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SPECIFICATIONS: LOA 37’ 8” LWL 30’ 6” Beam 12’ Standard Draft 4’ 11” Deep Draft 6’ 6” Displacement 14,400 lbs. Ballast 6300 lbs. Engine diesel 32 hp Water 60 gal. Fuel 50 gal. Masthead Rig Sloop Total Sail Area 663 sq. ft. Mainsail 282 sq. ft. 100 percent jib 381 sq. ft.

The Ericson 38 By Capt. Ron Butler


he Ericson 38 is a sailor’s sailboat, and of all the boats we’ve owned over the years, it is without question our favorite. Besides small sailboats, my wife and I have owned a variety of Bahamas-capable cruisers including an Edel 35 cruising catamaran. One of the things that attracted us to the Ericson 38 was the boat’s conservative lines and the designer’s reputation. The designer, of course, was the legendary Bruce King who never designed a slow boat in his life, and the Ericson 38 is a prime example of his art. It’s a strikingly beautiful design and was very popular over the entire production run that extended to almost 20 years. Ericson Yachts in California built the original E-38 beginning about 1979. Ericson sold it in two models: the standard version drawing 4’ 11” and a “racing” version drawing 6’ 6”. Pacific Seacraft subsequently bought the Ericson 38 molds around 1990 and modified the boats slightly by adding a recessed transom step and a wing-keel model that draws 5’ 3”. The Pacific Seacraft boats were built through about 1998 and were marketed as the Pacific

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44 December 2009


Seacraft 380. Apparently, Ericson was very amenable to incorporating buyer demands into its “production” craft because every imaginable interior configuration can be found in these boats. Our boat, a 1983 “381” model, is the standard draft, short-rig version. The deeper draft models probably offer somewhat greater stability—especially with the two-foot taller racing models. I know of at least one friend who has added an 800-pound Mars Metals bulb to his 4’ 11” /tall rig and claims to have improved his boat’s stiffness. There’s nothing like an extra 800 pounds of lead in your pencil. I don’t consider the boat to be tender at all, and she seems to go to weather very well in any breeze, provided that you reduce sail according to conditions. Our typical cruising configuration is to carry a 130 percent Genoa on the roller furler and a full batten main. There are times when I would wish for a smaller jib because the shape of the partially rolled 130 is out of whack, but we find those instances few and far between as we don’t often sail to weather when cruising— especially when the wind’s up. We generally take the first reef at about 15 or 16 knots apparent wind. Just lazy, I guess. We have now participated in three Georgetown Cruisers Regattas where we have raced against other similarly loaded cruisers in both the around-Stocking Island race and the Elizabeth Harbor buoy races. Our worst showing was a light air buoy race where we finished fourth in the class. In the other races, we have managed to bring home a bottle of rum at least. Which brings me to one of the primary reasons we bought our 38: sailing performance. This boat sails fast. Even loaded with cruising gear, we’re typically faster than similar sized boats not so encumbered. She goes upwind higher and faster than similar designs, such as the Morgan 38 or Sabre 38—at least in cruising trim. We also liked her construction. Ericson built her in solid glass with some core in places where extra stiffness was


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