Pearson Coaster and Wanderer

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Erik S Frampton, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. Erik S Frampton
    Joined: Jul 2017
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    Location: New York

    Erik S Frampton New Member

    Dear Sailors and Designers,

    I am strongly considering purchase of either a Wanderer or a Coaster. I spent a whole day in moderate wind on the coaster yesterday. Rigging and Sails were both acceptable and not noticeably spent.

    My only real problem with her was the weather helm. I found that even on the broadest reach, even on a downwind, that she wanted to point to windward. Quite badly! It made standing to windward of the tiller an uncomfortable effort. I would have felt it quite cautionary on a cruise over distance. Standing to leeward of the tiller allowed the body weight to hold position and control the helm more easily.

    The Wanderer is 300lbs heavier ballast, but both feature the accused and in some circles accursed barn-door style rudder, and suggest expensive re-design to avoid a "heavy helm" where there is too much pressure on the rudder under way. I did not experience this as much as the tendency for her to steer so eagerly to windward. If the weather helm is well known here, or a problem for this style of Bill Shaw design, then I might re-consider.

    If anyone knows of cost saving designs or estimates for a new rudder, I would certainly consider it. There is a thread on this site, but it dates from 2003,,,so I'm hesitant to continue there.

    All comments and suggestions welcome. I'f I purchase the shoal draft Wanderer, I will likely only know its handling after purchase, as it is on the hard.

    Best regards,
    Erik S Frampton
     
  2. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    The Wanderer is the shallow draft version and as such needs more rudder area than the depth allows without having a barn door style. The Coaster has a much deeper keel and does not have a barn door style rudder. Most all full or 3/4 length keel sailboats of that era tended to develop lots of weather helm because of the short couple between keel and rudder. My old Alberg 30 used to nearly pull my arm out of its socket on a spinnaker reach. That was one reason that designers went to an aft rudder on a skeg or on the transom. That is, to lengthen the steering couple. It is also why some had wheels installed.

    If the centerboard is dropped part way on a Wanderer it will offer more aft area to partly relieve the weather helm and improve steering. I suspect that there is no quick fix and both boats are rugged and good sailboats in spite of some flaws. Builders had not yet figured out how to make them cheaper and many may not even be subject to blisters or cracked jelcoat. I used to think about adding a flap on the rudder to act as a force multiplier, much like many wind vane self steering rigs.
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Tom has it right and I've made several steer better with a few different modifications. The first is raking the rig forward as much as practical. Neither boat has a traditional barn door rudder, though the Wanderer does have a fairly truncated keel hung, with a prop cutout, which isn't particularly effective. These keel hung styles were never known for good abilities. They were used to offer good protection, sitting behind the keel. I've also put a spade on a Coaster, cutting back the main fin about 18" and supporting the shaft on a strut. I've debated a "Brewer" bite, though can't justify this amount of effort. Given the value and general age of these puppies, maybe a longer tiller is the way to go.
     
  4. Erik S Frampton
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    Erik S Frampton New Member

    Excellent confirmation and advice! Thanks. I confirmed with the seller of the Wanderer that he thought the steering was overpowered in a stiff one, but that he thought he was just a little weak. I am not a total novice, but will be on a steep learning curve with either vessel. The Wanderer seems to suffer more than the Coaster, but I really do like the shoal for specific anchorages in my area where normally sailboats cannot go. Even the Coaster was not safely docked near low tide on the Hudson, just a few yards away from a towering 100 foot motor yacht, with 5" of clearance and 3 foot swells from passing boats. Sorry for not noticing the shape difference on the two spec drawings, you're right, the Coaster is angled aft to reduce surface area near the waterline. I was particularly concerned that the "barn door" tries to draw the boat down into the water, fighting not just the water flow across the rudder, but also the buoyancy of the vessel. The owner also assured me that the auto helm for his tiller has no problem keeping course, even when it was stiff for his strength and comfort level. (They are an older couple, but handled a Triton and then the Wanderer for two decades)

    I will ask the yard to rake the mast decently forward before launch, as I've also read this to be a lessening factor. The Coaster did have quite a tiller handle, damn near reaching the hatch bench. Could easily sit under a small dodger and still pilot just fine. Standing to leeward at the front of the cockpit sole was the most comfortable position. I did notice on my viewing of the Wanderer that the tiller handle was quite short compared to other boats of the same relative vintage and length. I would sooner replace that than any rudder.

    If you were me, and the condition of each vessel basically averaged out with plusses and minuses, would you trade the slightly better handling of the Coaster (implied above) over the shoal draft of the Wanderer? Or would you consider the handling of each rather a toss-up?

    Also, I was not too impressed with how well the Coaster was able to point, ESPECIALLY compared to a Pearson 30 (fin keel and spade) which I have sailed in various weather recently. The P30 was much more quickly overpowered, however, where as the Coaster really stiffened up with the wind, looking for more.

