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Home » Sailnet Boat Reviews » P - Boats starting with 'P' » Pearson

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Pearson Ensign
Reviews Views Date of last review
5 6132 Wed September 7, 2011
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 9.0

Description: Pearson Ensign
Keywords: Pearson Ensign



Registered: January 2000
Location: maryland
Posts: 1887
Review Date: Sun December 8, 1996 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


A beautiful 22'6", Carl Alberg designed, full keel, hand laid fiberglass hull of 3200 lbs. displacement drawing 3'6" with 9' teak and mahogony trimmed cockpit and cutty cabin. 1775 hulls built by Pearson Yachts from '63 to early '80s for daysailing and racing make up the largest full keeled fleet in the US. Strict one design national class association (V/C Publicity Bill O'Hara, 8 Harrison Cr, Pittsford, NY 14534) with local and regional fleets. History, good looks, kick-ass hull, competitive fleet. Wonderfully restorable!

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Review Date: Fri August 13, 2004 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


I bought mine in Cleveland and after trailering it home, sailed it 7 years on a KS lake.

A Carl Alberg design, this is the day sailing/OD racing version of the Electra (early versions were called the Electra/Ensign). This is a beautiful, stable, very safe, 22 1/2' LOA full keel boat. Built-in flotation makes it unsinkable (it floats with the gunwales about 9" above water--the marina once launched mine by mistake before the knotmeter thru-hull was in place).

The Ensign becomes increasingly competitive against other boats the more the wind blows (with adequate sails, of course). PHRF values among experienced skippers vary quite a bit (246-276), probably depending on local prevailing wind conditions. For example, its D-PN (Portsmouth number) of 96 rises in lighter air and goes down quite a bit as the wind picks up.

Its flotation does take room from the lazarette, bow & cuddy (under its two bunks) areas so storage is limited. The cuddy easily gets crammed full of sails & PFDs & would be coffin-like for sleeping (with no opening ports), so its usual people use is for toilet privacy. Over-nighting is much better done under a boom tent in the really spacious 9' long cockpit. (But also use mosquito netting if you're in their food chain.)

The Ensign's not self-bailing so a tarp over the boom is needed when moored --a boom tent, charged battery, & small electric bilge pump w/auto switch kept rain water under control a few years. Then I made a cockpit cover with thwartship battens that worked much better, quicker, and avoided so much knot tying.

An Ensign's high points are it's such a very sweet sailing boat -- whether you're very experienced or a newbie; it's great for daysailing, occasional overnighting. The Ensign is safe and your confidence increasingly grows that it will take care of you; it handles seas and winds very well. It heels fairly easily until the rail nears the water and then it stiffens enormously. In 25+ mph winds on a KS lake, it felt serene and safe -- like I imagine driving a Rolls-Royce would be -- little effort except in cleating the jib. We were once hit while sailing by 70 mph winds in a surprise line storm. It laid the sails in the water but righted and it brought us back okay. The 9' cockpit lets you daysail uncrammed with quite a few people/kids. Its hull is one of the most beautiful you'll ever see (and even prettier on a cradle when you can see all of it). It's ruggedly built and the lower hull has solid glass about 1/2" thick. There's lots of beautiful wood (that's + & -). It trailers well (but towers above your truck). (Note: my comments about the Ensign handling high winds especially well is based on the boat having good sails; NO boat with soft, 10+ year old or blown-out, stretched sails will handle well in higher winds.)

Downsides: it's not that great in light & flukey winds because of it's weight, wetted surface, and rudder location; it has a _lot_ of wood to maintain (teak cockpit floor, cuddy, coaming). In higher winds, it is wet and when you sit on the 1" wide coaming for long, your butt feels like it will look like a plus sign for several days after (or perhaps a hot-cross bun?). Usually, there's no pulpit or lifelines so foredeck work on a wet, heeling deck is exciting. Its full keel makes trailer-sailing challenging and rare -- but it'd be SO great to take it to different locations. You'd need a trailer setup to handle it (tongue extension, etc.). Without a T.E., launching & retrieving will be done by the marina but most boats will put in and take out only once a year. You can build a rig to put in & take out the keel-stepped mast yourself & save yard charges if the yard will let you. Getting the full keel out of soft mud after running aground isn't fun, so a depthmeter is handy.

