Too few modern cruising yachts are designed and built by people who actually go cruising, but the Pacific Seacraft 31 is a delightful exception to the rule, and this background and knowledge shows up everywhere you look.
Take the anchor gear, for example. A typical yacht may have a single anchor roller on the bow, which is one too few for even local cruising. The 31 has three separate anchor systems. The short bow platform includes two rugged anchor rollers set far enough away from the hull to keep a swinging anchor from carving the gelcoat. A pair of 12-inch bronze Herreshoff cleats are big enough to handle any towing or mooring line, and the anchor locker is divided into two sections so you can keep two anchors ready to go at all times. Back on the port corner of the transom is another husky anchor roller, another oversized cleat, and an underdeck chain locker for stowing the rode. How can you help but like a boat that is so well-conceived?
Besides, the beamy displacement hull from the design-board of Bill Crealock, who's been designing seaworthy offshore yachts for decades, is ready for a cruise of any duration. Hand-laid of solid fiberglass with a husky skeg that protects the rudder and propeller from hazards as diverse as grounding or lobster pot lines, the 31 has a Scheel keel as a shoal draft option. All the through-hull fittings have an oversized flange that is bolted through the hull, so even if your toolbox slides across a locker, it won't shear off the seacock.
What impressed me most about the 31 is the fact that it has been so thoroughly thought-out. On most boats, you can see where there might be room for another shelf or a dead area that could be made into a locker. On the Pacific Seacraft 31, it's already been done. For example, most builders don't want to admit that it can get nasty offshore, but the fact is that it will, so the 31 has a good-sized wet locker in the head where the crew can stow their soaking foul weather jackets without dampening the main cabin.
A large chart table covers an icebox that has more than four inches of insulation on all sides as well as a fat rubber gasket to fully seal the cold in and the hot out. Charts stow under the icebox in a clever counter-weighted swing-out bin that has been designed to fit both chart packs and folded charts.
Everywhere you look, there are storage areas tucked into the nooks and crannies: big drawers in the head and by the forward bunk, deep bins in the galley with locking lids, even shelves with removable fiddles for bulky items.
Certainly the most innovative feature is the slide-out table that gives you the best of a permanent table with none of the disadvantages. In place, it provides comfortable dining for the whole crew. Partially retracted, it can be used for drinks or mugs of coffee while the settees are used for conversation, or it can be completely hidden to open up the entire cabin.
With ash ceilings, a teak and holly sole, and low bulkheads, the cabin is already bright and airy, particularly when the ten oversized brass ports are open. A sturdy fiberglass sea hood protects the main hatch, and an extra-wide bridgedeck makes it easy to enter the cabin.
The galley is delivered with either a propane or CNG two-burner stove with oven, but it's easy to overlook the cleverly designed deck storage locker that will hold two tanks of either propane or CNG.
Instead of the usual single water tank, the 31 comes with twin tanks and a complete manifold system for using one or the other. The stern pulpit is divided, so you can moor Mediterranean-style and go ashore without having to clamber over the pulpit.
I've already mentioned that the deck hardware is the sturdiest I've seen on a boat this size, but some of it (such as the burly midship cleat) is cast just for Pacific Seacraft because they couldn't find what they wanted anywhere else.
The roller traveler is recessed into the bridgedeck so you won't trip on it , allowing you to use the full length of the cockpit seats to stretch out. Walking around the deck is easy, because the chainplates are outboard, the side decks are wide, and the high bulwarks provide reassuring security in any weather.
The engine is a Yanmar three-cylinder 27-horsepower diesel and, for once, a builder's claim of "complete access" is truthful. The entire engine box hinges up so you can easily reach all sides of the engine, and even the stuffing box can be adjusted without disassembling the boat. Other unexpected refinements include Morse controls, extra-thick lead sound insulation, and Racor fuel filters.
The standard rig, with LeFiell mast painted with linear polyurethane, is a sloop, although the cutter is a working option rather than just a decorator touch as on many "cruising" boats. Another popular option is the singlehanding package, which leads all sail controls and halyards to Lewmar self-tailing winches on the cabintop.
Joinerwork is superb throughout, which is certainly a result of Pacific Seacraft's many long-term employees. A few things will probably be overlooked by buyers, such as the keyed caprail which has joints held together by a beautifully crafted "key" in the style of old-time boat builders. A big steel bolt would probably do the job in one-tenth the time, but that isn't the Pacific Seacraft way.
|Sail area||485 sloop|
|Mast height||42' 6"|
|Power||Yanmar 27 h.p. diesel|
For more information: contact Pacific Seacraft Corp., 3301 S. Susan St., Santa Ana, CA 92704.