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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In complete harmony with the shag carpet in the lockers and the Vuarnets were the two dolphin relief sculptures below:
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.
Caper on Yachtworld.com
Please see our post on Cottonwood II for Cabot 36 reviews and additional photos of this design.