Westerly Centaur - To buy or not to buy?

wjmarks

New member
Joined
28 Apr 2009
Messages
50
Visit site
Hi

Ive been looking for a familiy friendly cruiser thats not too much money and have come across the Westerly Centaur. It seems to tick all the boxes - stable with a good size cockpit, plenty of room below (with standing height), managable for 1 person to sail and put back onto a mooring.

The thing is I dont know an awful lot about them - just what I have read on the tinterweb WOA webpage and stuff from google.

Are there any Centaur owners or anyone out there that can vouch for this boat and tell me whether its a good descision(or not as the case may be), what to look out for in terms of common faults, layouts to go for etc.

I would appreciate any comments at all as it is a big decision and could make the difference of wife and family getting onto the water or not!!

Many thanks in advance!
 

MrCramp

Active member
Joined
2 Sep 2006
Messages
1,586
Location
East Midlands
Visit site
The Centaur is a good boat, thousands built. Do a search on this forum for "centaur" and you will find loads of posts which will tell you what to look for.
 

davidej

Well-known member
Joined
17 Nov 2004
Messages
6,570
Location
West Mersea. north Essex
Visit site
I'm am an ex- centaur owner.

Many things in its favour including being as strong as a brick sh*thouse. However, don't go for it if speed is a priority.

A couple of things to look for

1. try and get one which has been re-engined. Having said that, out MD2B never failed to start and was a model of reliability.
2. look out for Westerly droop - the well known tendency of the glue on the headlining to fail and allow it to sag. Quite messy to sort out.

Best of luck
 

Cloven

Active member
Joined
17 Oct 2003
Messages
2,231
Location
Scotland
Visit site
We considered a Centaur some years ago and looked at quite a few. They seem to have been buit in 3 different interior layouts, labelled A, B & C. The one we liked was I think the C that gave you a "U" shaped seting area to one side of the cabin. Also there was a huge difference in the standard of the interiors from pristine to what looked like having been sprayed with a fire hose & stirred up. However, there were plenty to look at at that time and at a wide variety of prices.

The one thing that we did notice was that most of them had either had, or were having treatment for osmosis. Not saying this is a problem, just an observation.

In the end we went for a newer design of boat but at the time it was on the short list.
 

raven

Well-known member
Joined
6 Sep 2004
Messages
4,849
Location
Cheshire, England
Visit site
I looked long and hard at Centaurs a few years ago when I was looking for my first saily boat. There are lots around in North Wales where I sail and indeed they must be one of the best selling small cruisers which suggests that Westerley / Laurent Giles must have got something right.

In the end I went for something different purely because I happened upon a one-off steel boat that had better accomodation and range for similar budget.

I have sailed on friends Centaurs and found them a very seaworthy boat which, as you say, offer decent accomodation and headroom as well as good layout - though this varied throughout two or three slightly different incarnations.

Of the various configurations, the best (IMHO) is the ketch-rigged version which is a very well balanced boat and offers better sail plan options - but there weren't many made and they are now few and far between.

Common problems with Centaurs include droopy headlining and poor galley layout. I was warned that keel bolts should be the focus of a proper inspection as they had a knack of corroding rather too quickly. Like any grp boat of the age it is likely to suffer to some extent from osmosis but given the thickness and quality of the hulls it is unlikely to be a show-stopper.
 

Chrissie

New member
Joined
5 Jul 2005
Messages
1,550
Location
Solent
Visit site
Good little boats, Ive surveyed loads of them. There is a Westerly owners site online, with a forum and loads of information. They are easily sailed single handed, and there are modifications that can be made to make single handing easier. I have friends that have sailed with four of them on board (and come back still friends) so well laid out space wise.
 

Ubergeekian

New member
Joined
23 Jun 2004
Messages
9,904
Location
Me: Castle Douglas, SW Scotland. Boats: Kirkcudbri
www.drmegaphone.com
2. look out for Westerly droop - the well known tendency of the glue on the headlining to fail and allow it to sag. Quite messy to sort out.

Point of information. It's not the glue that fails, it's the foam backing on the vinyl, so it's impossible to glue it back successfully. And dear god, yes, it's messy to sort. Been there, done that, got the small particles of disintegrated foam in every orifice and crevice.

