Centaur or Cobra 850

jwood

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After much research and trailing around boatyards, my hunt for the ideal boat for my circumstances has led me to a Westerly Centaur and a Cobra 850. Both have been re-engined in the last 5 years and are within a couple of thousand pounds of each other at asking price. Both are in fair to good condition.

I like certain elements of both and am struggling to separate them, so would appreciate any thoughts you might have on the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the two.
 

NigelBirch

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If don't know about their relative sailing merits but the Westerly owners association is very active so that might push me towards the Centaur....
 

Mandarin331

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I'm not familiar with the Cobra but did spend a lot of time looking at Centaur's last year. Point I found to check were:

- leaks round the keels, the keel area needs strengthening internally and this should have been done by now. (I came across a few with electric pumps fitted instead!)

- Osmosis - seems to be a problem on centaurs,

- Headlining - almost always is sagging unless replaced

- Deck crazing around stanchion bases

- The older ones have one of the chain plates over a window - this usually warps out of shape with the tension, making the window leak.


Lots of good information on the owners site, I suggest you check it out.

Overall they're an excellent family boat and we would have bought one - but we found a very nice Sabre 27 instead - which we felt was exactly what we wanted.

(Just noticed there's a Cobra owners association with a test report freely available - http://www.cobra-seawolf.com/Cobra850.htm )
 

jordanbasset

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Cannot comment on the Centaur but sailed the Cobra 850 for two weeks. Found it a robust boat and fairly good performance but also well balanced and stable, did what you expected her to if I remember right (was a few years ago now) but also reasonable acccomodation for it's age, nicely set out. The boat I was on had already done many hard years of flotilla work, but did not show her age too much, a tribute to the quality of the build.You could do a lot worse -
 

Judders

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I think that once boats are a certain age, it is a case of looking as much at the individual boat as the design as a whole.

Has this Westerly had the strenghening between the keels?

If you feel you will benefit from a strong owners group then go for the Westerly. (I miss the strong owners group that Foxcubs have as opposed to the Feelings).

It's all personal taste, but I would find the row-away factor much more emphasised with the Cobra but on the other hand, you'll never be short of people who will want to talk about Centaur's because so many people have sailed them. (Though funnilly enough, it occurs to me that I have never sailed any Westerley, despite being something of a boat whore).

If you think you'll be scrabbling around for bits and pieces at boat jumbles and on Ebay, you may find more available for the Westerley.
 

jwood

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Thanks for the replies thus far and in particular for things to look out for on the Centaur. My feeling is that having a newish engine on boats of this age and value (£10 - £13k) is a huge advantage. On these, one is a Nanni 21hp, the other a Yanmar 18hp. I guess they're both good engines, but opinions again might be helpful.
 

wooslehunter

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I have an earlier Centaur & would agree with Shamal.

Look around & you'll soon see what's different on boats that have the keel area strengthened. It's only really a problem if the boat sits on a mud berth. The keels are spayed out so get an outward force as the boat sits down & the reverse as it pulls out of the mud. This can flex the hull around the keel stubs & cause a problem.

You'll be very luck to find a boat that measures dry. Mine doesn't. But, it doesn't have any signs of osmosis either.

All Westerlies suffer from sagging head lining. It's not just the Centaurs & most have had new headlinings.

I have an early one with the chain plates above the windows. I have no leaks. But, it's a very simple fix of adding a plate inside the boat that's well documented on the WOA website if you want to do it.

Generally look for one that's obviously been cared for. Beware of those that have had just a good clean up prior to selling. Mine was clean & tidy. But, the electric were a mess & some things needed replacing. I knew that when I bought it & it's just about up together now. Don't expect to find a perfect gem - you may be lucky though they are out there. There are masses of Centaurs but few really good ones.

Sailing performance is OK but don't expect anything great. I replaced the sails on mine last year & that made a real difference.

All in all they are almost bullet proof & will get you home. They have lots of room for only 26'. Easy to sail & handle too. I sail mine mostly single handed. But, don't expect great upwind performance especially if the wind's a bit lively.

All in all, there can't have been much wrong by 70s/80s standards. Westerly did sell more than 3500.
 

