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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
If things work out, we're driving north this weekend to evaluate a '72 Hughes Northstar 38 that's for sale. The price is low, but the equipment list doesn't sound bad, and every evaluation is a learning experience for us. We'd consider it if it checked out-- as a possible "two-year restoration" project for a longer cruise with our two kids.

It may be too small. It may be too worn down. It could have structural issues that we don't/can't deal with. However, we have heard that these boats can be used for blue water cruising if maintained and set-up properly. Also, we've heard they can be less expensive than other 38s, even if the design is reported to be a bit dated.

I have an Atomic 4 in our current boat, and I like it for river cruising, but I'd want a diesel for blue water. The Hughes we're looking at probably has an old Atomic 4, but supposedly has a 27 HP Yanmar ("ready for install') which could mean a lot of things. 27 hp for a 38 foot cruiser may or may not be enough.

I know in general what to look for (hull, rigging, electrical, etc.), including the all-important first impressions, but is there anything in particular to consider when reviewing a '72 Hughes Northstar 38? We're expecting a rough interior, but the equipment list suggests that previous owners were taking it in the right direction (stainless propane tanks, wind generator, tiller pilot, etc.). Basically, we could put $40k into the restoration and still be below the opening bid for a Valiant 40 (with blisters) or around the bid for a Morgan 382.

Thanks!

Jim H

p.s. Here's a link to the posting: http://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/boa/188198268.html (but this link may go bad soon.) We'd definitely have a professional survey done if we got serious.
 

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As much as I like Hughes Northstars (I owned a Northstar 500 QT) the 35 and 38 were pretty lousey designs and certainly not boats that I would want to pour good earned money into if I was planning to go offshore. You could buy a whole lot of really good boats for what it would take to buy and fix up a worn out one and still have a really poor seaboat.

Jeff
 

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Jeff and PBeezer:

I think you may be referring to the later Northstar 38's. The boat listing (with the link) is the earlier Hughes 38.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Jeff_H said:
As much as I like Hughes Northstars (I owned a Northstar 500 QT) the 35 and 38 were pretty lousey designs and certainly not boats that I would want to pour good earned money into if I was planning to go offshore. You could buy a whole lot of really good boats for what it would take to buy and fix up a worn out one and still have a really poor seaboat.

Jeff
Thanks for your comments. I re-read your post about Hughes 38s in this thread: http://www.sailnet.com/forums/buying-boat/8464-hughes-38-a.html?highlight=Hughes and it appeared that the middle design H38 hulls (1968-1973) that were shared with Hinckley were S&S designed and not poorly done. It seems like this one (1972) would fall into the range you were discussing. You did note that they would not be your first choice for an off-shore boat, however.

According to the history of Hughes boats I've seen (http://www.sailcaddy.com/history.htm) the "Northstar" boats began in 1971 when US Steel owned the company. It wasn't clear if the H38s made in '72 were redesigned, made elsewhere, or reduced in quality compared to the pre-71 Hughes 38s. (This could be the case.)

I've also read the Cruising World articles about Wild Card, Goodlander's Hughes 38 which I believe was a Northstar, but I haven't confirmed that yet. Apparently, his was initially inexpensive (storm damaged) but has served him well. If there were significant quality differences between a '70 Hughes 38 and a '72 Hughes Northstar 38, it would be good to know.

Thanks!

Jim H
 

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Jim H,

I recently purchased a 1972 Hughes 38 Mark II. This boat was designed by Sparkman and Stephens and Hughes Boatworks actually produced the hulls for the Hinckley 38 (Hinkley put their own decks on the hulls.) For a time, Hughes also made the hulls for the Tartan 40s.

I personally like this boat. She seems very steady and has good upwind capabilities. I am, however, still getting to know the boat.

A fragmented history of Hughes Boatworks can be found here:

http://www.sailcaddy.com/history.htm

Fatty Goodlander's 'Wild Card' I believe is also of the same vintage. I believe Cap'n Fatty has circumnavigated more than once on 'Wild Card'.



Please let us know your thoughts once you have had a chance to evaluate her.
 

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Wild card appears to be the second Hughes 38, which shared its hull and deck with the Hinckley Competition 38 and was an S&S design. That is an extremely different boat than the Northstar 38 which was also designed by Sparkman and Stevens which was designed as an IOR racer-cruiser. By 1972 you are probably looking at a Northstar 38 rather than the earlier Hughes 38. From what I gather, the Hughes 38 went out of production in 1971, but that a single last Hughes 38 was built in 1973 as a custom boat,on a hull and deck molded for Hinckley but never delivered.

The link provided by PBeezer was for the later Hughes Northstar 38. The Northstar History is not terribly accurate. For example, it does not mention the three boats that Hughes produced from molds purchased from Seafarer (Which is how the reflected sailboat logo gets added to the Hughes former logos).

