How do Ericsons compare.....

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
On several websites like Sailnet (but I always check this site first!! :) ), there are frequently comparisons of various boats in terms of construction quality and performance. Because Ericsons aren't on everyone's radar screen, they are not frequently included in these comparisons.

When I was looking to buy my third boat earlier this year, not having owned an Ericson previously, Ericson was at the top of my list, followed by Aloha, C&C, Catalina and Newport. Fortunately, I did find a good Ericson 30+ at a decent price and was able to buy my #1 choice.

I am very pleased with the boat, but still wonder how an "objective" expert would compare the quality of Ericsons with other leading models. Anyone have any views on this, with more detail than "obviously Ericsons are best" :egrin: I'll look forward to your comments, especially if you can substantiate your opinion with details, experiences, etc.

To begin the discussion, I put the Ericson at the top of my list because I think the triaxial grid provides more hull strength than many other boats, the quality of the fibreglass lay-up seems stronger than most, they seem to have less blistering/osmosis than some, the woodwork looks well made and the layout seems functional. Since owning ours, I can add that the performance seems very good (my 30+ sails much like the Bavaria 34 we chartered a couple of years ago--fast, responsive, but solid).
Comments?

Frank.
 

rwthomas1

Sustaining Partner
All the points you make are correct. Ericsons are very stoutly built. The grid system combined with the fiberglassing of the deck to the hull makes for a very strong structure. Stronger than most production boats. They compare very well with the higher end production boats of their time and today. I would say pretty comparable to C&C, CS, Tartan, Niagara, Nonsuch, etc. They are a step up from Catalinas, Hunters, Irwins, etc. Jack Horner and other industry notables have been very kind in their reviews of Ericsons. It is pretty hard to find a problem with an Ericson that has to do with faulty design or poor constuction. They are an excellent value since they often sell for Catalina or Hunter prices simply because they are lesser known. RT
 

Chris Miller

Sustaining Member
Guest was asking...

A guest on our boat was asking a similar question about what kind of price/quality range our boat would fall into if it were newly built today. It took us about 1/2 hour to finally fall on 2 boat manufacturers currently in production. We agreed that C&C was the most likely candidate (with Outbound a close second). Good quality, limited build, very fast, reasonable price. We felt that Tartan was really a stretch since a big (37) new Tartan will set you back at least a half million.
We have started to explore the market for our next boat which will be the retirement boat, we are really nervous about finding a boat that handles anywhere close to ours, but still has all the necessary elements we are looking for. We'd prefer not to have to tack through 105* :D

Chris
 

CaptnNero

Accelerant
Ericson vs Pearson

At the time (1999) we bought our E32-200, we were looking at late 80's cruising boats with the modern aft cabin layout. We rejected a similar vintage Pearson 33-2, which LOA was really shorter than the Ericson. However, the Eriscon weighed in at 9800 vs 11,200 for the Pearson. That was a strong factor in picking the Ericson for our Chesapeake needs.

We also liked the Ericson joinery and cabinetry with the mesh coverd arched doors, and the touch of teak on the stern pulpit. Quickly eliminated were lower quality boats: Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, and Endeavour. Some other late 80's boats looked good in Mauch's but were simply in short supply, like Sabre or out of our price range so we didn't even study the layouts. The early 90's PSC Ericsons and other breeds were too pricey so that pushed us into late 80's when the aft cabins came in.

Five years later we were starting to feel like we were out growing the 32, but this time we were already sold on the late 80's Ericson. I liked the LWL on the late 80's E34 for the money too. We looked at an '88 38-200 which we thought was a great boat, but for the 30-50% price difference the E34 seemed a better value for us as cruisers. The one thing I would appreaciate inside is the E38's U-shaped port settee instead of the E34's L-shaped one. The rest of the extra space went to the vberth and a separate shower stall. I've been using wet baths in RV's and boats for so long that not having a shower stall just doesn't matter anymore. The 38 with an LOA of about 3 feet more than the E34 does comes off with that sleeker thoroughbred look. You get half of that extra three feet in LWL. Going from the E32-200 to the E34 you get two feet LOA but three more LWL.

