In search of the perfect boat . . .
Pacific Seacraft 37
Island Packet 370
Bayfield 36
Larry & Darlene's Cabo Rico 38
Cabo Rico 34 - Cigano
Cabo Rico 34 - Cigano
Cabo Rico 34 - Cigano

With help from the many sailors who frequent the internet forums and those we spoke to in person, our quest to find the right boat was a success. Many thanks to them all. Because of the limited production, it was difficult to find owners of Cabo Rico 34s to answer our questions, so, in an effort to give something back for all the help we received, we have assembled a portion of this web site for anyone who may be interested in our research, evaluation, and comments.
There is a 43 page PDF file containing the threads of all the responses to our inquiries to three different owner's lists on forums over a 6-month period, our story (below) regarding our research and decision making process, specs of our boat, and finally, comments specific to our boat, a 1990 Cabo Rico 34.
Maybe this will help anyone facing the same task. If you wish, give us your feedback, suggestions, and feel free to ask questions to which you don't find answers. I would have liked to comment in more detail about all the boats on our short list and even all the boats we considered. But since we only truly know one boat, we can't justify comprehensive comments beyond our CR34.
Incidentally, the current Cabo Rico forum resides at:!forum/caborico

In 2004 we sold our 27 foot sloop after 20+ years and many miles of sailing. Having already done plenty of dock-walking, the serious research began which included seeking opinions, boat market searches, lots of reading, etc. Paring down the short list of builders and designers, then choosing the final boat from the market took more time and effort than expected but was worth it. As our demands became more clear, our budget was stretched to the limit. Although we we suffered through a year and a half without a boat, making the decision more quickly would certainly have resulted less favorably. Once boatless, for the next 18 months we researched, boarded, discussed, and thought much about what form our next boat should take. Our major selection criteria included a top quality builder and designer, a seaworthy bluewater boat with good sailing performance, adequate storage capacity for two, comfort, safe deck layout with high bulwarks and lifelines, outboard chain plates, multiple sail options (ketch or cutter), short and singlehand-capable, and preferably a freshwater boat or one with minimal saltwater fatigue. Many boats we admired were struck from our list for reasons including, but not limited to, weight, age, availability, price and aesthetics. Some of those boats were Morris 36, Tradewind 35, Union 36, Southern Cross 35, Endeavor 37, TaShing Tashiba 36, Nonsuch 36, Hans Christian 36, Valiant Esprit 37. Below are comments on a few that made the short list and the final choice.

After trimming our short list down to Pacific Seacraft 37, a couple of Island Packet models, a Bayfield 36, and later on in the process, a Cabo Rico 38, we began making inquiries to each boat’s respective Sailnet email owner’s lists. This eventually prompted us to initially eliminate the Island Packets. IP’s list of negatives wasn’t really compelling. They are well-built, well designed, and are very high quality boats, but the overtone of the comments from our Sailnet inquiries just steered us toward Pacific Seacraft based on our own personal preferences. When an opportunity arose to give Island Packet a second-chance, we sea-trialed a new IP 370, their newest and "best-ever" boat in our size range. We had to admit, it was very nice, very spacious, and performed well, but Janet felt it was too wide open below decks. At 5’3” she concluded that she’d have a hard time safely maneuvering about the huge open cabin in rough seas. The IP was a huge boat - both of us felt it was too heavy, too big, and had too much freeboard. And Island Packet seemed to be reinventing itself every few years - maybe a good thing, maybe not. We disagree with those who apply the moniker "Island Piglet", but we do prefer the lower freeboard hence lower windage, and lower weight, and the pleasing traditional lines of Crealock’s boats.

Our list was down to the Pacific Seacraft 37, "maybe" the Bayfield 36, and by this point we had added the Cabo Rico 38, in response to positive comments from owners, and knowing that it came from Bill Crealock's drawing board. We really liked PS37's concept and design and had spent many hours poking around onboard and asking questions of the owners while in-harbor. We were also well aware of its excellent sailing characteristics. We had ruled out the Pacific Seacraft 34 due to limited space. Although by then we were quite convinced that the Pacific Seacraft 37 was the boat for us, we still wanted to look at the other two. The Bayfield was priced right, and the Cabo Rico looked awfully nice in photos.

