Sailboat Sunday: American Galaxy 32

Once again, life keeps holding me back from getting a good post it! And once again, like the Columbia 29 I profiled, this particular vessel came up again on Annapolis Craigslist. So fate suggests we should talk about it.

Any introductory book on cruising/sailing will have some discussion about hull form. It’s one of the easiest ways to distinguish sailboats from one another, and visually is most apparent when out of the water. As you may have guessed, it is also apparent when in the water from the perspective of performance. Different hull forms perform differently in different conditions. Each is a trade off of factors, with no “right” answer. That said, there are sometimes “better” answers for particular situations. The key components in evaluating hull forms, based on my naval architecture experience, are:

1) Hull section (i.e., if we cut a boat in half width-wise, what shape do we see?)

2) Keel attachment method (external vs. internal ballast, and the attachment method)

3) Rudder configuration

Each design factor deserves it’s own post, and I’m sure others have commented extensively on the subject. But for our purposes, consider these factors as we look at the following offering:

American Galaxy 32, $2700 

Features from the listing:

  • Built: 1959
  • Westerbeke diesel, 21hp
  • New sails in 2004

What makes this a good potential liveaboard?

First, at 32 feet, the Galaxy gets us into a magical land called “over thirty feet”. In the sub-$10K category, this is a magic number to achieve. Why? Well, many sailboats built in the 1960’s and 1970’s were marketed as weekend family cruisers, and most were between 25 and 29 feet. While there’s nothing specifically wrong with this, the designers faced unique challenges. How do you fit everything a family might want for a “weekend” cruise in a small enough package to make it financially viable? Sacrifices were made, such as trading purpose-built storage for berths. To maintain visually appealing lines, most had low cabin heights, making the interiors challenging for tall folks.

Over 30 feet in length though, and now you get into an envelop where you can make some effective trades in terms of interior space use. I highly recommend “Voyaging on a Small Income” by Annie Hill, who advocated that their home-built 34 foot flat-topper, “Badger”, was about the perfect length. Not too long to incur unreasonable fees for length-derived services, yet easy to handle by one or two people. And big enough, compared to the high-twenties sailboat club, to make living aboard a reasonable experience.

Secondly, the hull form gives us a reasonable trade-off. While the fin keel requires some care (both in terms of maintenance and inspection to ensure a good strong fit and caution in sailing to prevent grounding), the skeg-protected rudder is a positive find. Especially in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay with crab-pots all over.

Lastly, the interior (as mentioned in the listing) isn’t too bad. Let’s see the details.

Some of the data on this model:

Length Overall 31.58′
Length Waterline 23′ (which translates to long, beautiful overhangs)
Beam 10.13′
Draft 5′
Displacement 11260 lbs

The Galaxy 32’s molds were sold and later used as the base for the Paceship 32. Bill Tripp developed both designs.

Factors to consider:

Certainly lots of things to wonder about with this specific boat, such as:

1) Price: This particular sale is from a sailboat non-profit who have listed the vessel several times. They are not looking for a project; they are looking for some cash in hand. This could mean a good deal for the prospective buyer, but will also mean the burden of restoration falls in those hands. At the same time, for our typical fictional budget of $10K, there’s plenty left over for a few well made purchasing decisions.

– Engine maintenance: Since this vessel already has a diesel inboard, we’ll assume it’s in reasonable shape and needs a good looking over. If it appears to need significant work (i.e., more than a mechanic giving it a tune-up after inspection), then we’d need to consider the inboard vs. outboard-in-well conversion discussed with the Columbia 29.

– Interior appointments: things likely all need a good scrubbing down (Simple Green, a bucket, and scrubby), but the cushions and other seating material, curtains, etc, may also warrant replacement.

– Navigation: a basic navigation kit would go far to bring this vessel up to reasonable cruising shape.

