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Thread: Choosing an Ericson 38?

  1. #1
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    Choosing an Ericson 38?

    Hello All,
    My wife and I are currently looking to take a large step up from an '83 Catalina 22 to a much larger sailboat. The short list is a '86 Catalina 34, '88 Pearson 36-2, '96 Catalina 320 and, of course, an '83 Ericson 38. They are all fairly close in price but the Ericson seems to be the favorite. First of all it has been upgraded and refitted to the max. Almost everything electronic, plumbing, sail/rigging done in the last 2 years. The only negative I can find is I prefer the aft cabin/head layout of the Pearson/Catalinas mentioned but the separate shower of the Ericson sorta makes up for it. Naturally I have a few questions:

    1) This Ericson will be moored and has more gear on it than I need for its intended use. I like the size, can live with the layout, but it may be overkill. The intended use is in and around Narragasett Bay, RI. Maybe some trips to nearby Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, etc. but work and money constraints will keep us close for a while. Mostly I expect to day trip, weekend sail around the bay both single handed, and with wife, and naturally groups of friends. Is this much boat overkill for this application?

    2) This Ericson has a fin keel with a bulb on each side at the bottom. Draft is about 5' 6" My research indicates that it should either have a shoal keel of 4' 11" or a deep fin keel at 6' 6". As I understand it the keel I describe was installed on much later Ericsons. Was this upgraded? Complete keel replacement or a bolt-on deal?

    3) The PHRF rating is quite good. I don't intend on racing however I do sail "hard" and enjoy getting the most out of whatever I am sailing. I am one of the few people that enjoy beating to weather and find it a challenge. So the question is, does the Ericson 38 with this keel do reasonably well to weather?

    4) Single handing. I have single handed all sorts of small boats and sailed on many 30+ footers but nothing quite this big. Instinct tells me that if I am smart, conservative and cautious that single handing a 38 shouldn't be too bad. All lines lead to the cockpit so it would seem ready for such use. Not to worry, I have some expert sailors to call on for help so I won't be putting to sea without thorough lessons on this boat.

    Any input is appreciated. Thanks, RT

  2. #2
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    I find a boat that size a great fit for secure coastal cruising. You'll get more miles out of a day, which opens new cruising grounds on a limited schedule. I've done a little single-handing on a 38 foot boat, and lots of double handing on 38 footers all over New England. It's a very secure size. Comfortable, and confidence inspiring. I've found that size is small enough to feel very managable for a small crew, but large enough to be fast and comfortable in a seaway. I've sailed happily on those boats in conditions I would be much less comfortable encountering in a 30-footer.

  3. #3
    Inactive Member Chris Miller's Avatar
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    That's what we use ours for...

    We have an '88 38-200 with the wing keel. I've included a picture for comparison. It's a comfortable boat, I'm not sure what you consider to be overkill--- but we've found use for just about everything. Cooking on-board is fun with the good sized galley, the head with the shower is nice, the headroom is great, etc...
    Double handing is easy and singlehanding isn't bad. Could be made easier with a few simple modifications (like the sheeting purchase thread). She's a fast cruiser. Without the fin keel, you won't go to wind like a banshee... but if you aren't using it to weekly try to lay the windward mark, don't worry about it. Crack off 5-10 degrees and FLY. Our 8 ton boat overtook our friends on their 1800 lb sport boat (PHRF 84) with a 60 degree apparent wind blowing about 18 kts on our fall cruise this year.
    So in answer to your #'s...
    1. A great fun boat for this application (although I think they all would, but with the recent upgrades you'll spend more time sailing and less time fixing).
    2. Assuming it's the same keel as ours (fwd swept wing), it probably was a compromise that someone made between performance and accessability. We go a lot of fun places that friends with 7-8 ft drafts can't go. We just tack one or two extra times getting there.
    3. As long as you don't have your heart set on sailing 28 deg. apparent, you'll be fine. Crack off to 32-35 and you'll go great!
    4. Addressed above.

