A Commentary on the Vanguard


I am not trying to 'dis' the Vanguards, or you, or your Vanguard. It is clear that you like your boat (we liked our Vanguard) We had ours for a little over three years. During one summer, we lived on the Vanguard as a family of four. During the summers we cruised her extensively. The Vanguard sailed well enough and easy enough that when I was 15 I could singlehand her (but not without nervous moments). She was manueverable enough that we routinely sailed her on and off the mooring and I as a 15 or 16 year old with a crew of 15 or 16 year olds sailed her up and parrellel parked her at the club pier (between a Hinkley Pilot and I can't remember what was astern). We took some fairly long cruises on her and the boat never really let us down.

That said in a blow the boat was a real handful. Trying to beat out of Plum Gut in 30kt winds, with just my dad and I, was survival conditions for that boat. Cranking in a roller reef was a death defying act. Later in that trip the reel winch handle got away from me and came up under my rib cage, (a wound I still feel 33 years later on cold damp days).

To some extent the Vanguard should be seen in the context of the time they were built as well as how they have faired over time. In their day they were considered very tender. In a conversation with Phil Rhodes, Mr Rhodes indicated to my father that the boat was supposed to have 10% more ballast than it did and that it was hoped that individual owners would add more ballast as trim ballast. He even told us where and how much to add. He thought the boats had a bit too short a waterline this prevented them from sailing to their rating or as well as they should, especially in a chop. (Part of the waterline problem was also the ballast problem because ours became more competitive when ballast was added.)

Pearsons were the Catalinas of the day. Good coastal cruisers at a fair price but they were not considered exceptional. They sailed OK but in a day when any cruising boat was considered a racer they were just not competitive. They were miserable in light air even with their 180% genoas. (They might be better with more modern sails that could make something of the cloud of dacron that they could fly.) And as I mentioned above, not too great in a breeze.

They had definite construction short falls. Based on my experience with two different boats, the glass work in the keel area was not what it should be. In the case of our boat, we clipped a rock and crushed a small area at the lower leading edge of the keel. When they opened up the area, a fairly large area of dry glass was found as well as small pools of un-reinforced resin.

The rudders were would built the way a wooden boat rudder would be built. Then they were lightly glassed over and this glass layer would crack and leak and allow water into the wood, rotting it out. Some of the boats I have seen did not have glassed rudders but these may have been glassed rudders that failed. The plastic laminate (formica) over fir plywood bulkeads and interior parts were prone to rotting out and delaminating. Even in those days the use of plastic laminate was considered tacky. The large glass cabin port lites were considered to be dangerous at sea.

I also question that 95% of them are still in use. As they told us at Pearson approximately 180 Vangards were built. (They were numbered consecutively) I know of at least nine that are not in working order. Two are on the bottom of Long Island Sound (one of them hull number 135 was ours), another is in the marsh in South Carolina, a victim of Hurricane David and one is in a landfill in Georgia. This last one was a very interesting story. This boat had a lot of problems and was allowed to go derelict. A friend asked me to look at her and we rode down to take a look. She was a mess. The interior was in miserable shape. Much of the interior wood in teh boat was delamianted or rotted. There were soft spots through out much of the foredeck. The biggest problem was the ballast was loose from the molded shell. There had been an effort to inject resin in and keep it from moving but the yard said that water had been getting in and the owner who abandoned the boat felt it was unsafe. Of course the engine was shot. The wooden boom was shot from water entering the track. (BTW do you know why Vanguards and Alberg 35's had wooden booms. This was actually a high quality thing. Before boom vangs teh weight of a wooden boom were seen as a good thing holding the boom down when reaching.) This boat was eventually chopped up and hauled to the dump along with a great old 45 foot wooden power boat. Obviously this boat had not been maintained since I have also seen some Vanguards that looked fresh from the box. But I can't believe that I have seen all five percent of the derelicts.

My point about resale value is this, the following are prices from the current Soundings web pages varying from a low of $7500 to a high of $35000.

1964- VANGUARD 32 $27,500 (910) 686-xxxx
Engine Type: NOT AVAILABLE Engine HP: Not Available Location: NC
Comments: Completely redone, all systems new diesel (98), custom interior, electronics, GPS, autopilot, roller furling windlass, dodger, full cockpit warm and dry in all conditions. Classic cruiser ready to go. Call for spec sheet.

1965 VANGUARD 32 Price $7,500 (914) 793-xxxx Engine Type: NOT Engine HP Not Available Location NY Comments: Strongly built classic w/all equipment. Dink & mooring. $7,500.

1963 VANGUARD 32 $10,000 (516) 788-xxxx Engine Type: NOT AVAILABLE Engine HP Not Available LocationNY Comments: Classic, strong, needs TLC. $10,000 or best offer. Extras..

VANGUARD 32 $19,500 (207) 829-xxxx Engine Type: NOT Engine HPNot Loc:ME Comments: Dsl, autopilot, pressure water, Loran depth, VHF, roller furling. $19,500. 207-829-xxxx.

1967 VANGUARD 32 $12,500 (203) 929-xxxx Engine Type: Atomic 4 Engine HP Not Available Comments: Rhodes design, comfortable, cruiser, new sails. Atomic IV, electronics.

1964 VANGUARD 32 Hingham MA $13, (781) 749-xxxx Engine Type: UNIVERSAL ATOMIC FOUR Engine HP: 30 Comments: Sloop Rig, Keel with 4'6 Draft. Aft Cockpit, Gas Inboard.

1969 VANGUARD 32 $19,900 Engine Type: UNIVERSAL-atomic medalist Engine HP: Location: Comments: 1983 Diesel Engine.

1965 VANGUARD 33 CLASSIC Key Largo FL $21,000 (305) 451-xxxx Engine Type UNIVERSAL ATOMIC Engine HP 30 Comments: Atomic Four new 1980 with 1200 hours. Asking 22,000 OBO. This Classic Cruiser has well maintained and is well fitted for extended passage making.

1964 VANGUARD 32 Yarmouth Me Price $35,000 (207) 846-xxxx Engine Type UNIVERSAL ATOMIC HP 30

Now then if you question is, "How much would it cost to build a new Vanguard today?" I would have to guess some where in the low $100,000 range and if you tried to finish it to modern sensibilities with modern equipment it would have to be somewhere in a range of $150,000 to $200,000 based on the cost of an Island Packet of a similar weight. No then If the Vanguard had a longer waterline it would be a far better boat than the IP with the same weight and interior volume. Then again finished nicely it would be something like the Niagra or the Morris and it might be even more expensive. Now then, If I was going to spend that kind of money on a boat there are a lot of more modern boats out there that would make a lot more sense to my way of sailing.

Don't get me wrong in any of this. I think that the Vanguard is venerable and some of them should be prized, restored, and used. They represent an important time in yachting history. A time when for the first tme,good, reasonably priced, relatively low maintenance boats were available to a blossoming middle class. A time when more people came into our sport and bought new boats than any time in my lifetime. I appreciate what it takes to bring back an old boat and commend you for doing it.
Respectfully,
Jeff