The Gulf 32 Sailboat
Specs & Key Performance Indicators
The Gulf 32, an ultra-heavy displacement sloop, was designed by William Garden and built in the USA by Gulf Marine Products/Capital Yachts Inc.
A Gulf 32
The Gulf 32 features a pilothouse with an inside helm station, a cutter rig, a long keel, and a spacious interior. It has a raked stem, an angled transom, and a keel-hung rudder controlled by two wheels, one in the cockpit and one in the pilothouse. It's a popular choice for sailors who want a comfortable and seaworthy boat that can handle a variety of weather conditions.
Published Specification for the Gulf 32
Underwater Profile: Long keel
Hull Material: GRP (Fibreglass)
Length Overall: 32'0" (9.8m)
Waterline Length: 23'4" (7.1m)
Beam: 10'0" (3.1m)
Draft: 5'2" (1.6m)*
Rig Type: Cutter (or sloop)
Displacement: 16,000lb (7,257kg)
Designer: William Garden
Builder: Gulf Marine Products/Capital Yachts Inc (USA)
Year First Built: 1965
Year Last Built: 1998
Number Built: 400
* A shoal draft version was an option, drawing 4'6"
To evaluate the performance of the Gulf 32, we can use some common design ratios that compare the sail area, displacement, length, and ballast of the boat. These ratios can give us some insight into the speed potential, stability, comfort, and capsize resistance of the boat. However, they are not definitive indicators, and they should be used with caution and context, as they do not account for other factors such as hull shape, rig design, sail quality, crew skill, and sea state.
- The Sail Area/Displacement Ratio (SA/D) is a measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. It indicates how well the boat can accelerate and maintain speed in light winds. A higher SA/D means a more powerful sail plan, while a lower SA/D means a more conservative sail plan. SA/D of the Gulf 32 is 14.6, which is on the low end of the scale. This means that the Gulf 32 is not a light-air performer, and it may need to use its engine in calm conditions. However, it also means that the Gulf 32 is less likely to be overpowered in strong winds, and it can carry its full sail area longer than a boat with a higher SA/D.
- The Ballast/Displacement Ratio (B/D) is a measure of the stability of the boat relative to the weight of the boat. It indicates how well the boat can resist heeling and right itself after being knocked down. A higher B/D means a more stable boat, while a lower B/D means a less stable boat.The B/D of the Gulf 32 is 40.6, which is on the high end of the scale. This means that the Gulf 32 is a very stable boat, and it can handle heavy weather and large waves. However, it also means that the Gulf 32 is a heavy boat, and it may have more inertia and less responsiveness than a boat with a lower B/D.
- The Displacement/Length Ratio (D/L) is a measure of the heaviness of the boat relative to the waterline length of the boat. It indicates how much water the boat displaces and how much drag it creates. A lower D/L means a lighter and faster boat, while a higher D/L means a heavier and slower boat. The D/L of the Gulf 32 is 372, which is on the high end of the scale. This means that the Gulf 32 is a very heavy boat, and it has a lot of drag and wavemaking resistance. However, it also means that the Gulf 32 has a lot of volume and space, and it can carry more load and equipment than a boat with a lower D/L.
- The Comfort Ratio (CR) is a measure of the motion comfort of the boat in a seaway. It indicates how smooth and gentle the boat's motion is, and how well it can dampen the effects of waves and wind. A higher CR means a more comfortable boat, while a lower CR means a less comfortable boat. The CR of the Gulf 32 is 38.6, which is on the high end of the scale. This means that the Gulf 32 is a very comfortable boat, and it can provide a pleasant and relaxing ride in most conditions. However, it also means that the Gulf 32 is a slow boat, and it may not be very exciting or responsive to sail.
- The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) is a measure of the capsize risk of the boat in extreme conditions. It indicates how likely the boat is to invert and remain inverted after being knocked down by a breaking wave. A lower CSF means a safer boat, while a higher CSF means a riskier boat. The CSF of the Gulf 32 is 1.72, which is on the low end of the scale. This means that the Gulf 32 is a very safe boat, and it has a low chance of capsizing and staying capsized.
More about the all-important Design Ratios...
The design has sleeping accommodation for six people, with a truncated double "V"-berth in the bow cabin, an "L"-shaped settee and a straight settee in the main cabin and an aft cabin with a quarter berth on the starboard side.
