Is Hughes 35 A Offshore Boat ? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 09-18-2008 Thread Starter
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Is Hughes 35 A Offshore Boat ?

Hey guys - looking at a 1980 Hughes 35 here in the PNW - definitely tired and needs TLC but im wondering if ultimately she would be a good hull design for extended offshore...

anyone familiar with them? They are a Sparkmans and Stephens design built by Hughes Columbia in Ontario. Have been unable to find a line drawing of keel but am told it is a modified fin.

LOA 35' 6"
LWL 26'
Beam 10' 4"
Draft 5' 10"
Ballast 5,400 lbs.
Displ. 12,000 lbs.
Sail Area 498 Sq. ft.
Main 194 sq. ft.
Fore 304 sq. ft.

thanks for any feedback.!
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post #2 of 14 Old 09-18-2008
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The Hughes Northstar 35's were early IOR era racer- cruisers. Hughes did a pretty nice job with build quality (I owned a Hugher Northstar 500 QT back in the 1970's) but they were never intended for the rigours of offshore cruising.

The IOR rating rule produced designs that were miserable boats from a motion comfort and ease of handling standpoint and in many ways the Hughes 35 was a poster child for what was wrong with the IOR rule (think Fastnet Disaster). My recollection is that these boats were fin keel and skeg hung spade rudders similar to the early 1970's Tartan 41 raceboats.

The shortcomings of these boats come from the fact that they were designed to be sailed in a compartatively narrow wind range, with large crews, a lot of crew weight on the rail, and with large sail inventories and frequent sail changes.

These boats would be pretty low on my list of boats to cruise offshore.
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post #3 of 14 Old 09-18-2008
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obviously any S.& S. design (god rest his soul Mr. Stephens Passed away the first week of this month ) is a good design. having said that look at Cruising World last few months and read the articles by Capt. Fatty Goodlander and his wife Marilyn. they have been plying the oceans of the world on a Hughes 38 for over a quarter century.
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post #4 of 14 Old 09-23-2008
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A Hughes 38 is a much different boat than the 35. As Jeff said the 35 was strongly influenced by the rating rule.
The 38 however, appears not to be ( maybe CCA?) and is a boat that I have always admired. It appears to be a more seaworthy "traditional" style boat.

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post #5 of 14 Old 09-23-2008
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I know you'll get the usual from "experts" on "bluewater" boats but a good friend did four single-handed crossings of the Atlantic in a stock Hughes 35. He returned one year by the northern route and took quite a beating but the boat stood up quite well. His boat was a Hughes 35 built by Hughes not a Northstar.

Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.

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Last edited by Vasco; 09-23-2008 at 04:05 PM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 09-23-2008
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Looks more like an end-era CCA design to me. And I don't think it's bad looking and probably sails just fine offshore; as almost all S&S designed hulls do.

I really can't see why this boat would be in need of rail meat as compared to a ULDB boat. Boats of this era were designed with lower CG and more ballast JeffH just does not like boats that were designed earlier than the tail end of IOR; but there were plenty of nicely designed racer/cruisers during that time period (IMHO).

I don't know specifics about the Hughes 35; but to me it looks like it would make a fine coastal/offshore boat if properly equipped and thoroughly re-fitted. I would not just step aboard a boat of this era and expect to sail across oceans (both in boat preparation or experience); it is not very wise to do that sort of thing. In terms of experience; it seems that you might need to do some more sailing and casual research of different types of boats before you decide to go offshore. Asking us here what boats are well suited to go across an ocean brings concern to me that you need to gain more knowledge/experience as a sailor before you decide to set out into the deep blue. If it's a 5-10 year plan to get some good offshore experience first but buy the right boat now; that's OK but otherwise please gain more knowledge/experience before you buy a boat and set off for Hawaii.

Here is a good looking book that you might want to read (looks good but I have not read it yet):

Complete Guide to Choosing a Cruising Sailboat : Nautical Books at

Also the books by Linn and Larry Pardey on the same website. A woman solo circumnavigated on a Southern Cross 28 last year; but she set out with no experience and really got hammered when she sailed from US coast to Ireland. Lots of boats are suitable for offshore sailing; and the types of boats that could be used are wide and varied. It looks to me that you are more interested in a ex-racer/cruiser to become a full cruiser; and lots of people are doing this with boats similar to the Hughes 35.

