This page updated: July 2018
Gulfstar 60 section
Gulfstar 54 section
Gulfstar 53 section
Gulfstar 50 section
Gulfstar 47 section
Gulfstar 45 section
Gulfstar 44 section
Gulfstar 43 section
Gulfstar 41 section
Gulfstar 40 section
Gulfstar 39 / Sailmaster 39 section
Gulfstar 37 section
Gulfstar 36 section
Sailmaster 47 section
Sailmaster 40 section
Gulfstar 50: LWL == 40, Beam == 13.7, Draft == 6.0, ???-keel, ketch, Disp == 35k, SA/D == ???, D/L == ???, B/D == 0.30.
Gulfstar 47: LWL == 41, Beam == 13.9, Draft == 5.5, ???-keel, sloop, Disp == 38k, SA/D == ???, D/L == ???, B/D == 0.28.
Hirsch Gulfstar 45: LWL == 45, Beam == 13.2, Draft == 5.3, ???-keel, ???, Disp == 26k, SA/D == ???, D/L == ???, B/D == ???.
Gulfstar 43: LWL == 33, Beam == 11.9, Draft == 5.0, ???-keel, sloop, Disp == 23k, SA/D == 13.7, D/L == 286, B/D == 0.35.
Gulfstar 41: LWL == 36?, Beam == 12.5, Draft == 4.9, modified-full-keel, sloop, Disp == 22k, SA/D == ???, D/L == ???, B/D == 0.36.
Documents (courtesy of Cameron Foster):
SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
SailNet's Gulfstar forum
Gulfstar owner's club (GOC)
Gulf Star Owners Club page on Facebook
Gulfstar Owners Association group on Facebook
Gulfstar Owners Group group on Facebook
From Irne Meinch, President, GOC:
The club was
established in 1991, presently has 435 members, worldwide. Of that 12 are
44MS owners. Gulfstar manufactured sail and power; the club ratio is about
1/2 and 1/2.
I used to belong to the GOC, and dropped out. I wasn't getting
$35/year of value. The newsletter is pretty thin, and the list of
other owners is not of much interest to me. Just my opinion.
The dues are $35 per year, your year starts the month you join, we do a
newsletter monthly, you will get a directory of all the owners. We try to
have at least one rendezvous a year. We just had our 2001, 10th anniversay
rendezvous, April, 26, 27, 28. Attendance was great: anywhere from 80 to 90
members and 17 boats.
In our newsletter, if you have a problem we can not help with, we ask other
members for their advice. It works well.
Gulfstar rig dimensions at Cast-Aways
Gulfstar production history (approximate/estimated):
|Model||Years produced||Number produced|
|36 auxiliary sailboat||1983-85||23|
|36 salon motorsailer||1971||3 or 4|
|37 aft cockpit sailboat||1976-79||154|
|37 center-cockpit sailboat||??? (owner of a 1976 says his is number 19 of 21)||10-12|
|39 center-cockpit sailboat||1986||10-12|
|40 center-cockpit SailMaster||1982||12|
|40 custom sailboat||1977-78||2|
|41 auxiliary sailboat||1973-75||160|
|43 auxiliary sailboat||1976-78||80|
|44 auxiliary sailboat||1978-82||70|
|44 auxiliary sailboat West Indies||1982-83||10-12|
|44 MK II||1983-84||10|
(but mine is a 73,
and I've seen a 71)
|50 auxiliary sailboat||1975-80||172|
|52 motorsailer Independence model||1975-76||12|
|60 auxiliary sailboat||1981-84||???|
|60 MK II||1985-86||12|
|80 auxiliary sailboat||1986||1|
|36 trawler MK I||1972-73||98|
|36 trawler MK II||1975-76||35|
|38 motor cruiser||1980-84||30|
|43 trawler MK I||1973-74||64|
|43 trawler MK II||1975-77||90|
|44 motor cruiser||1978-80||105|
|44 motor yacht MK I||1985||???|
|44 motor yacht MK II||1986||???|
|44 motor yacht MK III||1987||12|
|44 motor yacht MK IV||1988||2|
|44 motor yacht OPAD||1987-88||1|
|48 motor yacht||1981-82||23|
|49 motor yacht MK I||1983-84||26|
|49 motor yacht MK II||1985||10|
|49 motor yacht MK III||1986||10|
|49 motor yacht MK IV||1987-88||12|
|49 motor yacht EAD||1987-88||6|
|55 motor yacht||1987-90||???|
|63 motor yacht||1987-90||28|
|72 motor yacht||1987-90||???|
Gulfstar HIN format:
[Much of this is guesswork; if anyone has definitive info,
please contact me
i.e.: GFSnnnnM73F (for pre-August-1984 boats)
GFS = Always same.
This code is assigned by USCG.
Identifies the builder as Gulfstar.
nnnn = encoding of model and hull number;
format unknown, specific to Gulfstar.
M = declares the HIN to be formatted in the "Model Year" format.
73 = Model year (starts August 1).
F = Month of manufacture or certification (see below).
From Sandy Wills: for the "Model Year" format, anything from JANUARY through JULY
would have been built in the year specified, but AUGUST through DECEMBER
would indicate a build date during the year PRIOR to the model year number shown.
GFS0441M73F = my 1973 Gulfstar 44 motor-sailer ketch.
GFS04415M80H = a Gulfstar 44 cutter.
GFS50172[something] = a Gulfstar 50 cutter, hull number 172.
GFSO44C9M82B is a 1982 sloop.
GFSO4413M72E is a 44 sloop, started Dec 1972 finished Feb 1973.
GFS044600374 = 1974 Gulfstar 44 motor-sailer ketch.
GFS044830674 = 1974 Gulfstar 44 motor-sailer ketch.
GFS043540877 = 1977 Gulfstar 43 maybe finished August 1977.
From Jeff H on Cruising World message board:
Gulfstar is one of those companies that built a wide range
of products with a wide range of quality throughout its lifespan.
Many of the Gulfstars were intended for the charter fleets
and were not all that well-built and were even less well-finished.
The designs varied widely as well. They varied from terrible-sailing
motorsailors to some pretty nice sailing boats. Two that stand out
as nice sailing boats were a Ted Hood designed 40 or so foot
centerboarder that was very similar to the boats he designed
for Bristol, and a 50 or so footer which is a great passagemaker.
The early boats in particular were considered to be very poorly
built with the late boats considered to be constructed to a yacht
quality. Most of the people that I have known who purchased the
charter or early boats have gone through major rebuilds that
includes glassing bulkheads back into the boat or replacing
bulkheads that have rotted out beneath the formica surface
material and a lot of electrical work.
On the other hand these restored boats must be out there ...
From Steven L G:
The Gulfstar 44 sloop sailboats looked great and sailed great. The major problem was quality check.
I found unvarnished teak areas, I found deck drains that were not connected on the bottom and everything
drained right into the bilge. The engine mounting was loose. If Gulfstar would have used stainless steel
for backing plates it would have been a great improvement. Salt water and normal late steel corrode
rapidly even under the deck. Gulfstar overlooked very simple things to save any money they could.
Gulfstar Yachts page on Wikipedia
Photo album on Yahoo GulfstarOwners group
From Rick Riggs on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
The GS-50s had a cored deck. The hulls were solid laminate.
From H E on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
The only Gulfstar with a cored hull, that I know of, is the one-off
48' that Pierre has, eh. I'm pretty sure all 43's are solid hulls like mine.
From Pat Banyas on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
I have a 44 MKII and it has the cored topsides.
From Luke Curtis on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
We have a 1981 SM 39 hull 54 that started leaking around the rudder post
late last year.
When we hauled out last month, we repacked the rudder post packing gland.
No small feat considering there is a genset mounted aft of the Perkins. The
first problem was that GS used steel setscrews to attach the rudder post
collar to the rudder shaft (1.75" stainless solid). We had to drill those
out and rather than drop the rudder we attached a new bolt-on collar on top
of the original collar. After we loosened the collar, it was easy to pull
the packing plate up (four bolts) and insert new packing.
When we dropped back in, no leaks at first but when we started underway we
again got a minor leak.
On further inspection, it appears the bottom plate is loose as it turns
slightly when we first turn the rudder and you can see water seeping from
under the bottom plate.
From Al Nelson on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
We have had a leak problem in the same area on our GS50 which I have talked
about before. May be totally unrelated, however after much effort in
diagnosing the problem, I found it was water seeping in between the bronze
rudder tube and the surrounding glass above the rudder, and working back in
through the glass and coming out just below the metal plate you are
describing. I tore the area apart last season and rebuilt the glass/epoxy
bond and much of the deteriorated area. I have heard of similar problems with
sailmasters. If the leak is not coming from the plate joint, it could be the
same problem I have had. Won't relaunch again until this fall, but I'm hoping
I have my leak taken care. Did have to drop the rudder for the second time to
do the work.
From Luke Curtis on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
Thanks - were you able to use the existing bronze rudder tube or did you have
to replace that? Does that tube extend all the way down through the hull?
From Al Nelson on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
I never removed the bronze tube. Appears the problem develops because of a
failure in bonding between the bronze tube and surrounding layup over the
years, due to a combination of dissimilar materials, stress, and original
layup. The tube goes all the way up through the boat.
After dropping the rudder, I ground back the area surrounding the lower end
of the bronze tube at least 1 inch up. (this is important) The trick in doing
this repair is to insure a good bond/seal to the bronze with the new glass
and epoxy. I had some dialogue with the people at West Systems. Need to be
sure to really rough up the exposed part of the bronze, then apply an
epoxy/filler mix, then rough sand it while still tacky. (can be messy) This
should help with the adhesion of epoxy to bronze. From then on, I kept
building it up with glass and epoxy. It actually took several days to build
the 1 inch area back up as I was doing it with thin pieces of glass. I think
the many thin layers also help to insure a good seal.
I also ground out the area forward of the rudder which is where the water was
working its way into the boat and coming out below the plate you described.
The deterioration in the glass was apparent upon doing this. I ground almost
totally through and slowly rebuilt the entire area. As I indicated, the boat
has not yet been back in the water so I can't say if it's fixed, however I
believe that area is more solid than it ever was and I think it's
repaired as well as it possibly could be. I just don't trust any repair until
I know it works.
Before proceeding on this course, I would suggest you look carefully at the
suspect leak area. See if it is coming out from directly under the plate or
possibly a hairline crack in the glass area below there, which was where mine
was. The problem is the leak could be originating at the rudder tube but can
come out wherever it works its way through the glass which can be different
on different boats. If you determine that your problem is similar to the one
I had and proceed with this repair, I suggest you take photos and/or video
before and along the way to keep track of where you need to rebuild the glass
Mizzen step (on deck) problems:
From Dr. R. Ramirez Brunet:
Watch out once [deck under mizzen] cracks, as water will start to seep in and you
will have a mess! I first repaired my mizzen bed with a 4 X 6 piece of
teak imbedded in solid resin. Result: the roof in the inside started to
give and rested on top of the partitions in the aft cabin. After some
reflection, I decided that this was my own fault by creating a solid
base with the bottom of the sandwich core. When the balsa is under,
what stretches is the top under the base.
So be careful! Speaks loads of the strength of that top portion of the
hull. My final fix was to locate the base of the mast, which came up in
the midline aft corner of the shower stall aft, and went through it, as
it came right on top of the propeller shaft, created a base on the
tunnel, and placed a compression post in aluminum (3 inches) to the base
of the mizzen, held in place by aluminum bases with rings and set
screws. Works like a dream; roof in aft cabin is now back in shape,
without resting in the cabin partitions. Cost of aluminum post and
bases did not exceed $300. Planning and executing took about 5 hours.
From H E:
The mizzen on my 43' is deck stepped. The deck under the step was
cored. In 25 years a bit of water had seeped into the coring and the deck
dented about 1/8" under the forward portion of the step. After unstepping
the mast and removing the step I drilled four 3/8" holes 3/4" deep in a
rectangular pattern 4"x5" and with a 3/4" blade cut out the top glass and
balsa coring. Very little of the coring was rotten but the 4x5x 3/4" hole
was dug and I filled it with epoxy. Solid.
