E-32 owner wants info on E-38

Frank G

Member II
Hi there,
I bought a 1985 E-32 shoal draft a year and a half ago and really love it. I h ave been extensively rebuildidng and upgrading it ever since. Racing it too. It just makes me feel good to be on her, or s pending the night, or entertaining. But we Vikings all know that feeling well.
this has sort of been my "training" boat to learn all about inboards. My previous boats over the last 8 years has been a Catalina 22, then a catalina 25.
While at a race this past Memorial Day (I live in Knoxville) one of the racers tells me a friend of his used to own a 38-200 wing keel on the chesapeake. He said that a tall, 6-2" person like me won't fit in the Vee berth, nor can you close the door if you are on the toilet. Is this true?
He saild there isn't much storage if you want to do some extensive cruising.
So I would like to get s ome opinions here please.
Does the shoal draft, or wing keel boats point well? I'll hopefully cruise the bahamas, east coat, maybe carribbean so a shoal draft would be great.
What are advantages/disadvantages of the older 38 or newer 38-200?
I'm planning on taking the week off in October of the Annapolis show and will look at any 38's for sale in the chesapeake.
anybody out there willing to show me theirs, or take me for a sail? I'll buy you a crabcake dinner, but you have to pick out your favorite place? My mouth is watering now just thinking about it.

did I mention just how much I like my 32?


Sean Engle

Your Friendly Administrator
Well, I'm 6'1", and fit fine in my E35-3 - so I cannot imagine that the E38-200 is any smaller.

Perhaps your friend's boat was modified... Such as the issue of the head - a PO or other person may have oriented the head off axis - reducing the leg room.

Take a look at the specs of an E38-200, and find one to go on board (there are TONS of them in the Chesapeake) - I think you'll be surprised.



Member III
Fitting in E38

I am 6'5" and fit in the V berth of my E381 just fine. Getting in and out takes a little cooperation if my wife is already in there since I need to fold up a bit on the entry and exit. Once in I am very comfortable. I have no problem in the head with the door closed, but I may have a different head configuration than the 38-200. While I can only stand fully erect at the hatches I have not found that to be a problem.

I would like more storage, but for coastal cruising and the Bahamas it is sufficient. I made that trade off for sailing performance.

They are a sweet boat.


Contributing Partner
I'm only 5'5" so I cant comment on height issues with the 38, but mine is currently for sale in Annapolis and if she has not sold by october I will gladly take you for a sail, no need to buy a crabcake but maybe a six pack instead?

Storage could be a little more but isn't that always the case? My wife and I cruise the boat with 2 kids and have not had a problem with storage. We are sailing her to New England for a 2 week cruise this summer and have done many one and two week cruises on the Chesapeake.

I personally would never buy a boat with a wing keel because I dont think they add anything for performance and act as an anchor when you run aground. They can make a boat horribly slow if the boat is incorrectly trimmed for/aft as well. Of course this is just IMHO, but you dont see them on any new production boats for as reason I think.

John Butler

Member II

I’m almost 6’ 3” and my wife is 5’ 11”. We fit fine in the v-berth of our E-38. However, we’ve discovered that we prefer to leave the table down in the main saloon and use the double berth that makes. We have the layout with the game table on the starboard side which gives us a table to sit at when we want one. Of course, it is also quick to move the cushion and set up the main table if we want to. Although we like our boat, given a choice, I think I’d prefer the layout of the E38-200.

Closing the door fully to the head is only a problem because the door won’t close fully even with the head empty – yes one of the things low down on the list to fix.

Red Rover is shoal draft. Although we don’t race our Ericson (Ted races his), I’m not usually disappointed with our performance relative to other boats we meet up with when sailing on the bay. I think my biggest frustration in performance came a couple of years ago with trying to chase Ted up Eastern Bay in his deep draft E-38, tacking into 18 kt headwind. I learned at the raft-up once we caught him at anchor that my upwind performance problem was partly due to not understanding how to set my sails in those conditions.

If we’re around for the sailboat show, you’d be more than welcome to join us for a sail. Being a 3 day weekend for me during prime sailing time on the bay, we sometimes take a short cruise during that time. So, I can’t say for sure that we’ll be in town.


John Butler

Member II
Yea, no long upwind legs with strong winds in that course! It did feel good to even the score! :egrin:
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Dan Morehouse

Member III
It would definately be worth your time to get aboard both the newer 38-200 and the older 38...preferably with someone who would let you lie down on the berths...& sit on the toilet! I own an older 38, but have been aboard a newer one as well. I like my layout better overall, but I like the cockpit of the newer boats better. The relative advantages/disadvantages can be a pretty subjective question. The criticisms suggested by the person you spoke to could be applied to most boats. But it's worth noting that you don't hear a lot of negative reporting about the 38, whether early or late models. I still think an Ericson 38 is at that happy intersection of better than average build quality, better than average design pedigree, and lower than average cost.

