Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 197 Times in 161 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
First of all there were several different Ericson 35''s. The earliest boats (1970''s)were reasonably well built and offered nice performance for their era. I raced on one of these back in the 1970''s in a wide range of conditions. Like most boats of that era they were at their best in 10 to 15 knots of wind but on an objective scale, were not all that great in lighter or heavier conditions. These were significantly slower boats than the later Ericson 35''s. They were also not as well built as the later boats. Of the boats on this list they tie with the Catalina 30 as the slowest on the list. The Mark I''s are 25-30 year old boats and as such, will need a lot of work if the previous owners have been deferring long term maintenance and upgrades. More work than one of these boats is worth.
When the Mark II showed up, it was an improved design with better build quality. Many of the changes were pretty subtle. Ericson pioneered the ''force grid'' which was a major breakthrough in engineering of lighter boats. It produced a boat that could be lighter and stiffer than a much heavier boat. Properly built, this structural innovation also meant a lot more durability and strength.
The refinements included a little less weight, a little more ballast, better hardware, a more efficient keel and rudder, and a larger sail plan. This resulted in a boat that was 30 seconds a mile faster and an all around better boat. The Mark II is actually my favorite of the three boats.
Then came the Mk III. Again there was a step up in build quality and performance. They were also substantially more expensive. These boats were ultimately built by Pacific Seacraft with an increase in weight and build quality but a decrease in performance.
These are very well built boats. They are quite roomy for a 32 footer. They are were comparatively light weight for a cruiser and probably have the most seakindly hull shape of all of the boats on your list. These boats were conceived as a cruiser where as the others on the list were conceived as racer/cruisers. In an absolute sense these boats offer similar performance to all but the newest Ericson 35.
In my mind, there is almost nothing wrong with these boats if you are looking for a cruiser. In my mind the main shortcoming of these boats is the hardware choices and placement (which varied over the production run of the boat). In a general sense the hardware is smaller, less adjustable, and higher friction than would be expected on a boat intended to be raced. This makes these boats physicially harder to sail. Like many cruisers the cockpit is a bit tight. Personally, I don''t find cockpits configured like the Aloha particularly comfortable under sail. Its harder to see the sails and so you end up sitting arms out and head craned to see the sails and what is happeing ahead. I believe that these boats have a veedrive. I am not a fan of Vee drive installations. They usually makes maintenance of all kinds a bit harder.
These are hard boats for me to categorize. I believe that they were a Gary Mull design. They offered very good performance for their era. BUT they were pretty poorly executed. Except for the Catalina 30, these were the most poorly built of the boat on your list. (Although later versions were a little better built than earlier versions). If these were better built boats I would recommend these boats pretty highly, but frankly, as they are I would scratch them from your list.
First of all these boats were built for a very long time and in all kinds of variants. I know that there are people who really love these boats. I am not one of them. As much as I like the Catalina 27, the Cat 30 just do not appeal to me. The virtues of the 27 really did carry over into the 30 and the defects that can easily be overlooked in a 27 footer should not be overlooked on a 30 footer especially for your sailing venue. I would probably scratch these boats as well but I know that there are a huge number of people who would disagree with me on that as well.