Pearson 28 By Greg Herschell
new-to-me 1980 Pearson 28 has lit a spark that you only see on a sailor smitten by his spouse and that first boat (but don’t tell my spouse). My wife and I relocated from East Texas at the beginning of 2008. I decided to learn to sail, enjoy all that Tampa Bay has to offer and eventually purchase the right sailboat. Getting my wife on that twohour cruise out of Sarasota was not only the first time either one of us had set foot on a sailboat, but it was also the first step in embracing the weekend sailing dream. Within that first year of moving to Florida, we learned to sail. At first, we learned on a 48-foot ketch out of Davis Island Yacht Club. Over the course of a year, we’d sailed boats of all types to begin developing the requirements list for the ideal boat. All of these experiences culminated in the purchase of Panacea, a Pearson 28, hull #309. She fit the needs of this couple’s first boat.
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Through countless discussions during that first year of learning to sail, one common question was asked of all the “old salts” that were willing to impart their wisdom. The question was, “If you had to do it over, what would make a good first sailboat and why?” Of course, if you’ve been around sailors, their opinions are always free-flowing. I soaked it all up and came to a few conclusions about what would make a good first boat for us. The first requirement was that my wife and I could handle her. While the 44- and 48-foot sailboats we sailed on certainly let us dream of sailing off into the sunset on a smooth gentle ride, crew was often the deciding factor in whether these boats set sail for a short day-sail. Panacea’s simple design and features means that just the two of us can leave the dock within five minutes for a two-hour sail. We’re not cruisers. “Pick a boat that’s going to satisfy your needs 80 percent of the time instead of a boat that is set up for that twoweek hideaway each year,” said a trusted friend at the Tampa Sailing Squadron. The ideal boat is one that we could day-sail weekends and maybe once a year spend five to seven days sailing. Panacea’s Harken roller furling makes for easy handling. In 10 knots, she’ll get to her hull speed of 6.5 knots under jib alone. The tiller steering aboard Panacea teaches me about sail trimming. Every time we go out, there’s a quick lesson about sail trim from the tiller’s response. I’m rewarded with not handling the tiller for up to two minutes if I’ve trimmed her right. On a 10-15 knot day, there is little to no weather helm when I’ve done my job right on trim. Except for hoisting the main, there is no reason to leave the spacious cockpit. Seven-foot long seats make for comfortable napping during the lazy summer days on the hook. The second requirement of our first boat was that my wife would be comfortable when Tampa Bay got a little rolly. With a five-foot draft, Panacea displaces 7,850 pounds—of which 3,530 pounds is in the keel. This makes for a nice motion for a 28-foot sailboat. While the five-foot draft for Florida makes this new skipper pay attention to the tides and the area waters, the compromise is that my wife is the one frewww.southwindsmagazine.com