The galley is located on the port side of the pilothouse. The galley is "U"-shaped and is equipped with a three-burner stove, ice box and a double sink.
A navigation station is opposite the galley, on the starboard side.
The head is located just aft of the bow cabin on the starboard side.
The Gulf 32 has received mostly positive reviews from the sailing press and the owners. Some of the common praises and criticisms are:
- The pilothouse is the main attraction of the Gulf 32, as it offers protection, visibility, and comfort in all weather conditions. The inside helm station is especially appreciated by owners who sail in cold or rainy climates, as they can steer the boat without getting wet or cold. The pilothouse also provides a spacious and bright living area, with a large galley, a navigation station, and a dinette. The pilothouse windows offer a panoramic view of the surroundings, and the sliding doors allow easy access to the cockpit.
- The interior of the Gulf 32 is well-designed and well-built, with ample storage and headroom. The boat can accommodate six people, with a double berth in the bow, a quarter berth in the aft cabin, and two settees in the main cabin. The head is located forward of the main bulkhead, and it has a shower and a marine toilet. The interior is finished with teak woodwork and fibreglass liners, giving it a warm and cosy feel. The owners praise the quality and durability of the interior and the ease of maintenance and cleaning.
- The performance of the Gulf 32 is not its strong point, as it is a heavy and slow boat that does not excel in light winds. The boat is not designed for racing or speed but for cruising and comfort. The boat can sail well in moderate to strong winds, and it can handle rough seas and strong winds. The boat is easy to handle and manoeuvre, especially with the two helm stations and the diesel engine. The owners are generally satisfied with the performance of the boat, as long as they do not expect it to be fast or agile.
- The maintenance of the Gulf 32 is relatively easy and affordable, as the boat is well-constructed and well-equipped. The boat has a simple and robust rig, with a roller-furling genoa, a hanked-on staysail, and a slab-reefed mainsail. The boat has a reliable and economical diesel engine, with a 40-gallon fuel tank and a 75-gallon water tank. The boat has a 12-volt electrical system, with two batteries, a battery charger, and a shore power connection. The boat has a manual bilge pump, a pressure water system, a propane stove, and a refrigeration unit. The owners report that the boat does not require much maintenance and that the parts and services are readily available and reasonably priced.
The Gulf 32 is a well-made and well-loved boat, but it is not without its issues and complaints. Some of the common problems and challenges are:
- The deck of the Gulf 32 is prone to leaks, especially around the pilothouse windows and the deck fittings. The leaks can cause water damage and mould growth in the interior, and they can also affect the electrical system and the instruments. The owners recommend regularly inspecting and resealing the deck and using proper sealants and gaskets.
- The ventilation of the Gulf 32 is inadequate, especially in the pilothouse and the aft cabin. The pilothouse can get very hot and stuffy in the summer, and the aft cabin can get very cold and damp in the winter. The owners suggest installing more opening ports and hatches and using fans and heaters.
- The storage of the Gulf 32 is limited, especially for long-term cruising and liveaboard. The boat has plenty of lockers and drawers, but they are mostly small and shallow, and they do not accommodate large or bulky items. The owners advise packing lightly and efficiently and using vacuum bags and storage bins.
- Access to the Gulf 32 engine and bilge is difficult. The engine is located under the pilothouse floor, and it requires removing several panels and cushions to reach it. The bilge is located under the main cabin sole, and it requires lifting a heavy hatch to access it. The owners recommend keeping the engine and the bilge clean and dry and using proper tools and lights.
The Secondhand Market
The Gulf 32 is a relatively affordable boat, considering its size and features. The boat was originally sold for around $50,000 in the 1970s, and it has appreciated in value over time.
The boat is now sold for around $80,000 to $100,000 on the secondhand market, depending on the condition, location, and equipment of the boat. The boat is fairly available on the secondhand market, as there are around 700 boats built since 1965, and there are usually around 10 to 20 boats for sale at any given time.
The boat is mostly found in the United States, especially on the West Coast and the East Coast, but there are also some boats in Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Australia.
I wrote this article using GPT-4, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model, as a research assistant to develop source material. I wrote the final draft in its entirety and believe it to be accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Dick McClary, creator and owner of sailboat-cruising.com
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