On our recent trip to Vancouver, British Columbia to look at boats, we found ourselves enchanted with this little Westerly Conway 36 Center Cockpit. Having loved every Westerly we’ve ever seen, we were looking forward to seeing this boat and we were not disappointed. We were so jazzed about it that as we drove home we were talking about how we could afford to make an offer on it now, because we were worried the boat would sell fast. Here’s what this boat has to offer that we really liked, as well as why we haven’t offered anything yet.
Walking fore and aft on the deck is pretty easy with the wide side decks. Of course, the center cockpit means that the deck is broken up a bit, but I like the idea of having that flat area behind the helmsman. The cockpit feels deep enough and the seats in the cockpit are a good size. It seems like a good compromise between having a cockpit you can enjoy while at anchor and having one that isn’t going to sling you around too much at sea.
The propane locker is already located in the cockpit in its own protected area, which is great. And that lazarette is very deep. In fact, you can access the inside of the boat from this locker.
What you have is basically a big storage space with engine access, which sounds really great until I started thinking about it.
One of the things I find intriguing about Westerly boats is that they all have a mast that is on a tabernacle. This is so that the mast can be lowered when you want to go underneath the low bridges so common in Europe. I love the idea of being able to sail on canals in Europe some day and while this is nothing but a big dream right now, it would sure be handy to have a mast that’s easy to drop for other things. Well, easy is a relative term, I guess. But still. It would be easier than trying to drop a keel stepped mast, or even a regular deck stepped mast.
The boat was shown to us by its owner, a nice young man who certainly knows his way around boats. He says this boat is a cinch to sail and I believe him. The rigging is pretty standard and the sails are in good condition, a plus. To sail this boat, just leave the dock and go!
But remember, we will likely live on our boat, and that’s where the rub begins. Apparently this young man is selling the boat because he and his wife had been living aboard and it was feeling too cramped for them. They’ve bought a boat a bit larger and wider and are loving every minute of it. I don’t blame them. If all I wanted to do was sail this boat around Puget Sound, Vancouver Island, or up around Vancouver he would have been able to sell it to us right then. But now let’s look inside.
First, for a 36 foot boat, this one feels pretty roomy. Both the forward cabin and the aft cabin feel reasonably good sized, meaning I can imagine myself sleeping in either cabin. I’m hard pressed to figure out how they managed this on a 36 foot boat, but stay tuned for that. It would be so excellent to think that we could get all the things we really need in a boat only 2 feet longer than our Cal 34.
Entering the cabin, to starboard is the tiny galley. And now I begin to know how they got two reasonably sized cabins in a 36 foot boat. Here’s one of the ways. This is a huge compromise if you are going to live on this boat with more than one person. There is really no room at all in this galley, and there is precious little storage space. I started thinking about provisioning for a trip and where I would put food stores. Hmmm.
In addition, the sink, which is quite small, is nestled in that cabinet that hangs over the settee in the salon. That’s not too bad but it really makes that part of the settee unusable except if you want to put feet underneath it. I’m also concerned that I would be splashing water onto that settee constantly if the boat was in motion. Again. A thoughtful hmmmm.
The refrigerator is brand new and is the kind that looks like a dorm fridge. It’s very nice and is installed professionally, really a nice job. Unfortunately it’s also on the other side of the boat in the passageway between the salon and the aft cabin.
While in port I would dearly love to have a fridge like that. No digging to the bottom to find what you need! Perfect.
Being on the other side of the boat isn’t too bad in a boat this size. Really, the only problem with this is that the passageway to the rear cabin is very low. Getting through you have to stoop down so as not to bang your head, the very first thing I did when going aft. Wham! So I now know that the bulkhead there is exactly the same height as my forehead. Lesson learned. I didn’t expect palatial passageways on a boat this size. I’d learn to live with it. Or I’d wear a helmet.
The salon is bright and airy with good walking space and nice lighting. The settees are a comfortable size with storage space behind, underneath, and above. Because I was so enchanted with the interior of this boat, this is the best photo I have. Here’s one the owner sent me that shows what a nice little salon this is.
So now you may have guessed why this is such a roomy salon. There is no table. Just like in our Cal 34, the owners found that the table in this boat really got in their way. It made getting up and down off the settee difficult at best and they found it to be more of an irritant than useful. We know exactly what they mean. We took our table out, too.
