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Old 01-15-2007, 08:52 AM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 29
Default Ericson 38 for cruising?

Hello All,

My wife and I own a 1983 Ericson 381 38ft sloop rigged sailboat. We are trying to decide if this is enough boat for our sailing plans.

First some background: I grew up in the caribbean and sailed my whole childhood until moving to the US. Just a few years ago my wife who has always been a boat nut but never sailed decided to take a beginner sailing course. I went as a refresher, sailing is sorta like riding a bike.... Things progressed quickly, a used Catalina 22 and then a year later the Ericson 38. Navigation classes, etc. have followed. Mostly we sail around Narragansett Bay and some short trips outside.

As the horizons have expanded we want to go longer and farther. We may or may not be able to upgrade due to financial considerations so the plan right now is leave for the caribbean in 5yrs. for a 6month to 1yr. trip. Sailing experience is expected to increase with longer trips planned around New England over the next few years and hopefully offshore sailing classes.

The Boat:

1983 Ericson 381. length 38ft, beam 12ft, Displacement @15,000lbs. Mars Metal "bulb" added to shoal draft fin keel and spade rudder. Fuel 39gal, water 65gal, holding 35gal.

If you don't know Ericsons they are pretty well built, better than the average coastal cruiser type from that era. Very stiff construction with a grid system to distribute loads. They were designed by Bruce King and have the typical IOR influenced hull of the early 80's. My boat is in very good condition and I have continued to repair/replace/upgrade to prepare. The spade rudder for me is a non-issue. Many people cruise boats designed like this. Yes you are more likely to damage a rudder in event of an impact. Thats the way things go. The E38 is built plenty tough and the upgrades I have listed should complete the package but the outstanding issue would be the ground tackle.

Work done so far:

-Replaced all the seacocks with new Groco units

-Replaced engine coolant pump (not raw water)

-Replaced all blocks in mainsheet setup with Garhauer

-Purchased used dinghy&motor

-Refurbished used dinghy&motor

-Replaced fuel tank (E38)

-Rebuilt battery boxes, increased house bank capacity to 300aH, have room for over 400aH

-New dedicated starting battery

-Replaced battery cables, except two

-Purchased Honda generator to charge batteries (only at our mooring)

-Replaced rope clutches with Lewmar D2 superlocks

-Replaced all engine coolant hoses

-Replaced cockpit drain/scupper hoses

-Rebuilt Navtec backstay adjuster

-Purchased new high output alternator/regulator (not installed yet)

-Replaced/upgraded shower sump pump to gear type

-Purchased 60ft of new anchor chain

-Purchased new 130 Haarstick genoa

-Rebuilt potable water pump

-Repaired leaking potable water lines

-Rerouted coolant lines to water heater, bypass modification

-Purchase Garmin gpsmap76 handheld

-New wing halyards

I think thats it but theres probably more.......

Things to do:

-Replace dead Raymarine chartplotter and old Furuno radar with Furuno 1724 chartplotter/radar at helm.

-Send hatches to Hatchmasters for new acrylic/rebuilding

-Regasket portlights, try to find new lenses OR replace with new

-Repair leaking fixed portlight

-Replace heat exchanger, installing larger unit

-Replace traveller with Garhauer setup

-Service steering gear

-Replace autopilot with Comnav/Nexus or Alpha belowdeck.

-Replace all standing rigging with oversized, considering rod.

Cockpit locker doors-Heavier hinges, locking hasps, and weatherstriping. In event of a knockdown or a cockpit full of water this should minimize the amount of water entering through these openings.

Companionway-I see replacing the nice teak hatch boards with a single or two piece marine ply setup for passages.

Anchor/Ground Tackle-Most texts seem to call for at least a 45lb primary anchor and up to a 70lb storm anchor. They also recommend a bow configuration to hold two anchors, one setup with all-chain rode and a windlass

My plan is to add a self draining anchor locker in the forepeak and a windlass. I am well versed in fiberglass and composite construction. I actually would like to add TWO chain lockers. The forward self-draining mentioned above and also a separate chain locker built under the V-berth fed by a hawse pipe. This locker will be used to house the rode/chain while on passage to keep the weight as low and close to center as possible. The forward locker would be used for daily use.

The E38 is known for a fine, narrow bow section and not much bouyancy to carry a lot of extra weight. Keeping two anchors up on the bow with all their chain will affect performance. The simplest solution is to move the anchors to a central storage area on a passage. Currently there is a 35lb CQR on the bow, 30lb Danforth in the stern locker and I am planning for a large Fortress, broken down stowed below.

Rigging-Adding an inner forestay and or running backstays. Adding permanent preventers. Not a huge deal, just money!

Engine-Do I trust a 20+ year old engine with 3200hrs on it? I am tempted to do so. Replace the engine mounts, add large dual fuel filters, full service, etc. The engine runs great, excellent compression, just needs a new heat exchanger.

