) and the feature usually carries a bit of a premium, but with Dawn's preferences in mind I'd been looking out for them. When she saw Radiance's centerline queen in person, though, Dawn wasn't impressed. She thought it seemed insecure compared to the full-beam U-berth on Oz, and she was right. You certainly couldn't use it on passage, and even in a rolly anchorage you'd be fighting to keep from sliding out of bed (I suppose you could rig up some lee cloths but that's kinda negating the whole point of a walkaround centerline queen). So that's one item that's been eliminated from "the wish list." It's one thing to peruse listings on yachtworld, and another entirely to see a boat in person.

Next up: something completely different, the Robert Perry-designed 1983 Tatoosh 42 "Haanli."

No comments:

Post a Comment