Learn more about YM's pic of affordable sunshine cruisers
A yacht for cruising the Mediterranean? It sounds expensive but you don’t have to spend a fortune to cruise in the sun. In August’s YM James Jermain assesses a selection of contenders costing less than £35,000 and suggests what key features you should be looking for. Here are some extra comments and dimensions. To read more and discover what James’s first choice was in each category see the August issue.
Price: £23,000 to £32,000
Over the years the Rival 34 has developed a reputation as the definitive small blue-water cruising yacht. This is mainly because she is almost indestructible with a safe and workmanlike, rather than spacious accommodation. If getting to the Med worries you more than quality of life once there, this is a good choice.
The high, full bow makes her dry and sea kindly and the long fin keel and substantial skeg give her good manners under sail. She cannot be accused of being quick although the deep fin-keel version is significantly better to windward than the shallow alternative. On long passages she is untaxing. The steering is well balanced and she will look after herself for long periods. The helm is light and the compact sail plan easily managed.
The accommodation is cosy due to the narrow beam and little better than the Rival 32 on which she is based. Yet she can sleep up to seven, including five in the saloon plus a quarterberth and a two-berth forecabin. The saloon and the after part of the accommodation, the quarter berth, chart table and galley, are separated from the saloon by the distinctive Rival ‘keyhole’ bulkhead. The amidships heads is on the small side but stowage is excellent and headroom under the narrow coachroof is adequate. All the fittings on the Rival are substantial and designed to take the rough and tumble of offshore cruising. Rivals seem to go on forever with little more than an occasional cosmetic face-lift.
LOA 10.38m (34ft), LWL 7.57m (24ft 10in), beam 2.94m (9ft 8in) draught 1.42m (4ft 8in) or 1.78m (5ft 10in), displacement 4,940kg (10,900 lb), sail area 41.2m2 (443sq ft).
Hallberg-Rassy Ramus 35/NAB 35
Price: £25,000 to £40,000
This is the forerunner of the Hallberg-Rassy range, which was launched in 1967 and remained in production until 1978. In the UK Reg Freeman fitted out Rasmus hulls to a very high standard and substantially similar layout as the NAB 35, all of which had wheelhouse cockpits.
She is a heavily built, long-keeled, long-distance cruiser with a spacious interior laid out in a surprisingly modern way. The saloon is to port with the large galley and chart table along the starboard side. The main sleeping cabin is aft of the cockpit and accessed from a hatch behind the helm. This is less of a problem in the dry climate of the Med and keeps the sleeping and living areas well separated. The heads is large and the forecabin a useful guest cabin.
She was offered in various versions including ketch or sloop, and wheelhouse or windscreen, and the interiors, though mainly in rather dark mahogany, were also produced in teak. She has superb stowage.
Under sail she makes heavy going of a long beat but off the wind she is powerful and very easily handled. For Med cruising the large diesel is a bonus but the long keel does make handling under power in small harbours a bit nerve-wracking. The cockpit is a good size and very deep, giving good protection offshore. In the ketch version the mizzen makes a practical support for a bimini.
LOA 10.67m (35ft), LWL 8.80m (28ft 9in), beam 3.02m (10ft), draught 1.37m (4ft 5in), displacement 6,090kg (13,440 lb), ballast 2,500kg (5,500 lb), sail area 46.37m2 (499sq ft)
Super Sovereign 35
Price: £30,000 to £40,000
Not many of these Holman & Pye offshore cruisers were launched but they are worth seeking out, particularly those built by JW & A Upham. She is a solidly built, well-fitted-out cruiser intended from the start to be a long-distance vessel. The doghouse-style deckline gives a spacious, well-lit interior with generous headroom in the key areas. She is a comfortable boat in a seaway and the ketch rig gives reasonable performance.
Below decks she is laid out for easy use at sea but has the space to be comfortable in harbour too. The saloon was laid out in various ways but all had good stowage. The galley was secure and well fitted and there are up to six berths, depending on layout.
LOA 10.67m (35ft) LWL 7.92m (26ft), beam 3.05m (10ft), draught 1.52m (5ft), displacement 7,417kg (16,352 lb)
Price: £32,000 to £38,000
At the top end of our price range, the Sun Odyssey 34 has a more performance-oriented hull than its Oceanis rivals and is, in some ways, an idiosyncratic, though innovative design. The hull reflects designer Daniel Andrieu’s work for the Half Ton Cup but the rig is moderate and easily handled, though still with plenty of power for those who find a generous turn of speed livens up their cruising.