Cockpit drains-Most texts recommend installing larger drains. I was thinking to increase the size of the two drains that empty through the transom. Increasing to 2" or 2.5" wouldn't be to difficult for these. The two drains that empty into a 1.5" thru-hull I would leave alone. No room to increase the size of that thru-hull.

Other considerations-Rebuilding the icebox with at least 4" of foam, storm trysail track, small watermaker, new sails, etc.

That or do we sail the E38 for a few years and start looking for a Valiant 42?? The preparation of the E38 will be in phases and is sort of hedging bets regarding income. We would hope for a Valiant to be attainable but if not hope the E38 will do it.

Long post, sorry, lots to say!

Thanks, RT

1983 Ericson 381
rwthomas1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2007, 09:07 AM   #2
Rear Admiral
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 437


I'm certainly no expert, but...

We departed Hawaii in 1994 on a 37 ft boat that (in retrospect) wasn't ready for the task of sailing non-stop to the Marianas. I wasn't ready for the task, either.

However... I made it without any major problems 31 days and 3500 miles later. The ONLY issue was that I'd gotten infected with a bug that I couldn't seem to shake, no matter where my ill-equiped vessel took me. So - after crossing three oceans, the only thing I could think to do was buy a bigger, better boat.

I've been trying to shake this disease ever since. Hanging out in the Caribbean has helped ease the pain somewhat but the dis-ease is getting to me again and I need another fix. We'll be heading for Panama (and Points Beyond) soon.

When transferring all of my personal belongings from the old boat into the new, I came across an old notebook I'd purchased back in Hawaii. On the back page was my first "To Do List" written ten years and 25,000 miles earlier. During which time I'd crossed off, like, only 5% of the items I'd thought were absolutely necessary just to sail my previous boat around the Hawaiian Islands.

The point I'm trying to make here is this: you and your boat will NEVER be completely ready to go. You simply go with what you've got. It looks to me like you know what you're doing in upgrading your boat and she's probably never been more ready to go than she is right now.

You can easily find a million reasons NOT to go. Visit any Yacht Club and you'll hear another million reasons - especially from the commodores and blue blazers who are quite happy just to sit on the deck of their bristol decks sipping their gin and tonics every Sunday. Their teak looks great but they're afraid to venture beyond the horizon. These are the folks who are more than happy to help you see things their way and extinguish your own voyaging dreams.

Don't let them stop you.

I suggest you check-off the last five items on your To Do List, buy a spare GPS, charts, provision and then just go when you feel ready.

And sending post cards to the Yacht Club from far away places will make your great adventure taste even sweeter.

Reading the first paragraph of Herman Melville's MOBY DICK will help.

Carry On,


Gallivanters is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2007, 11:08 AM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2006
Home Port: Vancouver
Vessel Name: Sooke
Posts: 76
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Go cruising as soon as you can untie your dock lines or drop your mooring lines...

You will be amazed at the number of boats out there that still have a long "Project List".

I met a couple that even added projects they just completed and then marked them off the list!
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:03 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 178


Your Ericson will do fine. If you can, research the experiences Ralph Naranjo had with his Ericson 41 WINDSHADOW when they took her for long-distance cruising. Some of the build features Ericson used had to be addressed - by Ralph and other owners - the principle ones being the cored deck and a weak rudder resulting from cost-saving practices used by a subcontractor. For a good review of the 41 - and by extension, your own boat - read the review in Practical Sailor's Jan 2007 edition.

You've got a long list there. I'd encourage you to get the priorities lined up, for both budget reasons and to insure a trouble-free cruising experience. Mods and refurb's of the basic systems are essential - solid rig, certainty in the rudder structure, rebedding hardware penetrations in the cored deck and cabin trunk, basic sails in solid condition, suitable deck and spar hardware for the running rigging, suitable/redundant anchor gear, a reliable, adequate DC electrical system, and preferably two separate, reliable methods of self-steering. These are the essentials. Beyond that, the other key priority is to get experience in her on the water, in varied conditions, and while unplugged from the dock. The more you learn about handling the boat, the less the anxiety when you take off. The more you live aboard without that BYC plugged into the dock power stand, the more you'll know what to expect once you live on the hook. I'd respectfully suggest that you give yourself additional work to do and systems to add only after you give her a good workout and have spent extended time aboard; those experiences are essential for your 'list' to end up being relevant for you.

Good luck on the Adventure!

Jack Tyler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-20-2007, 11:01 AM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 29

Thank you for the replies! Much appreciated. RT
1983 Ericson 381
rwthomas1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2007, 02:52 AM   #6
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Posts: 159

Hope to see you out here one day. Kirk had good advice...the boat is never done, always improvements to be made. Don't let it be a dream, make it happen.

A`ohe `ulu e loa`a i ka pokole o ka lou.

No breadfruit can be reached when the picking stick is too short.
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