The mast is directly above the juncture of the aft head bulkheads. On
either side of the fore/aft bulkhead are pieces of teak approximatel 1"x5"
that run from deck to sole and are through bolted together through the
bulkhead comprising the compression post. Beneath the sole is a heavy piece
of teak between the sole and the hull stringer that takes the support all the
way down to the bottom of the hull. That piece I'll widen a bit to spread
In 25 years of having a 30' mast sitting on it the balsa cored deck
had compressed only 1/8" in the forward part of the step where the deck
slopes up. It had sustained very little water damage even though there were
no drain holes in the bottom of the mast. Now that I have fixed what really
didn't need fixing I hope it doesn't break.
From Pat Banyas:
I have a 44 MKII ... I had the same problem with the deck under
my mizzen sinking as some of the others but mine was due to the actual
aft cabin sole being deformed by the weight of the mizzen from above.
The mizzen is stepped on the topsides, which bears down through the
shower wall to the aft stateroom floor. Since the shaft is directly
under the mizzen there is no actual support to the hull itself, or
wasn't until I added some new structural supports for the mizzen. Turns
out the MKII had some fairly poor deck construction techniques used for
the inside decks.
From Pierre Julien on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
> ... how to replace white vinyl headliner with little holes in it ?
I have replaced all the headliner in my boat last year and it's doing well.
It was the style with little holes in it, it was glued to 1/8 inch plywood
and velcroed and screwed to 3/4 X 3/4 softwood battens under the deck. I
used the old panels to cut new ones out of 1/4 inch exterior grade, sanded
one side fir plywood. Try the panels first before you glue the new vinyl,
make them 1/8 inch smaller all around, round all the edges with a rasp or
coarse sandpaper. Then glue your favorite canvas over it, I used white
vinyl, no little holes in it, just leather texture with contact cement.
Cut the vinyl 1 1/2 inch larger than the plywood and roll back the edges on
the backside of the ply. Screw the panels back in place with evenly spaced
stainless screws about 16" spacing and formed washers like the ones used
in upholstery work. The vinyl is about $8 per yard, the ply $20 a sheet,
it took 30 yards and countless sheets, 3 gallons of glue to re-do all my
ceilings [GS 48], going around the mast was especially challenging, ended-up
with puzzle-like panels .
From Brett Hoopes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
With my vessel I have found so far a few things.
Make sure there has been no water intrusion into the deck,
an expensive repair. Look around the keel and the very
lower part of it, Gulfstar lowered the lead into a cement
bath which over time did not do so well if salt water was able
to get to it. Check around the base of the mast to see if any
stress cracks have developed. The tanks on these boats are made
out of fiberglass and the tank is an integral part of the structure.
These tanks over time do develop leaks and then you do
have a mess on your hands. Ports, most of them are plastic
and if not rebed on a semi frequent basis, they leak.
Don't bed them with 3M 5200 as I have seen others do,
you will never get the port back out without damage and they will
still leak with that material. The only other thing so far
that I am learning about is to look at the skeg and rudder
to see that no water is making its way into the boat or
that the upper bearing has not had excessive wear from not
being greased. I would like to add that I think this is a
very short and repairable list and these are great boats.
From Cameron Foster on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
We bought our GS 39 new in '81 (hull #23) and kept it in Florida for two
years, Lake Lanier outside Atlanta for four years and in Puget Sound since
'87. When we pulled it out of the lake in '87 we had extensive
blistering - many dozens up to the size of a quarter. The Seattle yard did a
sandblast job (before the "peeler") which disclosed a poor bond between the
outer and next layers of glass on the starboard side (only). Core sampling
all around showed good lay-up otherwise. The fix was to grind off the
starboard outer layer from waterline to keel, bow to stern, and re-glass.
After a total of four months out of the water, the moisture meter showed
everything to be nice and dry. Interprotect epoxy fairing and sealer
followed. About $14K in '87 dollars - probably twice that today. No blisters
since. We haul and paint the bottom every other year in this cool water.
The only clue (after the fact) that we had to the poor lay-up was some
gelcoat fracturing (web-like) in the forward starboard area, apparently
because of the poor bond during lay-up. Surveyor said it was "over
I chalk it up to "luck of the draw" as opposed to anything I've heard over
the last twenty years about general Gulfstar quality.
From Gregg O'Malley on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
As a previous Catalina and Hunter owner, I can tell you that Gulfstar is a
big step up in quality. Whatever you buy, look at the deck condition,
quality and strength of the rig, quality of interior joinery, layout, in
short the stuff you would not likely change if you bought it.
From Mike Rengert on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
In the early 70's I worked for Gulfstar in St. Petersburg. Be assured it
was a first-class state-of-the-art production facility. I know of no
shortcuts that were ever taken that affected quality.
Keep in mind we know a lot more now than we did then.
BTW I trimmed the salon of the 50'er, you'll find my name on the forward
bulkhead behind the starboard hanging locker.
From Gordon and Susie on Gulfstar Owners mailing list
We have a Gulfstar 37 and love it! It's about my 9th boat and the best yet.
We live aboard here in Southern California and also plan to cruise down south next year.
One thing we noticed about the Gulfstars is that
a lot of them had blister problems. Ours, a 1977 GS37, has had the bottom peeled and epoxied.
My 1973 GS 44 ketch, which I bought in 2001:
The first two times I hauled out, I noticed a dozen or so pin-hole blisters
would ooze some resin after the hull had dried out and been sanded.
Last time I hauled out (2015), I didn't see any of those.
From W G Nokes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
I've owned my '76 Gulfstar 41 Ketch since 1983; have sailed it offshore
quite a bit, and work in the boating industry. I would agree they are well
made, but prone to blisters in some boats, not in others. I don't know if
this varied by specific crew, or what. Mine has quite a problem, which I
keep ahead of by barrier coating etc. There are two problems which need to
be looked at periodically. The seal between the bilge and the ballast
fails, allowing water to surround the ballast, making tendancy to blister
much worse. I've had to redo mine twice. Getting it to fully drain so you
can reseal requires you drill a hole in the bottom of the keel; you can't
close the hole until all the water is out. And working under the engine is
about as much fun as cleaning out horse stalls.
The rudder seal between the shaft stock and the rudder blade seems to open
between each haul out. Twice on my boat and once on someone else's, I have
cut open the rudder to inspect the shaft and webbing. They have been
perfectly OK each time. If anyone knows a method of making a durable seal,
I would sure like to know it, even though it seems more of an annoyance than
a real problem.
From Alan Lewis on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
The blistering of hulls of GS 41's is interesting to me; my 1975 41
(hull #160) has had no blisters in spite of long durations between
haulouts. I did have her in the Great Lakes from 1993-2001 where she
was hauled every winter. I have heard one theory that blistering might
be caused by overzealous sanding, and I like that hypothesis because mine
has been lightly sanded only once since 1978 (I painted her only every
third year between 1979 and 1991) and have used ablative paint (Micron
CSC) since it became available.
From W G Nokes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
Alan: Even MIT who has researched the issue extensively cannot say for sure
why some apparently identical hulls blister and others don't. Gulfstar is
one boat that has some hulls which blister badly and others don't for no
apparent reason. Heavy sanding could contribute, but since some hulls
blister almost immediately, and others don't for 25 years, it is not thought
this is the reason. There is some indication it has to do with the
precision of the mix, and humidity at time of layup. Boats with a "hand
layup" rarely have any structural problem, because each layer tends to be a
barrier to further intrusion. The blister will be under the gelcoat, or go
thru the first layer of mat, or perhaps the second, Once in a great while
... Anti-fouling paints, whether ablative or otherwise, appear to have no
effect, according to tests. ... think mine is hull 162.
From WG Nokes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
> Our 50 has the reported blister problem.
> We've barrier-coated and everything
> appeared fine for two seasons (we haul
> every year). The third year 82
> blisters appeared. I tend to think the
> problem has to do with water around the
> ballast making the hull wet throughout.
> How complicated is the procedure to rectify this?
The first time I did it was trial and error, which I have refined somewhat.
My method is purely self-taught. Obviously the boat has to be hauled. Drill
two 1/2" holes, one just below the seal (you may hit the ballast, stop when
you do); the other at the lowest point of the keel. Let drain, while
determining the character of the water running out. The big issue is
whether or not you get petroleum waste with the water. Naturally, this will
be towards the last of the water running out. Let it get down to a slow
If there is oil or fuel residue, I flush from under the engine in the bilge
with paint thinner. It is low cost, not very explosive and cuts the oil
fairly quickly. It usually takes a couple of gallons, applied about 2
quarts at a time. Look at what is running out, and how fast the thinner
poured in the bilge starts coming out the bottom. With the initial
applications of thinner, I use whatever scrubbing instrument is available to
loosen the crud and oil if any, from the bilge. You need to keep repeating
this until the bilge is clean, and clean thinner is running out the lower
hole. When the thinner looks clean, you then need to do soap and water wash
of the bilge; I use Fantastic, but I'm sure there are others. Don't forget
to rinse, using hot water if available. Let drip until it stops, usually a
few days. If the sun is shining on the keel, or you can apply radiant heat
to it, it will hasten the process a lot. Some people advocate pouring in
alcohol which might work, but I haven't done it.
While it is dripping, you can redo the seal, and upper hole. I've been
unfortunate enough to always have to work under the engine; It would be
faster and a better job if the engine were out of the way. Bilge must be
clean and dry. Ambient tempurature between 60 and 80 is best. Use epoxy,
not poly resin. Wipe all surfaces with an MEK-based cleaner (Intlx 202,
etc) with lots of ventilation; acetone would work, but is way too explosive.
Be very careful whichever, because the fumes are moderately toxic, a 3M
mask with the right filters would help, but only a strong fresh airflow or
supplied air is really safe. Cut pieces of fiberglass cloth to make
convenient pieces to lay up. I use 2" tape for all seams, clipping darts
where necessary to get it to lay in a corner. I also now use a biaxial
loose-weave cloth which follows compound curves better. 6 oz is easier to
use than 9 oz or 12 oz.
To do it right, wipe with one MEK wet cloth, followed with dry, and repeat
until the drying cloth is completely clean. Mix up epoxy with slow catalyst
(it runs into voids better) and paint a coat over all surfaces. As soon as
it has kicked enough not to be easily moved, mix up a leveling batch of
epoxy, hardner and collodial silica to be as thick as peanut butter, and
spread over all surfaces, and radius every corner. Don't wait for it to
harden. Lay Dry tape on all seems and corners, gently pressing it into the
thickened epoxy, coat with mixed unthickened epoxy. Place pre-cut pieces of
cloth over entire surface, coming up the sides at least 2"; coat with epoxy.
lay on a second layer of tape as before; coat with epoxy, and a second layer
of cloth, and coat. You can build up as many layers as you desire, but
about 3 at a time is the practical limit, after which you need to wait until
the epoxy has kicked. It is best not to let it fully harden before putting
on more layers or going to the final step.
Coat all surfaces again with unthickened epoxy; when it is firm but not
hard, put a coat of epoxy thickened to about thick cream or mayonaise again
w/ colloidial silica, and fair everything as well as possible. Let cure at
least 8 hours before stressing at all. This fixes the seal.
At the same time as the seal, you should be able to fix the upper hole.
Grind it to a wide shallow dish shape; 12:1 is the recommended bevel. Cut a
bunch of circles from your fiberglass cloth, starting at the full diameter,
and progressively smaller. Coat with epoxy, working it into the hole as much
as possible. Start adding the rings, squeegeeing off excess, epoxy, but not
so much it starts to lose its transparency. Depending upon temperature,
you should be able to get at least three thiknesses before they will start
to sag out of place. Let these cure until they will hold in place well, and
put on another three, etc until the hole is filled level with the keel
surface. Again a coat of unthickened and then a coat of thickened to fill
the weave of the cloth. Let firm up, after which you can use an epoxy-based
fairing mix. After curing, fair to final finish. Underwater, epoxy does
not need to be covered prior to antifouling paint, but does need to be
If the hole in the bottom of the keel has stopped dripping, proceed as with
the upper hole. If still seeping, try using a rolled-up piece of paper
towel as a wick to pull as much water as possible. Bevel as above, then hit
the hole with a hair dryer to both dry and warm the area. Using a hot mix
of thickened epoxy, and with the hole warm, but not hot, shove the hole
full. After cure, check to be sure water has not found a way around or thru
your epoxy plug. If not, reinstate the bevel, and finish as above.
