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  #1  
Old 03-26-2002
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bristol boats

What''s the deal about boats that had been called cruising performance boats? Like Bristol 34, 35.5, 39. I''ve read that the are relatively fast and light. Also read two articles one stating that they are very well build and can handle stronger winds and the other one quite opposite.
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Old 03-26-2002
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hmmm...Jeff must be working over lunch. :O)

At any rate, I will jump in to get you some feedback. I think you have asked a sageous question. I think Bristols in general are held in high regard as boats of classic design that have served their owners well in crossing oceans but what is their value today?

You must keep in mind that Bristol built many different types of boats, designed by several different designers over a period of 30+yrs to differing degrees of quality (sorry if that is a run on sentence).

If I am not mistaken, Bristol first began to build production fiberglass boats for the general boating public. Initial build quality was average. Alden, Ted Hood and Herreshoff designed some of Bristols most successful boats in the 70''s. These included the 35, 35.5, 38.8 and 39/40 and 41.1, which seem to be the most popular models. There is a BIG different between the interger number and decimal number series boats. Bristol went through a significant upgrade before designing and producing their decimal number series: 35.5, 38.8, 41.1 etc. These boats also seem to have significantly nicer cabins and accomodations and are faster than their oposite whole number series boat (35, 40).

I don''t think any Bristols are regarded as fast and light. The models I list above, however, all share a long history of ocean voyaging. In my opinion, they are some of the most handsome boats that are affordable. By todays standards, however, the integer number designs (32,35, 39, 40) are becoming quite dated. They have short waterlines and very very narrow cabins. They are all 70''s vintage and so are likely in need of electrical systems updates etc to meet todays standards. The venerable classic Bristol 40 even is waning... yachts of very similar design, the Hinckley Bermuda 40 and Block Island 40, have wider beams for more spacious interiors and are significantly faster. They do of course command more money at sale.

Thus the answer depends on your question, your goal (inexpensive transoceanic but not livaboard?) and... the individual model Bristol.

Hope this helps
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Old 03-26-2002
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john, why do you say "not liveaboard"?
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Old 03-26-2002
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Whoooooaaaaa, Jezebel . . . I don''t think the Bermuda 40/Block Island 40 boats have much more volume than my old Bristol 35. Certainly only about 6" more beam and longer overhangs. And since I''ve parked in SW Harbor often as not, and sailed serveral different B-40''s, I am well aware of the economics of the old Bristol vs. Hinckley models. Any old Hinckley Pilot 35 will cost you at least $2,500+/foot compared to $1,000 a foot or less for the Bristol 35 of similar vintage. Poor man''s Hinckley, with just as good a hull, but nowhere near the tricks. Gotta love HRH''s ingenuity with Maine-grown cherry, oak, birch and his outstanding stainless tricks. And it ain''t yo'' Daddy''s Hinckley any more. Not at 3.5 mil for the nine-month old 56 some friends just delivered here to the VI.....the "mystique" admitted holds considerable value as well as huge annual maintenance expense...
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Old 03-26-2002
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By no stretch of the imagination, on any objective scale, would I call a Bristol a performance cruising boat. Bristols tend to be pretty conservative as far as performance goes. Boats like the Farr 395 or Aerodyne 38 would more closely fit the definition of a performance cruiser these days. Even from a previous generation you might include boats like the J-34c, J-37c or J-40, Express 37 and perhaps the Farr 11.6 as performance cruisers in your size range.

Bristols are hard to lump in one basket. Bristols were built over a long period of time and depending on the year and model varied quite widely in build and design quality. To me the early Bristols were not all that well constructed. Bristol started life building models that really seemed intended to compete with Pearson, the company that the founder of Bristol had just sold to Grumman.