I'm not a fan of shoal draft, but I understand the appeal of it. For me, the ability to go to weather is a large part of what's magic about sailboats. For what it's worth, the tip of the keel (that is, the chord length) on my 6'6" draft version is so short that soft groundings have proven fairly easy to extricate myself from...with the bonus that the boat goes to weather with some authority, even under genoa alone!

Dan Morehouse
1981 E-38 "Next Exit"


Contributing Partner
Dan has it right on. I run aground frequently trying to get into places that Im told I cant get. The footprint of the deep draft E-38 is so small that a flip of the helm is often all it takes. The boat sails very well under genoa alone as well. I often only roll out the genny if its over 10kts TWS and I dont feel like dealing with the main. Escape Plan will regulary do 6.5 kts upwind in these conditions at 30* apparent.

e38 owner

Member III
E 38 1981

I also have the deep draft version
The boat is great, When we are not racing I seldom use the Main, I sail with a 135 in crusing mode and it is great.

We stay on the boat often. I am 6' the bed on the table would be little short for 2 but we have found the V to be long enough.


Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
We love our 38s

The advertised length of all the berths (sleeps 7) on the non-200 is 6 ft. 7 in. We've measured ours and it's true. You have to take the back cushions off the settee or dinette and measure from wood to wood, however. The settee on the starboard side has a footwell at the forward end.

Clearance for knees in the head will vary with the model of toilet and how far outboard it's mounted. Sometimes that will be something you can adjust later with an upgrade. I'm just 5' 11" and have no problems there.

I second the others about the sailing characteristics with jib only. I expect the all the masthead rigged Ericsons are all pretty good that way. If you want to be lazy, you won't give up much performance if the wind is in the mid-teens or higher.

Three things we wanted were performance, reasonably wide side decks, and an open interior layout. Both versions have it in spades. We weren't looking for an Ericson, but it was love at first sight when we saw this boat.

We are learning to store enough provisions to go two weeks in remote areas without touching civilization - I think we'll make it. The only item I would change is the holding tank. Too small.

Good luck!


Contributing Partner
We took about 12 month-long cruises aboard our 38. Storage could be better, but we were able to load up the boat with food and laundry for four weeks for the two of us, so that's not too bad. I would think it would get a bit tight for a family though. We only went into town every 10 days or so for ice, water, and a pumpout. And yes, putting a larger holding tank in was on my wish list. I wasan't sure where I was going to put it, but I wanted to replace the 25 gallon tank with a 40.

No problem with the lengths of the berths or closing the head door, but that's cause we're short.:egrin:

Frank G

Member II
so if I sell my Catalina 25 for 12k, and my E-32 for 40, I need to save up about 35 or 40 to get a top shape E-32.

I would have to save up an additional 50 or more to get a boat even close to the quality of an Ericson.

Of course if I win the Powerball, then it's a 50 foot Cabo rico.

thanks for all of your help



Contributing Partner
Frank with some patience youshould be able to find a good 38 for 75-80k. Higher prices than that should simply be sound models that have the expensive upgrades already done:

New Sails: Good set will be 18k, main, genoa, good cut A sail. (Most cruising kites blow IMHO get a true A sail for ease of handling)

Canvas: Dodger, Bimini, Helm cover, main cover. On 1" stainless frames 5-6k

Updated primary electrical: Good batteries, Multi-stage ac charger, High output alternator, Multi stage external regulator, battery monitor. 2k

New Standing rigging: 7-9k

Upgraded Running Rigging: Replace OEM sheave blocks with bearing blocks, sheets, low stretch vectran hayards, additional purchase for outhaul, mainsheet, traveler, A-sail tack line system led to cockpit. 3k

Feathering Max prop: 2K

New Cabin Sole: 1,500 materials, 5k for carpenter to do job.

If you can find an E-38 with this stuff already on it for 85-89k you will be getting a great deal and saving yourself a lot of money and time.

Hey wait a minute thats my boat!:egrin:

Get in touch if you are interested.

Frank G

Member II
Hey Ted,
Is your boat the one on yachtworld with the fin Keel?

she is a real beauty.

I can't buy her now, my time frame is about 3 or 4 years. Unless the government confiscates my income and savings.