Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 02-12-2019 Thread Starter
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Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

I'm digging almost everything about a 1979 Niagara 35 that's locally available. I'm looking for a solid, liveaboard, cruise-able, singlehander-friendly boat and it seems to fit the bill. I even like the weird cabin layout, quite a lot, actually!

My only big concern about the N35 is its sailing performance. Its short LWL, ratios, and local PHRF (153) point toward a staid cruiser that especially won't do well in light air, which isn't such a huge problem since my local waters (northern California) are more breezy than not. But I'm an occasional racer and a geek and like to tweak lines and trim and fly spinnakers and want a boat that can be responsive to all that. I don't like to motor if there's any breeze at all. I'm fine with getting horizoned by ULDBs, but will be sad if I'm struggling to tack the boat in <10 kts TWS. For perspective, other boats I've been thinking about are Cal 39, Catalina 34/36/42, Ericson 34/35/38, Islander 36, Pretorien 35, C&Cs, late Pearsons, possibly even cruisey IORs...

So is the Niagara a totally lame sailer? Does anyone out there race one, or regularly fly a symmetrical, or make it move well in light air? How about pointing, can it do better than 45 degrees off the wind? My concern is that the few criticisms (including Robert Perry's) I've read are very valid, that it's a boat that sails well only by the very low standards of the average cruising sailor. Available online info paints a vague picture. Cruisers seem to think it performs great, but as Perry notes, that doesn't mean too much.

On a related note, the seller showed me the last survey. "No areas of delamination in hull or deck found" was the only thing relating to hull condition. That seems very brief for a cored hull boat. Shouldn't there be more detail, e.g. moisture readings, details about what areas of the hull were actually sounded, etc.? I plan to ask for more details if/when I get a survey done; is that not a reasonable request?
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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

I never sailex one, but did look at 2 of them when boat shopping.
I think this is a boat for cruising and going places, not racing
I too like the practical layout, before thw later encore model
Id ditch the large table to open up the cabin
See when the rod rigging was last replaced
They are v- drive
Several have gone rtw
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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

bajaking, where in NorCal are you located? The PHRF rating for this Boat from the SF YRA is 150. You are correct in your suspicions, this boat has large overhangs, heavy displacement and a shallow draft. It is a real "throwback" design of the 1960's/ early 70's, which means you will have trouble PHRF racing in SF Bay. But if racing's your thing, buy an Islander 36 and trick her out. But if the Niagara makes your heart go a twitter, then follow your muse and buy the Niagara.
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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

Have you looked at any C&C 35's? They'd be a LOT faster, and have a pretty nice dinette layout, a decent-sized galley, reasonable head & v-berth.
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post #5 of 20 Old 02-12-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

Thanks, George, I was afraid you (or someone else smart) would say that. I'm secretly hoping someone chimes in with evidence of some ocean racing accomplishment and 150mi/day passages to set me alight. Fingers not crossed. The yachty sheerline, bulwarks, workshop, storage, layout, and general suitability for future cruising plans can't be ignored, though.

The Niagara aside, a Cat 34 Mk 1.5 or early Mk 2 is still top of the wish list for my next boat since, indeed, I am on SF Bay where they seem like a great all around choice for the area. Which is also why, paulk, I haven't looked at a C&C 35. Not many C&Cs here, though occasionally one pops up. No 35s that I can recall. Without doing a long delivery from So Cal or PNW or $$ shipping across country, I'm limited to what's on the local Bay market, as opposed to the endless options east coast people have.

I used to want an Islander 36, and wish I still did for so many practical reasons, but just not feeling them anymore. Ditto the old Catalina 38s.

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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

As much as possible, always buy quality. Hinterhoeller built very very good boats. We sailed an N-26 for a decade. Other friends worried about hull-to-deck problems, but never us.

The 35 is an Ellis design, IIRC. Not as fast for its length, but a nice layout. As for cruising vs racing..... those are just words used by brokers to steer you to or away from boats.
When spending the night, it's a cruiser. When starting a race, it's a racer.
Sail it to its rating..... and.... you win a trophy. Big Deal.


What matters most is ease of handling and motion. Pedigree counts.

If you do not find a Niagara, have a look (in that size range) at a Nonesuch 33 or 36. Also an Ericson 38 (faster choice).

Happy shopping!

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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

Bristol 35.5, with the keel, not centreboard. Better built than anything on your list. Certainly will outsail the Niagara. Quite a reputation in its day as a great racer/cruiser. Bit more waterline, bit more draft, ballast, and so on. No cored hull to worry about.

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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

The 35.5 is on my list, and coincidentally there's a k/cb locally. Handsome boat. Bristol is another east coast line with limited west coast inventory.
https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/197...-35-5-3463973i

On paper, the Niagara and the 35.5 are actually not very different. Considerable overhangs, very heavy D/L, moderate SA/D, large tankage, big fore triangles. Huh.
Nonsuch sailboats: I'm not old enough (yet!) for a cat rig. Still like playing with strings. But holy interior volume, batman! Comfy liveaboards for sure.
If I were seriously just trying to win races, I'd go Wyliecat. Those things win everything around here.

Now that I'm googling boats like crazy, the wacky Niagara interior is growing on me even more. Every other 33'-37' boat built before 1990 has the same damn cabin with too many berths and none of them very comfortable. And none of them has a dedicated workroom with sail stowage!

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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

I saw a N35 for sale recently. Looks like an interesting layout, check out the video. This ones available down in Sea of Cortez.

https://www.kijiji.ca/v-sailboat/van...ationFlag=true

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Re: Niagara 35 too slow? - and - surveys of cored hulls

Is Olympia WA too far to go for a boat? With this one it would be a fast trip:
https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/198...owse%20listing
Needs work, but PHRF rating is 84, if you want to go racing. We race ours and cruise from NYC to Blue Hill ME. Managed one 400 mile run in about 45 hours, mostly with just a reefed main up. It was cool to be surfing at 11+ knots, spray flying, with dolphins coursing alongside in the moonlight.
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