From Laura on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
Be VERY careful about the blisters. Our Gulfstar 50 has had this class problem
taken care of by taking all the fiberglass down to the core of the keel and
then building her up with 15+ layers of fiberglass, gel and then two epoxy coats
of barrier. No one knows for sure how the water gets into the keel but it
seems that once it is taken care of the problem doesn't return.
From WG Nokes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
I barrier-coated the bottom in 1992, and have had a few blisters since. I
think most of the pre-1983 Gulfstars had a modest blister problem. In my
case, before coating, I had probably 1000 blisters, only 2 of which
penetrated the first layer of mat; all the rest were between the gel coat
and the first layer. From what I have heard, this is fairly typical. I've
not seen a GS hull that is actually damaged by the blisters.
From Alan Hinkle on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
I have owned my 1983 GS 36 for 15 years and love it more each year. I too
sail on the Chesapeake and "Impulse" has weathered everything the bay could
throw at her. She points well and handles heavy weather with confidence.
When I originally bought her I had a blister problem. I had the hull peeled
and then had the bottom reglassed and followed that with barrier coat and
bottom paint. I have not had 1 blister since.
All in all she is a great boat and and with a few hardware upgrades I would
be confident to sail her anywhere.
From Bob Appleton on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
... after three years of fighting blisters on our GS 50 it's time to bite the bullet - do a
complete bottom job. ...
From Pierre Julien on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
[Re: wet cement in GS 50 keel:]
If she has been out of the water for over a week, I would run a
moisture meter over the bottom and assess how much drying will be
required, not that it is a perfect science. But say the meter shows
moderate readings, it will probably dry within weeks or months; if it
shows off the scale, it will take longer and it is probably due to
something inside the hull containing water such as the cement in the
keel or water between the laminates, then it needs replacing. I would
not know how to access the cement, mine is a fin, lead keel, I had
problems with the core material in some areas below the waterline, the
core was removed and replaced, yours [GS 50] is a solid fiberglass hull I believe.
From Peter Youngman on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
Re: Keel delamination on 1975 Gulfstar 41 Ketch
Your keel is probably leaking due to breakdown of the well in the bilge under the engine. This
was just filled with resine and no glass; the resine breaks down with time and allows bilge water
into the keel box. You can check if this is the case by drilling a 10 mm hole in the part of the keel
which is seeping. The delamination may be due to this internal saturation. The water will be
heavily contaminated with bilge filth and does the GRP no good. I recently fixed mine by cutting small
windows in the side of the keel at bilge height, removing the degraded resine and reglassing the
bilge. Be warned if you don't correct this, any damage to the lower keel may lead to salt water
entering the bilge. I experienced a very anxious time when my keel was damaged.
From Jim Isbell on Gulfstar Owners mailing list
On my 1972 GS-36, I have drilled through the hull at
several places and it is solid fiberglass where I drilled it. The
bottom is solid. There is no blistering problem. Blistering seems to
have been a problem of boats of many manufacturers that were made in
the 80s because of mass production and not letting the hulls cure
properly. In the earlier years of the fiberglass boat industry they
had not yet begun trying to save money and the hulls were well made
and properly cured.
See my Boat Hull Blisters page
From Peter and Lorraine on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
The GS44 and the barge:
I thought this little story might be interesting to both owners and
those that wonder about how well-built the Gulfstar might be.
On March 14 at 2:30 p.m. a fully loaded barge, measuring 193 ft x 39 ft x
19 ft deep and with an estimated weight of around 10,000,000 pounds, was
being towed by our little 11-slip marina on Granville Island in downtown
Vancouver B.C. when the tow line pulled out of the coupling at the
bridle. The barge veered left and, despite the desperate efforts of the
tug operator, plowed slowly through the marina as if it was not there.
It caught the transom of the C&C 40 beside us, ripping out its dock
cleats and pushing it against Peregrine, our 1981 Gulfstar 44. The barge then
caught our aft port quarter and pushed the boat sideways and forwards up
on the starboard finger dock and the main dock across our bow. The
wood pilings supporting either end of our finger were no match for the
pressure, with the outer piling being snapped off by the barge, and the
inner piling against our starboard bow (buried in 18 ft of bottom) being
pushed over to about 30 degrees before the dock disintegrated in
splinters, dropping Peregrine back in the water. When it was all over,
boats and broken sections of docks were scattered in disarray in the
wake of the barge which ground to a stop against the shore. The Sceptre
36 on our starboard side had cracked decks and hull, all the interior
cabinets moved, and the mast out of alignment.
Our damage consisted primarily of gelcoat scratches and chips, several
deep gouges out of our bottom from riding over the top of steel bolt
heads on the dock, and a couple of bent stanchions. We had no structural
damage, although our port side was pushed in enough to have buckled the
counter top in the aft head, requiring replacement. The biggest gouge
below the waterline was almost 3/4 of an inch deep for a length of
almost two feet, and the yard workers all gasped when we were hauled out
for inspection, but there was enough solid glass remaining we could be
put back in the water for a couple of weeks while waiting for repairs to
be scheduled. Our repairs cost just over $23,000 and took 6 weeks to
complete, but this included new bottom paint and a complete hull wax.
Both the C&C and the Sceptre had to be painted, but our contractor said
we had such a good gelcoat he felt painting over it would be pointless.
So if any of you have any question about the quality of construction of
the Gulfstar, hopefully this story gives you some comfort.
From Ivars on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
The flanges on the ports are really designed to be removed (ground flush).
The port manufacturers do not know the cabin top thickness any hull
manufacturer will have (nor does the hull manufacturer know the final
finished thickness of the interior liner plus the cabin top at the various
port locations). Therefore the port manufacturers have enough flange to
cover all possibilities. The hull manufacturers do not want to take the
time (cost) to trim the flanges flush. When trimmed flush the boat looked
much better, no more ankle bites or chipped port flanges. Go ahead and
grind the port flanges flush, you will be pleased with the result.
From WG Nokes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
... Most Gulfstars, if not all, have a ballast
made up of a concrete slurry with chunks of lead in it. ...
From Pete on Pura Vida:
Someone who worked at the Gulfstar factory told him that the
cement/lead ballast also had large handfuls of
asbestos mixed into it !
From Wade Caldwell on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
I just bought a GS 41 and the published draft is 4-10. When we measured
it during the survey it came in at about 5-2. The guy who did my survey
worked for GS and he said that those specs were based on the delivered
boat, not the outfitted boat. He said that in my size range, every 800
pounds of weight on the boat raises the waterline about an inch. ...
From Al Nelson on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
bought up all of the leftover parts from Gulfstar when they stopped
making boats. I found mizzen chainplates there in the past.
From Kevin Silva on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
The stanchions on my 1979 44MC are held in their sockets with set screws. The majority of
these need to be replaced as they are mostly unmovable and quickly
strip or split when I try to work them. I am very disconcerted with the way they are
secured. Most are very loose and can be pulled up - those that I
struggled to replace only hold by pressure and I see when the yard
pulled the boat for the winter they pulled an entire section up in the process.
From Joey on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
The first thing we did was to remove all of the set screws by whatever means necessary.
Where possible, we drilled holes all the way through the stanchion and base and replaced the set
screw with stainless steel bolts with stainless washers rounded to fit the circumference of the
stanchion. This was secured in place with a lock nut. It does leave the head of the bolt and the
lock nut outside the stanchion but, so far (three years worth) it hasn't been a problem. Where
drilling through wasn't an option, we replaced the set screws with stainless self tapping screws. I
have only had one of those present a problem. It was constantly backing out so I coated the
threads with bedding and it hasn't been a problem since.
One tip: When drilling the stanchions and
bases, we removed them from the boat and set up a jig on a drill press. That way you can control
the alignment of the hole and it makes for a lot cleaner installation. The chrome on the bases is
very slippery and it makes it very difficult to drill without imobilizing the bases.
From Joey on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list
> 1) Did you drill through one or both set screws?
Drilled through one.
> 2) Do you feel that compromises the integrity of the stanchion tube?
Tubes do not appear to be weakened. I've kept a close eye on them to watch
for corrosion, wallowing of the bolts, etc. So far so good.
> 3) Do you recall what diameter hole and bolt size you used?
I could have used 1/4" but I didn't like the bite it took out of the bases.
The 3/16" was just larger than the set screws.
> 4) If you removed the bases to drill, may I ask how they are attached?
> By that I mean that on our boat they are not all accessible (read none
> I've found) from the underside and I'm curious if there is a nut
> glassed in or if any attempt to loosen the bases will result in a
> problem I'd rather not tackle without serious time on my hands. I've
> always wondered this having wanted to remove them for various reasons
> over time - never had a leak - but I am a PM nut and would like to know.
They were attached with through bolts. Many were easy to get to, but some were
real bears. Thank goodness for a small helper.
> 5) Out of curiosity - did you use a "nylock" or the all-metal style?
We used nylock.
From Doug Clark on Gulfstar Owners mailing list:
[The rudder skeg is] a severely underengineered design. The wobbly skegs in Gulfstars have probably
led to the high incidence of leaky and loose rudder bearings. I have had my skeg/hull joint ground
down and heavily reinforced from the outside, and it is now rigid. We used glass and epoxy.
Another bigger Gulfstar hauled out near me, and I checked his, and it was even worse. ... There was
easily visible hull flexing and delamination when I gave it a yank!
From Brad on Gulfstar Owners mailing list:
GS50 sole settling:
From Doug on Gulfstar Owners mailing list:
The sole in my GS50 1979 was settling on the starboard side where the settee meets
the hanging locker. After having a surveyor look at it we decided to pull up the sole.
The framework that supports the sole is constructed of pine 2x4's and then tabbed into
the hull. My tabbing has come undone and the framework is separating in places
due to the fact that it was built with iron/steel nails. Not stainless or bronze.
The nails are all rusting away and allowing the framework to shift. We are replacing
some of the 2x4's that were notched when built to allow wiring and plumbing to be run.
There is enough room to run all plumbing and electrical without cutting out the 2x4's.
We are refastening with stainless screws and coating all wood w/ epoxy (west system).
After the frame is fit we will retab and then re-install the sole. There are lots of
loose tabs due to dry bonding when the boat was built. So my yacht carpenter and I will
be busy for a while fixing her so she is strong as she should be. I think everyone
should be aware that the nails in the subfloor are iron as they will not last!
Same in my GS 40, 1982. Also a couple of bulkheads were partly separated from the hull
and deck as a result of poor glasswork so you might check those too - I thought my mast
was squeaking at the partners, but it was the bulkhead moving!
From CaptCharles on SSCA discussion boards:
A few tidbits about old Gulfstars:
- Rudder Delamination is a big issue with these.
- Encapsulated lead ballast tends to separate from the fiberglass.
- Decks love to Craze with age.
- Osmotic Blistering on most models can be quite severe.
Toerail / jib track / hull-deck joint:
From Peter Youngman:
I am looking for advice on a fix for replacement of the jib sheet track [on GS41].
The track must have been fitted before the deck was bonded to the hull.
There is a cavity in the toe rail which makes fitting the new bolts a PITA as the old
ones are hidden in this space. The deck hull GRP is irregular and I am not convinced
will provide enough beef for the loading on the jib sheets.
I am thinking how to get the new nuts and washers to tighten against the toe rail moulding but have not come up with neat solution.
Any thoughts would be gratefully received.
I think I have the same kind of toerail arrangement on my 44MS, and it wouldn't
surprise me if they put it together in the order you listed. I've run into
other cases where they did things like that. Sorry, I haven't had to work
on the toerail or the hull-deck joint, so I don't have any advice for you.
It sounds like you might have to put in a long backing-plate, the length
of the toerail, under the joint, then through-bolt to it ? I'm just brainstorming here.
Back from Peter:
Joint is too irregular to do a long backing-plate.
Will fill cavity around bolts with epoxy, then through-bolt.
From Robert Larson on Facebook:
We have a GS37 so this may not be applicable to your situation.