But we replaced our table with a folding table on the bulkhead of our boat and we love it. They did not replace their table. Maybe this is because there isn’t anyplace to put one, so that’s something that we’d have to improvise. You can see there is a brand new diesel heating unit installed on the bulkhead. Heat is necessary up here, and this is pretty much the only place one could install a unit like that. But, of course, now that settee cannot be used to it’s fullest extent. Without that heating unit and the sink that hangs over the other end, this settee would be awesome. With those things, it’s simply adequate. Again, these are things that might not be important to another buyer. Always with the compromises on a boat, eh? The owners did save the table, so I imagine if someone wanted to put it back, they could do so.
Now, see, we liked this boat enough in spite of the galley arrangement and the difficulties with the salon that my imagination began to think of what we could do about these issues. We could put in another kind of heating system, opening up that settee to further use. Take out that cabinet that houses the sink and put the sink on the other side of the galley. It’s that way in some Conway layouts. Then shorten the settee a bit and add another cabinet that goes all the way to the sole of the boat.
But I digress. That’s a lot of redesigning, even for me.
I was pleasantly surprised by the aft cabin. The berth is roomy and comfortable, and there is actually enough headroom that you don’t feel squeezed. There is plenty of light, another important thing up here. There is a small port that allows you to look into the cockpit and I found I liked that touch.
There are storage cabinets along the sides of the berth, and the owners bought baskets to afford extra storage on the shelves on either side. We should do that on Moonrise. It’s a good idea.
The owner’s photo above show how much headroom you get in this aft cabin. It’s really good for a boat this size. Also in this photo you can see to the left some of the hull liner in this boat. It’s actually pretty cool. I don’t know what it’s made of but it has a short pile and looks like it would be easy to clean. It’s soft and absorbs sound, keeping the boat quieter. It also would help insulate the boat, keeping it drier in the winter. I like the fact that it is white, like the head liner. It makes the boat brighter and makes it feel bigger. As a whole, the interior of this boat is very nice and is nicely kept.
And speaking of dry, I didn’t see any evidence of leaks in this boat. Every boat has at least one, but I didn’t find it. And my highly sensitive nose did not detect the smell of ‘wet boat’ that I so dread. That is very, very good.
See the door on the right in that photo of the aft cabin? On some Westerly Conways that door leads to an additional head. On this boat it leads to that big lazarette/engine room, and that’s a liability offshore. Suppose you were in a high sea and suffered a knockdown. Suppose that lazarette lid wasn’t latched all that well, or had vibrated loose. That’s a big wide open space and I have bad visions of cascading green water entering my boat and sinking it. It probably wouldn’t happen, but I would have to close up that space before taking off. I could see walling part of it off and putting in a big storage space. That would work.
This boat has an elderly engine. The owner says it’s been well maintained, and I have no reason to doubt it. But there is some rust, and, well, it’s an old engine. Been there, done that. Still, if it was the right boat, this wouldn’t make much difference to us. And the engine access is pretty good.
Heading through the little passage again, there is a chart area or workshop area, next to that nice new fridge unit.
Just through the salon is the head. Here is where they saved space, again, for those nice cabins. You knew it had to come from somewhere, right? Let’s just say that I’m sure it’s adequate to the task but nothing more. That’s okay, really. Yes, it’s very small. But, still, how much time does a person spend in a head? Not much, at the end of the day. I would rather have that space somewhere else.
Finally, the v berth is a generous size on a boat with all of the other amenities this one has. There is a good sized hanging locker across from the head and storage under the berth.
Overall, this is an excellent little boat and we were just this close to making an offer on it. The owner has done quite a lot of work on this boat replacing systems, seacocks, and the like and adding equipment. It’s pretty impressive, overall, how much boat is packed into this small package.
Really, the only reason we didn’t put an offer on this boat is that we wanted to revisit the Westerly Sealord before making a decision. After seeing that boat again, we determined that it’s more in line with what we’d really like to have but the one on the market just now has some serious issues. So rather than jump the gun and then regret it, we determined to wait a bit. If this boat is still available when Moonrise is off the market, we may give it another look.