OP, have a look at this. It's the "Definitive Guide to the Centaur" on the WOA website.
 

ostell

New member
Joined
12 Jan 2011
Messages
703
Location
Hayling Island
Visit site
Learnt to sail in a friend's Centaur many years ago. Several trips to France 4 up. Most comfortable sail.

Currently working on bringing a '78 Centaur back to life after being neglected for 5 years. The head linings are being replaced at the moment, it is the foam that fails and the old glue is a b*****r to get off.

Other than that the surveyor was well pleased with the boat. Some minor repairs required for dings to the hull. New engine 'cause the original had been standing for 5 years and new rigging. Should have a very good boat at the end of it.

Check that the keel fixings have been reinforced. Very common mod made to the boat.

This is a B layout (my own preference) as lots of room when the table not in place. I have the Centaur sales leaflet showing the different layout which I can scan and send to you if you let me have your email address by PM.

If you are in the Portsmouth area you can come and see the work in progress.
 

kds

New member
Joined
21 Nov 2002
Messages
1,769
Location
Somerset
www.canongrange.co.uk
Centaurs

There have been 3 in our club - all had keel problems as they settle in deep mud. Problem sorted satisfactorily.
No - they are not slow - but usually sailed by slow skippers - they can be made to sail well, even to windward. They can handle the Bristol Channel - so capable boats.
Ken
 

aquaplane

Active member
Joined
16 Sep 2006
Messages
2,679
Location
West Yorkshire
www.utilitywarehouse.co.uk
I like my Centaur, it’s my cottage in the Lakes. Whilst the sailing performance isn’t sparkling, I have fun making it sail as fast as it can. It has newish sails too so it’s not totally pants at pointing. I may be kidding myself on the pointing bit though.

Mine needed some tidying up inside but it wasn’t expensive and I could sail it without doing anything so I’m working on it as I go along. My saloon headlining needs doing but it’s held up by a couple of wood battens and looks quite tidy so it can wait.

I have a B layout but I think I would have a C layout if I was doing it again. Access to the stern locker is clumsy and a proper cockpit locker would be nice at the expense of 1 berth.

The later models have square portlights and a different sliding hatch with a garage which look better IMHO. More importantly the lower shrouds aren’t fixed above the main windows, this was a weak point and they often leak. The keel stubs were beefed up in late boats too but many earlier boats have had remedial work, it’s worth looking for one that has extra bracing on the inside.

You get quite a lot of old boat for not that much money, compared to one with a head by the companionway and an aft cabin which is probably a few years younger.
 

Searush

New member
Joined
14 Oct 2006
Messages
26,779
Location
- up to my neck in it.
back2bikes.org.uk
There is a quick, cheap & easy solution to the headlining droop.

Buy lengths of "D2 section beading from a D-I-Y shop cut carefully to length & spring into position above the curtain rail extrusion. Do this a regular intervals about 12-18" apart along the whole roof. The battens spring into position, bend to match the curve of the roof & hold the droopy headlinging in place. There is some minor drooping in between but it is so slight that it looks like it's designed like that.

I did my Pentland about 10 years ago as a temporary measure but it still looks fine. It cost less than a tenner & took only an hour or so.

Image044.jpg


TBH, I wouldn't bother with the Ketch or aft cabin options on a 26' Centaur you loose too much space & gain only complications. I have the centre cockpit Ketch and on a 31' and it is great, but 26 is probably to small too accept the extra hassle.

Don't over spend, they are good boats & you shouldn't loose much money on it, but they can be overpriced - reflecting the owner's affection for them rather than the real value.
 

Seajet

...
Joined
23 Sep 2010
Messages
29,177
Location
West Sussex / Hants
Visit site
My father, a serious engineer and used to relatively better performance boats, bought a Centaur as his 'retirement boat', next stop motor-caravans !

That is not trying to insult the boat, just a comment on likely lifestyle trends...

Dad had a fair bit of trouble with leaks via the keel bolts, despite using a hefty spanner with a 6' lever, ( and heavy reinforcing of the grp around the keel stubs ) he was never completely satisfied, but it wasn't a big problem.