Jeff
 

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Here's a pic of the Hughes 38 I recently purchased. This was taken just before I purchased the boat anchored in her slip in a marina in the Potomac. The Craigslist link that Jim posted expired, but the photo in it appeared to have the exact same deck, cabin, and hull lines.

Jeff, can you tell from the lines which version of the Hughes 38 this is? According to an old survey from the previous owner, this is listed as a "Hughes 38 Mark II." My boat was constructed prior to HIN's being required, but my hull number is (I think) 82.

It is unfortunate that there is such scant info on these boats available, but understandable considering the tribulations the company went through. I was under the possible misunderstanding that Hughes made both a "Hughes 38" and a "Northstar 38" that were different products.

 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
lgherb said:
Here's a pic of the Hughes 38 I recently purchased. This was taken just before I purchased the boat anchored in her slip in a marina in the Potomac.
Lgherb, thanks for posting a pic of your boat. I'm a sucker for dark hulls.

I was going to PM you and ask if you knew the difference between a Mark I and a Mark II. On Yachtworld at the moment, for example, there's both a '70 and a '73 that are listed as Mark Is, but there are no Mark IIs noted (even the later 1980s ones).

I did notice that one of the older ones had dual quarterberths in back, unlike the single quarterberth shown in most drawings. I've also heard that there were two interior arrangements, with a recommendation that the galley in back was preferable. I've also noticed that some have dinettes, while others (like Wild Card) have a fold down table in the main cabin (my preference). I've also ready that both settees in the main cabin can slide out to be doubles.

If I'm reading Jeff's posts correctly (the old and new ones), there may be four main versions of the boat. An early to mid sixties version, which didn't sound good. A late sixties/early 70s model, that sounded decent. A mid seventies Northstar 38 version, that was more race-oriented. A late seventies/early eighties version, that was more like a Catalina 38 coastal cruiser.

I believe his posts on this thread indicate that he thinks the 1972 model I plan to see may be the Northstar version that was IOR racer/cruiser with small tankage, more of a racing machine.

Anyway, if nothing else, I'd like to see the listed boat which appears to be very similar to yours (same number and type of portlights, and reported year). The ad listing said it had 50 gallons fuel, and 100 water, which doesn't sound like a racer unless it's really been hacked.

A broker once told me you really can't believe anything about a sailboat listing. If a water-maker is listed, that may mean there's a perfect one in the boat, or a used one in the owner's garage, or no such thing at all. I normally don't know anything aobut a boat until I climb through it, find the hull number, take pictures, and do research afterwards.

Thanks for posting the pictures of your boat.

Jim H
 

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Hughes 38 info

Everyone

I was looking at a Hughes 38 in Toronto a couple of weeks ago. I just got off the phone with Pat Sturgeon of Pat Sturgeon Yachts, he used to work for Hughes Boat Works and in fact commissioned a number of Hughes 38s.

Pat said that contrary to popular belief there are only slight changes to all of the Hughes 38s. The boat is an S&S design, all later changes (you'll notice a late 70's boat has different port lights than an early 70's model) were in the interior and other cosmetics only. The hulls and decks are all out of the same mold, not just to the S & S design but to the S&S glass layup schedule and all other specifications as well. He said you'll see later 70's models listed as Hughes 38 or Northstar 38, it's the same boat.

Pat even offered to give me Howard Hughes' phone number, he was just in Pat's office a couple of weeks ago.

Hope this helps.

Gary
 

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Gary MCG:

With all due respect, Pat Sturgeon may have worked for Hughes but he is dead wrong about the three 38 footers built by Hughes being the same boat. They each have very different waterline lengths, beams and displacement. The original Hughes 38 was designed by Howard Hughes. The later boats were designed by S&S. The deck plans and deck houses were very different as well. That said He is correct that except for one or two boats that were finished in 1972 and 73, all of the boats built after 1971 were the same IOR era hull and deck plan with minor interior changes and several layout options.

JimH:
There were only three 38 footers built by Hughes. The IOR era Hughes Northstar 38 that I mentioned was very similar to the S&S designed Catalina 38 (which began life as the Yankee 38). These were very much intended as full blown IOR race boats and coastal cruisers and like the Hughes Northstar 38 make really crummy offshore cruisers.

Jeff
 

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Jeff

Sorry, I misstated what Pat told me. He speaks fast and it was hard to take notes. The early boats from the late 60's to early 70's were built by "(illegible note) Metals" and are not very good boats. All of the boats built after about '73 are the S&S boats.

I liked the boat I looked at, a 1980 model, but I'm not sure about having an underpowered (15 hp) engine in the bilge. It seems like it would fail just when you really, really need it.

