By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Back in the early 1970s, when most successful new boats were intended to appeal to performance-minded sailors, Bayfield Boatyard, of Ontario, Canada, bucked that trend with a line of traditional cruising boats ranging from 25 to 40 feet. The Bayfield 32, with her cutter rig, long keel, attached rudder and shallow draft, is a classic example of the ideal cruising sailboat.
The model was introduced in 1973 as the "Bayfield 30" but pressure from sales and marketing folks soon forced a name change to the Bayfield 32 which considers the vessel's overall length, including the clipper bow and bow pulpit rather than her actual "on deck" length. In fact, the waterline length of 23' 3" is more typical of a 28-footer. The beam is quite wide at 10' 6" and draft is a minimal 3' 9"
The Bayfield 32 has considerable freeboard and a high trunk cabin which have been cleverly disguised by her designer Ted Gozzard. Gozzard sold his interest in Bayfield in 1981 to start Gozzard Yachts. His distinctive clipper bow, wood trail boards and scroll work can still be seen on his current designs.
The Bayfield 32 remained in production until the company closed in 1989 and slightly more than 300 boats were built.
The quality of construction is above average of production-built boats and, aside from problems caused by neglected maintenance, these boats are seldom found to have any significant structural problems.
Elevated moisture of the fiberglass composites below the waterline and minor osmotic blistering are not unusual, although less common on boats that have spent a lifetime on the Great Lakes or other northern waters. Core deterioration, hardware and port leaks can be a problem if routine maintenance has been neglected.
Decks are arranged with a wide bow pulpit forward, ideal for storage of one or two anchors. Side decks are wide enough for easy passage with a slightly raised bulwark capped by a perforated aluminum toe rail from the aft end of the cockpit to the forward end of the trunk cabin. Double life lines and stainless steel bow and stern rails were standard equipment.
The companionway is slightly offset to the port which, at times, is done to accommodate interior arrangements. Halyards and reef lines are led to three winches on the cabin top adjacent the companionway and the mainsail sheets to a traveler aft of the helm. The cockpit is deep and secure with storage beneath seats, wheel steering and a raised helm seat aft of the steering wheel.
Photo by United Yacht Sales
Below deck accommodations are more typical of a 30-foot than a 32-foot boat. There is a V-berth cabin forward although it is so narrow at the forward end that two adults can&t sleep without entangling their feet. This is followed by a combination head and shower to port and hanging locker to starboard. The dual purpose door isolates either the head in one position or the forward cabin in the other. The main saloon features port and starboard settees with a centerline drop-leaf table. The galley is located aft to starboard and there is a quarter berth and navigation station to port. Teak and teak plywood makes for a rich looking interior finish. The fresh water capacity of only 20 gallons isn't much for cruising sailors but, on the plus side, standard equipment included a gimbaled stove and oven; there is almost no wasted space and storage is excellent.
Although Bayfield experimented with several propulsion systems, including a hydraulic drive on some early models, most 32s were powered by 2QM, 2GM and 3GM Yanmar diesel engines. Under most conditions, the smaller "2-series" engines are adequate, although it will be slow going against strong winds and currents or large seas. If you expect to encounter these conditions regularly, look for a newer model with the more powerful 3GM engine.
Most Bayfield 32s were rigged as cutters although there were several exceptions, including a few ketch rigged models and an ill advised, temporary modification that added seven feet to the original mast height. The sail area of the standard cutter rig is most often published as 525 sq. ft. which can cause confusion when comparing sail area/displacement ratios of models. This number includes the area of the staysail and, if used to calculate the sail area/displacement ratio, results in a moderate 18.6. If the traditional 100% of the fore triangle and mainsail area is used, it results in a sail area closer to 435 sq. ft. and a much more conservative ratio of 15.4. The displacement length ratio is a heavy 341.
As might be expected of a relatively heavy boat, with a blunt bow and less than four-foot draft, windward performance is not the Bayfield 32's strong point but sailing off the wind and in ideal conditions, she has, on more than one occasion, logged more than 150 miles a day.
Generally, these prices are more than 25% higher than comparable aged and sized Hunters, Catalinas and Beneteaus and reflect the popularity of this model among cruising sailors who find accommodation, headroom, and stowage all to be excellent for a boat this size and her shallow draft ideal for popular cruising grounds such as the Chesapeake Bay, Florida Keys and Bahamas.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.