    Finally, what opinion would either of you offer as to the overall handling, seaworthiness, and sailing ability of the two? Can I get an Amen, a blessing or two?

    Sincerely,
    erik
     
  5. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    It's not a fair comparison to attempt to match up a canoe body hull form (Pearson 30) to a CCA era boats you're interested in. The Pearson 30 has a spade rudder and well defined fin, while the others are built down hulls with lots of wetted surface, keel hung rudders of marginal effectiveness. There's over a decade of thinking difference between the designs, so naturally the Pearson 30 is superior in most regards. This said, you'd probably prefer to be in the Coaster if it got good and nasty out, in terms of comfort.

    The yard wouldn't be who I'd let rake the mast. This is something you should do, so you can sneak up on the best tune for the sail plan. It's not especially difficult and you'll know when to stop, or in reality, when to go back because you've gone too far. The yard has no idea how much forward rake to apply to give you any chance at success.

    Again, I can't really tell you much, mostly because the questions you're asking are owner specific and/or preferences. I live in extreme shoal waters, so the Wanderer would have to be the choice, but you don't have this concern and have a choice.

    Full keel boats just aren't going to point as well as, a divided appendage, canoe body with a more modern rig. It's like comparing a late 1950's Porsche with a early 1970's Porsche. They're both rear engine, air cooled sports cars that have similar lines, but that's about all they have in common. If I was looking for a boat in this size range, I would be looking for a more modern design. One that wasn't designed nearly a half century prior, so the handling attributes and other "quirks" would be more what you're use to.
     
  6. Erik S Frampton
    Joined: Jul 2017
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    Erik S Frampton New Member

    Thank you so much! I was hoping that the Wanderer, with 300lbs more ballast than the Coaster would make up the difference in seaworthiness. The Long Island Sound can indeed get pretty nasty, but shelter is only 30 minutes in either direction in most cases. My cruising aspirations and familiarity with charts and waters does put the Wanderer in the lead ahead of the 4 1/2' needed to float the Coaster, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the Wanderer will do better in light air, with less drag from the truncated keel and with the board raised up. Sorry about the false comparisons of oranges to apples. I was much more interested in the subtler comparison of the Coaster and Wanderer. I've considered the P30 plenty, but do want the relative stability and keel in the older designs.

    Thank you so much! Best forum I've ever joined on any topic in 25 years of internet!
     
  7. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    I have sailed a Pearson 34 regularly for several years. Even though it has a separate keel/CB and the rudder is well aft, just inside the transom, it also has a tendency toward excessive helm in higher wind. No real effort because it has a wheel but wake coming off the rudder gets noisy and can stall in a hard gust. One solution for all such boats that are not racing is to reduce sail. Centerboard boats have a great attraction in areas like mine where the water is thin and if thin water is a concern, the Wanderer gets higher marks for that. These are older boats although well built and inexpensive. Things like sails, standing rigging condition and engine mechanicals should get some priority in choosing between them as these can get expensive.

    For price and a decent cruiser, either is a good value and worth some owner sweat to make it a nicer boat.. Newer designs do offer more interior open space but often at the loss of storage.
     
  8. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I'm a big fan of the old CCA's, particularly as cruisers and their inherently larger storage areas. The ability to carry stores and spares on a cruiser is awful important. The initial stability of the P-30 will be higher than the older boats, though I'd have to check their AVS for ultimate figures. As Tom mentioned, it's more the way the boat is equipped and it's general condition with these older designs. Having to wholesale redo standing rigs, sails, engines, etc. can easily make a seemingly good deal, a not so good one.
     
  9. Erik S Frampton
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    Erik S Frampton New Member

    Excellent!! Here's the basic breakdown...

    The Coaster is more vintage...with few updates. An added hatch over the salon is good for airflow. A wooden anchor pulpit was installed with two rollers for the chain, but it was damaged in a docking event along with the pulpit railing, and the deck fastening there needs complete replacement. Screws were ripped out and fiberglass damaged. The Coaster also features the purchase upgrade of the mahogany laminate plywood interior and cabin sole. This is still beautiful and restorable where moisture has resulted in curling or lifting near the blukhead and mast compression post inside the head at the V-berth. Sink and head both work, but either bulbs, fuses, wiring, or all of the above prevent all running and cabin lights from working except for the single spreader light. A half-rebuild and tuneup was done on the original Atomic 4, with good success in my opinion. Idles and runs fine. Original gas tank. Depth finder works, but not knot meter. Bottom was painted, but not sanded and texture looks a little rough. Stanchion leaks are minor, but they leak! Shore power connection only leads to a power outlet....but is modern and could be hooked up to everything. A small solar panel on the transom keeps the batteries charged. 3,000 negotiable includes mooring in Manhattan (no small deal) and possible dingy with 5 hp mercury.

