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onojmai 07-14-2006 11:21 AM

Pearson Ensign: a Collector's item???
i've been eyeing an ensign for years (since i was in high school) i don't plan on buying one anytime soon, though my father may in a few years gearing for retirement.

BUC values place ensigns of the mid 60's to 1970 from $3k-5k tops (bristol condition is 20% over a valued $4100)...

ensigns are from RI, and the are plentiful in New England. However, a non-restored but decent ensign (by no means "bristol") regularly go for a min. $5000. a "bristol" or pretty somewhat restored ensign runs at least $10k, fully restored going for over $20k easily.

is this a niche market? is there some rennaissance going on with the ensign, or is it just high demand for a solid, pretty classic, and commands a high price tag?

for $4k-5k, can a decent ensign be bought, and cleaned up without heavy investment? i'll put in the elbow grease, but don't have the skill/expertise to do major work.

anyone have any ideas?

Jim H 07-14-2006 12:11 PM

There are supposedly around 40 fleets nationally that race the Ensign, and this is going to lead to significant investments by some to keep even a 22 footer in "racing spec."

Additionally, the boat may be becoming a favorite of "downsizing" sailors and racers, who feel the Ensign is like a sensible man's Alerion Express, but then invest in the boat in a nonsensical way. Either way, it proves that you can put 10s of thousands into a mid-60s 22 footer, if you hire professional help. In the end, the boat is still less expensive than any "new" 25 footer.

One idea-- an Ensign shouldn't be that hard to trailer, right? If so, why not make your search national, and build in a possible X-country road trip as part of the adventure. I've seen Ensigns here in the NW in the price range you note-- it may be that they are expensive/collectable in only certain areas.

Jim H

onojmai 07-14-2006 12:51 PM

this is true- the alerion series sorta sparked off the daysailer yacht craze- now hinckley, morris, and and the friendship have all taken the daysailer thing to the $500,000+ level. ridiculous.

the alerion, along with the tofinou and other beautiful classic daysailers, probably have contributed to the increased demand for an ensign- you're right.

i'm probably gonna start looking for a solid hull fixer upper in the next few years. need a shed to put it in to fix'er up (not yet built- years away) but wouldn't hurt to buy a decent boat and shrink-wrap it for a while.

i ran across this fella-

he really took a triton, ripped it apart, and turned it into quite the classic day boat- almost (if not) on par with those $100,000+ daysailers that are hot on the market these days. it got my mind back on the idea of fixing one of the classic alberg pearsons up. anybody got anything to add?

onojmai 07-14-2006 01:12 PM

compare to the alerion 26-

one hull is 2006. one hull is four decades older. wow.

CBinRI 07-14-2006 01:48 PM

I believe that you should be able to get one in pretty good shape in that range. But like all old boats, you will have to sink money into it to maintain it. I had one for several years and found it to be a great family daysailer. Not fast by today's standards but a large comfortable cockpit and sufficiently stiff. Not great in light air, though.

By the way, someone bought the molds and is selling them new. But I think that would cost somewhere in the twenties, which defeats the purpose, I guess.

Jim H 07-14-2006 01:54 PM

Beyond that, check out the article titled "Gordie's World" in the June issue of Latitude 38. It's a great article about a guy who bought a 38 year-old Santana 27, and then rebuilt and resigned it to be a go-fast sled design, with plumb bow, new keel, new rig, new cockpit, articulated sprit pole, the whole nine yards.

In the end, the cost was about 1/3rd that of a new go-fast boat, but don't ask how many hours were involved. His point was that there are a lot of good boats out there heading for the dumpster, that could be brought back to beyond original spec.

I believe the the original cost of the boat was $1,000 after he sold off some unneeded parts, but then about $30k was invested over 2.5 years. 50 gallons of resin, a roll of fiberglass, kevlar cloth, carbon fibre... you get the idea.

Jim H

budster 12-01-2009 01:56 PM

Ensigns are Great boats
Ensigns can be found in every state of (dis)repair, ranging in price from $500 (a total fixer-upper) to $18,000 for a race ready, or very seaworthy, boat. I race competitively, and have about $25,000 in mine. Over 40 active fleets are located up and down the eastern and gulf coasts, but the highest population is in New England. However, the Houston Yacht Club has 35 boats in its harbor and Denver Colorado also has a populous fleet. The class website is ensignclass dot com where numerous boats are listed for sale.