    Let us know what you decide!
    Chris
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    Chris Miller :cartmann:
    S/V [I]Sequoia[/I]
    1988 38-200 Hull #262
    [URL="http://svsequoia.blogspot.com/"]http://svsequoia.blogspot.com/[/URL]

  4. #4
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    I wonder if the E-38 that RT is shopping is one of the ones that had the keel mod done by Mars Metals?

    Some of the listed choices are a bit like grapes and oranges, too. All of those Catalinas will sail well enough in smooth water, but the big Ericson will also have a far better motion when the seas get over two or three feet. The Pearson would be somewhere in the middle.

    Having done quite a few deliveries in a variety of sailboats over the decades, I have really come to respect Bruce Kings's design expertise...
    Also, if you spend a night (or two) at sea, the Ericson 38 has a FAR better interior layout for sleeping and navigating, and general comfort.

    IMHO, that great "second home" dockside layout on many current cruisers is both hazzardous and uncomfortable when in the actual ocean...

    This opinion worth $.01, with Monday discount.

    Best,
    Loren
    Last edited by Loren Beach; 01-29-2006 at 11:09 PM.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies! The keel is definitely not a wing keel. It is slightly swept back but nowhere near the angle on the leading edge of that wing keel in the posted pic. The trailing edge is almost vertical too. The bulb at the bottom is more like a healthy bulge on each side and the leading/trailing edges of the keel continue past it a bit and then the fin is cutoff at the deepest part of the bulb bulge. If you visualize the canopy of a jet fighter its like having a shape like this attached to each side of a standard fin keel at the very bottom. The keel was on a 6" block and my head was exactly at the waterline so the draft would have to be right at 5' 6" going by this scientific method..... Stupid me didn't think to bring a digital camera on the boat hunt. D'Oh! Anyone know anything more about a keel like this? Will try to get a pic the next time I see the boat. Thanks, RT

  6. #6
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    It sounds like the PO added the Mars Metal keel bulb. This was a practical addition of a bulb to the shoal keel version to get additional ballast as low as possible. It also would slightly raise the water line a couple of inches (slight increase in draft). You can most likely find Mars Metal on the Internet to take a look. I have a shoal draft 35 and there are occasions when I could use a few more pounds of ballast when beating to windward in higher winds. All in all this was a good modification. It also snags less lobster pots than a wing.
    Ernie
    ex 84 E-35 now Sonar "Nautically Correct"

  7. #7
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    You can see a pic of the bulb from Mars Metal at www.marsmetal.com
    At the site go to Mars keels and then torpedo bulbs to see the photo
    Ernie
    ex 84 E-35 now Sonar "Nautically Correct"

  8. #8
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    Ernest,
    Thanks for the info! The Ericson keel looks EXACTLY like the one being installed on this page: http://www.marsmetal.com/newpages/torpedod.html So Mars Metal it is. Some one spent some time and money of this one. RT

  9. #9
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    I thought a lot about this as I have an 89' E 38-200 with the deep keel. I like the 6 1/2' draft when beating to weather but it does have its limitations on the Chesapeake. I had thought of taking the draft down a foot to 5.5' then adding the bulb but figured the cost would not be worth it. Anyone know what these things cost?

    Oh yeah about your questions and please take this for what its worth, just my opinion.

    1. Catalinas and for that matter Hunters I dont like, period. Great cabins but horrible sailing boats that are not built very well.
    2. Pearson, hit or miss. I have seen a few very nice ones and a lot of nightmares.
    3. The E 38 provided it has been maintained well and has recent upgrades esp. sails, is a great boat and short hands very well. Single handing is pretty easy too except downwind in heavy air unless you have a very good auto pilot. Gybing in these conditions is tough to do singlehanded.
    4. This is one of the earlier model 38's different layout than the one Chris and I have. Both versions have pros and cons. Separate shower is great for hanging wet foulies.
    5. If you are seeing this boat through a broker get him to show you a "boats sold" list so you can see where similar vintage 38's have been selling. Typically there is a very large delta between what folks are "asking" and where they are actually selling. How long has the boat been on the market etc...
    6. I went from a 1970 Columbia 28 to this boat and have been very happy.