Below decks, she is one of the smallest boats to offer two heads compartments complete with showers. As a result the chart table is small and the galley, though large enough overall, is tucked away behind the companionway. The saloon has curved seating, which is comfortable during the day but not practical for sleeping on. There are, however, two roomy double cabins, one forward and one aft. A more conventional owner’s version with a single heads was also offered and would be more practical for our purposes
LOA 9.98m (32ft 7in), LWL 8.04m (26ft 4in), beam 3.50m (11ft 5in), draught 1.90m (6ft 2in), displacement 4,700kg (10,362 lb), ballast 1,300kg (2,860lb)
Price: £22,000 to £35,000
Michel Dufour was never afraid to go out on a limb and this is about as far from the trunk in terms of appearance as you can get, particularly for the 1970s when she was a bestseller. Not strikingly beautiful, maybe, but she is hugely spacious with full headroom, even under the semi-flush decks. She is substantially built and heavy with generous ballast. The extensive use of internal mouldings makes her a little stark below decks, but the interior is full of interesting and effective detail. The cleverly thought out galley, chart table and quarterberth are partially separated from the rest of the accommodation by a full height bulkhead.
The saloon is large and contains a single and convertible double dinette plus a pilot berth. The forecabin has an offset double. Stowage is adequate. This boat was designed for serious passage making as well as Mediterranean living. Performance is good despite her weight as she sets a plenty of sail. She is comfortable offshore and her high topsides make her dry in high seas. The vast majority of these boats stayed in France and of all the boats in this group, this is perhaps the one to look for ‘on site’, not because she can’t make the passage, but because there are more bargains.
LOA 10.75m (35ft 3in), LWL 8.50m (27ft 10in), beam 3.48m (11ft 4in), draught 1.84m (6ft), displacement 6,300kg (13,860 lb), ballast 2,600kg (5,720 lb), sail area 72m2 (775sq ft)
Price: 25,000 to £33,000
Angus Primrose shocked the sailing world when he launched this ugly duckling of a boat in 1973. Observers said it would never sail but they were wrong. They said you could never fit that amount of space in a boat and make it work. They were wrong. Her after cabin layout (with access via the cockpit) made her very popular with families, as did the huge saloon with its large dinette facing a longitudinal galley. The chart table is small.
With plenty of volume in the ends both the sleeping cabins are spacious, as is the heads between saloon and forecabin. The after cabin has two single bunks and is ideal for children with generous stowage of its own. Despite the innovative design, the décor was very 70s and the imitation teak laminate and plastic mouldings have dated and may need some refurbishment. The bolted bulkheads have also developed a tendency to move.
Under sail the Moody 33 is no race winner and windward performance in a heavy sea is not good. But off the wind in a good breeze she bowls along with the best of cruisers. The cockpit is deep and well protected and the wheel is light and responsive provided she is not over canvassed. A MkII version from 1978 had a longer after cabin coachroof and a bigger saloon. An aft-cockpit version appeared briefly in 1979, which had an even more roomy interior and all three were replaced by the Moody 333 in 1980 which used the same hull but had a walk-through to the after cabin, a better chart table and L-shaped galley. All can be found for under £35,000.
LOA 10.06m (33ft), LWL 8.69m (28ft 5in), beam 3.51m (11ft 5in), draught 1.35m (4ft 4in), displacement 4,765kg (10,505 lb), ballast 1,1734kg (3,815 lb), sail area 42m2 (452sq ft)
Price: £33,000 to £40,000
Another take on the wheelhouse theme, this time with a full, fixed keel, is the Trident Voyager 35 by Angus Primrose/Bill Dixon. The long deck saloon covers not only the internal steering position and the galley but also the after end of the saloon, which is on the same level.
She had a long production run beginning in the mid-1970s when she was regarded as ahead of her time. Early interiors had dated plastic finishes and a face-to-face dinette but later models from the 1990s were more or less custom-made to much higher standards. They tended to have a more conventional saloon arrangement with an L-shaped dinette and a settee. The cockpit is a good size and very well protected. She is a good offshore cruiser with go-anywhere handling and moderate performance. Many have sailed long distances. Most early boats were sold as mouldings for home or professional completion. Trident later did most of the fitting out themselves.