It is a great daysailor, with room for 8 people in the cockpit, though it is raced with a crew of four. It draws three feet and is great for shallow bays and steep chop. It has very classic lines, and was one of the first designs inducted into the Classic Boat Hall of Fame. The National Championship attracts up to 40 boats every year. A very nice sailing boat, it tacks through 75 degrees in a breeze and 85 to 90 in light winds.

A full complement of sails should include a main, a blade (great for day sailing), a #2 genoa (18 - 25 knots of wind), a #1 genoa (0 - 18 knots of wind), and a spinnaker.

Potential problem areas are the chain plates (water leakage), the deck (water leakage through hardware mounting holes, if not done properly), the bulkhead, and the sole (the keel stepped mast rests on the sole inside the cabin, and the rig will not hold tension if this is soft). If the sole is soft, a permanent and lasting repair can be achieved by replacing it with a 1" solid fiberglass plate. The combing boards add much rigidity to the boat and should be maintained or replaced when they are in bad condition. Properly maintained, they will last a very long time. There are fiberglass floorboard and seats available for a low maintenance boat and the minimum weight for the boat is 2900 lbs.

After repairing any soft spots in the deck, all hardware should be mounted by drilling oversized holes, filling each hole with epoxy to seal against water access to the balsa core, and then re-drilling properly sized holes for the mounting hardware.

Hope this helps...

seasailor 11-02-2010 08:23 AM

I found an Ensign fixer-upper at a local boatyard that the owner donated to our youth sailing program. It has a good rig, hull, sails, trailer, outboard, winches, etc. The deck, however is a different story. It's pretty much shot, along with the seats and floors. It will definitely need a lot of work, but even with the needed work it's a bargain, considering that new Ensigns cost $27,000 to $30,000 (without a trailer), and fully restored '60s models run $8,000 to $15,000. I plan on doing the work myself, with assistance and guidance from a professional boat builder who has volunteered his services free, if I buy the materials. There are still good Ensigns around, for a reasonable price, if you're not looking for a fully restored one. The Gulf Coast is a good place to look, with, as mentioned a large fleet in Houston, TX. I agree that the daysailor market has gone crazy, ($300,000? for a 26 footer
with a v-berth?) but I understand the shift away from complicated boats and the return to simpler, more relaxing sailing. The Ensign is perfect for a youth sailing program, with its huge cockpit, positive flotation, "big boat" handling and stability. I predict it will become more popular as time goes on and people rediscover one of the best kept secrets in sailing.

Jeff_H 11-02-2010 08:45 AM

I would not count on getting $8,000 to $15,000 for a restored Ensign. Not that long ago I looked at two that were for sale here on the Chesapeake, both in very nice condition, one with almost new sails and a reasonably new outboard that had asking prices of $3500 and $2600.

It would be very hard to find a buyer for a Ensign at that price, even if it was restored, when you can easily buy a J-22 or a Sonar in very nice condition for $8,000 to $15,000 and have a far better boat all around.


seasailor 11-02-2010 11:15 AM


I certainly agree that you can find used Ensigns cheaper than $8,000 to $15,000. The ones I saw for sale at those prices were early 60's models with total restorations, (newly recored deck, new teak all around, new rigging, sails, winches, fully race equipped, etc.) that the owners had probably put a lot of money into, as boatyard labor rates and OEM part prices can quickly add up. These were asking prices, not necessarily the selling prices. I recently saw a listing for an unrestored, but obviously well maintained, 60's vintage 6 time Ensign Championship winning boat listed for sale for $3200 in New England. And yes, some people left the Ensign fleet in favor of the Sonar and other newer designs as the Ensign Class Association chose to keep a fairly strict one design philosophy and limit proposed changes to the boat, in an effort to keep the older boats competitive. I wouldn't encourage people to rush out and buy an old boat and update it in the hope of getting a huge return on it, because that doesn't usually happen, given the current costs. The Ensign, in my opinion, is what it is, a great daysailor and one design race boat within its limits, and there is apparently still a demand for it.

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