Gary
 

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Actually the 38 that was built after 1969 were an S&S design and boats of this design had the best build quality and all around sailing capabilities. The Northstar 38 which was the last design was not very good design and was built during a time when quality was beginning to slide. By the late 1980's these were really a lot more cheesy boats build quality and design wise. The engine in the bilge was just one of the many race boat influenced not so great design decisions. Northstar was a divsion of US Steel, the "something metals" you refer to, but they did not buy the company until around 1973.

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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Advice on Hughes 38

Jim-

I own a Hughes 38 like the one you are considering and have a few comments for you to consider. The original AT-4 is a very compact item. I have seen three diesel retrofits in this model boat. A raw water cooled 3GMD (like mine) will just fit under the floor boards. Taller engines may require that you to raise the height of the floor hatch. This looks bad and is a toe hazard. You might be able to fit the diesel offered with the boat (I assume this is a fresh water cooled 3GM30?) without altering the hatch if you relocate the heat exchanger. If your boat has the original AT-4, it probably has the original jacketed exhaust system. This will have to go. This will all at cost, of course. Another potential hazard is the shore-power system. You may find that the power cable is run through some interesting places, like the sum under your head! I could go on and on, but will wait for your response.

sam in texas
 

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More on the Hughes 38

Gary MCG:

With all due respect, Pat Sturgeon may have worked for Hughes but he is dead wrong about the three 38 footers built by Hughes being the same boat. They each have very different waterline lengths, beams and displacement. The original Hughes 38 was designed by Howard Hughes. The later boats were designed by S&S. The deck plans and deck houses were very different as well. That said He is correct that except for one or two boats that were finished in 1972 and 73, all of the boats built after 1971 were the same IOR era hull and deck plan with minor interior changes and several layout options.

JimH:
There were only three 38 footers built by Hughes. The IOR era Hughes Northstar 38 that I mentioned was very similar to the S&S designed Catalina 38 (which began life as the Yankee 38). These were very much intended as full blown IOR race boats and coastal cruisers and like the Hughes Northstar 38 make really crummy offshore cruisers.

Jeff
Gary MCG:

With all due respect, Pat Sturgeon may have worked for Hughes but he is dead wrong about the three 38 footers built by Hughes being the same boat. They each have very different waterline lengths, beams and displacement. The original Hughes 38 was designed by Howard Hughes. The later boats were designed by S&S. The deck plans and deck houses were very different as well. That said He is correct that except for one or two boats that were finished in 1972 and 73, all of the boats built after 1971 were the same IOR era hull and deck plan with minor interior changes and several layout options.

JimH:
There were only three 38 footers built by Hughes. The IOR era Hughes Northstar 38 that I mentioned was very similar to the S&S designed Catalina 38 (which began life as the Yankee 38). These were very much intended as full blown IOR race boats and coastal cruisers and like the Hughes Northstar 38 make really crummy offshore cruisers.

Jeff
********
Also with respect... I think you may be mistaken about a few points.

Everything I've been able to find out about the Hughes 38 suggests the following:

Hughes commissioned Sparkman & Stevens to design a 38' sloop in 1966. It was Sparkman & Stevens design #1903, and was used as the basis for all Hughes and Northstar 38s built from 1967 to 1980. There are different versions, but all use the same S&S design... the Mark I, the Mark II, the Mark III, and a tallmast version which seems to have only offerred in the Mark II version (it had a mast 4' taller than the standard mast). The Northstar 38 built from 1970 to 1974 while US Steel owned the company was probably the same as a Hughes Mark II.

Aside from interior configuration, the Hughes 38 specifications are consistent for all marks, except for:
1. the tall-mast model
2. some early models were fitted with end-boom sheeting with the traveller in the cockpit (that model seems to have been incorrectly used as the drawing on the cover of most of the Hughes 38 Owner's Manuals even though they had mid-boom sheeting with the traveller on the coach roof)
3. sometimes the printed specifications give the displacement as 12,500 lb instead of the more common 14,000 lb.

It seems to me that having the engine in the keel below the cabin sole is a good design feature. It keeps about 400 lb as low down as possible, and allows for the propeller shaft to be straight (actually it is at an angle of about 3 degrees) instead of being sharply angled down which is necessary in boats with the engine mounted under the cockpit. I replaced the Atomic Four in mine with a Universal M35B, and it just fits without raising the sole. Mounted like that it is very easy to work on after the 2 large floor boards are lifted up.