2) Liveability: Many sailboats built around this timeframe were designed for cruiser/racing. Meaning, the vessel could compete on the weekly race course (with appropriate handicaps per the class rules), but also suit a family for fun weekend sailing. The fin keel of this model jumps out at me as a racing design feature, which may mean the interior headroom is limited. Not a bad thing, but something to consider. Like my Cal28, I’d consider some kind of dodger setup to add at least one interior place where a person could stand at full height.

First steps:

Let’s assume our fictional budget of $10K and enter into a “What-if” scenario. The sailboat looks reasonable during inspection: it needs a good hard cleaning, but is structurally in good condition. Interior components are bonded together, fiberglass tabs are in good shape, and there’s no significant water damage. The engine is checked out by a local diesel mechanic who can turn it over; components are all in reasonable shape.

Engine: As mentioned, we’ll have someone do a service on the engine, cleaning the injectors and fuel lines, check compression, and any other maintenance. We can handle many other items, such as checking/cleaning strainers, giving it a de-greasing, and other simple labor. Bottom-line, once splashed, we want high confidence that the engine will be there to support us. And I’d purchase a model-specific manual as well as a basic diesel maintenance handbook, such as Nigel Caldwell’s.

Anchoring: Assuming like so many sailboats that the Galaxy only comes with a questionable danforth “lunch hook”, I’d consider what was needed to provide a suitable anchoring system for coastal cruising. In my mind, I’d need six components:

  • Suitably sized all-around anchor, such as a generic plow-style.
  • Long-length of galvanized chain as a primary rode (80′ or more).
  • Short-length (15′-25′) of galvanized chain to weight-down the secondary anchor rode.
  • (2) long-lengths of nylon line (100′ or more): the first for augmenting the primary chain rode and the second for the secondary anchor rode.
  • Shackles/thimbles to fasten everything together.

Having cruised successfully on 80′ of HT chain in a bucket from Home Depot, I’d feel comfortable doing so again. Many resources are online to size anchor chain and nylon line.

Electrical: Bob over at Volkscruiser wrote a great piece on the availability of certain kit for cruising which has come down in price in the past five years. In this case, using my fictional single dude from the Watkin 27 post, the minimum requirements for power aren’t too outlandish. For south of $1500 we could have a small solar array, clamps, wiring, two deep-cycle batteries, charge modulator & monitor, and LED’s for the entire rig, along with LED navigation lights.

Navigation: As mentioned above, we’d need to consider what a minimum navigation kit looked like for this vessel. Assuming again that we’re cruising coastal, staying in port for extended periods for work, and would only consider significant off-shore work with a more thorough evaluation, I’d suggest:

Bedding: along with the consideration of interior cushions and “apartment therapy” things, I’d also take a look at a nice 4″ memory foam topper, cut diagonally to support the V-berth or doubled up on one of the settee berths along with a quality sleeping bag. Perfect, easy to stow and use bedding for cruising.

Galley: One of my favorite reads was Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Chef. With a copy of this, a skillet, a pressure cooker, a good santoku knife, and a set of Target flatware and dishes, I’d happily head across any ocean. Especially with a stainless kettle and Aeropress for coffee, along with the Hario hand grinder.


I could see a very enjoyable post-college, first-job, using-for-sabbatical scenario with this vessel. Over a few years it’d be a good platform to figure out “Do I really like this enough to consider something bigger/newer/better/whatever?” Or learning that this really is all you need to do some amazing cruising and lead a “World’s Most Interesting Man” lifestyle.  I recall reading about a group of friends just out of college purchasing and refitting a Newport 30 for just such a plan. This would be nearly identical. As always, take the above with the appropriate grain of salt, as it’s one person’s opinion and not gospel.

For further information:

Galaxy 32 Sailboat Data basic coverage

Paceship 32 Sailboat Data basic coverage

Paceship 32 owner’s group

 Google search for the Galaxy 32

A Galaxy 32 is about to come into frame at 2:44.