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BarryL 07-07-2009 02:37 PM

1986 O'day 35 Review

Now that we have a section for boat reviews, and since I have owned my boat for a few years, I figured now would be a good time to write a review.

The O'day 35 is a typical 'racer / cruiser' of the mid 80's. It's a typical production boat. Build quality is acceptable, it wasn't designed to cross oceans, and I don't plan on it.

Good things:
Value - You should be able to purchase an O'day 35 for mid 30's, low 40's, depending on condition of course.

Room - With 35' LOD and a 11.5' beam there is room for people and gear. My family of five can carry enough stuff for a week and still have room to move below and not feel like we are top of each other.

Comfort - The boat has hot / cold pressure water, 2 burner propane stove with oven, comfortable setees / berths, large head, wide decks, decent cockpit space. Sailing handling is fine - lines led aft, big enough winches, anchor roller and locker, etc.

Swim platform - my boat is kept on a mooring and the swim platform makes it easy to board the boat from a dingy. Additionally, in the summer we like to swim off the boat and the platform makes getting back aboard easy. If you don't care about the swim platform, the O'day 34 is the same boat minus the swim platform, and it's cheaper too.

Shoal Draft - I have the shoal keep with a draft of around 4.5'. That allows me to get into skinny water. I can anchor very close to the beach and get into marinas like the 79st Boat Basin in NY city (5' at low water).

OK things:
Sailing Performance - With the shoal keel the boat isn't great upwind. It's good at reaching, but if you want to race get the deep keel (or a different boat). I race on a 1980 C&C 34, and that boat is much better upwind than my boat.

Motoring performance - I have the Universal M25 with 21 HP. With a fixed 3 blade prop and clean bottom I can reach hull speed in flat water. Add chop and the speed slows down to 6 kts. Performance is OK but not great.

Engine access - you have access on two sides (once the quarter berth is emptied out and a panel removed). It's difficult to climb down into the lazarette to reach things.

Bad Things:
Some seacocks are in bad locations. The engine raw water intake is WAY down in a locker. I can't easily reach it, so it stays open (which makes me a little nervous). Other seacocks are under the v berth (for the head direct discharge and holding tank pumpout, so they aren't used as much, but are still difficult to get at).

The ice boxes are strange shaped and difficult to use. I guess that is sort of normal for a boat, but still not easy to use. My boat has Seafrost BD refrigeration and the ice trays take up more room.

I would definitely buy this boat again. For my budget it has all the features I wanted. I can single hand it easily (with autopilot) or take my family out for a week.

Hope someone finds this useful.


fido5407 10-21-2009 09:59 PM

shopping for an O'day
after reading your interesting comments you may be able to shed some light. I I,m looking at two O'days at this time with swing keels and would like some comments and views. One is a 27 food 1987 sitting in salt water with a diesel westerbeke drive. The other is a 1986 with gas powered OMC sail drive inboard. I will be moving the 87 to fresh water if purchased. I now sail a 25 foot Macgregor swing keel she is fun and we spend a lot of time on board, but would like to go bigger for this is better. How do these boats compare and what could I expect in rough water, and winds greater than 25 knots.


deniseO30 10-21-2009 10:38 PM

Barry it sounds like my O30 your describing! I've the fin keel and it's 4'11" draft 16 hp universal 2 blade prop. she handles well in 15-20 winds. she came with a force 10 2 burner propane with oven that replaced the OEM alcohol. we have a new garhaure traveler in the cockpit and wheel steering. the cockpits on most of the Odays were small is yours?

ausnp84 10-13-2010 06:00 AM

We owned a 1984 34ft O'day and had a blast with it - pointed well, quick turn of speed and very comfortable for a couple living aboard.

My biggest gripe was the lack of a deep anchor locker... otherwise, what an excellent boat....

(We only sold her to return to the UK and buy a bigger boat to go around on - the O'day would have easily done it, but we wanted more storage space and a steel hull. The new owner of our boat is very happy with it and is continuing her meander throughout the Carib....)

BarryL 09-17-2014 02:12 PM

Hi Guys,

I sold my O'day 35 in June of 2014. She was an excellent boat for my use: day sails, weekend cruises, week long cruises. My family of five and I had a lot of fun with that boat. Now the new owner will have his own adventures.

I have to say that O'day built a great boat. She was 28 when I sold her. The hull was still in good condition. The engine had close to 4000 hours when I sold it and still ran great. The mast and boom were fine. I had changed the standing rigging in 2012, the original rigging lasted over 25 years in salt water and had no problems. The Barient winches worked great (I gave them regular maintenance). The ports and hatches were cloudy but still serviceable and most didn't leak a drop (the hatch in the vberth would leak a few drops if green water came on deck). The rudder was original, it had some water in it, but most boats do. The electrical system was mostly original - I had rewired the engine panel but the rest was stock and still functional. All the running lights worked and same thing in the interior, although I did change a number of interior lights to low draw LED or CFL.

Overall I was very happy with my O'day experience.


eherlihy 10-14-2015 10:38 AM

Re: 1986 O'day 35 Review
Hey Barry, and others,

I've had my O'day for over 5 seasons, and rebuilt/refit just about every system on the boat, so I thought I would add to your initial post.

First off, while this may look like Denise's O'day 30, it is very much a scaled up version of that boat. I found it VERY comparable to a mid-80s Pearson 34.