Davy_S

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preview_91796_1.jpg


I would have thought you would have a preference for fin/bilge for your particular planned use. Most of the Cobras are fin keel in the Med. IMHO the cobra at 29ft is a good choice and sails slightly better than the Centaur.
 

slipknot

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I had an 850 for about 8 years. I loved it. It was my first boat and was a good starter boat for me. Mine was bilge keel which did slam a bit and didnt point too well. On the other hand I could go into all those places you dont go into with a fin keeler. Mine had a larger (heavier) engine (= slow)

Took mine accross the channel many times (even singlehanded) Never felt that the boat was going to let me down.

I personally prefer the look of the cobra to the centaur (inside and out)

Interior fit out quality varies significantly as many were home completed jobs.

I only sold mine to go bigger, and often regret selling it in the first place.
 
A

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I used to sail my Centaur regularly from the West Country to the Channel Islands and Brittany for fairly serious cruising. The thing that impressed me most was the weight and seaworthiness of the yacht. I was NEVER worried about the boat. Brilliant yachts and I would buy again when we want to downsize. As others have said, the Owners' Association is brilliant. You can join the list without being a member, I think? I'm sure they'll grant you access to ask pre-purchase questions, in any case.
 

Mandarin331

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We had a similar budget and I completely agree with you, apart from the obvious about hull soundness and condition our must haves were, recent engine, recent rigging and sails -if any one of these was missing off the description we didn't look further.

For the price range you mention you should get all of these, be prepared to haggle.
 

Spyro

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Cobra 850 for me, more modern looking boat, good headroom more space, doesn't look like a boat from the 70's. I would assume it is the more expensive one? Have you tried an offer yet of a similar price to the centaur?
 

TamarMike

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I'm surprised how many prefer the appearance of the Cobra, with its high freeboard it looks very boxy to me, especially the all white ones. Perhaps there is some sort of snobbery against Centaurs because they are so ubiquitous?
 

Refueler

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Don't think snobbery against the Centaur - plenty around still sailing and people still look for them.
It is boxy and tbh is rightly named a caravan on water - but that was the market it aimed for. Compact but rommy for family to go on water. It did it very well.
It's a an all-rounder that doesn't excelle at any one thing, but marries them all reasonably and safely.
If you want a boat that sails a bit better (speed wise) - then the Cobra will get the ticket. But then you need the extra length to compete with the Centaurs cabin space. The Cobra cockpit is also a love it or hate it affair IMHO with the pinched stern.

Both IMHO are well overdue for price overhauls .... the perpetuation of the over-valued pricing I feel unjustified now and it really is a hagglers market.

Both heavy lay-ups, both have their faults - both have their admirers and following. Choice in my book is whether you want cabin or sail ability ?

Another mentioned bits for a Westerly are easier to find ? Consider that many items are changed / upgraded .. generally changed - what value really is that ? having watched a number of people I know have Westerly's and advised to use certain company's for repairs / spares etc. - I can say IMHO it's a false matter - as many of the items or work I sourced for some of them were far better prices and fees than the "recc'd" people.
 

Judders

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I know it's subjective, but to me the Cobra is simply better looking, but that is not why it would be my choice.

Also, the fit out below on most Cobra's is more to my taste that the Westerly. But again, that is not why it would be my choice.
 

orrinoconnor

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I've been out with many on a huge range of boats and I honestly wouldn't wouldn't be tempted to change from my Cobra850.
It is a good reliable all rounder with no really bad points, the accomodation is comfortable and storage is good.
The Cobra is very heavly laid up and feels so solid.
They need an engine around the 18-20 hp to comfortably drive them, the original engines fitted were way to small in my opinion which is why most have been changed.
I am amazed people talk about bits being available easier with the more plentyfull boats but when it comes down to it a winch is a winch and rigging is always made up as needed so it don't mater.
The worst thing about the boat was the roof in the forepeak under the windlass rapidly condenced moisture as the weather cooled but this was an easy insilation fix.
 

VicS

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This is a very old thread If the OP has not made a choice in 4 years he never will :D
 
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