LOA 10.70m (35ft), LWL 8.00m (26ft 3in), beam 3.20m (10ft 6in), draught 1.52m (5ft), displacement 5,600kg (12,320 lb), ballast 2,318kg (5,110 lb), sail area 41m2 (440sq ft).
Price: £27,000 to £35,000
The predominantly ketch-rigged Westerly 33 from 1977 is a solid family cruiser and another with a completely separate after cabin which is ideal for children or couples who want to separate sleeping and living quarters. The ketch rig has limited advantages from the performance point of view but the sail plan is very easily handled and the mizzen is an excellent place from which to hang all sorts of cruising kit – from biminis to radar and wind generators. She came with bilge or fin keels, the latter being more suitable for the Mediterranean unless a canal transit is planned.
The after cabin is quite small but has full-length bunks. The main accommodation had a good saloon which feels very open thanks to the two straight settees either side of a central table. The galley is well fitted, but the outboard-facing chart table is a bit awkward. The forecabin is broad with a large double. The heads is to one side amidships with two hanging lockers opposite. Stowage throughout the boat is excellent and the woodwork typical of Westerly’s chunky style.
Under sail, the 33 is pedestrian but safe and easily handled. Sloop-rigged versions are a little quicker. In 1980 she evolved into the Discus with walk-through access to the after cabin and an aft cockpit option.
LOA 10.15 (33ft 3in), LWL 8.69m (28ft 5in), beam 3.44m (11ft 3in), draught 1.67m or 1.34m (5ft 5in or 4ft 4in), displacement 6,516kg (14,336 lb), ballast 2,700kg (5,940 lb)
Price: £33,000 to £40,000
As an antidote to the worthy but dull performance of some boats here, there are some cruiser racers which also make good Med cruisers, and the First 345 is one of them. Despite her sporty heritage, she was in some ways a forward-looking boat in that her interior had been designed partly with the Mediterranean charter market in mind. For this reason she had a modern feel below decks with an open saloon, large chart table and effective galley. They were built with one or two after cabins and the heads was sized to fit. The forecabin was on the narrow side and stowage throughout could not match that of, say, the Westerly 33.
Under sail, though, she is delightfully well mannered and light on the helm. Performance up wind is her strong point but she is also better than average with the wind free as well. In stronger winds she needs to be reefed quite early or she gets heavy on the helm.
LOA: 10.50m (34ft 8in), LWL 8.90m (29ft 2in), beam 3.50m (11ft 6in), draught 1.45m or 1.90m (4ft 9in or 6ft 2in), displacement 5,500kg (12,100 lb), ballast 2,114kg (4,651 lb), sail area 64m2 (690sq ft)
Built from 1971 to the mid-1990s, this was the ultimate small ocean-crossing cat, which built up a huge reputation for seaworthiness and good accommodation, albeit at the expense of performance. Off the wind in a decent blow, however, these boats could give a good account of themselves. Designer Pat Paterson made some remarkable passages in one of the early, 26ft models. Over the years the boat grew by a foot and was improved in numerous ways. Later HTs still fetch big sums but older versions are well within our budget.
The feature of the boat is the deep, well-protected central cockpit and the two large double after cabins, which in some versions were merged into one huge cabin. In early boats these were accessed through the cockpit but this was later modified to a walk-through. In the forward section is a large saloon, which can also sleep two. The heads is in one hull with the extensive navigation area and the galley is in the other. Headroom is good in the hulls.
The rig is low aspect and easily managed. She was rigged as a sloop or a cutter and had long, shallow moulded keels.
LOA 8.00m (26ft 2in), LWL 6.60m (21ft 6in), beam 4.20m (13ft 9in), draught 0.60m (2ft), displacement 4,072kg (8,960 lb)
Price: £25,000 to £30,000
This is the larger sister to Macalpine-Downie’s popular Iroquois and a much more spacious and capable cruiser. By modern standards she has a sleek, low profile and a narrow beam. Most had stub keels but a few were built with centreboards. They were originally sold with single or twin outboards but many have been converted to twin diesels.
The accommodation offered two small double cabins in each stern, a single in one bow and a heads in the other. The saloon was spacious and converted into a large double. The chart table was on the bridge deck. Headroom on the bridge deck was 1.78m (5ft 10in) and in the hulls 2.00m (6ft 6in).
LOA 9.80m (32ft 2in), LWL 8.75m (28ft 9in), beam 4.21m (13ft 10in), draught 0.96m (3ft 2in).