Looking at the models that you specifically ask about, the Bristol 39 (40) began life as an extreme example of a CCA racing rule beater. While these are visually beautiful boats, its CCA racing rule beater origins results in extremely short waterline length, narrow beam, low ballast to displacement ratios, and rigs that are extremely dependent for any kind of perforance on large genoas and spinakers in lighter winds. The short waterline negatively impacts motion, comfort and speed. Even in their day these were considered slow boats that only did well on corrected time. The narrow beam means compact living conditions for a given length and when combined with shallow draft and the low ballast to displacement ratios, not a huge amount of stability. This is partially offset by comparatively inefficient low aspect ratio rigs. These boats were constructed for a fairly long period of time and build quality definitely improved over the production run. Similar comments would apply to the Bristol 35. While many of these boats have done a lot of successful cruising, I certainly would not put it high on my list of recommendations for offshore cruising. Still, there is an aethetic to these boats that is somewhat unique and make them interesting to won if you live an area with prevalant winds in the mid-teens and comparatively little chop.

The Bristol 35.5 is a neat boat. It is a reasonably well rounded performer, although not a great light air boat by any stretch of the imagination. They are reasonably well constructed. The centerboard versions let you get back into shallower venues and still have reasonable performance but they do give up a little light air performance and stability to the fin keel versions. They are a close relation to the Wauquiez 35 which is also a very nice Ted Hood design.

I have always like the Bristol 34 as well. This Halsey Herreshoff design achieves a nice balance between traditional appearance and a more modern underbody. They have a reasonably long waterline and a very nicely modeled bow. They have came in two very simple but very workable interior layouts. As a distance cruiser the tankage would need to be increased but if I were looking for a sub-$30k boat to go distance cruising the 34 would fall pretty high on my list.

Regards
Jeff
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VI and Darius,

I am a fan of the Bristol 35 and 40 AND a fan of Ted Hood. In fact, I have a Ted Hood design as my boat, a Wauquiez Hood 38.

But, I also have a very strong math background and am a scientist. Here is the data:

Bristol 35: 23''9" LWL, 10.0 beam, 12,300disp
Bristol 40: 27''6" LWL, 10''9" beam, 17000 disp

Block Island 40:
28''9" LWL, 11''9" Beam, 20000 disp

Hinckley B 40:
28''10" LWL, 11''9" beam, 20000 disp

Now, VI, I know you are sunning yourself in the wonderful VI but the math works the same there as is does here. :O) The BI and Hinckley have a foot more beam, longer waterlines and significantly greater displacement. They are larger boats.

Darius, the reason I say "not a livaboard" was that the Bristol 40, as gorgeous as it is, has about the same amount of cabin as a Catalina 30. Now, to be clear, livability is a relative term, many many people, couples, live and have lived aboard smaller boats. No question. Moreover, if someone were to give me a Bristol 40 and a trunk of cash and say, have fun... I would be gone and living aboard.. happily. I made the statement with regard to the fact that there are much more comfortable, larger, faster and as well built boats in the price range you could get a Bristol 40.

VI, if you every get your Bristol 35 to the VI, I would be overjoyed to sail with you. If you are ever near Annapolis, you are welcome aboard Invictus.

Fair winds

John
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All I was saying is that, while I''d KILL for a Hinckley, the true liveable volume, with the counterstern and steep entry of the B-40 and HUGE cockpit (and cockpit lockers) result in not too much more space belowdecks than in the Bristol 35. Look. You''ve got me comparing apples and diamonds. Sucked into the vortex again. The Hinckley Pilot 35''s are tiny belowdecks. And the B-40 will run at least $100,000 more than the Bristol 35. Off track again. Point is, find a boat, make it float, make it move through the water, toughen it up, go sailing. I love my old Bristol 35. She''s a true pig downwind, but comfortable and easy in a blow in the Gulf of Maine. However, had I not "settled" in a situational purchase 10 years ago, I wouldn''t have a boat right now. Come to think of it, I don''t want a boat that''s 2,500 miles away. Saw a ROUGH Bristol 35 on Jost Van Dyke sunday. It looked like it had been around twice. Chainplates had been moved to the outside of the hull. Something was living aboard it, not sure what....Rolex Regatta starts thursday. Phone''s been ringing off the hook. Anyone ever wanted to play racer, it ain''t hard to get on a boat. And there''s some serious boats racing this year. BVI regatta is next weekend out of Nanny Cay. Pegleg''s is going to make a ton of money. KW
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