The P323 was one of the models that I was considering when doing an internet search for potential boats. During the time P323s were being produced, I was working in the sailboat manufacturing industry and was familiar with the design and construction. Although I was involved with high-end custom boats, I knew that there was no difference in basic construction between the P323 and the craft I worked on – the 4x cost for the same displacement was only in the cosmetics. This compares with boats from later times, when a financially challenged industry became primarily focused on cost cutting, and manufacturers that failed to follow that trend were lost to competition. Of course, another key consideration was Bill Shaw’s abandonment of the ‘racing rules templates’, which had driven some designs with very poor cruising and sailing attributes.
I ran into hull number 285 listed at a Brewer’s yard in Connecticut, called the broker and scheduled a look-see. A day later, after he had inspected the boat, he called me back. The boat was a bit on the nasty side. The oil pan had rusted through and released its contents into the bilge. The boat had been closed up for a while and there was a substantial mold problem, headliner falling, etc. The interior teak bulkheads had been covered with vinyl wallpaper and woodwork had either been painted white or stained redwood. The rest of the purchase story: I looked at the boat, made the expatriate owner an offer, purchased it for a small fraction of the asking price and had it trucked to Maine. From there the projects began – all the while sailing it during the summer months.
Projects (in no particular order):
Replaced engine with Yanmar YM30, new shaft, cutlass bearing, prop and exhaust system.
Replaced depth sounder and log, and added chart plotter, radar, and autopilot.
The deck core is in great shape – one of the main reasons I purchased #285! The only soft area was at the mast. I removed the soft core and added oak partners set in epoxy as a cure.
Stripped mast to metal and refinished with epoxy system.
Replaced all running rigging and added vang/preventers port and starboard, and a third reef to the main.
Replaced water heater (totally corroded), water pump and all plumbing (except galley faucet –next year). Removed swing-out sink in head and replaced with fixed bowl set in Corian top and wet locker for foul weather gear (bubinga and teak solid wood). Replaced water cabinet and associated plumbing, and added macerator pump and thru-hull with seacock for offshore discharge. Added dedicated sump for sink and shower. All thru-hull fittings were replaced with bronze and gate valves with seacocks.
Rewired boat, new distribution panel and major circuit fuses, and 1800 w true sine wave inverter for AC.
Stripped wallpaper, white paint and redwood stain and refinished interior woodwork with matte varnish. I replaced old headliner with new fabric-covered panels and teak trim, and made interior teak trim rings for hatches and vent openings. I replaced the plywood faceplate and doors for the portside hanging locker in the head with a solid bubinga faceplate and teak louvered doors, and all interior hardware with brass or bronze. I replaced the wall-covering on the bulkheads in the head compartment and added handholds.
Removed pressure alcohol stove and replaced with Origo top on gimbals and a compact microwave. Reworked stove space with Corian top and bubinga faceplate. Narrow shelf in space under microwave with teak door provides for pans, etc., and I replaced the plywood door beneath with a louvered teak door. The open cubbies on the starboard side of the fo’c’sle were covered with a bubinga face and louvered teak doors after removing the plywood facing. (The port-side drawers are next year.)
I added a woodstove (Dickson) to the main cabin (many cold nights in Maine), supported on a shaped bubinga column with a brass heat shield (actually a piece of brass door kickplate spaced with brass plumbing fittings). The column also provides addition support to the trunk cabin and has vertical teak handholds facing the centerline and galley. The stove is above a hearth of ½” pink granite (an 18”x18” granite tile sample from a building supply outlet) framed with bubinga.
Portlights & Hatches
I replaced all the opening plastic portlights with bronze (from Newfound Metals), a messy job, and re-bedded the hatchs. Very tight now!
To save my aging back, I added a Maxwell 1500# vertical windlass with rope capstan just forward of the anchor locker. To form a fair lead to the anchor roller, I elevated the windlass (extended deck model) on a 5.5” bubinga cone-shaped base, made with scraps from the stove/cabin-top support column. I support all these new electrical gadgets with a 400 ah battery bank (one 200 ah set to either side). (A wind turbine is a future project – for now I charge with the alternator.)
The cockpit is now my area of focus. I added a dodger a couple of years ago and replaced the plywood frames of the cuddies and companionway side frames with solid teak. (I used the center cutouts to make a foot plate aft of the companionway to hide some damage a previous owner had inflicted.) I had a couple of bronze Merriman winches (purchased in the 70’s and never installed) lying around which, coupled with jam cleats, work great as jib sheet backups for single-handing and for control of the vang/preventers.
Conclusion (June 2011)
Great to have most of the ‘heavy lifting’ behind me. It is an amazing boat, there are few on the market that can compare!!
Mike Day - Originally Panacea, then Foolishness, now Salvation