Ericson 39 specifics - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-14-2004 Thread Starter
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Ericson 39 specifics

I''m interested buying an Ericson 39. but i''m wondering about the hull construction technique. how think the hull is (comparatively for the time period).

Additionally, if anyone has good/bad things to say about it, i am all ears.

I intend on sailing it around the world so I''m interested in safe, versatile blue-water boats.

Lastly, does anyone know why the Ericson 38 is in general more expensive?

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post #2 of 8 Old 09-14-2004
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Ericson 39 specifics

The Ericson 39 was an early IOR race boat. They were designed as rule beaters under IOR I. These are the kind of boats that gave the IOR its bad name. These were skittish, big crew kinds of boats. They were purposely built as light as a boat could be in that period which is somewhat heavier weight-wise but some what less robust structurally than they would have been been built in a later period. I raced and sailed on an Ericson 39 based out of Hilton Head in the late 1970''s. This fellow had done pretty extensive cruising on his after taking his boat apart, beefed it up with a hand laid up internal framing system augmnenting the original system and then constructed a beautiful cruising interior in his. He really liked his boat for coastal cruising and club racing. But, even so, he was pretty disparaging about the behavior of his boat in heavy conditions and for short handed sailing. He also built a sturdier rudder and changed the post on his boat after damaging in a storm.

I believe that there were two 38 footers and the more expensive boat was a later design and both were more rounded designs than the 39.

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post #3 of 8 Old 09-16-2004
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Ericson 39 specifics

While the E-39 is an IOR design, I definitely don''t agree that this is one which gave that rule a bad name. In fact, I think just the opposite. In my experience I would say that the handling characteristics of this boat proves that with some care a designer could in fact come up with a very nice all around boat following that rule -- as Bruce King did.

We have owned and actively sailed our E-39B for the last year in a wide range of conditions. This is a boat that loves to sail. I think she has a particular strength in going up wind. She is quite stable (50% ballast ratio) and can really shoulder her way through the waves and chop. It takes very extreme conditions to make her pound.

For normal sailing you certainly don''t need a large crew. I have done some single handed sailing on her with no problems at all. The majoity of our sailing is just with Melissa and myself.

She has two issues in harbor manuevering. You have virtually no steering control while backing up. You can generally coax her to initially turn in one favored direction -- but once that turn has started, there is no changing direction. She also will not react to prop thrust over the rudder. You will get no turning action until the boat has a reasonable amount of forward motion. This makes backing and filling somewhat difficult. That being said, she will give good rudder response even while just ghosting along.

We had a chance to meet a couple guys who finished a circumnavigation on their 39 about a year ago. They did have one issue that was quite well publicized, where a crack suddenly developed (athwartships) in the hull just forward of the mast. This required a rather major repair. No one really knows why this happened. There did not seem do be any sign of poor layup in the area. These guys had actively raced the boat previous to the cruise, including a dismasting incident. I also heard they loved to crank down on the backstay quite agressively. I have not heard of any other incident remotely along these lines with other 39''s. Aside from this situation, they had nothing but great things to say about how their boat handled the sailing.

I think the 38''s are generally more expensive beacause they are a newer design. You will notice they have a quite different hull shape, and the more modern fin keel/spade rudder. While the literature of the 39 describes it as also have a fin keel/spade rudder, if you look at the underbody you will see it is definitely more old school. The rudder on the 39 has a fair amount more support. The 38 should be a tad faster, but not by all that much. Cost aside, we preferred the 39 over the 38 because of the interior layout. Since we live aboard, this was certainly a real issue.

The 39B is the "cruising" version of the 39. Instead of the flush deck, it has the more standard raised cabin top look. This was done to preserve interior headroom while raising the sole to accommodate larger fuel and water tanks. It has an actual aft cabin instead of just a quarterberth. The trade-off is that you give up half of your cockpit lazarrette storage space to make room for the cabin.

Starting tomorrow night we are taking off for a week long cruise down the coast, and we can''t wait.

Greg Davids
s/v Pacifica
Ericson 39-B
Berkeley, CA
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-26-2004
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Ericson 39 specifics

Just read your response. We purchased a ''77 39B and have nearly completed our second year on Lake Superior. (our previous boat was a "77 Ericson 32 MkII).

I understand there are only about 20 39B that were built,so we are in a small class.

We love this boat and last week found it very compforatble in 30 knots true and 4 ft seas.
I hope you had a great cruise along the coats.

Jeff Burton, S?V Finisterr E-39B
Madeline Island, LaPoint, WI (Apostle Islands)
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post #5 of 8 Old 11-09-2013
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Re: Ericson 39 specifics

OK, I have owned a 39 b for the last 13 years and have solo sail her every winter for six months in the Caribbean. She now sits in Guatemala. I can tell you what Bruce King told me about how to treat this thirty some year old, give her as much as you can give her.
I solo sailed her from Guatemala to Columbia in 13 ft seas all the way from Isla De Providencia to Cartagena She didn't miss a beat. I owe this boat nothing, Great boat!
Thank You Bruce King
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post #6 of 8 Old 11-09-2013
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Re: Ericson 39 specifics

You should share your story at they love this stuff . . . I'm a member . . . also this thread is 9 years old . . . gotta check the dates, It's O.K. we all do it
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post #7 of 8 Old 11-12-2013
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Re: Ericson 39 specifics


the crack those circumnavigators found are often called smile cracks...they are caused by hard raciing, a dismasting would definitely help too!

this is a common issue on the similar cuirser racer the islander 36...

its a stress fracture from extreme backstay tension often when racing...this pushes the mast down enough to cause something to give on wood boats what gives is called the garboard strake or fiberglass boats its whatever is weakest midpoint or so between the backstay and forestay

usually just forward of the mast...

the ericson 39 is a fine all boats just tweak for cruising a bit and thats all you need to do
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post #8 of 8 Old 11-12-2013
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Re: Ericson 39 specifics

To the OP, or any poster on the topic, you have to remember that Jeff, while being a great fountain of knowledge, to the best of my memory has never posted anything encouraging about an IOR boat. Fortunately there are others whose mileage has certainly varied piping in.
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