PRICE £12,000-£29,000 YEAR 1981-1988
Picking the wheat from the chaff is a difficult task within this price range, as what first seems like a bargain might not be; a survey is a must to avoid a heartbreaker, especially with older boats where the risk of osmosis is ever present.
The first boat I’ve picked for Sarah and Andy comes from the board of Contessa 32 designer David Sadler, the Sadler 29. She is still the excellent starter boat she was when she was first launched and has much to offer a young couple looking for a good, solid coastal cruiser. Her accommodation is similar to her big sister the Sadler 32. Indeed, down below it would be hard to tell them apart, unless you were familiar with both boats. There’s a goodsized vee berth forward, with a heads compartment directly aft. Ideally, a partition of some sort between the two would be necessary for when guests are visiting; a modification many owners would have made already.
The saloon is roomy, and good for the size of yacht, it provides ample seating around a central fixed table – the seating to port is C-shaped and an infill could be crafted without too much imagination if there isn’t one already. The starboard seat makes a good sea berth (with the addition of a lee cloth) and has a trotter box that takes up space under the decent-sized chart table. Aft of this half admiraltysized table is a quarter berth; good for singleton sleeping or extra stowage.
Stowage below is a little reduced due to the unsinkable buoyancy located all around the boat, but on the plus side, all that foam adds to the hull’s insulation. Her galley is small, and the companionway steps
will be needed for work surface, but it’s practical and usable for this size of boat.
Older boats had just two coachroof windows in each side and the later models had three; sadly these may well be out of budget for Sarah and Andy.
The couple will really enjoy sailing her, though. She’s a decent step up from the dinghies the pair are used to and she’s easily handled by two. She’s a real pleasure to helm and fun to sail, and although she has a transom-hung rudder, it’s preceded by a full-length skeg for protection and directional stability, and not as heavy as one might expect.
Her deck sheer raises the bow, giving her a definite bow-up look, while solid teak rubbing strakes help to keep the decks dry. The cockpit is a good size and is okay for four adults but perfect for two.
Like many cruising boats of this era, she has a masthead rig and a large overlapping genoa, which give a versatile sail plan without too much fuss. She was available in deep or shallow-fin keel configuration, as well as with bilge keels. Should Sarah and Andy decide the price of an all-tide swinging mooring is too much, they can seek out a bilge-keel alternative. While it might not have the windward performance of a fin keel, it will stay upright when the tide goes out – always good when one finds themselves in charge and aground on a falling tide. What they would save in mooring they could put into a slightly higher purchase price.
As a first cruising boat, you can’t go far wrong with a Sadler 29
A definite sheer makes the Sadler 29 seaworthy and pretty to look at
The C-shaped seating can be made into a double berth