Our jib track is attached with 4" machine screws that run through the track,
through the toe rail, and then through the deck. This is extremely close to
where the hull meets the deck (so close that one might assume the bolts are buried in the hull/deck joint).
The nuts on the underside were covered with fiberglass.
At first glance one cannot see where the nuts are, but most show up as small bumps.
I replaced six of these a month ago, and it required the removal of some inside cabinetry
parts after which I also used a forstner-type bit to open up the wood frame just under the nuts.
I then used a rotary burr on a flex shaft to grind away some of the "bump". This enabled me
to go on top and drive them down using a pin punch. Where I had adjacent fasteners to
replace - the spacing is exactly four inches apart.
The old fasteners might be #12 machine screws ... regardless I had to redrill the holes
to accept a 1/4x20 machine screw. I used 4-1/2" long bolts. In one case I had to fill the
area where the old nut was with some epoxy putty, but for most I just used a fender washer and nylock nut.
I did have one nut that was buried into the bulkhead between the lazzerette and salon.
I "sistered" a bolt in a new hole close to the bad fastener.
Be careful not to tighten the new bolts too much - that can distort the jib track (learned the hard way).
I used Life Caulk on the thread of the fasteners where they are in the teak, as well as under the head.
I've wondered if the sealing with fiberglass was part of the reason the stainless fasteners failed.
More from Peter:
I have found a cookery solution.
I made baking paper piping bags, double thickness, which I attached to the nozzles
used on glue/filler tubes. I found the best attachment was with masking tape.
Each hole 6 mm was then filled using the piping bag with a stiff mix of resin and microfibers.
This mix needs to be stiff enough to stand on its own and yet still liquid.
This results in a stalagmite which hangs to the upper surface.
Using more than usual hardener the cone goes off quickly before it can collapse.
Now just drill through this cone which acts as a compression post.
The piping bags are cheap one-use so there is no mess.
I must say I am pleased with the result, which I will use again if I have a cavity to fill.
Gulfstar 60 MK1: LOA 60 ft 6 in, beam 16 ft 0 in, LWL 48 ft 4 in, draft 7 ft 0 in, displacement 55000 lbs.
Drawings: pic1, pic2.
Gulfstar 54: draft == 5.0. According to owner, sails poorly, motor-sails well.
From Dave Foster on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list 8/2002:
We just completed purchase of a 1975 GS 53. After spending a week going
through every system with mechanics I am even more impressed with the
Gulfstars of that vintage. The hull is rock-solid. You should find 7/8"
to 1" thick hull and thicker around throughhulls and plates. If the motor
is one of the perkins and the genset an onan and they run then the odds are
that they will continue to run for a long long time - with proper care. We
looked at some 44s also and our only real concern with cost to fix/upgrade
was the deck and the hull-deck joint. If not taken care of the soft spots
on a deck probably reflect a much more serious issue.
Gulfstar 50 review article by Tom Neale in 4/2002 issue of Cruising World magazine
From Todd on YachtWorld.com Sailing forum:
As far as the Gulfstar 50, the older ones, 70s and early 80s
are good boats, not great, and suffer from leaks, deck to hull
separations, poorly installed portals, etc, none the less, not bad.
Keels are too unprotected for me to want to sail it around the world though.
I looked briefly at 1979 Gulfstar 50 CC ketch "Dream Reach" in Ballena Bay / Alameda CA in 1/2001:
6'6" - 6'7" headroom.
2 staterooms, plus a "workroom / crew cabin" accessible only by going through engine compartment.
All new sails recently.
Masts pulled and repainted recently.
Not sailed much / at all recently.
Davits, but no dinghy.
Believe there is no liferaft.
Barient 32 primary winches.
Swim ladder and gate in stern pulpit; no swim platform.
From Captain Hugenot on SFSailing:
The G-50 was designed by V.S. Lazzara, who also designed the Gulfstar 37.
For long-term cruising the Ketch is the preferred sail plan because it
performs so well on an anchorage with a reefed mizzen hoisted aft.
With this center cockpit design, the helmsman stays very dry offshore,
even in a following sea. The interior layout allows several separate
private spaces so that a crew of four or five can each find a "territory"
of their own which is so necessary on long passages. A more open and
spacious layout would be preferable when the harbor is reached after a long
passage. There are permanent bunks for two couples and a crew of two, and
the salon table is still large enough that everyone can sit for dinner at
once. The forward and aft cabin arrangement with the addition of three
heads, allows a master suite, a guest suite, and a private cabin with head
for the crew. This combination gives the best of all worlds for long
offshore passage making.
Unfortunately the water tank capacity of 210 gallons, and the fuel capacity
of only 100 gallons is merely 50% of what would normally be needed to
sustain these long offshore voyages. Consequently, before any long passages
were begun, each of these capacities should be doubled. The Gulfstar
Sailmaster 50 Sloop has 350 gallons of water and 200 gallons of fuel in the
same sized hull, but lacks the "crew" quarters. The Gulfstar 54 Ketch, has
all the features of the 50 ketch and also carries sufficient fuel at 380
gallons, although the water supply is still a little shy at 267 gallons.
On the other hand the G-50 is a good bet for offshore cruising, if the
additional capacities are installed.
The � keel and skeg rudder will give excellent control running downwind,
she will be stiff and manageable. Rigging a staysail inside the genoa will
give this rig good upwind ability, and maximum speed on a reach.
She should be a very handy offshore passage maker, she is heavy at 35,000
lbs with a 10,500 lb. keel. The layout is handy, the rig is handy, and
well designed for the intended purpose.
From Laura Petruska on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
To Gulfstar '50 owners:
We have just had the very unpleasant experience of having to denude
our Gulfstar '50 keel on the left front portion. We've taken all the
fiberglass (15 layers) right down to the cement. We had to do this
since what looked like an innocent blister turned out to be a huge water
holder. When the "blister" was opened the water poured out and when we
dug deeper we found more water. Presently, the boat is in Venezuela
having this work done. We went ahead with the extensive repairs because
anyone owning these fantastic yachts knows they are worth it. The
question I am posing to the '50 owners is -- Has anyone else experienced
this nightmare? I ask this because two other boats in Houston have
gone through similar experience in the same place on the keel. I'm
wondering how the water gets there in the first place.
Windswept II was kept in the Northeast for most of her life and thus
she was hauled every year. Her hull is in beautiful shape. This is the
first problem we have had with the hull/keel. When the Houston owners
were questioned one surmised the water seeped in through the bilge,
another one surmised it came from osmosis and we can't figure out how in
the world it got in there! I'd like to hear from other owners and see
if this is a flaw of our boat. ...
From Rick Riggs on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
I bought a GS-50 Mark II ('78) last December . Had a few blisters,
localized near Starboard bow (approx 10) from 1/2 inch to 3.5 inches. Ground them
out in the boat yard using an angle grinder. Took the hull down to
unaffected glass and the deepest one (approx 1" in dia.) took 4 layers of
6 oz glass cloth to refill. There had been no previous blister repair.
The surveyor had inspected several GS-50s and said that most had
some blisters, but none that he had seen had serious problems.
The decks (cored) can have some delamination problems if previous
owners did not keep them properly sealed.
Most of the 70's and early 80's models with plastic ports have some
interior water damage from leaks. Many of these have already been repaired
with new interior woodwork and new or reconditioned ports.
My boat specifically had a serious problem with corrosion at the
base of the mizzen mast due to a lack of drainage. Salt accumulated there
and required the removal of 3" from the base of the mast. A special material
(phenolic) was laminated to make a 3" high raised platform to support the
mizzen step. Total cost approx $400. I also have significant interior
paneling damage from leaking ports. Plan to replace them with stainless at
$285 per unit for 12 ports plus cost of the new teak paneling.
No soft spots in my deck.
Perkins 5-154 is a good engine with parts available worldwide. Can
have one completely rebuilt by Foley engines for
approx $5500. Mine only needed new injectors. Be sure to look for leaking
rear seal on your prospective purchases as this requires the removal of the
engine (in most cases) for repair.
The fuel tank was full of sludge as she had sat idle for the best
part of 3 years. There was no clean out, but a good fuel polisher can
install one in a couple of hours. Cost $325 for installation of a
cleanout and the cleaning of a full tank of fuel (in Florida).
I was a bit concerned about her upwind ability with the shallow
draft ... now that I have had her out on San Francisco Bay for a couple of
months, I LOVE the way she sails and handles. She is a heavy boat, so she
doesn't accelerate like a racer ... but she cuts through the chop and doesn't
even feel it. We have 2 - 3' chop that is steep and short interval on the
Bay. The center cockpit only gets spray when hard on the wind with 20+ knots
of wind speed ... otherwise, she is dry.
From BMW Touring on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
In my experience with a GS 50:
1) When run (hard) aground, the energy of impact is passed through the keel
to the weakest point where it dissipates through the hull.
This was the case with ours and the NA who inspected
her accurately predicted the internal damage to wood cross member in the
aft end of the engine room (cracked) and the resultant delamination of a vast area of the
afterbody in the way of the keel trailing edge prior to actually sighting the internals.
The only outward evidence of this was a re-repaired and re-emerging crack
on the aft edge of the keel just below the hull. Left unchecked the crack would
widen and then fail catastrophically.
During the above repairs the accessible voids in the aft end of the keel
were filled so it can no longer become unplanned 'tankage'.
2) Both before and after this was discovered and repaired there was an
accumulation of a 1-1.5" of a white crystalline, saltlike substance
on the very bottom of the keel which occurred with all tanks
dry and indoor storage. Various explanations have been offered including
'uncured catalyst' (in a 1977-built boat) and water migration. The mystery remains unsolved.
3) We drilled drain holes in the keel and allowed free water to drain and
seep for several days.
It was mixture of clean and bilge water. I see by the weeps around the
epoxied and barrier-coated repaired hole that I can do this again.
I suspect I have a cracked water tank (located between the fuel tank and the
engine room sump) and the water migrates. I will rehole / redrain the keel and then do a dye
test on the fresh water tank to confirm or deny.
If I had the money I'd like to x-ray the keel and then fill the voids with a
From Al Nelson on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
We had a problem some years ago while our boat was in Trinidad.
Delamination had occured in areas of the keel, especially in the upper aft corner
going back toward the skeg. We noticed water dripping in right after we had
launched and had to rehaul. After identifying the bad area, we also found that
much of the FG on the SB side of the keel was beginning to delaminate. We ended
up peeling most of the glass from the keel, in some areas down to the cement.
We rebuilt and rewrapped the keel in several layers of heavy biaxial glass.
In the process, we did cut about a 2 sqft section out of the side of the keel
to gain access to the bilge. We cleaned out and reglassed the bilge area under
the engine and eventually filled the opening, first by backing up the hole
from within with a solid piece of glass, and then building up on top of that.
When people would come by the boatyard and ask about our hole in the keel, we
joked that we were changing the bilge pump. The point is, if necessary, you can
cut into the bilge from outside and patch it up like new even if it is a little
scary. Our project lasted for months ...
From Neal / Sea Quell on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
Great boat [1980 CC GS50]. Mine is Hull number 150.
See photos here
see blog here
We don't have an inner forestay, and are happy without it. The foresail
is huge, so a forestay could cause a lot of frustration.
Depending on the age of your
generator, watch the exhaust elbow. It is usually cast steel, and can
deteriorate/rust with age (not necessarily hours of use, idle hours do
Our Perkins leaks a lot of oil. We suspect the rear seal in the bell
housing is shot. So we suspend a fire-resistant tarp under the motor to
catch the oil, and then pump it back into the motor! This is not ideal,
but it works. The bilge is very deep, you don't want to try cleaning oil
out of there.
The raw water impeller is difficult to see, so I custom-made some screws
with wing-nuts for easier removal. The raw water goes from the pump to a
refrigeration heat exchanger (engine-driven cold-plate). So impeller
bits are not welcome in that heat exchanger. For this reason I added a
strainer after the raw water pump to catch any failing impeller vanes.
This is a great idea, it helps you to know when to replace the impeller too.
Last summer I had starter trouble with the Perkins. Now I'm an expert,
if you need advice with that. Oh, that and Vacuflush, and also Webasto
Hydronic heating ... Don't ask. They're great additions once you get them
debugged. I'm rebuilding the companionway slider. It was installed in
such a way that the wood wears away over time, no runners to protect it.
