Introduced in 1975 the Downeaster 32 is a traditionally styled long range cruiser ideal for couples. Through the years the boat has proven to be rugged, easy to sail, and has won many a praise from owners. They have sailed far and wide and at least three have circumnavigated.
Even in the 1970s when Downeast Yachts introduced their boats they evoked nostalgia and tradition. The Downeaster 32 keeps up the family traits with a long keel with a keel-hung rudder, clipper bow and a bowsprit. The hull has moulded-in planking lines and a slight tumblehome in the aft quarters ending in a wineglass-shaped transom. Above deck, she’s driven by cutter rig slung from a four foot bowsprit – it’s a rig that has proven to be reliable.
Ex-factory, the Downeaster 32 exuded quality throughout and was offered with an large array of options above and belowdecks such that each boat tended to have a uniquely individual personality. The hull laminate was built extremely thick, bordering on overbuilt by modern standards and the rigging has proven strong.
Internal space is generous for a 32 foot boat and tall sailors will appreciate her six and a half feet of headroom. With the right configuration she can theoretically sleep six with three berths in the saloon, a quarter-berth on the starboard aft, and v-berths forward.
Because she is often sailed by couples or single handed, many owners have modified their boats appropriately. The original layout has two doors closing off the v-berth and adjacent head from the main saloon. There’s a u-shaped galley complete with gimballed stove, refrigerator and icebox, and a double sink. Storage includes two well-ventilated hanging lockers and numerous cubbies.
Access to the bilge and engine is unfortunately not ideal. Original boats were fitted with Farymann 24hp diesels, perhaps underpowered but known for their frugality, today many have upgraded to 27hp Yanmars.
Underway you’ll find the Downeaster 32 has reasonable performance on all points of sail. For novices she’s forgiving to sail while sailors who know her well can eck out the full performance from her sail plan. Her conservatively designed underbelly makes for relatively comfortable and very safe dynamics in offshore conditions.
Overall a very good seaworthy boat. Today it stands as a great choice for affordable and safe offshore cruising.
Down East Yachts located in Santa Ana, California was founded by Bob Poole in 1974 during what was considered the boom years for cruising sailboats. Poole was a boat builder who had previously worked for Columbia Yachts and had 14 years of experience under his belt before branching out to start his own company. A native of the East Coast, as the Down East name implies, his idea was to build a dependable line of sailboats with traditional styling in Southern California.
The Downeaster 32 designed by Poole himself was the second offering from the company. It was introduced only months behind the Downeaster 38 which was a design collaboration between Poole and Henry Mohrschladt, the name behind the famous Pacific Seacraft brand.
After the passing of Bob Poole, who died on April 29, 1978, the company continued to be active through to 1980, even finishing a number Westsails on behalf of the failing Westsail Corporation. Down East Yachts legally ceased as a company in 1983. The molds and tooling were sold to Newport Offshore Yachts.
In total, 134 boats were built with the last one completed in 1980. The Downeaster 32 was by far Down East Yachts’ most popular design.
» Downeastyachts.com, owners forums and information.
» Motorboat and Sailing Magazine, Downeaster Review, May 1977