The cockpit of the O'day 35 is long (over 7 feet) and uncluttered (the traveler is mounted on the cabin top), but narrow compared to many newer boats. Here is a view of the cockpit from the helm;

I agree that the construction is typical of '80s era production boats. The hull is solid FRP, with a bolted on LEAD keel (not iron - as sailboatdata states). The deck construction is the typical laminate with end grain balsa core, and marine grade plywood core in high stress areas (winch bases, chain plates, etc.). Through hulls are bronze, and backing plates are plywood. The headliner is gel coated molded FRP with an access panel made from luan wrapped in naugahide.

The O'day 35 is an up-level O'day 34. Many of the parts from a 34 are interchangeable with the 35 (appendages, hatches, rudder, engine and driveline components, interior cabinetry). Some of the "up-leveling" consists of adding a teak and holly soule, lockers with sliding doors over the setees, a two burner propane stove with oven, a hot water heater, and the swim platform. The benefit of the swim platform cannot be overstated.

Unlike you, I have a "deep" keel version; 5.7', and find that it points very well. Also, in contrast to your review, I find that the engine access is terrific. I can easily access the top, front, starboard side, and rear of the engine. The biggest challenge is to access the port side (where the starter motor is located), and the underside (oil pan). If you want to see poor engine access, look at a Pearson 36-2.

Overall I find that the boat sails very well, and that there is plenty of room for two or three crew. I do not have refrigeration, and find that the iceboxes are roomy enough and very well insulated. She turns on a dime thanks to the fin keel, and is very responsive.

Despite the fact that production ceased in 1989/1990, D&R Marine still has many of the OEM components and molds to make them if needed. What can't be sourced from D&R can be found (at a ridiculous price) from Rig-Rite.

The things that I would have loved to see improved (if I could travel back in time to the mid-80s) are the deadlights and the lockers in the cockpit. The deadlights (non opening windows) were more of a fashion statement, and were made from 3/8" acrylic. They were held on with Dow 795 Silicone. It would have been great if these could open, had a real frame, and if they were made from beefier material.

The cockpit lockers, and in particular the propane lockers, are set into the cockpit seating surface. The problem is that the way that the seating surface is angled, they tend to trap rainwater in the sill of the locker hatch. Dirt collects here, and very quickly water will get inside of the boat through these hatches. I believe that this is especially a problem if you keep the boat in a slip, as I do.

Another issue, but one that I have addressed, is that the AC/DC distribution panel is screwed in, not accessible, and did not use ANY buss bars (I found that all of the negative leads were simply twisted together and wrapped in electrical tape).
I addressed this by adding a piano hinge, a key lock, and several buss bars. I have since brought this up to current ABYC electrical standards.

A final issue with most of these boats that I have seen, is the routing of the hoses to the holding tank. For some reason the builder allowed for many dips in the hose routing, which allowed for effluent to be trapped in the dip, and leads to BO (Boat Odor). I addressed this on my boat by re-routing the hoses to eliminate any low spots, and to ensure that the hoses drain back into the holding tank.

I agree with Barry about the location of the through hulls and seacocks. They could have easily been put in one or two common locations, and been made far more accessible. My pet peeve is the galley drain seacock, which could have been placed under the galley sink. Instead it is below the setee immediately forward of the sink. To access it, I have to leave the galley and go to the setee, remove the cushions, pull the berth out (this setee converts to a double), and remove the access cover. The seacock for the engine is behind the engine on the port (least accessible) side.

Overall, I think that these are great boats, and represent a great value. I know of a stock 1985 example with older electronics that recently sold - to the first person that viewed the boat - in one day - for $30K.

I too hope that someone finds this useful!

eherlihy 10-14-2015 10:50 AM

Re: 1986 O'day 35 Review
Just to follow up on my engine access comment;

From the starboard quarterberth;
here you can see that oddly placed seacock (in fron of the waterlift muffler) that Barry commented on.

From the front;

And here are some pics of the bilge;

4arch 10-14-2015 05:11 PM

Re: 1986 O'day 35 Review
Thanks for the great info! We're in the market to downsize to something in the low to mid 30's and the O'day 35 is on the short list for sure. Haven't gotten on one yet but from what I've seen and read online, it looks like one of the best values going in that size range.

JimsCAL 10-14-2015 05:24 PM

Re: 1986 O'day 35 Review

Originally Posted by 4arch (Post 3086874)
Thanks for the great info! We're in the market to downsize to something in the low to mid 30's and the O'day 35 is on the short list for sure. Haven't gotten on one yet but from what I've seen and read online, it looks like one of the best values going in that size range.

Also consider the Cal 33-2. From the same parent company, same designer, higher performance, a step up in overall quality. Most are listed for $35k to $45k.

4arch 10-14-2015 08:32 PM

Re: 1986 O'day 35 Review

Originally Posted by JimsCAL (Post 3086938)
Also consider the Cal 33-2. From the same parent company, same designer, higher performance, a step up in overall quality. Most are listed for $35k to $45k.

The Cal 33-2 is certainly a strong contender also but they seem to be rarer here in the Chesapeake/Mid-Atlantic region than the O'day 34/5 and Catalina 34. That said, not in any rush so willing to wait for the right boat to come along.

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