    The Wanderer has a fantastic bottom, anti-fowling bottom paint and not a single blemish. Pulpit and windlass are great. 7 sails compliment her inventory. Interior is same layout, with starboard galley, but is the lesser laminate and fiberglass sole (looks identical to the P-30) is less cozy. Sinks and fresh water do not function. Newer diesel engine came fully re-built 7 years ago. Fresh water cooled. Autohelm tiller, better electronics, and full inventory of lights including deck lights attached to spreaders. Additional modern winches in cockpit. Propane stove and tank at stern. The Wanderer has less of a topside, as the current owner tried painting it himself last season, and it is already peeling. Cockpit sole is very soft, nearly trampoline-like...but includes underneath it two additional battery wells. Smaller diesel tank is now is port side lazarette. Roller furling in front with a 150. 3 sails in excellent condition including spinnaker and two poles, 4 additional sails. Good running and standing rigging. 5,000 owner financed at no interest, no dingy, 3 day sail away. He will hold the insurance until the note is paid off in December, but I can move the boat in mid-August.

    I think the Wanderer is the smarter purchase over time, but the Coaster is right here and quite pretty inside, sold by a friend and quite inexpensive. Insurance might possibly cover the pulpit damage.

    This is a lot to read....thanks for any additional consideration. Your help has already been more than expected.

    Best regards,
    Erik Frampton
     
  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Let's see if I can't narrow it down a bit, the Wanderer needs structural repairs and considerable cosmetic repair and costs more. Both need general maintenance and upkeep (rebedding hardware, etc.), plus some additional upgrades. Price point savings on the Coaster, may cover some if not all of the damage repairs, though the desirable mooring is a good selling point.

    For most folks, structural repairs (rotten cockpit supports) should be avoided, as this is major surgery and could easily be more than the cost of the boat. A pulpit and other cosmetic stuff can be done by you. Try to ignore the bells and whistles and focus on what each brings to the table and its value to the yacht. Diesel is more desirable than gas, replacing a pulpit, compaired to a cutting open the cockpit should be a no brainer.
     

  11. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Rumars Senior Member

    Electronics have no value once installed. Sails have value, as has the diesel but only if in good shape. If the cockpit on the Wanderer is the same as the Coasters (wich I believe is true) you are in for major work. That is a one piece unit with the deck, and balsa cored like it. There are no inside suports whatsoever (hence the trampoline feel, it is suspended). Repairing it means cutting it out, recore and reinstall.

    I would advise the Coaster for following reasons:
    1. Mooring. Do I need to say more? Just research what one costs and how much you have to wait for one.
    2. No mooving apendages. Sooner or later a centerboard will need attention.

    The non working electrics can be safely ignored. A boat of this vintage will usually have a mess of wiring wich needs to be updated anyway. See it as an oportunity to convert to LED and USB standard. Easy to do yourself and the boat can be sailed in the meantime if you start with the running lights and bilge pump.
    The leaking stanchions and damaged pulpit and roller are minor things, you would have to do the same work of removing and rebedding them on the Wanderer in order to do a decent paint job on the deck. Just do it right with epoxy plugs since it's a balsa cored deck.
    The Atomic 4 still has a strong comunity going and parts are available. Upgrade to electronic ignition and have a good bilge blower. Dual circuit cooling is available.
    Diesel only makes sense if you motor a lot or if it's already in the boat. I see no reason to convert.

    Things to watch out for and recomended upgrades in no particular order (if they are not already in place):
    1. Chainplates. That's why the veneer lifted in the head. Probably the same on the other side in the hanging locker, only more difficult to see. So inspect all of them and reseal and replace if suspect. It's not that complicated.
    2. Beam over the main bulkhead. Likes to delaminate since the mast sits on top of it and togheter with the door jambs it represents the mast compression structure.
    3. Sink and cockpit drainage tubes. Pearson originally only fiberglassed in some tubes without any seacocks. The cockpit drainage is marginal and the sink will drive you crazy. In any kind of seaway it makes a church organ sound due to the changing water level in the tube that will make you doubt your sanity and have you believe you are hallucinating. Same for the cockpit only less noticeable because of the wind. The tubes themselfs are not bad, but some form of valve needs to go on top of them. Cockpit drainage should be updated (read made really big) if you want to go offshore.
    4. Sea water tap for the sink. The watertank under the V-berth is small by todays standards. Use an electric pump for seawater and a manual one for fresh water. The good thing is the tank is monel (gas tank also) so no problems there.
    5. Hull - deck joint. Can be fiberglassed from the inside with a bit of contorsionism.
    6. Boom. Originals can still be found with the old wooden roller reefing boom (and hopefully the cranks for reefing and outhaul). Either you like it and learn to use it or you convert to modern slab reefing.
    7. Fold out support for chartplotter and other instruments. Best place for it since with the long tiller you normally sit right at the edge of the bridgedeck and can reach it just fine. The cabin sides are inclined and make wonderfull backrests when anchored, I would not put any instruments there (I do know it looks weird not having them there).
    8. Gaskets for the cokpit lockers.
    9. Lexan washboard for heavy weather and light at anchor.
     
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