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dennies 03-02-2011 07:36 AM

Bristol 35.5 vs Tartan 34c
Both of these boats are tugging at my heart. Any opinions as to which would be the best? Both are centerboard keels, about the same price, same layout. Thanks Everyone for any input you may have to share, Dennie:)

T37Chef 03-02-2011 09:37 AM

I would recommend you also consider looking at a Tartan 37, we were down to a Bristol 35.5 vs. T37 when we were looking.

dennies 03-02-2011 10:14 AM

Thankyou for the input Shawn. I really like the Tartan 37 also, but I have questions about the cored hull. Do you see this as a problem? What helped you decide on the Tartan over the Bristol? Thanks again!

T37Chef 03-02-2011 11:27 AM

The debate on cored hulls is not a place I wish to go...again, however I would add there are many benefits of a cored hull. I guess it really comes down to your preferences. Just type in cored hulls here and you will see all the debate.

We picked the Tartan primarily because it was sail ready, the particular Bristol we were very interested in needed some work, not to say our boat didn't need work, but that Bristol didn't even have ports installed at the time of sale, it did have a pretty nice paint job though ;)

I grew up sailing on a Bristol 35.5 with my Aunt & Uncle so allot of my desire for the boat was to continue those fond memories I had aboard their boat.

I'm not as familiar with the T34, but I believe the Bristol 35.5 and the T37 are more similar than what you are considering?

sailingdog 03-02-2011 08:16 PM


Originally Posted by dennies (Post 704095)
Both of these boats are tugging at my heart. Any opinions as to which would be the best? Both are centerboard keels, about the same price, same layout. Thanks Everyone for any input you may have to share, Dennie:)

What are you going to use the boat for??? The more information you give about what you're planning with the boat, the better the feedback you'll get back.

Nitro 03-02-2011 08:41 PM

The Bristol 35.5 is a sweet, traditional, classic, stick-built, bullet-proof 'little yacht' with fine sailing characteristics and plenty of coastal-sailing comfort for a couple or small family. There are a few layouts and years preferable to others. But I believe that what you get - even if she needs some TLC - is a solidly (over-) built boat with with cult-like status and solid resale value that will make you proud in any harbor.

I briefly owned a Bristol 31.1 which was designed after the 35.5. The interiors are nearly identical but the 35.5 with a longer sheer and better cockpit is better for serious sailing. The 38.8 with it's separate shower is arguably the pinnacle of that series but at 2x the price. For my money, the 35.5 is about perfect....and a whole lot more boat than say, a Hinckley Pilot.

I'd also look at the Sabre 36 of the same vintage.

Tartan makes a solid product. But IMHO, it isn't in the same league of 'salty pedigree'.

stormsailer1 03-02-2011 10:38 PM

SailingDog and Nitro are right on. First question: what do you want to do with your boat--really? Not the dreams (those can happen if you've got your boat) but really getting out and getting wet. We got our B35.5 last year after a year of sailing two Alberg 37s, three Tartan 34-2s; two Tartan 37s and three B35.5s (from Boston to Florida--wife loved the trips and feel in love with our B). We enjoy heavy weather sailing, yet spend a lot of time with family (grandkids, etc). SailingDog is right that the T37 sails much more like the B35.5 than any other T. We need the heavy displacement of the B for our comfort. They are all beautiful sailboats. Get yours ASAP and make it happen.

dennies 03-02-2011 11:33 PM

I am planning on cruising the east coast and on down to Central America. My wife and I will be retired and the boat will be our home. We plan on anchoring out most of the time.

ACKward 05-10-2011 04:12 PM

Dennies --

For what it's worth, I was in almost exactly the same position 18 months ago as it sounds like Shawn was when he bought -- was looking to purchase and drawn strongly to both the B35.5 and the T37. We ended up going with the latter and, after our first year of ownership and use, we couldn't be happier with our decision.

On the issue of cored hulls, Shawn's comment is spot on: there's ample discussion on the subject and you'll sort of just have to decide where you fall on the whole issue. Us, we weren't terribly fazed by the prosepctive drawbacks of a cored hull.

If you haven't read Jack Horner's reviews on both, I suggest doing so. One of the most helpful comments I ever heard about the B35.5 is how tightly packed in everything is. Engine access in particular is a pain on the B35.5, whereas I've been extremly pleased with how easily I can get at the fuel filter, raw water strainer, impeller, and the likes for my T37's Westerbeke. Additionally, while the difference in length is <2 ft. between the two, I feel like we get a lot more elbow room on our T37 than on the B35.5.

There are those who will argue that Tartan's pedigree or prestige is a notch below Bristol's. I'm sure many would say that's a debatable point, but it's probably a fair argument. Still, I think Tartan 37 is a boat of unquestionably good heritage and, as a liveaboard, I think some of the advantages it presents (esp. regarding space) could be extremely appealing to you. All the best in your search. . .that is, if it hasn't concluded already (I've been off SailNet for a little too long)!

Fair winds,

S/V Panacea
Tartan 37 Hull #228
Harwich Port, MA

endoit 05-10-2011 05:00 PM

I have tried both and ended up purchasing B35.5 last year. Both are nice, solid boats but with mostly two person sailing on the Chesapeake Bay the smaller boat felt like a better fit. I met an attorney last year who did maritime work in Rode Island and sailed most of the Bristols. He felt these boats could take him anywhere safely and did cross the pond on 35.5 without any trouble. This boat is build like a tank and is fairly easy to handle in the marina by me the novice.

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