Since the first few fiberglass cruising sailboats popped out of their molds in the late 1950s, well over 2,000 production designs have been built and/or sold in the United States alone. These boats have ranged from around 14 feet to over 70 feet in length, and in type from a few long-running favorites to hoards of run-of-the-mill vessels for which production stopped almost as soon as it started.

Within each size range there has been an incredible number of individual types of vessels—with styles sleek or tubby, traditional or modern, and sometimes just plain weird. One might ask: Why so many different designs? Isn't there a "best" standard of boat for each size range?

The answer is that, regardless of any logic or expert pronouncements to the contrary, as long as individual sailors manifest a variety of tastes, prejudices, budgets, and intended uses, there will be room in the marketplace for a huge variety of different designs. After all, one man's meat is another man's poison.

Has anybody ever tried to catalog all these designs?

Well, yes and no. Many books and annuals have attempted to keep track of new—and sometimes older—cruising designs. But most of the annuals are merely advertisements for what's currently available, and what is printed is usually paid for by the boatbuild-ers, giving them editorial license to say only good things about their products, and in some cases to "slant the truth." Reference tomes like the BUC Book and the NADA Guide (periodicals often available at your local public library and on the Internet), cover approximate pricing but don't include graphics. Some books, like Field Guide to Sailboats and Mauch's Sailboat Guide, cover some useful details, sail and accommodations plans, and even some analysis of individual designs, but don't cover nearly enough designs or offer detailed statistics or analysis. A few publications cover several hundred boats sketchily, or fifty or a hundred more thoroughly. Graphics tend to be too small, too fuzzy, or missing altogether. Numerous details may be sparse, rife with errors, or both. Commentary may simply parrot a builder's sometimes outlandish claims, without adding honest, objective comment for the benefit of the uninitiated.

The book you are now reading is the result of an attempt to go where no book has gone before—to catalog, list, describe in numbers and words, comment on, and illustrate with sail plans and (whenever possible) accommodations plans virtually every fiberglass production cruising sailboat ever built and sold in the United States—plus some built in Canada, the U.K., and elsewhere and imported for sale in the U.S. market. To limit the huge number of boats to a group that would fit between the covers of a single book, we have chosen to report initially on sailboats between 14 and 25 feet on deck—so-called pocket cruisers.

If the attempt has not fully succeeded, it is not due to lack of effort. It has proven impossible to find sufficient data on some boats. Accommodations plans are not available on every boat. Even sail plans aren't always available. Maybe they are out there somewhere, but despite a valiant effort, we have failed to find a few of them. So this book, too, has defects. Still, we estimate that it covers 80 to 90 percent of all the production boat designs ever brought to the U.S. market.

Consequently, if you are looking for information on cruising sailboats—what types are available, which have what good and bad features, which are considered hot and which are not—you need look no further.

You can learn about what makes some boats better than others, and why some are good for certain sailors and bad for others.

If you're buying a boat, you can examine the details of models you like and compare them with "comps" (comparable vessels in the same range of size and general performance).

If you're thinking of selling your own boat, you may find some positive factoids to advertise.

If you're just window-shopping or even just reminiscing, you can check out what's out there. Examine details of sail plans, special features, layouts, dimensions, performance ratios, and more. You won't find a catalog of new and used boats like this anywhere else.

Happy browsing.

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