The Colvic Countess 33 offers a lot of living space in a full-bodied hull. But how does she sail? Duncan Kent reports on a bilge-keeled ketch version
Colvic Countess 33 review
See the February 2017 issue of Yachting Monthly for the full test
What’s she like to sail?
Being fairly full-bodied, the Countess is not the quickest boat around, but she is well-behaved, safe, stable and drama-free. Her high ballast ratio and conservative sail plan make her stiff enough to keep full sail hoisted until nearly the top end of a Force 5. With the sails balanced she’s light and very positive on the steering, but with too much mainsail she becomes hard work.
Her deep vee bows and broad shoulders part the waves silently, with no slamming evident, but when pushed hard she can dump a little spray on board.
Tacking is a fairly slow affair, but at least that gives you time to encourage the large genoa around and pull most of the sheet in before resorting to the winch. The mizzen pretty much looks after itself and is mainly a steadying sail, although it comes into its own when used with a storm jib in a howler.
She won’t keep pace with a modern, lightweight yacht, but she’ll get you to where you want in reasonable time, while offering comfort and security along the way.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
There are numerous layouts for this hull, depending on the wishes of its first owner, but most offer a spacious, well-appointed and comfortable accommodation arrangement for family cruising. Although it’s a bit of a tight squeeze, having an aft double cabin with en suite heads in a 33ft boat is rare and enables you to offer a guest couple their own facilities with total privacy in the forecabin, or vice-versa. Several other berths are available if you really want to pack them in. This yacht can offer a comfy bunk to eight people if necessary. Her cockpit can seat six for al fresco drinks and the same number around the saloon table for dinner, although four would be more comfortable.
Access to the sea is down the near vertical transom via a folding ladder. Although it’s not quite as easy as a scoop or step, at least there’s a good area of afterdeck for you to dump your shopping on, or even take a shower on after swimming.
Would she suit you and your crew?
The Countess 33 slots neatly into the built-for-comfort bracket. She’s tough, sturdy, stiff and predictable under sail, making her an excellent family yacht for both coastal and offshore cruising in all but the most challenging conditions.
Colvic was a very experienced GRP moulder, so the hulls are consistently well built. However, due to the layup materials available at the time they’re not immune to the odd spot of osmosis so expect to find a few blisters on the boats that haven’t been epoxy-treated at some time over their lifespan.
As the majority of these hulls were fitted out privately, their layout and furnishing quality may vary considerably. While most of the Countesses I’ve seen have been fitted out well using high-quality components and joinery, just one or two might be classed as being somewhat rudimentary.
So if it’s a dependable, solidly-built and traditionally laid-out cruising yacht you’re after, that’s neither too unwieldy to manoeuvre in a tight marina nor expensive to berth, then the Countess 33 should definitely be on your search list.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Guide price £20,000-£30,000
LOA 10.21m (33ft 6in)
LWL 8.76m (28ft 9in)
Beam 3.55m (11ft 8in)
Draught 1.37m (4ft 6in)
Displacement 6,730kg (14,806 lb)
D/LWL ratio 280
Ballast 2,680kg (5,896 lb)
Ballast ratio 39.8%
Sail area 44.8m2 (483sq ft)
SA/D ratio 15.3
Diesel 113 lit (25 gal)
Water 172 lit (38 gal)
Engine 37hp Volvo Penta MD17C
Transmission Shaft drive
Designer Ian Anderson
Builder Colvic Yachts
Owners Association www.countessowners.org