Other boats to look at in this class would be older C&C's, Tartans, or Ericsons.

Last edited by KeelHaulin; 09-23-2008 at 09:34 PM.
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post #7 of 14 Old 12-11-2008
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I know this thread is a bit stale. I own a 1976 Northstar 1500. (H35) I nearly totally disagree with assumed performance. I never have had nor needed rail meat! fully battened main all out and my 150 on roller furling in 22+ knots beam reach does not bury the rail...she does do 8.4-8.6. Will plane downwind two foot seas 9.3/9.4 main alone. I have had Siren in rough conditions crossing the gulfstream and have no fear of her falling apart. Well built, no core and never a blister. She handles quick 1-1/2 lock to lock, like driving a sports car, A bit much for a first boat maybe. I have no problem single handing this boat. I used to have a 35,000# 43' double ended cutter, safe for sure, hard to single hand, every thing was so heavy.

Last edited by captjcook; 12-12-2008 at 06:19 AM. Reason: incomplete
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-30-2010
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Just a comment.
Hughes Columbia also made another 35' referred sometimes as a 10.7. with a beam of 11'4" with a hourglass shaped hull.
Wonder what Jeff H has say about this model?????
Maybe he could post a comment?

Cheers, Allan
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-17-2013
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Re: Is Hughes 35 A Offshore Boat ?


According to the S&S website the Northstar/Hughes 35 is to a design that was also built to in the UK, by South Hants Engineering, as the SHE 36. The SHE 36 has a terrific reputation as a good seaboat, not least because one rescued the crew of a competitor and went on to finish the '79 Fastnet. The two boats are not the same - the SHE 36 has a different deck, etc and may differ in other ways too.
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post #10 of 14 Old 03-16-2015
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Re: Is Hughes 35 A Offshore Boat ?

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post to the forum. I came across this thread about a Hughes 35 and found it rather helpful and enlightening. A friend of mine and I bought a 1980 Hughes 35 (Northstar but S&S design I believe) in the fall of 2014.

We sailed it down Lake Ontario from Toronto into the Bay of Quinte over the first few days of October with most of the trip in some pretty nasty weather. We managed fairly well overall, considering at one point we had to deal with 60kph/33kn gale or near gale force winds with 8-10 foot swells.

Although we as the crew were pretty worn down by the end of the 3 day voyage, the boat seemed to handle it quite well. No equipment issues, and the rigging held up really well. I only have a moderate amount of sailing experience, but I would say the only thing I noticed was a fair bit of twisting and constant attention on the helm while on a broad reach. I suppose any sailboat that size would have some undesirable twisting on those size swells, but perhaps a full keeled boat less so.

At times, we seemed to average 8.5 to 9 knots no problem on a beam reach and once hit a peak of 9.6 on the backside of a few swells coming off the quarter. We were really making good ground, considering with the overhangs that the actual LWL is less than 30'. It is billed as a racer/cruiser (interesting that it seems to be billed as a racer first, then cruiser), even though it has a fair amount of interior space and lots of standing headroom. Also, just to note that it has a 170 genoa and we had it up in protected waters later in the trip with no more than a light breeze on a beam reach and it kept an easy 5.5 - 6 knots.

Although this boat could probably be a coastal cruiser, I am not sure about long ocean passages with large weather windows, but then again I am not experienced enough to say. We may keep it in freshwater and down the road look at another boat for bluewater, but after that passage, I am quite confident about the boats ability to handle strong weather. It is more about how much comfort will the crew have during a rough passage I believe is more the question with this boat.

Anyways, I would really like to chat with any other owners of a Hughes 35 to compare notes etc. It would be most helpful to me as we are still getting to know this boat. It would be great to hear form other owners or previous owners about experiences or anything of note they found about their Hughes 35's.

Thanks and happy sailing!
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