    Good luck

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up Boat choices

    All of those-except the Catalina 320, are really good sailing boats. The Cat 34 is really a very nice boat for the money, and the Pearson 36-2 is the worst performer (minus the 320), but still, considering all are decent performers, each could make a very nice boat.

    The E-38 is certainly the higest quality construction and best performing of the all-and very little, if any, of that gear is overkill for the trips you are contemplating-Some of your trips are short offshore, and you can't really have an overequipped boat for that-anyway I didn't see anything that is actually a "waste"..I did not see what autopilot it has, but as long as you have a good one, this boat is as easy to singlehand as any of the others-if not more so-If the dollars are close, the E-boat is the best value!

    That keel is a big improvement-MUCH better than the winged varieties-especially upwind, and at all angles in light air-it is the closest you can get to the deep keel-and a great "adder" to the boat. Hard to say exactly what the numbers will be, but I would think you will not be embarassed upwind-some may be a bit better, but this should do fine. You say the rating is really low. The base rating for the 38 with the deep keel is 114 IIRC-and while this is fair, it is not really a "gift"-I have won some pretty big PHRF events ina 38, but it had been set up with a GREAT bottom, appropriate sails (composites in materials, and enough choices to cover the wind ranges) hyd. backstay adjuster, NO non-racing gear on board (or very little), etc. We were competitive with similarly prepared boats-if you have something in the low 120's with that keel, great-but in all, I think the 38 has been rated very fairly-it's weak point (when sailing competitively) is heavy reaching and running. Strong points are upwind-especially in lighter air, and provided you are not too heavy with cruise stuff, you shhould do especially well on all points of sail in 5-10 knots of wind..It IS a fast boat-a very fast cruiser, and can make some very good passages.

    I think that covered your questions-this is something I had lurking in my mind from a previous thread: Stay away from single line reefing systems. They work much better in theory than they do in practice. They are slow, have a LOT of friction, and need to be "adjusted" just right so you get the proper tension on the clew as you reef (despite what the brochure says). Go traditional-and the factory did not offer single line reefing-AFAIK..

    Enjoy!

    S

  11. #11
    I have an E 38 Hull # 30 with the deep keel
    The boat is great. It is well built and fun to sail. Because of the winch placement I can single hand the boat and often sail with just the 135 headsail. On the other hand we race quite often and are quite successful. The boat is very difficult to beat in light air. http://www.rbiehn.com/gallery4.htm

  12. #12
    Principal Partner wurzner's Avatar
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    38 Questions from a Potential New Owner

    Gentlemen,

    You may or may not of seen my threads regarding a boat we looked at down in Alameda yesterday. Looks like our offer was accepted pending a 2nd limited scope survey on the deck core and bulkhead/chainplates. One thing I noticed on teh boat is a boxed area that has marine plywood on the bottom. This is also evident around the turtle for the sliding hatch. The plywood is in bad shape, but I'm wondering what is under there. They did a similiary confusing and what I would consider to be a design error on my 32 in the combing areas. In that case, I chipped out most of the old wood an saturated the area with epoxy and mirco ballons.

    Can any of you other 38 owners share your experiances on this and if it is a potential issue. The boat in question is a 1986 38-200.

    thanks

  13. #13
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    Thank you to all that replied! We are under contract for the Ericson 38 with the survey pending and financing in process. Looking forward to our new boat if all goes well. Saying we are excited would be an understatement... RT

  14. #14
    Principal Partner wurzner's Avatar
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    Hey RW,

    We just completed our 2nd survey so we are at the same point. If you didn't get to sail the 38 (not knowing what your previous boat was). You are going to be VERY HAPPY. Good luck and why not uncloke a little so people know more about you.

    Good luck.
    Shaun (soon to be a former 32 owner and a new 38-200 owner)

  15. #15
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    We got it!

    Well, my wife and I are now the proud owners of a 1983 E38! She was rated "excellent" by the surveyor and easily passed through the approval of the bank and insurance folks. The closing was this past Friday at 2pm. I took the rest of the day off, went to the yard and just stared at/hung out on her. Simply fantastic. I can't wait for spring now! Thanks to all that gave input, it was appreciated. Thanks, RT

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