Caper – Another Cabot 36

While we climbed down the ladder from Cottonwood II – and presumably the whole time we had been on the boat – Joe and Wally were engaged in conversation about boats.  I can only imagine the stories they were swapping about yachts they have owned, ones that they lusted after, and others that still cause them nightmares in the middle of the night.  As they continued talking, all four of us crossed the parking lot to Caper, the other Cabot 36 we had come to look at.

Caper had been the Cabot I was really excited about seeing.  Not only was it listed for five thousand dollars less than Cottonwood II, but it had more electronics, better gear, and a large sail inventory.  While I already knew from the pictures that the electronics were old – especially the SSB and radar – I liked the idea of familiarizing myself with these items before we invested the big money in replacing them.  Moreover, old electronics fetch strangely high prices on Cruisersforum.  It is as if there are people competing to own the most complete collection of gear from the 1970s and 1980s, possibly in anticipation of opening a world-renowned cruising electronics museum.

Caper - A Cabot 36

Caper – A Cabot 36

At first glance, Caper also looked better than Cottonwood II, probably because it was without the hideous hard dodger that the latter sported.  After checking the hull, rudder, and propeller, we climbed aboard.  The topsides needed a little work with all the cowling vents needing replacement,  clear signs of rust beneath the plastic covering on the lifelines, and a slightly loose binnacle.  But there were also self-tailing winches in the cockpit, a small serviceable arch, and some older, but good, furlers on the forestays.  An ancient mainsail furler was situated on the blue painted mast and boom.  The previous owners had supposedly took the main furler off the boat a few years ago, only to reinstall it after months of sailing without it.  I would definitely want to get rid of it, and started to wonder whether that would necessitate a new main or, at least, a sailmaker to sew some batten pockets into the existing sail, which was only a few years old.  The blue mast and boom looked strange and was clearly not Awlgripped, but I could live with for a few years at least.

CaperC3618 CaperC3612

Going below, it was instantly clear that Caper’s owners had not cared as much for the cosmetic aspects of the boat as Cottonwood II’s had.  This was fine with me, because the owners did seem to have cared for the wires and hoses in the bilges and behind the settees.  With the exception of the wiring to the masthead in the bilge, the wires all looked to be fairly new, and the electrical panel was clean and well-organized.  The hoses were all respectable, and it did not look like anything was in danger of splitting open, though a few would need to be replaced sooner rather than later.  The thru-hulls and seacocks also looked older, but we would probably be replacing them on most boats we bought, so this was not a huge concern.  Margaret will surely comment more on the aesthetics of the interior, but I will just say that there was some nice shag carpeting in the cabinets above the settees that left me searching for the lava lamp.

CaperC3677 CaperC3678

As expected, the electronics were indeed older, but it was nice to see they were well cared for and arrayed nicely around the nav station and companionway.  The engine had been replaced in the 1990s and it – or at least the hoses and fittings attached to it – looked better than the nearly new one on Cottonwood II.  Twenty years can be a bit old for an engine that was not cared for, but this one showed signs that it had been fairly well maintained, which made me think it might just run for ever, especially as it was a Yanmar.  There were also at least two additional items that were not listed on Yachtworld.  The first was a nice looking sea anchor.  The second was a sweet pair of sunglasses that looked to be a knock-off of Vuarnets from about 1987.


It is hard to say anything bad about a boat whose owner clearly has style in spades with the cheap shades and shag carpeting.  And I could see a lot of potential in Caper.  There was obviously a lot of work to be done on her, but there were also no major, glaring problems.  Though our attention would quickly shift away from the boat, for the moment I was thinking she was a definite possibility.

CaperC3625 CaperC3633 CaperC3629 CaperC3626

Margaret’s thoughts:

I have to say that I wrote off Caper pretty early in our inspection due to the awful aesthetic choices that the owner, or previous owner, had made.  Her blue mast was an eye sore from across the parking lot and it was just the tip of the iceberg.  On deck, one of her strongest features was the cockpit, with T-shaped seating making it easier to move around the wheel.  The soft dodger and bimini, on the other hand, were worn and faded and would need replacing soon.