So I'm an expert on that too haha. You have to partially destroy it to
remove it (on this boat anyway).
We have SS ports, they are well worth the cost. But install them
properly, with good sealant (Sikaflex). Whoever installed ours botched
the job, so I am re-bedding them as time allows. It's much easier to do
it right the first time. You might as well varnish the interior wood
panels while the ports are removed. Heck, varnish the whole boat while
you have the brush in your hand ROFL!
Get a dual-racor filter. It is very
uncomfortable to use the manual finger-pump (lift-pump) on the starboard
side of the Perkins. Especially when the engine is hot. Install an
additional electric pump to make bleeding/priming much easier.
Also, consider installing a polishing system to help keep the crud out
of the engine. The Perkins fuel pick-up is probably not at the bottom of
the tank, you may have inches of crud collected down there. The
polishing system should pick up from the bottom of the tank, as low as
you can, to suck up all debris.
Since you have a classic plastic boat, the wood trim really adds to the
appearance. Avoid sanding too much, preserve the wood and the nearby
gelcoat. Those toe-rails will be very difficult to replace. I use
Honey-teak varnish, longer lasting and less sanding than plain-ole
varnish, and it's easy to patch/repair dings.
If your Gulfstar is like mine, some of the chain-plates are not
accessible. I'm thinking about cutting some holes in the wood panels to
Owner trying to compile a list of all Gulfstar 50 auxiliary names, hulls, HINs and owners:
Ethan, email address "boat at arafel.org".
From Nathan Moser on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
Our Sailmaster 47 is for sale; we
want to have kids, and we're not hardcore enough to try raising an
infant aboard (yeah, we've seen it done... it isn't easy! ;).
Good stuff: solid and comfortable. The queen-sized aft
berth is in large measure what sold my wife on the boat (especially
after having spent a few warm nights aboard another boat in one of
those sarcophagus-style double-but-really-more-a-single berths). Tall
people appreciate the 6'3" to 6'5" headroom. The galley is large and
much more functional than other sailboats. The cockpit of the boat is
high enough to keep you dry in all but the wildest of circumstances (we
often see boats filled with people in foulies while we're in t-shirts
and jeans). The boat sails confidently in the 30-35 knot summer breezes
here. Maneuvers quite well around the dock for a boat its size with a
single screw ... once you give up trying to steer in reverse, and
realize that short forward blasts with helm hard over work almost as
well as a bow thruster.
Bad stuff: if you're one of those people who simply *cannot* have a
single blister of any size on the hull, you'll have to find one that's
had the hull ripped down and rebuilt and barrier-coated, or go to the
expense yourself. We've simply fixed the dime-to-quarter-sized blisters
on haulout, and left the strong and thick hull otherwise well enough
alone. If you need to go 12 knots or more to have fun, find another
boat; the 47 typically does 5 to 7 under sail, but the keel shape keeps
the boat from pounding when going to weather, so you'll end up arriving
later, but much less exhausted, than your fin-keeled pals. The 47 does
sit high in the water, but this hasn't been a sailing/maneuvering
windage problem, as much as it's been a high jump from deck to dock
when coming into port.
From camaraderie on SailNet's Gulfstar forum:
> What is a Hirsch Gulfstar 45 ?
From funsailthekeys on SailNet's Gulfstar forum:
The Hirsch group was a charter organization mainly out of the Virgin Islands.
They ordered boats to their specifications for the charter trade both from Irwin and Gulfstar.
The boats were production-quality and designed for coastal and caribe cruising much
like the Moorings/Beneteaus are today. These are not blue water boats but fine live aboard
cruising boats that sail decently, have good tankage, excellent space and good prices in the market.
They are built from the same hull molds that supported the non-Hirsch versions of the brand
but often have different tankage and accomodation arrangements.
Yachtworld specs say:
Designer: Richard Lazzara
LWL: 35' 6"
Beam: 13' 2"
Displacement: 26000 Lbs
Draft: 5' 4"
Ballast: 9500 Lbs
Engine(s): Perkins 50 HP 4-108
Cruising Speed: 6.5 Kts
Max Speed: 7.5 Kts
Fuel: 54 Gal
Water: 140 Gal
Holding: 2 tanks
Mast height might be 59' ???
There are two things of many that define a blue water boat accepted by marine architects,
one being the vessel has an up-swung bow for reserve buoyancy on heavy seas and another
being small ports to withstand crashing waves. On this alone you could remove many boats
from the list that others would swear were blue water. If you want a boat that can
safely withstand a tropical storm, then a Hirsh/Gulfstar 45 will work. It has sturdy rigging,
full hull spider and well tabbed in bulkheads. It's heavy (28,000 lbs), just what you want
for open sea travel. And it is fairly fast under sail (7-8 knots). ...
The deck to hull is screwed thru first the aluminium toe rail then the deck and a flange in the hull.
Next the hull is not cored, it's solid glass. I don't know what the deck is cored with,
but I don't have any soft spots after 23 years. Original cost was about $89,000 stripped.
I have a Perkins 50 that will push it at 8 knots on a moderate sea. It has good engine
access in comparison to a lot of other boats. Lastly I have repaired blisters but they
were very shallow and easy to fix.
I looked briefly at the 1985 Hirsch Gulfstar 45 sloop "First Love" in Ft Lauderdale FL in 3/2001:
But, received this 3/2006 from Jack Mason:
No exterior wood.
Very clear decks.
Headroom 6'2"-6'3" in main cabin and V-berth, 5'6" in walk-through and part of galley,
6'1"-6'2" in aft cabin (one section 5'9"), 6'1" in aft head.
1 step down into galley.
Bad cracking on deck near port stern.
Almost no opening ports.
"First Love" has many opening ports and hatches and is a very airy boat.
She spent about 15 years in the Bahamas. We never lacked for ventilation.
She is a great boat.
Designer: V. Lazzara
LWL: motor-sailer: 39' 6", sailboat: 35' 6"
Draft: 3' 6"
I bought the 1973 Gulfstar 44 motor-sailer "Magnolia" in Key Largo FL in 5/2001:
All through-hulls had gate-valves, and most gate-valves were corroded or frozen.
A few below-waterline through-hull backing pads had rot.
Several deck-leaks through screw-holes in top of toerail; most easy to fix.
Boat is easy to single-hand, stable, sails okay (but slowly: lots of
wetted surface, very beamy, lots of windage, shoal draft, short masts, heavy)
as long as wind is 10 knots or more.
Hard to tack in 6 knots or less.
Very hard to sail into a swell forward of the beam.
On my boat sailing performance is particularly bad because:
fixed 3-blade propeller causes drag, pilothouse adds windage,
pilothouse makes it hard to see what the sails are doing,
roller-furling on all sails degrades shape, sails are very old.
Because of the shallow draft and wide beam and high freeboard,
boat is very rolly in a beam swell. Can be extremely uncomfortable
in the wrong conditions, underway or at anchor.
Boat is very AC-power-oriented: air conditioners, AC stove, AC freezer, genset.
- Lots of through-hulls, and many outflows are at the waterline.
- Through-hulls are separate from the valves; not sea-cocks.
- Through-hull valves were all gate-valves.
- Rub-rail is attached with screws that come right through the hull.
Maybe there's no other way to do it ?
- Interior is full of drawers, which are space-wasters.
- Lots of formica over particle-board: low-maintenance, but hard to fix if
the particle-board starts swelling.
- My boat has twin berths in aft cabin; couples want queen bed.
- Water pools on deck a little just forward of the aft scuppers.
- When water drips from the rudder stuffing box, there's nowhere for
it to go. Probably common in many boats.
- A builder's usual inattention to maintainability: cabinetry built
on top of wiring, wiring to lights sometimes prevents removing headliners,
bulkhead built across top of fuel tank fittings, shower
floors impossible to remove without demolition,
no access to tops of water tanks, access hole in top of fuel tank is tiny,
nails used to fasten floorboards down.
Detail-type (fixable) problems:
- No backing plates on the cleats.
- Some stanchions have backing plates, some don't.
- Cleats and stanchions attached through cored parts of hull, not solid laminates.
- Teak trim is attached exactly backward: the screw-holes generally aren't caulked,
and the long runs of wood are caulked-on.
- Fuel tank vent line is too narrow; have to add fuel slowly. Hard to
replace with thicker line: bulkhead built on top of fuel tank.
- Access holes/port into top of fuel tank is tiny; useless for serious cleaning.
- No access holes/port into tops of water tanks.
- Opening ports are plastic: they tend to break after a lot of
- Electrical panel quirks: no fuse on some circuits, and no fuse or switch
on cabin interior light circuit.
- Extra ballast for genset was glued down with tons of epoxy and then tar
slathered over the top, in a cramped space; very hard to remove.
Features I love
- Lots of space.
- Great engine compartment (can almost stand up straight in it).
- Wide side-decks, and lots of uncluttered deck space in general.
- 6-cylinder Perkins engine is great.
- Hull seems very solid; decks are in great shape for 31-year-old boat.
In early 2010, I removed the old Onan diesel genset, because I hadn't used it in years and
it ran badly anyway. Had to remove ballast under the sole in the hallway too, to balance the
boat. Since the genset was above the waterline, and the ballast just about at the waterline,
I think this improved the stability of my boat.
See my Sailboat "Magnolia" page
From Gary Elder:
[My 1971 Gulfstar 44 ketch's standing rigging is a mix of 1/4" and 3/16" wire.]
Many people believe the Gulfstar 44 is rigged a
bit light. To help put that in perspective, here are the
dimensions of my  Morgan Out Island 41 standing
rigging: I can't get at my headstay to measure it - the
furler completely covers it - but it is probably at
least 7/16". The main uppers are 3/8".
The fwd lowers are 5/16". The aft lowers are 5/16".
The main twin backstays are each 5/16". The mizzen
uppers are 1/4". The mizzen lowers are 1/4".
I looked briefly at the 1983 Gulfstar 44 center-cockpit sloop "Paradox" at Ross Yachts in Clearwater FL in 3/2001:
Headroom: 6'3" most places, some beams at 6'2", starboard walk-through is about 5'4".
Less than half of the ports are opening-type.
Aft head has separate shower stall.
Some worn-through non-skid on deck, boom needs repainting.
I looked briefly at a 1971 Gulfstar 44 motor-sailer in Key Largo FL in 4/2001:
A project boat.
Center-cockpit walk-over ketch with big sturdy hardtop over cockpit.
Seller will not negotiate after survey, will not allow sea trial and haul-out before sale.
Seller has owned for 3 months and briefly motored but never sailed it;
wife doesn't want to cruise any more after 5000 miles on trawler;
previous owners lived on it in USVI for years, tried to sell for a year or more.
Started advertising recently (3/15 ?), claims lots of calls from around the country,
but sounds like no serious buyers yet.
No recent survey or haul-out.
Headroom: 6'2" under cockpit hardtop, 6'1"-6'2" in aft cabin,
6'4"-6'5" in main cabin.
No anchor windlass. Small vent into what might be a small chain locker, opens into V-berth.
Most ports are opening-type, but are RV-quality slide-open type. Some seem to be caulked shut. No leakage seen.
Aft head has separate shower stall.
Exterior wood: toerail, grab rails, hardtop rails, hatch rims,
cockpit coaming, bowsprit.
Rubrail is very small.
2 cold-plate iceboxes in cockpit (probably don't work);
icebox with no refrigerator in main cabin.
Ford Lehman 120 HP engine; runs (and run recently), but lots of rust.
Through-hulls and seacocks (gate valves) need replacement.
Current owner hasn't tried stove. Propane, but locker in cockpit not properly vented.
Water heater looks like it needs replacement.
Huge cockpit, but big table/icebox right in forward middle. Could be torn out, except
pipe supporting hardtop is on top of it.
Roller-furling jib; no furling on main and mizzen.
Very simple running rigging: don't recall seeing a traveler, boom vang, jib track.
Clear decks. No soft spots. Chain-plates, other hardware looks good. Dent in at least one stanchion.
Multiple hatches and 2 companionways give good ventilation.
No davits, no dinghy, no motor.
3 small winches, 1-speed not self-tailing.
