Owner Comments

Owners Comments

Owner Boat Name
Allen and Kate Barry Mendocino Queen / 38 Cutter / 1977 Purchased in 1986. Operated as San Francisco based charter yacht til 1993. From 1993 to the present (July 2000)have been sailing Mexico, Hawaii, Kirabati, Samoas, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Vanautau, Papua New Guinea, Solomons, Marianas, Micronesia, Palau, Phillipines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Borneo, Malaysia and Thailand. We will stay a year or so in southeast Asia. Future plans are Diego Garcia and other Indian Ocean spots then Africa and beyond we have not yet planned. The Downeast has been an admirable vessel. We even do all right in races with a 216PHRF handicap. Also the boat goes to weather quite well but she must be driver hard. We have fixed, replaced or rebuilt just about everything but that just fine for a 25 year old boat that has not had much rest.
Tony Strong Mustang / 38 Cutter / 1988 Mustang Story;

Layed up in Paris, California 1988 by two workers, Tony & Sabastian from California Yachts, off-time work, (side job). the boat was hauled to Newport Beach [CA], & finished with seconds from Minnies Ship Chandlery & swap meet finds. Mast, rigging, sails, stanchions, compasses, hand rails, winches, cleats, boom windlass, ports [note by Michael, Tony didn’t put in the ‘picture windows’, he used proper bronze opening ports], hatches, pulpits, shaft & parts, steps, boarding ladder, everything. Electronics were new at ‘Blow Out’ marine sales and the wiring came from salvage off a burnt out Spoiler, zinc plated stuff nice. Interior lumber came from local hardware store, ACE style place. Construction was weekends only. I worked 12 hr days for 2 local pest control companies Monday to Friday. 3000 hours, Saturday and Sunday, working on boat. I had never built anything so I started with a book called ‘From a Bare Hull’, and asked every one who owned a boat a lot of questions.

Launched the boat as ‘Mustang’ in Oxnard Harbor [California] October 95 and lived aboard installing deck gear and stanchions, mast, rigging and sails.

Departing to Hawaii July 97 with no engine, around Hawaii north shore, then Honolulu. Worked for local pest control company. Hauled out, did bottom on ‘Mustang’ and installed 12hp engine, Yanmar, and departed for Samoa, September 28th., arrived November 11, 1998. ‘Mustang’ is now residing in Vava’u, Tonga, with husband and wife for the year 2000, first to see the sun rise.

Note: The above info was forwarded by Michael Homsany and supplied to him on a hand written note, hand carried by various people from Tonga to American Samoa. – “Who says that Bill Gates has to inherit the earth – Gerry”

Jeanette Tansley

Ariel / 38 Cutter / 1979

Ariel and I spent 18 months in the beautiful Whitsundays, often single handing between various friends or family visiting. We returned south to Brisbane on the early summer northerlies and have spent the cyclone season beautifying brightwork and sorting out problems such as moving the windlass further back to correct the problem of anchor chain fall. It’s been very interesting reading the various comments and advice on problems, finally having a chance to catch up on the Downeaster page. When I had a major problem with prop shaft falling out of its coupling I immediately rushed to the site to see if there was an easy way round getting the rudder off to access the shaft. Of course I found my worst fears were right and we ended up with many compromises rather than attempt the job! I have been very happy with Ariel’s performance. I have added a new main with lazyjacks and sail bag and coupled with self tacking staysail and small high cut jib she is easily manageable. I have found a few soft spots on the cabin top that presumably result from pockets in the original manufacture and will have the core tested to check for moisture after reading some of the more frightening comments on trapped moisture. Her topsides and bottom are in mint condition and I think the fact that the previous owners had her most of her life contribute to her fine state. It’s a delight having a home that attracts admiring attention at every anchorage and still gives my heart a little flutter! Can’t wait to head north again, probably next week, for another lovely cruising season in paradise up the Australian east coast.
Greg Smith Susurro / 38 Cutter /1977 Some rambling notes on the Downeast 38:Plusses:

Roomy, comfortable accommodation. Lots of storage. Good family boat. Cockpit stays dry. On long watches one can sit at the top of the companionway and keep an eye out, protected from the weather by the dodger. (Assuming an autopilot or windvane is steering.)

Cutter rig balances well. Some good starting points for sail that I have found are –

Light air 100%jib + staysl + full main.
10 – 15 Kts. 80% + staysl + full main
15 – 20 Kts. 65% + staysl + full main (maybe 1 reef)
20 – 25 Kts. 65% + staysl + reefed main

Solid hull. Very little flexing. When beating hard with a rail buried (dumb, but sometimes we’re just too lazy to shorten sail) all doors and lockers down below still open without binding.