In the cabin multiple acts of poor judgement were apparent in the pink velour cushions (perhaps original), the blue painted mast, the mismatched formica counter tops, and the cabin top liner littered with patches.

CaperC3671 CaperC3680 CaperC3645 CaperC3638

In complete harmony with the shag carpet in the lockers and the Vuarnets were the two dolphin relief sculptures below:


Sculpture on v-berth door


Sculpture in salon

As a design, there is nothing wrong with the layout, space, or proportions of a Cabot 36. Actually, this could be a decent boat if you replaced all of the formica and plastic with teak, the plastic ports with bronze, made new cushion covers, and stripped the mast.  We just aren’t up for that type of overhaul.   But if you don’t care about aesthetics, and just want to get cruising, this would be a good choice for those with a budget in the low to mid-$40’s.

More images:


v-berth storage


v-berth storage starboard


Starboard settee storage


quarter berth starboard aft


Salon hatch


Salon storage port


Instruments on galley wall


Cabin sole and storage


Head (to port)


forward bulkhead


Shag carpet in lockers


Electric panel at nav station




Nav station


Instruments (cockpit)

CaperC3651 CaperC3634

Caper on


Cabin (from Yachtworld listing)

caper 2

Nav station (from Yachtworld listing)

caper 3

V-berth (from Yachtworld listing)

Please see our post on Cottonwood II for Cabot 36 reviews and additional photos of this design.

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8 Responses to Caper – Another Cabot 36

  1. Linda Wagner says:

    I see you are multi-talented, both as a photographer and as a writer. You would be lauded in my writers’ group with your ability to record and communicate so effectively. Love reading your entries. Good luck finding the ‘perfect’ craft!

  2. Paul Denton says:

    Sure am glad we value somewhat different things in boats. We bought Caper today! My right brained fiancée also did not like the cushion colors–we’ll get around to that. But Caper is essentially ready to paint the bottom and launch for a safe and comfortable ride to the Bahamas (or beyond for that matter).How often do you see that in a boat this size in this price range? Did you look at that custom bowsprit? The overkill Lofrans Tigres anchor windlass. The oldy but very-goody (and recently reconditioned) Alpha autopilot? The airex cored hull? Even a high-end windvane and a wind generator. And, finally, the generally meticulous and thorough maintenance the current owner lavishes on her. New sails! We’re sixty something’s, so the slightly clunky look of the behind-the-mast main roller furler is vastly outweighed by its convenience and simplicity.

    I sailed around the world in a Whitby 42 and basically had to give her away when I arrived home with 30000 miles worth of problems, no money, and a softer than soft market (2009). I thought I’d never have a boat as good. Turns out, with Caper, I have a similar, but better built and equipped boat, by the same designer, for a quarter of the price I paid for the Whitby in ’97. I actually had tears in my eyes this afternoon when I signed the acceptance and realized my amazing and unforeseen good fortune.

    We had seen Caper on Yachtworld and been interested this fall. Soon thereafter we ended up as next boat neighbors at a work yard in Florida (Green Cove Springs) with Joe Hamilton, one of the brokers in the agency handling Caper. He was one of the most knowledgable, generous-with-time, and personable brokers I have ever met and he took an interest in our vague 5 foot fever search without pushing anything. I kept reading about Cabots and liking what I read. Then in the Bahamas, in our current boat, a Bristol 30′, we came into an anchorage and I was struck by the beauty of one of the boats already anchored. Was it maybe a Cabot? We got to know the owners and soon got an invitation to look her over, having expressed our admiration and interest. These folks know a lot about Cabots (they have a cultish following) and actually know, and admire, the owner of Caper. (It’s a pleasantly multilevel name which we will retain. Primary meaning: a native of Cape Breton, where the Cabots were built, sort of like “Newfie”.) They gave us the skinny on the 36: no racer, but comfortable, strong and safe. We went to look at Caper the minute we got to Florida.

    Talk about meant to be!

    I hope you have similar good fortune in finding a boat you love and are happy on.

    Sail On!