I don't agree that the Hughes 38 is a poor sea boat... I believe many of them have been used offshore, just like Cruising World writer Capt'n Fatty did when he circumnavigated on his "Wild Card". When I orderd my windvane for my Hughes 38 the company rep told me they had the measurements for the Hughes 38 because they'd sold quite a few windvanes to people going offshore, mostly Atlantic crossings. To me they look pretty similar to the Ohlson 38, which is apparently considered a very good offshore cruiser (maybe somebody can explain the difference to me). If you look at the design numbers they seem to be OK, since nearly all the numbers are in the generally accepted cruising optimum range (no doubt there are different opinions on that!) , as shown below:

IMS Limit Positive Stability: 118 degrees
SA/D: 16.11 (cruising optimum 16 - 18)
D/L ratio: 318 (cruising optimum 313)
Ted Brewer Comfort Factor ratio: 33 (cruising optimum 37)
Capsize Risk Ratio: 1.63 (cruising optimum 1.64)
Velocity Ratio: 1.08 (curising optimum 1.06)
LOA/Beam ratio: 3.73 (cruising optimum 3.43)
LWL/Beam WL ratio: 3.24 (cruising optimum 3.4)
ballast/displacement ratio: .46 (cruising optimum .40)
Fineness coefficient: .67 (cruising optimum .65 - .68)
Calculated speed/length ratio: 1.34 (cruising optimum .9 - 1.3)
Sail area/Wetted Surface area ratio: 2.34 (cruising optimum 2.2 - 2.4)
 

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And considering Jim has found his way to London for couple of yrs vs sailing out of portland Or! not sure that this boat is going to work for him! Not sure this thread really needed bringing up.

Which comes to the , why are threads not automaticilly locked after X months, ie maybe 6-12?

marty
 

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And considering Jim has found his way to London for couple of yrs vs sailing out of portland Or! not sure that this boat is going to work for him! Not sure this thread really needed bringing up.

Which comes to the , why are threads not automaticilly locked after X months, ie maybe 6-12?

marty
Sorry if your friend Jim (whoever he is!) is in England and you're not interested in this thread any more... I just saw it for the first time. You could always just have skipped it if you're not interested; what difference does it make to you if other members take the time to post a correction or a comment in case it might help somebody actually interested in Hughes/Northstar 38 boats?
 

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Rob8888 said,
“It seems to me that having the engine in the keel below the cabin sole is a good design feature. It keeps about 400 lb as low down as possible, and allows for the propeller shaft to be straight (actually it is at an angle of about 3 degrees) instead of being sharply angled down which is necessary in boats with the engine mounted under the cockpit. I replaced the Atomic Four in mine with a Universal M35B, and it just fits without raising the sole. Mounted like that it is very easy to work on after the 2 large floor boards are lifted up.”

It’s six of one and a half dozen of another but I don’t consider this to be a good feature for any boat offshore or daysailor. It’s not that uncommon to have lots of water in the bilge so the engine is at risk because of corrosion and certainly at risk of being submerged early in the game if anything goes wrong. There is a trade off between stability and utility but the higher the engine the safer the installation. At least that’s my take on it.

As far as the boat being suitable for offshore work the only examples I have seen were lightly built and would not be a candidate for trans-ocean work in my opinion. The fact they have windvanes doesn’t mean they are a good choice it just means other people don’t have my opinion of the boat. The fact that someone may have made a crossing also doesn’t make the boat suitable it just makes the person lucky and also proves he is willing to take more of a risk then I am.

You ask about the difference between the Olson 38 and the Hughes 38. Simply put the Olson is a stronger built boat. Not my style for offshore but still a better choice then the Hughes. But that’s also largely an opinion so you have lots of room for discussion.
All the best,
Robert Gainer
 

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Serena

Hi all,

I too own a '72 NorthStar 38 - "SERENA" She's the only boat I've ever owned so I don't have a lot to compair her to, but this boat is solid, balanced, tracks well and can take a beating on when sailing close to weather. My crew has failed well before the boat has any time she's ever been pushed. And while most of my cruising is in Long Island Sound, off New Haven, the Sound can dish it out when the tide's running opposite a 25knt breeze - I've seen 'em stack up 6'+ and very close together.
I've had a few email exchanges w/Cap'n Fatty on the topic of seaworthiness and 'blue-water' confidence - all of which he emphatically supports. Now he's got some special circumstances in that Wild Card was holed, then repaired and stiffened with additional structure forward of the settee which ties the chainplate tabs from either side together in an integrated support system.
My boat has had a number of upgrades (Westerbeke M4-30, new exhaust, new rig, awlgrip in dark blue, holding tank, hot water tank, refridgeration, and all the typical wear items), but none of this was the result of poor design or construction. The only exception to this is the location of the traveler - I moved mine to a bridge system on the coachtop. The traveler in the cockpit was a bit hazardous.

I would be happy to share additional details to anyone with questions about my experiences. In exchange, does anyone have access to a spec-sheet that shows length overall as measured from the trailing edge of the reverse-transome to the leading edge of the bow-rail? (My winter storage marina is adamant about charging me at 39x $40.00 for my 38 foot boat!!!):mad:

Fair winds.
 
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