Off the subject I will mention that going from the E32-200 to the E34 was easy since almost everything was in the same place and it fit in the same slip. So in addition to paying a lot more for an E38-200, we'd be paying a lot more on a slip. Not good was having the same motor as the E32-200 which runs fine but is under powered on the E34 at 13,500 displacement. It's an M25XP. We don't know the hours on it after 18 years but it probably is in the neighborhood of low 1000's, so I expect that will last us a long time at 70-80 hours per year. I added an hour meter early on our E32-200 so I know our usage well.

Lately I've heard from a very reliable source that the late 80's 200 series Ericson's were specifically designed as being "f&!#able" too, but I was not made aware of that feature at the time of purchase. ;) ;)
 
Last edited:

NateHanson

Sustaining Member
I'd say that my limited experience with Tartans and Ericsons probably supports the comparison of those two builds when comparing the same vintage, but to compare Ericson with the Tartan boats of today seems like a stretch. Tartan is the only production builder I know who is using epoxy layup, carbon fiber rigs as standard, and other similar advancements not yet predominating in the production (or even semi-custom) boat-building industry. Granted it's a different era now than when Ericsons were built, but do you think Ericson was as cutting edge as that in it's own time?
 

u079721

Contributing Partner
IF we are comparing boats that were all made in the 80s, then I would rank Ericsons with Tartans and CCs and Sabres (though perhaps just a bit below Sabre), but above the next rank of Catalinas, Irwins, Hunters, and the like.

In the last couple of decades Hunters have actually improved to the point that I would consider owning one, while Tartans and Sabres have gotten so much more expensive that it is amazing. Which, as mentioned above, is why it doesn't make sense to compare our older Ericsons with today's Tartans - but they compare very well with the older Tartan 37s (a very nice boat).
 

CaptnNero

Accelerant
Hunter rallies

IF we are comparing boats that were all made in the 80s, then I would rank Ericsons with Tartans and CCs and Sabres (though perhaps just a bit below Sabre), but above the next rank of Catalinas, Irwins, Hunters, and the like.

In the last couple of decades Hunters have actually improved to the point that I would consider owning one, while Tartans and Sabres have gotten so much more expensive that it is amazing. Which, as mentioned above, is why it doesn't make sense to compare our older Ericsons with today's Tartans - but they compare very well with the older Tartan 37s (a very nice boat).
I forgot to drop Irwin in the lower quality group.

When I was looking Olson and Oday weren't in supply in the region so I did not look into them.

I have heard some more positive remarks from marine professionals about Hunters lately, but nothing specific.
 
Last edited:

Shadowfax

Member III
Philosophical Discussion

As this is becoming a philosophical discussion I feel the need to add my impressions. I agree that trying to compare 80’s vintage Ericson’s to today’s Tartan’s, Saber’s etc. is unfair and impractical. So much has happened in the 20, or so, years since our boats where designed, in materials, design, construction and what the client wants, that we are almost talking about two different eras in yacht design.
So if we keep the 80’s as a design and build line to compare our boats, I equate Ericson with the likes of Pearson, Bristol, Saber, C&C, etc.. As for my personal preferences, we bought our boat new in ’88 after looking at almost every boat on the market at the time. For us it came down to a final cut of Island Packet, Pearson, Ericson, Catalina. The IP’s where/are beautiful and bullet proof and made for cruising. They almost need 15 knots of wind to begin to sail them and they where too expensive for us. Pearson was just about to go out of business and had designed their 34 interior to look like a disco gone nautical and it was even know at the time as the whore house Pearson. I loved the design but just couldn’t do the interior. The Ericson was, need I say more, quality, layout and price that gave the most for the money. The Catalina was a nice boat, but if you where at the boat show and went from an Ericson to a Catalina, there was no comparison and the dollar difference didn’t make up for it.
It is amazing how much larger our 34 has become since the kids have grown up, but if I was to buy another bigger boat I’d be hard pressed to choose between a E38 and a Pearson 39 and I thing the Pearson 39 might win out; but like I said, the old 34 has got a lot bigger lately….. and it’s paid for.
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Thanks for the replies so far--very informative. I agree with several of you that it makes sense to compare our Ericsons to boats of that same vintage, ie. 1980s, rather than to boats being built today.

But I'd also like to follow up on two areas: firstly, although the Aloha was second after an Ericson in my top five possible picks, no one has commented on them at all--is there a reason for that? 2) I came close to buying a Catalina 30, as they are popular and readily available, and would be interested in more details as to why several of you are consistently rating them far below Ericsons. (The Catalina 30 was last on my list of possibles, and I'm a bit biased against them compared to Ericsons, so would appreciate some more "objective" views).
Thanks,
Frank.
 