Since the Ensign isn't self bailing, I used 2 electric bilge pumps -- a small one for incidental rain water, etc., & a 3600 gal/hr bilge pump for safety (since it has such a big open cockpit & the boat is wet in heavy weather) but the larger one rarely cycled on (only during high winds and seas with lots of spray) and really was never needed, although it was often reassuring that any water taken on would pump out fast.

I had problems tuning the rig & it sailed different from tack to tack. Finally measured from the jibstem back to the chainplates & discovered the factory had located the shrouds on port about 1-1 1/2" off the length aft on starboard. This was because the chainplates attach to fillets molded into the hull and it was _those_ on port that were located in the wrong place!! So I used white oak spacers to make the jibstem to chainplate distances equal and the problem disappeared.

My marina & YC slips were in coves, out of the strongest winds so when my old OB died, I used a 55 lb thrust electric Minnkota for several years: in & out of the slip, returning home when the wind died, etc., and that did fine. (But I burned up several batteries until I switched from an automotive to a decent 3 stage marine battery charger.)

My Ensign, "Ruth Elizabeth," gave me more enjoyment sailing so far than any other of 9 enjoyable sailboats I've owned.

revised 13Aug04; revised/updated irregularly


I've also written Owner Reviews of the Ericson 26, the S2 6.9, and the S2 6.7
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Review Date: Wed June 15, 2005 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


Pearson was one of the largest sailboat manufacturere in the world. Their reputation of solid, well built, fast boats is recognized still today. Part of their legacy can be traced to one of Pearson's best selling boats, the Ensign.

I have spent the last 2 years refurbishing hull #1192 and all I can say is that this boat is over built by today's standards. I made a repair to the forward lower radius of the full keel to fix a crack from a previous grounding, and to do this repair correctly, I had to grind out the old delaminated fiberglass. The glass thickness in this area was over 1" thick!

Ensigns sail like a much larger boat than the 22 feet that they are. The 1300 pounds of lead in the keel is quite significant for a 22 foot boat. She heels over nicely in a light to moderate breeze, and when it really gets blowing, she stiffens up and stays put.

Too bad Pearson Boat Company is gone, but you can find many of their boats for sail in all sizes. The Ensign may be the only boat in the Pearson stable that is still in production though. You can buy a new Ensign if you wish, or you could comb the classifieds for a used one. There have been almost 1,800 Ensigns made so far, and they are all exactly the same.

There is a strong one class association that keeps the racing of Ensigns pure. There are only a few safety upgrades allowed form the original design that puts the emphisis on the crew, not the hardware. Ensigns carry a lot of weight (3,000 pounds displacement) so they are a momentum sailor. A bit slow in light air, and comes into their own in a good breeze.

The cuddy cabin gets filled up quickly with sails, gear and the like, but you could sleep aboard in the "V" berth if you wish.

The heart and sole of the Ensign is it's cockpit. At 9 feet long there is room for the whole crew, And the head room under the boom helps to make even first timers not worry about hitting their heads on a gybe.

A well made, safe, fun and competetive boat that has been favored by racers, cruisers and all for over 40 years. This is an exceptional sailboat, so much so, that it was one of the first boats to be elected into the sailboat hall of fame.
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Junior Member

Registered: April 2006
Posts: 4
Review Date: Mon April 24, 2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Roomy cockpit - makes a great daysailer
Cons: weight

I am a member of a sailing club that owns about 26 ensigns. Most of the classes are taught on these boats. They are very stable in up to 25 knots of wind(above that we cannot sail the club boats). The ensign is a blast in heavy seas but it can get very wet.
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Junior Member

Registered: February 2011
Review Date: Wed September 7, 2011 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 


I've owned 2 ensigns. The first time was in the late 1960's. I loved the ensign so much, I purchased another one 40 years later. This boat is great for the young and the not so young. Its popularity then and now is testament to the quality of its design and construction, its beauty, spacious cockpit, stability, and above all, its responsiveness to the wind. This is a great boat.
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