So in August ‘05 we set out on a road trip along the Great Lake’s southern shores to check out a Cabo Rico 38, Bayfield 36 and Pacific Seacraft 37. They were all fresh water boats. We expected to be making an offer on the Pacific Seacraft. First, the Bayfield. It was okay but just didn’t captivate us and felt past it's prime – off the list. The Cabo Rico 38 on Lake Erie was the next stop on the trip. Both at first glance and especially once onboard we were impressed. The quality, workmanship and solid feel of the Cabo was outstanding, both above and below decks. We poked around the boat for quite a while and thanks to our new friends, Larry and Darlene’s generous offer of an all-day sea trial, there was no doubt about this boat’s sailing characteristics either. The Pacific Seacraft was no longer alone on top of the list. A day later we stopped to see the Pacific Seacraft which was stored in a shed, in outstanding clean condition, and very well maintained. But now we were clearly impressed by the Cabo Rico as well. No offer was made. On the long drive home in the car we had many hours to talk things over. The Pacific Seacraft had dropped to second place, but we both had reservations about the Cabo Rico 38; it felt a bit too heavy and big for us. We decided to table it for a spell.

A few days later while discussing it with Larry, we decided to reconsider a Cabo Rico 34. Until then we had thought 34 footers to be too small based on Crealock’s PS 34 design. And there were so few CR34s that we had ignored them. But the CR34 had more beam and carried it further aft, so we fired up our research again. It was hard to get opinions - there just weren't many owners to talk to. We looked online and liked what we saw in photos, they were similar to the CR38. By late fall we had inquired about several Cabo Rico 34s with cursory responses from brokers (another story). We went into the boat-search-doldrums and just drifted for a while.

Then in December Larry gave us a heads-up to a newly-listed 1990 Cabo Rico 34 for sale by owner in Texas. As soon as the holidays were past, my son and I flew to Texas to board Semper Fi, our first in-person look at a Cabo Rico 34. As expected she was a beautiful, well appointed boat, and when we went out for a sea trial, it became a no-brainer. The boat sailed great. The CR34 has a considerably wider transom than her big sister, the 38, but the length to displacement ratio is lower, and the wider stern may add waterline length more quickly at comparable angles of heel. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why we felt she was a bit more spirited and responsive than the 38. Equally important, the 34 was a better size-match to our wishes - she was easy to like and fit our needs better than anything we'd seen so far. Semper Fi had also recently received many significant upgrades, mitigating most of our fears about an older saltwater boat. An offer was made, accepted and the rest is history. Thanks to the former owner, Travis's, offer of the use of his slip while the northland carried on its winter-freeze, we were able to make several trips south that spring to sail in the Texas Gulf area and get acquainted with the boat. She was renamed Cigano with all the proper ceremonies, then in the following summer she was stripped to the decks and shipped north up I-35 to Minnesota, then launched in Lake Superior. She berths currently in Siskiwit Bay Marina, in Cornucopia Wisconsin.

The preparation for the road trip was a monumental task, but it gave an excellent opportunity to get to know the boat. For trucking, based on referrals and reputation Cross Country Boat Transport was employed and were very pleased with their experience and excellent service. A great job Cliff !

Many thanks to Larry & Darlene Barker for their grand hospitality and wonderful day-sail in a fresh Lake Erie breeze.

Many thanks also to Gary DeSantis of Sailors World for the referral and to Tim Bloom the boat owner for the opportunity to sail aboard his new Island Packet 370.

Many thanks to Travis for his help getting us in tune with the boat and getting it moved north.

For threads of Sailnet inquiries collected during our boat research – click here.

For comments on details and our opinions of Cabo Rico 34 - Cigano – click here.

Cabo Rico 34s for sale: CR34 | CR34 yachtworld |

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