Standard main sheet and winch locations poor. (easily remedied) Boom can be a real head banger. Nothing to lean against in the cockpit. The boat will tend to hobby horse if the ends are loaded heavily. Hint – keep only 100 feet or so of chain in the forward chain locker – keep the rest midships.

Large cabin windows are a liability when offshore. They must be fitted with shutters or replaced with THICK Lexan.

Standard ports are non-opening. The boat gets stuffy in the tropics unless they are replaced with opening ports.

Access to the bilge is poor to nonexistent.

Things to look out for:

Faryman engine – the stock flex coupler on the propellor shaft is a rubber biscuit that is vulcanized between 2 metal plates. If it is the original, the rubber is probably getting hard and WEAK.

It should be replaced. PRP Farymann ( is THE source of Faryman parts. If the wire bundle exiting the base of the mast is not well sealed, the compression post will get wet every time it rains. Check for rot.

Chain plates – while they are made of stainless steel, they can still suffer from chloride corrosion where they pass through the teak caprails. They should be removed and inspected every 5 years or so.

Stanchions / Lifelines – The stainless attach bolts can also suffer from hidden corrosion where they are in contact with the teak caprails. It’s a bugger, but I would replace all of them before going offshore.

On my boat someone had actually replaced some of them with lag bolts – a definite no-no. Decks – The deck and cabin trunk is of cored construction. I have heard that some of the Downeasters had a plywood core. This can be very subject to rot. Even if the boat is foam core, check for integrity.

Bowsprit – check the wood hidden by the headstay fitting. This area will collect moisture and rot very easily. A failure in this area will probably cause loss of the rig.

David and Linda
What Matters / 38 Cutter/ 1976

We have used the boat a lot since acquiring it in January 1999. We find that it is a gentle sailer and is easy for a couple like us to handle……We have a furling head sail which looks to be about 135%…I don’t know if this was an original sail that was modified, but it does have reef points which were sewn closed…..the boat tacks nicely, but the winches require leaving the helm to operate…..We have an Autohelm 4000 autopilot which steers the boat fine under power and if we balance the sails does a good job under sail…..It is possible, however, to overpower the unit if the sails are not balanced.

Carmine Pizzariello Topaz / 38 Cutter /1975 Full keel traditional cruising design with bowsprit and wineglass stern. Roomy, comfortable, – a floating apartment. Tracks very well off the wind. Very easy for a couple to sail. Slow and poor windward performance and wet without dodger. Original 24 HP Farymann much to small. I am preparing boat for live aboard/cruising and would like to compare notes with other Downeaster 38 owners with regard to performance, equipping, maintenance and upgrades. Mine is an early model with some poor construction details that I have/will remedy. Major upgrades completed: new support for mastcolumn at keel, holding tank, new engine, new lifeline system, new main cabin windows, new chain plate for dolphin stay, full batten main, Dutchman flaking system, new hatch covers. Planned upgrades: running backstays, new nav. station, collision bulkhead, dodger (hard???).
Gerry O’Donoghue/
Lynne Sladky
Eriu / 38 Cutter /1976 Really pleased with the boat, very well built.
She had major upgrades before we bought her (new engine, through hulls, rigging, chain plates, Aries, timberwork etc.). Any work we have done since has not shown up any structural problems. Sails well once I get the sails balanced, and my act together.
Scott Perkins Chip Ahoy / 32 Cutter /1977 A very good boat, strong and seaworthy. I was surprised at its speed in light air, and it does point well. The boat looks like a world cruiser and I find myself always looking back at her and thinking that looks like “the” boat. We did a 500 mile trip to get it home in the spring, cold outside but very comfortable downbelow wiith plenty of room, good galley and a small engine room with nice layout of electric and DC.
Geoffrey Balshaw Almada / 32 Ketch /1977 Cutter Ketch. Comfortable cruising vessel. Good sailer but not very fast in light winds. Overall satisfacion – Quite good.
Joe Graham 32/1980 This boat had the optional layout, very functional. The boat is quite heavy and gives the feeling of a little ship. She withstood 10,000 miles of pacific cruising without any com- plaints.

It lends itself to singlehanding, or shorthanded crewing quite well.

Only weakness was uncomfortable seating in cockpit.

I was extreamly satisfied with my Downeast 32 and only moved up to another boat due to a change in maritial status.

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