There are tales that the later boats are not so well built as the early ones., but such things as the hatches are improved.

Most Centaurs will be on a second engine by now; the only reason the boat had a 23hp Volvo - which gave it an undeserved reputation as a motor-sailer - was because Westerly's struck a good deal with Volvo !

Dad's main complaint ( and mine ) was that the helm feels terribly lifeless and unrewardingly neutral compared to dinghies and more performance oriented craft; but as a 'point where you want to go and get there safely with your family' machine she's hard to beat.
 

Chris.mcc240

New member
Joined
22 Feb 2011
Messages
31
Visit site
I new nothing about sailing or boats and brought a centaur 5 years ago..more on impulse..
Great boat.. Take a good look at the engine .the cost of replacement is probably half the boat value..
Its fairly roomy and comfortable and you can stay on board for a week or two.
But its a good boat to learn on its safe and easy to handle. You can make mistakes and it will forgive you. Even at the beginning i have taken her out in rough weather over canvased got stuck on mud banks .etc
Its an old boat n i don't think i will ever complete my list of jobs .but at the moment i wouldn't part with it..
And of you look after it it won't really devalue much..
 

LittleShip

New member
Joined
21 Jul 2003
Messages
6,079
Location
In the water .... most of the year!!
Visit site
My first boat was a Centaur, Had many happy hours with her and the family. My son was only 9 at the time so I needed something that would allow him the opportunity to play as well, as many will and have said they are very forgiving and easy to sail.

If you want to do some work on one, I know where there is one that will sell for a very good price and you will be able to update within a reasonable budget. Drop me a PM if you want details.

Tom
 

pvb

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2001
Messages
45,604
Location
UK East Coast
Visit site
I bought a new Centaur in 1976. It was a soundly-built, safe boat, and we had a lot of fun on it. However, I can't help feeling that - 35 years later - there must be some more modern, roomier designs around at similar prices. My gut feeling is that Centaurs are overpriced today, reflecting nostalgia rather than real value.
 

richardsn9

Member
Joined
18 Apr 2007
Messages
321
Visit site
In terms of space, liveablity at sea and in port, and that ability to take you well offshore, and far afield, in a 26 foot boat, I think Centaurs are hard to beat. One of the reasons they are still so popular is that there are few, if any, modern boats of that size and price, that you can say the same about. They still feel like 'little ships'.
As already mentioned, there are plenty around, so you can be picky, check there is a newish engine, the keel bedding, headlinings and the window seals. I would choose a C layout, because of the cockpit stowage issues on the A and B variants, but opinions vary on this.
If you need to dry out, or enjoy exploring creeks etc, there are a few similar boats, such as MacWesters and Seamasters. If, however, draft is not a big issue, then you can some brisker sailing with older cruiser racer types such as Trapper 300's, Verl 790's, Seawolf 26 and similar boats, yet still have quite a roomy interior.
 

Tranona

Well-known member
Joined
10 Nov 2007
Messages
41,194
Visit site
However, I can't help feeling that - 35 years later - there must be some more modern, roomier designs around at similar prices. My gut feeling is that Centaurs are overpriced today, reflecting nostalgia rather than real value.

However, people in the market for this kind of boat and in this price range don't agree with you. Enough change hands each year at a typical asking price of £10k for there to be plenty of choice and if the buyers were not happy the price would fall - and it hasn't.

Although there are many other boats available in this range, there are few of each type and the Centaur stands out for the same reasons it did when it was new - and outsold any of its competitors many times over.
 

Kelpie

Well-known member
Joined
15 May 2005
Messages
7,767
Location
Afloat
Visit site
Although there are many other boats available in this range, there are few of each type and the Centaur stands out for the same reasons it did when it was new - and outsold any of its competitors many times over.

About 2,500 Centaurs according to yachtsnet archive- impressive.
But the Vega beats it at c.3450 boats.
And it outsails it and has more stowage space.

Seriously, Centaurs are really good boats: I'm berthed next to one and it does a great job of making my Vega looks sleek and svelte.
 
Top