Bilge very clean, very accessible.
Huge, fairly empty engine compartment with big engine in middle.
Every visible inside hull surface very clean, no problems.
Rudder shaft base is very rusty.
Wood swim platform (full width of transom); hinge mounting is suspect.
Upholstery is old, tired, minimal.
At least one cockpit drain opens straight into engine compartment; hose missing.
Almost no electronics: VHF radio, shore power connection.
Not USCG documented. Florida registration V014703 expired February/March 2001.
A project boat; needs:
- replace all through-hulls and seacocks before it sinks (no kidding).
- replace all hoses before opening any seacocks and maybe sinking boat (no kidding).
[Now it will stay floating.]
- replace/clean most small parts on exterior of engine.
- probably replace wiring.
- maybe replace batteries.
[Now it can be motored and navigated.]
- probably replace sails.
- replace running rigging.
[Now it can be sailed.]
- probably replace some plumbing.
- discard/replace refrigeration.
- probably replace stove, re-work propane system.
- replace all ports.
- new upholstery.
From Pat Banyas on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
[44 ketch] Construction flaws:
Probably the biggest pain I've come across is the framing for the main
interior cabin deck. Under the floor the framing is 2X4 fore and aft
with athwart ship 2X4's in between the fore and aft beams. These
athwart ship beams are then nailed or screwed to the fore and aft beams.
With no interlocking over the years the athwart ship beams have sagged.
The worst cast of this is the mizzen area. The mast sits on the deck,
which is supported by the aft shower bulkhead. This bulkhead is then
supported by the plywood deck which sits on one of the athwart ship
beams which sagged way down due to water leaks from the shower. wood
deterioration, and old age. Every place that has frequent traffic and
has one of the athwart ship beams show sagging, also was bad in kitchen
The engine room is great, however for whatever reason the surrounding
bulkheads were not brought all the way to the deck. And the exterior
bilge spaces were not sealed off from the engine room. Thus engine room
odors easily migrate throughout the vessel. I love the shower but to
install the shower sump they cut one of the fore and aft beams and did
not support either end of it, thus undue pressure results in sag over
Also of considerable interest is the lack of any access to water or fuel
tanks without major deck removal. I know that that results in more
space for living but it does make it difficult for maintenance. The
bilge areas also leave a lot to be desired. Especially under the fuel
and aft water tank. No access without a long hose. One of my last
gripes is the rudder post and the shaft log areas, what ever were they
thinking when they designed them. I have no idea what type of materials
they used other than to say that now, almost 30 years later they are
unidentifiable and I know it's going to be a thankless task to replace
Overall they are built like a mobile home with the exception that they
are very solid boats, do well with the large engine, 120 HP for mine, and
are great size for living aboard or spending time in the Bahamas. The
cockpit is huge and the cockpit coaming passthru can't be beat for
making it comfortable.
I know it's a lot of stuff but they have a lot to offer and most of my
gripes are related to the age of the vessel and the mass-production
costs at the time they were built.
From Pat Banyas on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
I have a 74 MKII 44 Ketch and I have found it to be a solid boat with
several exceptions. At that time the hulls were real solid but for this
model to be mass-produced they used a lot of pressboard type interior
materials and some poor interior subflooring construction. Look for
deck and floor sagging under the mizzen compression section of the wall.
My floor was supported by a 2x4 subfloor that sagged 3/4 inch allowing
the bulkhead to sag which allowed the mizzen to sag with the overhead.
Costly if you are paying someone to fix. Same problem in my galley
area. On deck the design of the MKII allows water to collect and stand
on port and stbd sides forward of the farthest aft scupper in the
toerail. If there are any deck penetrations in this area they could
have allowed water into the core material. The only other real pain was
the rudder post comes up through a STEEL box with the bushing on top of
the steel post, not a hard fix but some not so nice consequences if it
From Robert Firth:
My concerns with the 44:
My boat was a 1973 and I had to do the following:
1) The mast is stepped on a metal pole that extends through cabin sole
into a drain area for the forward shower. There is a pump there that has to
have some standing water to make the switch. The pole gets corroded at the
base and has to be carefully cleaned, scraped, sand blasted, and painted
with bridge paint, high anti-corrosive metal paint.
2) The rudder needs to be removed at some time and the water drained from
it ... and all the holes and blisters sanded out and the divots fixed
with fiberglass. This has to be done in dry dock of course.
3) The rudder post, at the top, against the transom, has a bracket made of
ferrous metal that allows the steering arm (tiller) to attach to the
steering Morse cable. I had to remove mine, sandblast it and paint it with
the bridge paint. I should have had one made from SS. I replaced all the
washers, etc. at the same time, needed it badly.
4) The exhaust is under the aft port bunk (facing forward); the flange in
the thru hull had to be removed and replaced. New SS bolts, new gasket
One other thing, in a good blow, I had the starboard main backstay chainplate
break flush at the deck, didn't lose the mast, but headed it up ASAP. The
SS was corroded. I eventually replaced all the chainplates and found half
of them bad.
Another area to be concerned about is the deck. Have it checked with the
hydro meter to see if you have any wet spots. Grind them out. Let them
dry and fix with fiberglass matting.
One thing about the GS44, it is not a "blue water boat" ... keep it in the
Bahamas and the Keys, Florida waters. It has no deep sea keeping quality.
Anything over 8' seas and force 7+ winds the boat can be difficult. You can
not run before the weather as the transom, being so large, will drive the boat and
can eventually break the rudder. You have to lay to in heavy weather, so better
to stay out of it. ...
From Steve Weinstein on The Live-Aboard List:
I spent a lot of time on a '75
Gulfstar 44 ketch and can tell you that it makes one hell of a
live-aboard ... as long as you don't want to sail very much. As I recall
it took about 15-20 knots of wind to get her moving. On the other hand, for
$20K, what the hell. As long as you want to put in the sweat equity and
spend some bucks to bring her up to speed, pardon the pun, you'll probably
come out okay. But definitely have the engine surveyed! That's one boat
that needs a good engine.
Like I said, bring her back to decent condition and you'll have a large,
beamy, extremely comfortable boat. But if your home sailing waters aren't
known for strong winds, plan on a lot of motoring or motor-sailing.
From Craig Zwirn on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
My Gulfstar is a 1980 and it has very nice sailing characteristics. Gulfstar
sailboats vary tremendously in design. The particular model I have is a Lazzara-designed shoal
draft center cockpit sloop. It has the low cabin top of the newer models and less freeboard. The
transom is tapered with a slight reverse. I think it differs considerably from the 1970's models. It
sails just about as well as anything can that weighs 26000 lbs plus all my live aboard stuff in
light air. Once the breeze gets to 10 or 12 kts then she really sails very well. I did change the
traveller setup. I removed the adjustable stops that came on the track originally and installed a dual
purchase system. This makes traveler position adjustments much easier. Mainly it enables me to
flatten the boat out a little more in heavy air as she tended to get a little overpowered before. I
also put on lazy jacks to assist in single handing (probably one of the best modifications). They
really make life easier. I do a lot of racing on some very fast boats and even my racing buddies
have been very surprised at my boat's performance for a live aboard cruiser. I have never regretted
the decision to buy her. I actually prefer to sail a heavier cruising boat than a race boat. I
guess it's just a personality type. If someone is in a hurry then sailing is probably not for them.
I just computed my boat's displacement ratio and to my surprise discovered that is considered on
the light side of the medium displacement range.
From Paul Olson on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
I have hull #75, a 1983 GS 44. Mine is a sloop. Personally, I love the
room on the deck that you might have to give up for a cutter or ketch.
In this years models, the aft berth is centered with cabinet storage on
each side and lots underneath. It is very comfortable during normal
cruising. Not too great for strapping in on a bluewater run. But you
can use the berth in the salon during passage. My boat sails well in
light or heavy air. I reef once at about 17 knots of wind and second
slab at 20-24. She handles well. The boat is very sturdy. I don't
seem to have any design or maintenance issues out of the ordinary. I
did have a hard time finding 44's to look at when I decided that was
what I wanted.
From Stacey Hoopes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
My husband and I have a 44 center cockpit - hull #1. We picked it after
extensive research on boat designs because we also plan to do some extensive
cruising. We converted our aft cabin to a full bed and it nicely fits a
queen size mattress - very comfy, but I agree with using the salon berth for
sleeping while underway.
... way too many thru-hulls. A couple were completely
inaccessible until we replaced the engine (new engine was smaller - thanks
to technology - and so more room to reach around).
Spending time on the
boat is VERY comfortable and easy and it sails great.
Main complaints would
be: almost impossible to singlehand, very heavy boat (which is good and
bad depending), too much brightwork (the maintenance can be overwhelming at
times), and drainage off the boat is terrible (mostly when washing it - not
when you're out on the water). For some reason there is only one side drain
on each side and it's not in the right spot, so water tends to well around
the drain, along with all the dirt you're trying to wash off - very
All in all - I highly recommend the boat.
Had a deck leak at the top of the mainmast compression post in my 1973 GS 44 ketch;
here's what I learned while dealing with it:
- The teak plate at the top of the compression post was one
piece; no way to remove it without splitting it into two pieces along
the grain. I did that.
- The headliner wood in this area seems to be one 1/2-inch sheet,
glued to underside of the deck. Not sure. Expected a separate 1/4-inch
sheet with the fabric glued to it, as there is elsewhere in the boat,
but that doesn't seem to be the case.
- After 31 years, the compression post has some pitting near the
top (from saltwater leak, I'm sure), but seems sound at top and bottom.
- The bolt-heads underneath the deck (two through-bolts fasten the mast base to the deck)
have no backing plates or even
washers on them; they seat onto underside of deck fiberglass.
- The deck hole for the compression post fits it very tightly;
I think they should have left room to work some caulk into there.
- Leak is from water getting between deck and very bottom of metal mast base;
I wonder if they didn't caulk very well there. Certainly there is no
caulk to be seen bulging out between metal and fiberglass. The water
is coming down the forward bolt and the deck hole for the compression post.
- Mast base is a separate piece from the mast (probably standard);
the mast base sticks up about 2 inches above deck level inside the mast.
Don't see any fasteners holding them together, just the weight of the mast.
Would have to lift mast up off the base before you could get to the
nuts on the bolts that hold the base to the deck.
I'm told that a lot of Gulfstar 44's were sold into the Caribbean charter companies
back in the 70's.
Some Gulfstar 44's have Ford Lehman 120 engines, and others have
Perkins 6.354 engines. I'm told the Ford is a better engine (more reliable fuel
injection pump, for example).
I looked briefly at a 1976 Gulfstar 43 center-cockpit ketch in Alameda CA in 8/2000:
Mostly 6'2" headroom.
Anchor chain locker open to V-berth.
Four berths 6'5", two berths 6'1".
From Keith on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
Re: Gulfstar 43 ocean voyage:
In preparation for the ocean voyage, we replaced all of our standing and
running rigging, all sails, winches, electronics, and the 12 volt electrical
system. We also added furling systems to the headsail and mainsail so that
we could manage sails from the cockpit. We had fabricated and installed an
SOS Rudder, an emergency steering system which I hope we never have to use.
Many other comfort and safety related upgrades were done as well.
Our sail configuration was full mizzen, main, and genoa as we exited the
Golden Gate. Our route planner, Rich Shema (www.weatherguy.com) had already
warned us that we were heading into a gale. By dusk we found 35-knot
winds; seas were 15-22 feet when we passed Point Sur. Our GulfStar 43'
ketch was not at all fazed by the sea state nor by the wind. Her ability
to surf is incredible.
The gale lasted three days. We took a gust of 55 knots and I swear I saw
the tip of the boom hit the surface of the water, but the boat righted
herself immediately. Rogue waves filled the cockpit from time to time, and
after the first night they became less and less amusing. During the gale,
we used a reefed main and an ATN Gale Sail during the day and reefed mizzen
and ATN Gale Sail at night.
We had one of our old jibs cut down and made into a blast reacher, but we
didn't find much use for it.