Last edited:

Jeff Meier

Member II
Catalina 30..

well Frank you asked specifically about this so i'll chime in with my experience. my pervious (first) boat was a catalina 30 and i thought it to be good at the time to learn on and bounce off the dock a few times without much care (which i did). i bought it for probably the same reason everyone else that has/had one did; they're roomy, inexpensive, and without much experience you would think they sail great. compared to an Ericson the build on a catalina 30 is crap. the cabinets looked cheap and the jointery wasn't that good. when i would get a flashlight and look into the nooks and crannies of the boat i would get sick becase of how sloppy the assembly was, like how the cabin liner was mated to the hull, etc. and there is a huge difference in sailing, the catalina 30 was like a tank compared to my 32-3. One good thing i will say about it is that it sold the day it was put on the market as there is a demand for it.
 

u079721

Contributing Partner
Thanks for the replies so far--very informative. I agree with several of you that it makes sense to compare our Ericsons to boats of that same vintage, ie. 1980s, rather than to boats being built today.

But I'd also like to follow up on two areas: firstly, although the Aloha was second after an Ericson in my top five possible picks, no one has commented on them at all--is there a reason for that? 2) I came close to buying a Catalina 30, as they are popular and readily available, and would be interested in more details as to why several of you are consistently rating them far below Ericsons. (The Catalina 30 was last on my list of possibles, and I'm a bit biased against them compared to Ericsons, so would appreciate some more "objective" views).
Thanks,
Frank.

I've only ever seen two Aloha boats - a 28 and a 34. But they were both very good looking solid boats. Seemed a lot like Island Packets, a bit overbuilt and undercanvased for the Great Lakes, but very well made. I don't think they are common enough for most folks outside Canada (where they were made) to have much of an impression of them.

As for the Catalinas, I think a Catalina 30 is a fine coastal cruiser. I see dozens of them every summer while cruising the North Channel, and they do fine duty. But they are built much more to a price than Ericsons, and do not give the impression of being nearly as seaworthy (not to mention the quality of joinery and cabinet work and such). When crossing Lake Huron at night I really liked the feeling of being aboard my Ericson, knowing the quality was there, and that I would give out way before the boat ever would. With the Catalina it might be a draw to see who gave out first.

But hereabouts most folks never sail in more than 4 ft seas and 20 kts, and if that's all you see, the Catalina is fine.

And we haven't even mentioned Endevours, or Beneteau, or Jeanneau (or however the hell you spell them).
 

CaptnNero

Accelerant
the classy factor

...
But I'd also like to follow up on two areas: firstly, although the Aloha was second after an Ericson in my top five possible picks, no one has commented on them at all--is there a reason for that? 2) I came close to buying a Catalina 30, as they are popular and readily available, and would be interested in more details as to why several of you are consistently rating them far below Ericsons. (The Catalina 30 was last on my list of possibles, and I'm a bit biased against them compared to Ericsons, so would appreciate some more "objective" views).
Thanks,
Frank.
We looked at a few Catalinas, but wanted a wooden cabin sole and more classy looks overall. The Cats had the roomier feel inside but that wasn't so important with just the two of us and very occasional guests.

We did look at an Aloha before seeing any Ericson. We independently rejected the Aloha cabinetry, having already had an '87 Pearson 27 for two years. So it was so long Aloha without even looking at the specs. A few days later the broker dug up the Ericson 32-200 based on our desire for better interior finish, and that was it. We instantly knew the Ericson was right for us, and more so than the Pearson competition.

The sea trial on the E32-200 was very favorable conditions and performance even with worn out running rigging was impressive for an 11 year old cruiser.

A few years after that the broker offered a fire sale on a clean Pearson 39. I went to look at it from outside. I noticed that the same teak toerail that looked so good on the P27 looked disproportionately small on the P39, so I did not look further. Besides it was about $100K and I'm still not ready to go there. Maybe we will on a retirement boat, but in the meantime I'm assuming our E34 IS the retirement boat.

