Under contract for a 1981 Ericson 38, What to look for?

appick

New Member
Since checking out and getting the approval from my wife and child we've been negotiating price and waiting to get under contract for a 1981 Ericson 38. I've been spending the last week and a half reading up on what I can find here on the model and am pleased to see such an awesome community dedicated to these boats.

A bit of background on me: I've owned sailboats for 26yrs everything from beach cats to larger cruising boats. Before we moved west I had a LLC servicing sailboats doing mechanical, paint, varnish, minor gelcoat and fiberglass repair, and electronics. In a former career I was an auto motive mechanic and rebuild engines and tinker for fun.

So the purpose of this post is to point me towards any common issues with this model. I've read about the keel seam opening up both in the manual and here. The keel bolts look ok but are in about 1/2" standing water which I'll see if its salt or fresh next time I'm there. Seems this is common to have a minor amount of water in the bilge?

The engine is the original universal and I'll hear it run during our pretrial sail no hour meter (seems to not have been factory installed?) so who knows on the hours.

It has the I guess common issue of the head door and vberth door not lining up so well. It's out by 1/8" or so I've read this is common anyone know the cause? It has had some deck repair around the mast penetration. It has about 5 other spots on deck (ranging from 1"-4") that are probably wet as there are cracks in the gelcoat and some flex in 2 of them. I've got a good moisture meter and plan to see how far the moisture issues have spread. Gelcoat on the deck and cabin house is done for and it'll need a paint or gelcoat job.

The sails are old and I currently am not able to know when the rig was last done as the PO has passed and its his estate closing the sale. There may be documentation at the brokers office but I've not seen it yet.

Interior is VERY clean for a boat of this age not much for equipment and almost no holes cut into anything either.

So what am I missing? Any common catastrophic issues? Ive read reports of blisters and will look during survey. I've priced my offer low in anticipation of replacing the standing and running rigging, all the through hulls (they don't look so good), deck work, engine exhaust elbow is toast, and sails. Thanks for anything you can offer in support or commiseration.
 

Prairie Schooner

Jeff & Donna, new owners 7/21
A common problem across models seems to be leaking in the forward dorade box. I'm not sure if 'your' model has this feature. On our '86 E35-3 the inside bottom of the box was untreated wood and had leaked. This had migrated out to the base mounts for the stainless dorade guard. It was still solid enough that I used thin epoxy to penetrate, then filled epoxy to fillet. Drilled and filled the guard mount holes as well.
Leaky portlights seem to be a common theme, too. Good luck!
 

appick

New Member
A common problem across models seems to be leaking in the forward dorade box. I'm not sure if 'your' model has this feature. On our '86 E35-3 the inside bottom of the box was untreated wood and had leaked. This had migrated out to the base mounts for the stainless dorade guard. It was still solid enough that I used thin epoxy to penetrate, then filled epoxy to fillet. Drilled and filled the guard mount holes as well.
Leaky portlights seem to be a common theme, too. Good luck!
Thanks Prairie for the reminder of the dorade boxes. I'll be sure and go over it with the moisture meter and see what I can find.
 

appick

New Member
Since checking out and getting the approval from my wife and child we've been negotiating price and waiting to get under contract for a 1981 Ericson 38. I've been spending the last week and a half reading up on what I can find here on the model and am pleased to see such an awesome community dedicated to these boats.

A bit of background on me: I've owned sailboats for 26yrs everything from beach cats to larger cruising boats. Before we moved west I had a LLC servicing sailboats doing mechanical, paint, varnish, minor gelcoat and fiberglass repair, and electronics. In a former career I was an auto motive mechanic and rebuild engines and tinker for fun.

So the purpose of this post is to point me towards any common issues with this model. I've read about the keel seam opening up both in the manual and here. The keel bolts look ok but are in about 1/2" standing water which I'll see if its salt or fresh next time I'm there. Seems this is common to have a minor amount of water in the bilge?

The engine is the original universal and I'll hear it run during our pretrial sail no hour meter (seems to not have been factory installed?) so who knows on the hours.

It has the I guess common issue of the head door and vberth door not lining up so well. It's out by 1/8" or so I've read this is common anyone know the cause? It has had some deck repair around the mast penetration. It has about 5 other spots on deck (ranging from 1"-4") that are probably wet as there are cracks in the gelcoat and some flex in 2 of them. I've got a good moisture meter and plan to see how far the moisture issues have spread. Gelcoat on the deck and cabin house is done for and it'll need a paint or gelcoat job.

The sails are old and I currently am not able to know when the rig was last done as the PO has passed and its his estate closing the sale. There may be documentation at the brokers office but I've not seen it yet.

Interior is VERY clean for a boat of this age not much for equipment and almost no holes cut into anything either.

So what am I missing? Any common catastrophic issues? Ive read reports of blisters and will look during survey. I've priced my offer low in anticipation of replacing the standing and running rigging, all the through hulls (they don't look so good), deck work, engine exhaust elbow is toast, and sails. Thanks for anything you can offer in support or commiseration.

Heres the listing in case anyone is interested.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
And, a list of things to look at, from a surveyor.
 

Saverio

Member III
What can I say, I liked the 38 200 immediately, bought used, abandoned for years, dismantled and checked, I use family sailing and club regattas, mainsail and genoa performing with many satisfactions, I am very happy. Xavier
 

appick

New Member
Run your eye over this list, which is pretty much all I have done to a 1984 381.

The titles will hint at common upgrades, repairs, and so on.


You might also consider this video series on the E38, which starts with purchase and continues through the usual issues and their solutions:

Thanks Christian, Since looking at this boat I came across your youtube channel and gave them all at watch. I've really enjoyed your style and perspective in the videos. Your books on my list to read as well.
 
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