Once we hit the trade winds, we experimented with a variety of sail
configurations including a full complement: mizzen, mizzen staysail, main,
genoa. We also used both symmetrical and asymmetrical spinnakers. At
night, we stayed with our mizzen/jib combination (usually using a reefed
For our trip, which was our first ocean crossing, we enlisted the help of a
professional skipper from Italy. He skippers charter Beneteaus and Bavarias
in the Adriatic and Med. On the fourth day, I found him circling all of the
classified ads for used GulfStars in the back of the sailing magazines we
had on board. He is now in the market for what he considers "the best boat
I've ever sailed".
The boat did everything we asked for and more. There was only one system
failure (the autopilot motor shifted 1/2" and made the chain slack). Some
damage occurred to our furling boom system but that did not affect its
The boat is built like a tank. I have no reservations about taking her from
Honolulu to Tahiti and beyond, but she needs to earn her keep in Hawaii by
providing an adjunct to our vacation rental business there.
From Joey Sowell on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
> I have a 36 GS MS ... at any speed, under motor,
> above 6.5 kts it is almost impossible to steer,
> if you do not constantly steer (as much as turning the
> wheel 200 degrees!) When I had it up on the hard I noticed
> that the rudder appeared very small. ...
My GS43 MS had a similar problem (not as pronounced as yours) that was
solved by replacing the rudder with a larger one with more draft and surface
area. It made a major difference in boat handling and my autopilot is much
From Captain Hugenot on SFSailing, 9/2000:
The Gulfstar 41 Ketch has a sail area of 731 sf, is 41 ft 0 in LOA,
33 ft 0 in WL, 12 ft 0 in Beam, and has a 5 ft 0 in draft, an 8000 lb keel
and a total displacement of around 22,000 lbs, holds 45 gallons of fuel
and 65 gallons of water, and is powered by a 50 hp Perkins Diesel.
It was designed by V. Lazzara for the 1974 model year, so your 1973, is
actually a 1974 model, built in 1973. The current market value for an
AVERAGE condition Gulfstar 41 Ketch is $52,400 to 57,600 if located on the
North Atlantic Coast or Southern California Coast, 5% less if located
in Florida, 5% more if located on the Gulf Coast, and 10% more if located
in the Great Lakes or the Pacific Northwest. A hull in VERY GOOD condition
could be worth an additional 15%, If BRISTOL a total of 25% above book.
1973, was the year the oil shortage began, and it took until 1974 to use
up the inventory of existing products, and before alternative products
were in wide use. It was this use of alternative products in the
lay-up and manufacture of fiberglass hulls that caused the major blister
problems which appeared ten or 15 years later, in those hulls built after
1974. Since your hull was manufactured in 1973, it is probably free of major
blistering, however all fiberglass hulls will blister some.
The Gulfstar 41 is excellent for offshore sailing with the center cockpit
and the heavy displacement. I would be willing to go anywhere in one of them.
From a 1973 Gulfstar 41 sloop ad:
"over 6' head room throughout"
From Greg Castronover, owner of a 1973 Gulfstar 41 sloop:
> headroom in the cabin; I need 6'3" everywhere.
> Does the Gulfstar 41 satisfy that ?
There is enough head room in the main solon, forward cabin, and aft cabin,
but the hallway to get back to the aft solon is only around 5'6". ...
Mast height - approx - 50 feet.
I looked briefly at Greg Castronover's 1973 Gulfstar 41 CC sloop "Mariah" in Naples FL in 3/2001:
Nice clear decks, except for rails around mast.
Roller-furling jib, lazy-jacks on main.
Headroom: 6'5"-6'6" in main cabin and V-berth,
5'6" in walk-through, 6'3" in aft cabin.
All backing plates visible in ceiling of main cabin.
Bow pulpit is a bit dented.
Very nice custom anchor platform.
Exterior wood: large cockpit rim, grab rails, companionway.
Half of ports don't open.
From Peter Youngman on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
We hit an uncharted obstruction. Result: a hole in the
lower part of the keel moulding. This caused water to come up into the
bilge below the engine through the well at the forward end of the
engine. The rate of flow was significant and required very urgent lift out.
From Moe Richardson on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
Removing the engine to repair the bilge floor is not an option.
I am considering cutting a window through the hull into the bilge to
get access to re-glass the bilge floor.
Anyone who has the problem of water in the keel box should be aware
that damage to the keel moulding below the bilge level may result in
Forget trying to make any repairs from the inside. The problem is that
the keel casting does not fit the inside of the hull molding, and it was
bedded in stone dust which fell out when you punctured the shell.
In mine I had to grind out quite a bit of fractured glass, get to the lead
and then build it up from there using only epoxy and alternate plys of
mat and woven roving. as I recall it took about 50 plys. Made approximately 1/4"
laminates on waxed paper backed up with 1-1/2" flexible HD PU Foam, on a
board and a hydraulic jack to push it into place.
From WG Nokes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
I have owned, cruised and club raced my Gulfstar 41 since 1983. It is
capable of very good upwind speed, and is one of the better boats in any
sort of steep seas. On the other hand it tends to be squirrley down wind, so
much so, I nearly always bear off to a broad reach. It rarely planes,
though it can do so in ideal conditions. The biggest thing I have noted
about Gulfstars in general, is that cruisers really sail them instead of
motoring. I won the CCYC club championship in 2002 in PHRF offshore
coastal racing. Some have blister problems, but all are very strong, and
have no structural failings. I was once caught in a storm; max wind seen
was 80 kts, 50 continous; seas officially at 20', but we took two green water
waves over the entire boat. Boat did fine; all aboard were sicker than dogs.
From WG Nokes on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
I have owned my GS 41 CC Ketch since 1983 and sailed it extensively.
Good Points: Goes to weather exceptionally well; dry and comfortable cockpit;
strong hull and deck; very seaworthy; responsive marina handling: Great
cruising layout below. (One can carry gear with both hands from any point
in the boat in a rough sea, as their is always something to lean against.)
No deck to hull leaks. Good engine and steering access.
Things I have upgraded/replaced: Entire 120v wiring (12v has been
excellent); had a hard spot where the port fwd V berth was against
bow ... caused stress cracks; Put an extra reinforcing strip foreward against
the flat sections of the bow. Changed the aft v berth to a Full size bed ...
added cabinetry; converted the forward head to a sail locker. Added a bank
of batteries dedicated to engine starting. Replaced standing rigging with 316 ss
1/16th larger. replaced original plastic ports with Bronze; replaced
kerosene galley stove w/propane. Built Propane locker in stern.
Weak Points: Works you (or Otto Pilot) to death dead downwind. Chain
plates are weakest spot in rigging, but have never failed. Rudder could be
bigger to handle following sea better. Too many thru-hulls (I've closed off
three). Cockpit drain was through engine room and exited below water line;
thru hull can't be closed when leaving boat as otherwise rain would drain into
gangway. I removed and routed drains to thru-hull above static water line,
and enlarged cockpit drains to 1 1/2 from 1 1/4.
[Hull] is hand-laid outer 2 layers mat, then alternating mat and roving;
From Alan Lewis on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
Re: Gulfstar41CC, Morgan41CC O/I and Islander Freeport41CC
I have owned a Gulfstar 41 for 27 years and lived aboard full-time for 5 years (in New England).
I have also sailed the Morgan OI 41 a bit; I have never sailed a Freeport 41 so cannot comment on it.
Between the GS 41 and OI 41, the Gulfstar is the better sailer, especially to windward. That
said, the wide spreaders and short mast of both boats limit the sheeting angle with large headsails,
although with working sails, the GS points reasonably well for a boat with only a 5' draft.
My GS was designed as a sloop, but rigged as a cutter with a club-footed staysail.
For 90% of sailing, the cutter configuration was useless (the slot is too narrow for efficient use
of both sails) and has been abandoned. The GS ketch rig is identical to the sloop rig except for
a shorter boom on the main and the addition of the mizzen.
Having kept it for over 25 years, I clearly like the Gulfstar and find it comfortable, safe, and a
reasonable performer for its type. Although certainly no Hinkley, it is simple to maintain, has a
moderate amount of storage, and lots of living space.
A similar boat that I would recommend for you to consider is the Whitby 42. It's similar to the
GS in concept, but is of somewhat higher quality (and priced a little higher).
From Randy Holl on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
I have a 1975 GS41 Sloop (wanted the ketch, but this one was the best I found for the $$ when I
bought). She won't win any speed records today, but is solid and seaworthy with an easy motion.
The layout below is the best I've seen for habitability. One drawback is there is only one
mid-cabin berth (to port). It could be easily modified to allow for a leeboard, but this doesn't exist as built.
With a modified keel, I expected her to track better than she actually does, but believe the
ketch is somewhat better in this regard. With the ketch, you get many easy sail combinations and I
understand they point reasonably well with just jib and mizzen. My sloop points pretty well (about
45 deg) with 150% genny and stays on her feet in a blow. No complaints.
From Howell Cooper on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
39 versus 40:
From Cameron Foster on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
Most, if not all of the 40s were built for charter
service. The Gulfstar Members Assn told me that there were only 12
built but we know of at least a hull #17. We have hull #12 which, by
the time we got it, needed triage. It was ridden hard and put away wet
too many times. Having accomplished that, we believe it to be something
that fits our lifestyle just fine. The aft cabin does reduce the salon
greatly but then again the full width engine room makes it easy to work
on the engine and the space is valuable in being able to get mechanical
systems out of the living space. The 40's were a Lazzara design and
from the purchase documents of our boat, built for Moorings. It has
some features to beef up the hull such as two more layers of glass below
the water line and some frills were eliminated in favor of severe duty
stuff for the abuse of charter boats. The 39 on the other hand seem to
have been owner used and not so subject to charter service. And the
large salon is really nice. Methinks the reason for the cost disparity
may lie with the chain of ownership.
We have replaced all pumps, the engine, all port lights, both heads, had
the hull gel coat removed and a rather expensive repair of the hull
surface, the plumbing system valves, all the wiring and some other
stuff, and at this point still have not painted a darn thing, but we
believe the 40 points as well as any of the 39s we have encountered (but
who's looking since these are not race boats).
My wife and I have owned GS 39 #23 (1981) since it was new and have sailed
it out of Florida, on Lake Lanier outside Atlanta and now out here in Puget
Sound and we love the boat.
I think Howell Cooper put his finger on the answer to your basic
question [about price disparities] -- used in charter.
I have been on Howell's boat (only at the dock)
and I agree with him about the engine room space -- that would be nice! He
has really put some time and effort (and $) into "M'Lady Jo".
It seems it all boils down to personal preference for living space -- both
belowdecks and cockpit. As far as prices go, most listings I've seen for
the 39 (not that many) are in the $80-85K range. According to the Gulfstar
Owners Club, there were 57 GS 39's built from 1981-1984
and 12 GS 40 CC's built in 1986. Maybe they lost track as they were working
on the merger with Viking Yachts ...
From Preston Gazaway on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
For the past 6 years, we have had hull #16 of the Lazzara GS40,
if the HIN is to be believed, and
are her third owners. When hauled this year only found one small blister.
The gel coat, at least,
is wet according to the moisture meter but we won't do anything until problems arise.
Design positives: everything is easy to work on except the wiring.
Strongly built. Last summer we
got hit with a 40-45 kt gust with full sail (the thunder squall
was going the wrong way; SE -> NW,
doh!!!) and on the bright side the boat just eased over and
the rail didn't come near the water.
We also weathered hurricane Irene several years ago with only minor damage.
At 20000 pounds light
(23500 with full tanks and our current gear) and a wineglass
hull form she provides a comfortable
ride. The flare at the bow provides a dry ride unless hard on
a brisk wind. The nearly flush
forward area makes the boat great for sunning and entertaining.
The arrangement of the winches and such
make the boat easy to singlehand.
Design negatives: the cockpit is not deep enough, especially for the
helmsperson. This precludes a
bimini unless you're real short or raise the boom. Also, you
have to climb up the mast to attach
the halyard shackle because of the high boom. There is no
nav station and only one potential
seaberth courtesy of the salon arrangement. The handholds
are inadequate and the salon too open. The
boom is high because of the shallow cockpit. There are no
functional cabin trunk handholds. The
walkover provides absolute privacy (great for kids) but
I am a little leery of it in a seaway.
