When “Gentleman Bill” Crealock (1920-2009) sat down to design the Crealock 37, he penned a yacht that would be ideal for coastal sailing as well blue water voyages. The goals were for speed and comfort without compromising seaworthiness, and indeed all of these characteristics have been well met with glowing accolades from their respective owners, some of whom have circumnavigated.
“The 37 was, throughout, aimed at those people who, while wanting a pleasant boat to sail locally, just might want one day a boat able to take them in safety to any part of the world – and this with as much speed and comfort as possible without detracting from seaworthiness. I consider crew fatigue to be a major enemy of seaworthiness, and this meant an easy motion, dryness, strength, windward ability, a comfortable deep cockpit, a safe interior and, above all, ease of handling and balance with or without steering aids. With a small crew, possibly no longer athletically endowed, these are what make for fast passages.” – Bill Crealock
The design for an economical yet capable bluewater cruising yacht was initially commissioned by Clipper Marine in the 1970s who were already producing a series of trailer-sailers designed by Crealock. As it turned out, the company went broke before any hulls were produced.
The molds were acquired in 1976 by a boatbuilding concern called Cruising Consultants who produced the first sixteen “Crealock 37s” between 1978 and 1979. In 1980 Pacific Seacraft entered the scene by buying the molds and beginning steady production. By 1993 Pacific Seacraft had rebranded the model the Pacific Seacraft 37 and the boat continues to be in production with the factory putting the total count near 200 boats. (The hull numbers start at #101, with Pacific Seacraft hulls beginning at #117).
The Pacific Seacraft “Crealock” 37 has become highly regarded as one of the all-time classic cruisers and in 1992 the yacht was inducted into the American Sailboat Hall of Fame.
The Pacific Seacraft 37 is a handsome boat with a traditional look. It has a low freeboard, a large bow overhang, and a canoe stern. The rig is in a cutter configuration, a favorite among blue water cruisers. All the sail control lines are fed back to the safety of the cockpit. Under the waterline is a long fin keel and a strong well protected skeg hung rudder with a completely protected propellor.
True to Pacific Seacraft tradition, the 37 is a very strong boat. Construction is conservative and well proven. The hull is solid fiberglass, with the exception of some hulls had the optional balsa or foam coring for insulation purposes only.
Early hulls are not completely immune from osmotic blisters, a common problem in the 1980s boat building era. Hulls from 1988 onwards employ a vinylester resin on the outer layer in order to prevent blisters. In 1993 the original mat and woven roving was replaced with biaxial roving to comply with a change in ABS standards. The hull is supported by a full length liner, bonded into place in numerous points. Very few boats have reported structural damage, even after hard groundings.
The deck is plywood cored and joins the hull with a molded bulwark forming a box joint that is strong and dry, this joint is finished by a teak caprail. Deck delamintaion have not been a problem, even on aged boats.
The mast is deck-stepped and a compression post is incorporated into the main bulkhead which in turn is glassed and bolted into place.On the fin keel hangs the cast lead ballast externally bolted with large stainless bolts.
The boat is well balanced, and can be easily handled by a small crew or single handed. It is notable that boat speed under sail is faster than its displacement/length numbers betray, Crealock himself commented “beware the numbers game”. The boat is narrow and heels early, lengthening its waterline significantly. Many cruisers report consistent 6 knots on long passages, maintaining speed when many lighter and theoretically faster boats get pushed around by building seas. On long passages, the sea-kindly nature of the Pacific Seacraft 37 in practice leads to a less fatigued crew which often equates to faster overall passages.
Under storm conditions, the boat has a reputation of taking care of its crew. Crealock himself tells of two such incidents, “we had reports from two 37 owners caught out under just such conditions, in each case running for their lives under bare poles before heavy wind and seas hitting the peg at 12 knots when surfing. Both made the same remark; steering was so easy it would have been more fun with a tiller.”
Older 37s have aged well, especially taking into account many have sailed far and wide. It is noted that the strong construction and the boat’s seakindliness have contributed to maintaining the boat’s integrity through the years. From a production standpoint, it is important to note the change made in 1988 to a vinylester resin on the outer layer for osmotic blister protection. Some owners have reported problems with the bilge located aluminum fuel tanks, both with accelerated corrosion as well as seawater contamination. The water tanks which are built as part of the hull liner and should be carefully inspected. Generally the deck fittings selected by Pacific Seacraft are of top quality, however the overhead hatches made by Bowmar are prone to leaking.
Used boats are in good demand and prices have remain relatively high.