For our Chesapeake gunkholing the interior seemed important. We'd done enough gunkholing before the E32-200 that we knew we wanted a pleasant and classy feel when we were sitting around on anchor in the evenings.
 

rwthomas1

Sustaining Partner
There is a important point to remember here. All the boats mentioned here have merit in some way. Some are better than others but often the difference is really quite small when it comes to actual use given the fact that almost all sailboats are used for daysailing, weekending and coastal cruising. Its nice to know that Ericson and others are built well enough to withstand some heavy use. This is not always neccessary. A buddy of mine just bought a '84 Hunter 34. He just about stole it it was so cheap. The PO just wanted out. Look around for a boat that satisfies your needs but don't wait so long for that "special" model that you miss out on sailing. RT
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Moderator
Senior Moderator
more upsupported opinions

No wrong or right answers in this thread, but a nice input of boating philosophy. Fun reading!

As to how much built-in strength is enough, I would agree that all the low end production hulls can keep out the sea water just fine. Problem is that sometimes you come in contact with harder things.

Case in point: several years ago I visited the yard when they were preparing to do a spendy insurance repair on a 90's-era Hunter 30. The boat owner had, for whatever reason, T-boned the side of a 34 foot Chinook (a sixties era production fiberglass boat, built very strongly by any standard).
Bear in mind that the bow is, by any engineering definition, the strongest point (!) on any boat. The broadside is the weakest.

When I peaked into the bow through the perfect-shaped cut-away opening that exactly resembled the side deck-edge profile of the other boat, I could look closely at the layup -- a layer of cloth/roving under the gel coat, then a crumbling layer of plastic material like "cottage cheese' for about 3/8 of an inch, then a layer of roving on the inside. :rolleyes:

Since the hit was above the waterline, there was no great ingress of water, and so no water damage to the interior.
I found out that the other boat did lose the rig because the shroud was severed, but its hull and the deck joint was unharmed.

Now we all know that in protected waters the engineering of all the Hunters and their ilk is just fine for day sailing and "gracious dockside living" as I like to call it. These boats are perfect for knowledgable owners who know their personal needs and the limitations of their craft.

Many folks believe that the Catalina's are stronger than the Hunters, and would put the Jeaneau and Benateau in there, too.
Without some sort of crash-testing like they do for cars, we will never have much hard data. :nerd:

I have made many near-shore passages in nice weather, in the summer, on all these brands, that were well prepared by thoughtful owners.
Given my druthers, though, I prefer an Ericson, Olson, Valiant, or Cascade, Saber, or similar...

Worthless Opinions rendered on the hour -- deposit $.01 please!
:egrin:

Another way to view the situation: people who seek out Tartans, Ericsons (or Olsons) or Valiants are just trying to move the odds a bit closer to being in their favor...
:D

"Live long and prosper"

Loren
 
Last edited:

wurzner

Member III
Loren,

I noticed your price went down from .02 cents to .01...I will have to change my pricing to stay competitive. One boat that doesn't get much visibility and is located in Loren's backyard (literally) is Cascade. They are available as a hull or turn key boat and built out of Portland. I had the pleasure of sailing one that my friends father completed (he purchased the hull only) and proceeded to go sailing for 4 years. These boat are amazing in that they are extremely well built and good performers for their class and weight. Loren, this was many years ago so have they maintained the same standard?

shaun
 

CaptnNero

Accelerant
Cascade's 10 year gap ?

...
I have made many near-shore passages in nice weather, in the summer, on all these brands, that were well prepared by thoughtful owners.
Given my druthers, though, I prefer an Ericson, Olson, Valiant, or Cascade, Saber, or similar...

Worthless Opinions rendered on the hour -- deposit $.01 please!
:egrin:

...Loren
Loren, for that deposit I'd rather just owe you than cheat you out of it ;)

Since I didn't remember seeing a Cascade around the Chesapeake I took a look in the yachtworld data. After looking at various examples from the 80's I can say that they look familiar but who knows. A peak into the broker's DB shows a few interesting things about the Cascade. These recods go back to brokered sales since 2000. Of the sold boats there are over 85% left coast. Of the 10 boats sold on the right coast, only 4 were north of Florida. If you look at model years sold, only 20% were built since 1980, and all of those were left coast sales. Of the 17 currently for sale, all but one are left coast. So practically speaking Cascade isn't much of an option on the right coast unless you're going to ship it in.