Because of the wide sheeting angle and minimal underwater
foils we tack through ~100 degrees. The forward lower
shroud makes tacking anything bigger than a 110 difficult.
Looking at the 39, I don't think she
would sail much better, but then again I've never sailed one.
They used bladders for blackwater and
the space is so small I could only get a 6 gal tank forward
and it looks like I'm going to have to
get another bladder for the aft head because of space constraints - oh chagrin.
The GS40 is a seakindly and forgiving vessel. I would consider her an
excellent coastal cruiser
good for being out for one to two weeks at a time with 4 people.
Owner mods could obviously extend
the duration. Despite my reservation, I know of at least
one GS40 that has done a transatlantic.
Unfortunately as the kids get older and sailing falls
lower on their priority list, she has become
less suited to our purposes. Nevertheless, I still like
the boat and am ambivalent about getting another.
See a couple of Gulfstar 40 documents in the next section.
Gulfstar 39 / Sailmaster 39
Documents (courtesy of Cameron Foster):
Ad-ventureoutsailing's 1981 Gulfstar 39 Sailmaster refit:
copy in Internet Archive
Gulfstar 39 Sailmaster Review on Jordan Yachts
From Cameron Foster on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
My wife and I have had GS 39 hull # 23 (of 57) since new and we love
it -- very "livable," especially for just one couple. Handles easily,
sails well, especially off the wind and is very comfortable. We like
the large, open main cabin with the relatively large windows here in the
Northwest. One drawback to that: inevitable leaks. I just finished
pulling and resealing one of the forward windows -- took a while to get it
out. A little short on storage for extended cruising because of the
open cabin. Really like the forward galley -- we don't do much cooking
Big expenses have been:
- Blister repair after 6 years (major)
- Gelcoat "cracking" of topsides. Probably too thick of a gel
layer which eventually stopped flexing.
- Upgrading the electrical system
Things to look for:
- Soft decks
- Rudder tube/steering gear (we haven't had any problems)
From Luke Curtis on SailNet's Gulfstar mailing list:
We have SM39 hull #54 which we purchased back in 1993. Boat originally was put in
service in 1983 and was in St Pete for a while, then the Bahamas, then SC
before going to Wisconsin, where we bought her and trucked her to Tacoma.
We have found her to be a great cruising boat here in the PNW. Several years
ago we added a hard windshield (teak and glass) which we tied to a
sunbrella dodger and bimini. With side curtains it makes year round cruising
a lot more enjoyable - even in the summer when it can be quite cool on our waters.
Last year , we did a major refit.
We painted the hull, deck, mast and boom with PPG two part. We were
getting lots of gelcoat cracking and crazing and the paint job has really
made a difference.
We were plagued with leaking windows and lots of
corrosion so we opted to replace all the windows - had the new ones made at
Diamond Seaglaze in Langley, BC. Also replaced all three hatches with new
Lewmars - the old ones were in really bad shape and even new gaskets did not
prevent leaking - especially the forward hatch.
We pulled the genset in favor of a Heart Interface inverter. At the same
time, we dropped the rudder as we were getting seepage around the rudder
post. Repacking did not help. Back in 1994, we hit a deadhead at the bottom
of the skeg which dropped the skeg about 1" off the boat. We must have bent
the rudder back enough so that eventually the whole post sleeve assembly
became loose so it turned each time we turned the wheel. It was reglassed in
and she's dry since.
Only unexpected event in the refit was rot in the cockpit floor aft of the
wheel and ahead of the rudder post. There are steering quadrant stops
through bolted from the cockpit floor and Gulfstar did a lousy job anchoring
them in. Over time, hitting the stops would move the bolts enough that water seeped
through the enlarged holes and - guess what, rot in the core. Believe it or
not, it's a cored deck there - not solid - so check out that area. If those
bolts seem loose - you may have a problem.
Right after we bought her we added a three-blade maxprop which has improved
backing handling quite a bit.
We have the quarterberth model but we are always looking for more storage
like most owners. Too many toys on board I guess.
On the positive, 39's are great cruising sailers, easy to handle, great in
rough weather, and the main salon lives like a much larger boat. Great boat
From Cameron Foster 5/2008:
Sailing the Gulfstar Sailmaster 39 in the Northwest:
We purchased "Privateer II" new in '81 and initially sailed her in SE
Florida, followed by Lake Lanier north of Atlanta, before trucking her to
Seattle in '87 (eleven years ago). We feel we have a great boat for these
waters. The 39 does especially well for a cruising boat in light air -- it's relatively
light at 18,000 lbs. The shoal draft of 4' 9" makes for some leeway but not
bad. We got in a (unofficial) race one day with a Beneteau 38 -- close reach
in 10-12 knots -- and after we slowly pulled away, he grinned and accused me
of having my engine on. I've always carried the original 7.3 oz., 130%,
roller jib which seems a good compromise. Finally (after 22 years) got a
new jib and Furlex furler, and a new mainsail, along with all new standing and
running rigging plus lifelines.
We don't put many miles on this boat. The Perkins 4-108 has just over
1200 hrs. and has only had fuel and oil servicing. The helm balances
very well -- on the wind (10-20K) we can leave it alone if the seas aren't up.
I rarely put in a reef because the winds are seldom above 15-20K here on
Puget Sound in the summer. It's tough to get the rail in the water without
starting to worry about the sails but I have done it on Lake Washington --
knotmeter hit 9.6 which was probably pretty close. We power at
2000-2200 RPM at 6.2 to 6.8 K, no wind, with a three-blade, 18" prop.
The forward bunk is one of the best I've been in for a foc'sl bunk.
It's almost king-sized-wide aft. The forward end is wide enough for two
sets of feet and the length is 77" with an insert (I'm 6'). We had a
custom mattress made by HMC -- worth every penny! The head w/separate
shower was a real selling point for us, as was the forward galley (we don't
do much cooking "at sea"). The main cabin/galley combination makes this
boat very livable for a couple.
We've added batteries -- two sets of 6V pairs in the starboard seat locker area,
250 amps per pair to get 500 amps plus the Link 2000R system. Also put in
a Xantrex 1500W inverter (Costco -- $90) for low-draw AC. We got rid of the
diesel generator that came with the boat (built in under the cockpit). Never used it.
We added an Ardic diesel heater -- hot water/forced air (no longer made). Warm
cabin and hot showers. Put in an Autohelm ST4000 that does well, although
we haven't tested it in heavy seas. Installed a Lofrans Tigres anchor winch on a
teak pad -- worth it's weight in gold. Running the cables was a challenge, but doable.
We carry a 35 lb CQR on 250' of all chain and have the extended anchor
platform which really helps.
To me, the cockpit is well designed for sailing as well as for lounging. We keep a
dodger up almost all the time and a bimini up most of the time -- either for
rain or for sun (even in the NW!). The propane locker under the helm seat is
convenient but doesn't seal well so the tank gets wet.
When we moved to Seattle in 1987, we had "Privateer II" painted in black Awlgrip
which lowers the profile -- and gets many good comments. As far as exterior teak
treatment goes, we decided to compromise early on by leaving the toerail, bow platform
and cockpit coamings alone and varnishing the rest. The NW varnishing season is
If anyone has questions or just wants to talk about the 39, I'm available. I also have
collected GS 39 brochures, schematics, wiring diagrams and original equipment lists
over the years and can transmit them or copy them to a disc. Contact me via email:
camdonna at sounddsl.com
From George on Gulfstar Owners mailing list:
In general the GS 37 is a great boat. I've been working for a year upgrading and
maintaining plus my ships carpenter has worked on several ... Here's the main concerns.
Some GS 37's were laid up only partially at first in the mold as Gulfstar only had one mold.
They put the minimum Fg layers - popped it out and set it aside to make max use of the
mold - then when they sold them they would add the missing FG layers to the inside.
Sometimes the hull would be sitting for over a year before being completed.
This caused a cold joint on these boats! This can de-laminate over time and cause
huge problems. Some say they didn't even put the designed lay-up schedule in these boats.
So the main thing is to look at the tabbing of bulkheads - integrity of plywood lining
in closets and head (I repaired all mine!) delamination around keel joint and if
there's any engine oil around where the keel is sealed by FG inside don't buy it.
This is because some stupid GS owners just dropped their engine oil in the bilge to
change oil and this works its way to the aforementioned joint and - delaminates
it over time - this is almoast impossible to repair. Other things are - water
getting into the balsa core of the decks/cabintop - I was lucky here and mine was
perfect - stress cracks in the outside fg ...
From Jim Isbell on Gulfstar Owners mailing list 12/2007:
I have a 1972 Gulfstar 36 CC. Bought it 18 months ago and LOVE it.
The boat handles like a dream except for trying to maneuver in close spaces in a wind.
The free-board presents a lot of bow to the wind and makes turning into the wind
under power at low speeds very difficult if not impossible. On the other hand,
I spent 25 days driving straight into a head wind of 35 knots and, while wet at the helm,
it was dryer than most boats because of the high bow. So free-board has its disadvantages
and its advantages.
The original interior is fairly cramped, but I have an interior that has been opened
up and is very roomy and open. I would suggest the removal of a lot of the interior
and replacing it as has been done in mine. You can see pictures of my interior by going to http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/My_Garage/
You will have to sign on to the group (that's the only way I can prevent Spam etc. from
being foisted on my friends) and be approved for membership. Look closely at the toerails.
Mine were terribly rotted under a fresh coat of paint. But that was the only complaint
I had after buying it. I bought it on April 1st, moved on on May 25th and started the trip
to take it home on a 32-day trip from Tampa to Corpus Christi on June 2nd.
It performed perfectly except for minor problems, such as a bad temp sender on the engine,
which were all fixed with little effort.
From Jim Isbell on Gulfstar Owners mailing list 11/2009:
I am considering a couple of modifications to my GS36 (center cockpit
sloop) when I haul it out next week. I would like any comments on the
mods if any of you have tried them or are contemplating them or if you
just think I am nuts.
1) Larger cockpit drains. The 1.25" drains, even though there are 4
of them, just are not adequate for two reasons, IMHO. They are so
small that it doesn't take much to plug them up. This morning after a
5" rain overnight I found the cockpit full of water to the point it
was overflowing the aft cabin threshold into the engine room. This
despite the fact that the cockpit is covered by a full Bimini! The
reason was that small leaves and seeds from the nearby Mesquite trees
had plugged all four drains. They had been clear before the storm but
the pre-storm wind scattered the tree debris into the cockpit ahead of
the rain. The second reason I think they are too small is that if I
were hit by a large wave offshore I know they would not drain the
cockpit before an awful lot of water went below into both the forward
and aft cabins.
2) Increase the size of the rudder. I have found that below 5 mph wind
the rudder cannot control the direction of the boat as the high
freeboard becomes the dominating effect. If I start the engine I can
regain control, but under sail there isn't enough flow over the rudder
to give a helm in less than 5 mph wind.
From skipper7doug on Gulfstar Owners mailing list:
I have a 1982 Sailmaster 40. The Sailmasters were a bit more upscale than the regular models.
It seems that most of the Gulfstars had their share of blisters. Mine was repaired,
and has not had further problems for 12 years.
The skegs are notoriously weak - they say they are meant to be "break-away"
in the event of a collision. This is bad, as I have seen a number, including
on a GS 50 that was so flimsy, the hull around the skeg was delaminating.
This also leads to problems with the rudder bearing and post tubes.
If the skeg is not strengthened significantly, this will be an on-going problem.
Anywhere that chainplates go through the deck will be a potential leak problem,
and if the plates are over 10 years old, should at least be removed and inspected,
if not replaced. The oxygen starved SS as it goes through the deck can cause the
SS to crystalize, weaken and break without warning (my Aft chainplate was fractured
entirely across its width, and 75% through the thickness).
My hull was cored to, but not below, the waterline. The hull deck joint has not
been a problem. The deck core is a significant problem, as GS sometimes mounted
deck fittings (cleats) to the deck without reinforcing the deck properly at the
bolt holes, leading to leaks and extensive core destruction - beware of any soft spots.
If the engine is original, it likely needs to be swapped out if it is showing any
signs of problems - don't waste your money on an engine that old. The Atkins and Hoyle
powder-coated hatches do not stand up well to regular dousing with saltwater, so check those carefully.
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