    • Jeffrey says:

      Congratulations! I am very happy that you found an awesome boat and that Caper ended up with such good owners. As I hope I made clear in the post, I think you are getting a fabulous boat. I knew she would make someone very happy, but we also knew it was not going to be us! And, you are correct, Joe Hamilton is a extremely generous and knowledgeable broker. You are lucky to have gotten to work with him.

      Best of luck with Caper. Hopefully we will see you somewhere down the road.

  3. Len Winsor says:

    I have a Cabot 36 in Newfoundland Canada, awesome blue water comfortable boat, have owned numerous boats over forty years but nothing can touch the Cabot for North Atlantic.

    • Jeffrey says:

      Len, sorry your reply slipped by us. We have received many more comments on the Cabot posts than anything else we have put up. They certainly have a following. We routinely talk about making a trip up your way next summer. Do you have any good suggestions for places to stop and things to see?

  4. Jeremy Timms says:


    Sorry to comment on such an old posting, but I wanted to pose a question to you. If you could have had Caper for around $25k, how would it have changed your decision making process while searching for boats?

    I ask because my wife and I have just had an offer accepted on Caper, and found your blog post shortly after. I noticed it was in the $45k range at that point, and I’m hoping we were correct in jumping on the boat at a low cost.

    • Jeffrey says:


      First off, congratulations on getting the offer accepted. Buying a boat is exciting, and, at least in our experience, owning one is even better.

      We received an email from someone else who was considering Caper a few weeks back, so I will just include some of my response to them:

      Margaret’s immediate response to your email was to say that Caper would be a steal for under 25k. I tend to agree with her, but also caution – if you do not have experience with boats already – that there can certainly be a lot of hidden costs in any boat. And I really encourage you to, as I imagine you planned on, going over her carefully yourself and, if you are still interested, with a surveyor.

      Caper seemed to be a boat that would be more or less ready to sail away, but there are a few things you will probably want to address before that. There are, as we indicated in our blog post, a lot of older electronics and an aging bimini and dodger. These certainly need to be replaced sooner rather than later (and we never actually tested any of the electronics when we were aboard). Just replacing the bimini and dodger could run you 10k+ (unless you were going to do it yourself…then maybe 3k+, including the Sailrite machine). The engine is 20+ years old, and that would be another thing to look into; diesels can run forever if well maintained, but the cost of replacing one is probably about what you are paying for the boat. I cannot remember the condition of the rigging, so that should be something to check into carefully as well. The sails were in great shape, and unless they have some issues with mold, should be in just as good order.

      Since she has been sitting on the hard in Florida for the last four years, I would also want to take a good look at her again to be certain there are not any new problems. At the very least, with all the time it has spent unattended, you should be able to get a good idea as to whether there are any leaks in the cabintop and deck. I would also be sure to get a good survey of the boat, if only so you can have a well-founded punch list to start working your way through as you get the time and funds.

      I see that the current listing broker is Dennis Dodge with Advantage Yacht Sales. Joe Hamilton had been with that broker and may very well still be. He was a great guy who seemed very honest. He was not the person we were working with with Caper, but he ended up showing me a Union 36 a few weeks later. You might want to try to get in touch with him. He can give you some real honest info about Caper and, if our experience was any indication, also point out some other real steals that he has come across. The contact I have for him is I also have a cell, which I will send you by private email. They might still be of some use.

      Now, to add a couple further comments:

      In conversation with the other person interested in Caper, we learned that Caper has most likely not been sitting on the hard for the last several years. He thought that someone else had purchased Caper, used her some, and then decided to move into another boat. You probably know some more details about this. But my point is that some of my information above about Caper sitting for a while may not be accurate. It might also be that the previous owner took care of some of the issues that I highlighted above. So, some of the concerns I noted above might not be so relevant, and there may be some new issues to consider. Regardless, it seems like you have a good deal on a solid boat. I would just encourage you to, as I said above, look her over carefully and get a survey.

      Once again, congratulations. You should have a lot of fun and rewarding hard work in front of you. Please let us know how it goes with Caper.

      Jeff and Margaret

  5. Ray Dorey says:

    i am the new owner of a 1977 cabot 36 in nanaimo BC called Relentless.
    can anyone tell me what the hull and deck construction is?

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