Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Victoria, BC
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I have Hughes 38' Hull #205 from 1980. That was the last year that the factory made them. Over the years they sold both complete boats and kits. I know of two Hughes 38' kits that were sold in 1979 and assembled in NS in the mid-80's. They are correctly listed as 1979 boats, but someone may have finished one in 1988 and improperly registered it as such.
They were one of the first Sparkman and Stevens designs to the then new IOR rules. Their waterline is only 27', with long overhangs and a narrow stern. Although dated when compared to modern designs, I like their classic lines. The narrow stern allows her to track well when heeled and the wide hull to keel joint allows her to an easier entry in heavy seas. Hughes 38's are far more seakindly than most modern designs. They sail well on all points and will beat hard to 30 degrees off the wind. I have easily single-handed up and down the Atlantic coast of NS.
They built three versions of the 38, all sharing the same hull. The MkI and MkII share similar coach roof and the MkII and MkIII share a similar interior. The cockpit and main saloon are a bit more forward in the MkI. A nice touch with the MkII & MkIII is that the keel stepped mast is in the head, which really cleans up the saloon.
All versions were laid up with a solid fibreglass hull. The coach roof and decks are a fibreglass laminate over end grain balsa. This is very strong, but susceptible to wicking in water through unsealed deck fittings. Ours had a few wet areas properly repaired by a previous owner. I have seen one Hughes 35 with a foredeck that was so wet it oil-canned when walked on. Hughes used gate valves on some of the through hull fittings, which should be upgraded to ball valves. Never buy any boat without a value and condition survey, which will detect any issues. A survey will help negotiate a better price or allow you to run away from a derelict.
Another great source of info on Hugh 38's is Robert Hess at hessmarine.ca . He owns a 38 named Water Lilly and is one of the world's top Atomic-4 experts. If the one you're looking at has been upgraded to a diesel make sure it is an engine that fits below the cabin sole. Some re-powers were too tall and required a camel hump in the cabin, which severely reduces resale value.