Bluewater Sailboat – Westsail 32


The Bluewater Sailboat Westsail 32 is known as the boat that sparked a million dreams. She is largely recognized as having launched the cruising boom of the 1970s, which elevated “the cruising life” from the extremes to the mainstream.

The epitome of seaworthiness, this boat was designed by Bill Crealock as a big displacement double-ender for long-distance traveling. It is robust, hefty, and has a large internal volume. She lacks agility; she moves slowly around turns and accelerates slowly. Boat speed was frequently low in the early years since she was frequently sailed by beginners on sloppy rigs, and among bluewater sailors, she was mocked as the “Wet-snail 32.”

However, that kind of brand recognition has been shaken off in recent years. The Westsail 32 can astound when sailed skillfully.

  • LOA: 42′ 11″
  • LWL: 33′ 4″
  • Beam: 13′ 0″
  • Draft: 5′ 8″
  • Ballast: 11,000 lbs.
  • Displacement: 31,500 lbs.
  • Sail Area, Cutter: 961 sq.ft.
  • Sail Area, Ketch: 1081 sq.ft.
  • Bridge Clearance, Cutter: 60′ 0″
  • Bridge Clearance, Ketch: 57′ 4″
  • Fuel: 150 Gal US
  • Water: 250 Gal US
  • Engine: Perkins 4-236 85hp diesel
  • Year Introduced: 1974
  • Year Ended: 1979
  • Total Built: 119
  • Designer: William I. B. Crealock
  • Builder: Westsail Corporaton – Jomarco


When Larry Kendall approached Crealock to design a heavy-capacity offshore sailboat in the style of William Aitken’s renowned 32-foot double enders Eric and Thistle, the Westsail 32 initially began as a flush-deck Kendall 32. When asked to estimate the value of the market for such a boat, Crealock reportedly answered 10–12 boats. The Kendall 32 was introduced in 1969, and with a run of 30 boats, production outperformed Crealock’s expectations.

Sales didn’t really take off until 1971 when a young electrical engineer who later became a boatbuilder by the name of Snyder Vick bought the molds. He had Crealock add a cabin house and change the interior as well as the deck layout. The new business was given the name Westsail Corporation, and the new ship was given the name Westsail 32. The catchphrase for the advertising campaign, “Westsail the world,” exuded adventure in exotic locales. The marketing campaign was so effective that by June 1973 Time Magazine had a four-page spread on “the cruising life” with a prominent photograph of a Westsail 32 in an appropriately exotic background. The American people were captivated by it. The boat achieved astounding sales, and in the process, it permanently altered the design and appearance of American bluewater cruising boats for almost two decades.

Westsail constructed 830 boats in all. Around 400 of these boats were offered as hull and deck kits to meet demand; their interiors had to be finished by the individual buyers. Hull and Deck, Sail-Away, and complete boat kits were all available for purchase. Owners could add any option they desired, such as ballast, bulkheads, rigging, etc., with kits.

Even though the Westsail 32 was an unstoppable marketing hit, the business did not prosper financially. The corporation was severely impacted by the 1970s petroleum crisis. They conducted their sales by accepting boat orders at set pricing and fulfilling them in the order they were received. This meant that the business was offering boats for sale at prices that were significantly out of date even up to 18 months later. The business stopped doing business in 1981. Before production was finally halted, the molds were sold to P&M Worldwide and additional 15 boats were offered as kits.


The hull’s thickness varies from 3/4 inches near the topsides to 1 1/8 inches at the turn of the bilge due to the heavy use of hand-laid fibreglass in 12 layers with polyester resin. Marine plywood that is tabbed to the hull with fibreglass makes up the 3/4″ bulkheads.

The amount of ballast on each boat varied, but it was usually at least 7,000 pounds. Some of them contained 5,000 pounds of punching steel and 2,000 pounds of lead. Three sections of cast lead were utilised in the keel cavity beginning in 1974. The keel sump is substantially deeper beneath the engine pan, which makes it easy to identify the lead ballast.

Above Deck

The deck and cabin trunk is fiberglass cored with two layers of half inch plywood, with an extra two inch plywood base to reinforce below the mast step. Many boats had teak decks at unbelievably thick (and heavy) 13/16 inches. There were three versions of the deck molds. The first mold had a forward hatch and large heavy sliding companionway with a lazarette hatch that sat up above the deck. The second mold added a center skylight hatch, and the last mold added a cockpit locker, flush lazarette hatch, and tapered black anodized aluminum stanchions with aluminum built into the mold for easy on-off removal.

Later hulls had fiberglass gudgeons, earlier hulls had stainless steel gudgeons with a bronze pintal. The hull-to-deck join with its substantial bulwark is strong, though not impervious to leaking.

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The Westsail 32 has a reputation for bringing cruisers to their desired destinations, however slowly. Most owners believe that this is not what they truly deserve. The ride has been criticized by some for being too wet, although the motion through the water is comfortable. This frequently happens when boat owners overload them. Although the yacht can carry everything she needs for pleasant cruising, putting her below her water line will have an impact. According to some owners, the cockpit seats are flush with the side decks, which means that any water that channels down the side deck will likely wet your bottom (some custom boats have this problem solved with a cockpit coaming). Additionally, a 3″ hawse pipe installed midships on later models prevented a lot of water from entering the cockpit.

The boat tracks well, as with many full-keeled boats, but pays this off for maneuverability, both when powered and when covered in canvas. Due to its enormous wetted area, acceleration is slow, and light weather performance (without the right sail combination) isn’t exactly impressive; the boat needs to be traveling at least 10 mph before it begins to move smoothly. The boat can reach its hull speed of 7 knots at its best point of sail, which is a beam to broad reach between 90 and 120 degrees off the wind with an ideal heal angle of 20 degrees.

The ship had a bad reputation when it first started sailing, but it probably not fully entirely deserved. Many owners lacked the sailing expertise necessary to get a heavy displacement boat to function well. The headsails and mainsails on the early rigs weren’t sized properly, making them less than ideal. Due to its weather helm, the boat developed notoriety.

The Westsail 32 has reversed the slow reputation it had had in more recent years. Given the light wind conditions that year, David King’s captaining of the Westsail 32 Saraband to a Trans-Pacific Cup success in 1988 was impressive. In addition, owners have reportedly recorded weeklong runs of 140 to 160 mile days while sailing in trade winds. Despite record runs, the majority of owners may anticipate traveling on average 110 miles per day when trading.

Quick Notes 

There haven’t been many structural issues with the Westsail 32 over the years. Osmotic blisters, which develop on older boats, are not a problem with the Westsail because of its sturdy hull.

The fuel tanks should be examined, especially if they are made of black iron. The bottom fittings on the boomkin and the bobstay are additional areas that merit inspection. Inspect the plywood-cored decking for indications of rot, as well as the mast step for indications of fibreglass compression. If the standing rigging is original, as with any older boat, think about replacing them.

Look for a boat with 35 horsepower or more; the original 25-horsepower Volvo MD2B is frequently cited as being insufficient for long-distance driving in harsh weather.

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