Another interesting thing is that there is a huge gap in sales of Cascade model years between 1992 and 2003. It sounds like they were out of production for a while. If so one might wonder if the 2003 Cascade shares anything but name with the 1992 model.

For some perspective on these numbers there are ten times as many Ericsons as Cascades currently on the market anywhere.
 
Last edited:

CaptnNero

Accelerant
Bristol

When shopping 8 years ago we had some good recommendations on Bristol but eliminated them based on much higher cost. Also, I think we would have avoided the Bristol for the Chesapeake anyway based on it weighing in about 10% more.
 

ted_reshetiloff

Contributing Partner
http://www.sailboatowners.com/forums...abr=as&fno=122

Bob was right. Quite an interesting discussion especially the part from the vitriolic Hunter owner who doesn't seem know a whole lot about what he is talking about but appears to be quite a reverred source of information.

As for this discussion, its a slippery slope. My thoughts are you look for a boat that is going to meet as many of your needs as possible at the best price. My 38 for the money seems to be the best boat I could buy for the Chesapeake. Not so sure about offshore. Its a bit over canvassed and fin keel spade rudder is not ideal for offshore cruising. That being the case a boat set up for offshore cruising say as per Nigel Calder would be pretty boring on the Chesapeake. I cruise/race mostly on the Chesapeake so this boat makes the most sense for me.

As for build quality across brands it seems like most builders were all doing the same stuff about the same time. 1970's boats Ericson, Columbia, Catalina, Hunter, Endevour, Pearson, C&C, pretty similar build techniques and because of the resiliance of fiberglass as a material these boats are still all over the place. Unless you actually hole one they are not going to just disintegrate and go away like a wood boat. Boat yards from Maine to Mexico are riddled with these boats and they can be bought cheap, rebuilt or restored to as good or better than new condition pretty cheaply.

As for todays boats I think the story is pretty similar, just taken to a new level given the advances. Wiring and plumbing systems are still being installed in new boats be they hunters or Sabres with little foresight into the ultimate replacement or repair. Granted its gotten a lot better but for the most part it still sucks. Everyone always wants to jump to the hull to deck joint discussion as a measure of quality when pretty much every newer boat say 85' on has a fairly decent joint even though the rest of the boat may have shortcomings. My biggest gripe is that boats are rarely built stiff enough for me. Ericson seems to be pretty good but still not that great. I still see new Carbon epoxy C&C's that you cant close the door to the head when the rig is properly tuned or the BS adjuster is on. In my mind unless you go custom and really supervise the build you will always be making compromises and sacrifices. Few of us can afford to go that route so the best you can do is find lesser of all evils and get a boat that meets your needs as close as possible within your budget.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Moderator
Senior Moderator
Ericson owners are too dignified to show Vitriol...

Hi Neal,
Looking for the boating version of real estates "comps" or something like the automotive BUC book is quite tough for low-volume sail boat models, IMHO. Even when it works, the key is finding models with big production runs, and then you have the equally-large problem of geography and the high co$t of trucking your boat to another area of the nation.

Sidebar: Savy buyers of used sailboats have looked for the "affordable circumnavigator", Cascade, for several decades. No change in design of the 29, 36, and 42, and the later 27. All are Robert Smith designs, with moderate beam-length ratios, and fin keels. All the hulls are solid roving, and they still have the test piece of hull layup with a 30-06 slug embedded in it to prove the strength!:p
All were molded out for either home finishing with the factory hull, deck, and interior modules, or a few were finished by the factory. Note that the factory still exists, as does all of the tooling. The current owner seems uncertain whether he will keep the production option open for more hulls, though. His bread-and-butter for the last decade has been building other FRP parts for the light aircraft industry.
http://www.cascadeyachts.com/

Semi-Custom boats are expensive and the cost of a new Casc 36 would easily run over 250K... maybe way over.
(But, then, that's probably why we have never heard another peep from the guy over in the Tahoe area that bought the Ericson 35-3 tooling several years ago... Great design, but where's the market these days?)
Remember that the real sailboat market for "performance cruisers" is small even on the best day. The other 80 or 90% are just RV's with masts....
Grumble, grumble, whine, whine.....

Later,
Loren in PDX

ps: Ted, I could not get your link to work, so I went to that site and did a search on "Hunter Quality" and got no matches... What irony.
 
Last edited:
Top