Monday, June 4, 2007

What is an Ericson 30?

Ericson Yachts, based in Costa Mesa, CA in the 1960s, began building the Ericson 30 in 1966, along with the smaller Ericson 26. The Ericson 30 was designed by Bruce King, who would go on to design many fine boats for the company, including the later Ericson 35 series and Ericson 38.

The Ericson 30 bears no kinship to the 30+, sometimes referred to as the 30-2 or 30-II, a race-oriented rather than cruiser-oriented King design built from 1977 to 1979.

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I don't know if King designed the Ericson 26, but I do know that the Ericson 30 is a vastly superior vessel, size differences notwithstanding. I've owned both. In fact, if my current intentions remain, they will serve as bookends to my Southern California boating life.

I bought an Ericson 26, probably a 1966 model, when I first arrived in 1974. It was roomy inside, which was attractive for my family, which included two grade-schoolers. But it was not a pleasant boat. It was very tender. There was scant side deck space which made going forward to handle the jib difficult. And the interior bulkheads creaked alarmingly sailing upwind in the typical Hurricane Gulch winds. I sold it, for a small profit, after about three months, and bought a 1964 Islander 32. The Islander was much heavier and made a good family boat for daysailing and weekend anchoring in Buttonshell cove on Catalina Island.

My recently-acquired 1968 Ericson 30 is a solid, comfortable, seaworthy boat with wide side decks, a snug and practical cabin, and a beautiful sheer with a high, rounded bow, and shallow concave arc of the cabin-top.

It is smaller, narrower and lighter than the 30-foot coastal-cruiser, club racers that were introduced in the 1970s, such as the Catalina 30. Those later boats with their capacious interior designs must have overwhelmed the Ericson 30 at the boats shows. Only 150 were built between 1966 and 1970.

Other Ericson designs were much more successful, such as the Ericson 27 with 1,302 built from 1971 to 1979; the Ericson 29 with 622 boats from 1970 to 1979; the 497 Ericson 32 models made from 1967 to 1978, and the Ericson 35 with 555 boats from 1967 to 1981.

To my eye, however, none were as beautiful as the Ericson 30, with its classic hull and cabin lines in the tradition of the lovely boats of the Cruising Club of America design criteria. Below the waterline, it is more modern. The wine glass cross-section profile of the hull is more bordeaux than chardonnay. It doesn't pound through seas like the later, flatter-bottomed designs. But the keel is fin type and the semi-spade rudder is placed well aft.

The rig is shorter than later designs, with a long boom and a large fore-triangle for the jib to fill.

The sailing characteristics are delightful. It heels readily to lengthen the waterline, but remains stiff. The tiller carries modest weather helm, providing low-effort steering. With a 110-percent jib, it beam reaches at 6-6.5 knots in a 15-knot breeze. A large genoa will overpower the boat upwind in the same conditions.

It measures 30 ft. - 3 in. with a 23 ft. - 4 in. waterline. The beam is 9 ft. - 6 in. and the draft is 4 ft. - 10 in. Displacement is 7,900 lbs, with 3,000 lbs. of lead encapsulated in the fiberglass molded keel.

Mast height above the deck is 35 ft. It is 12.3 ft. from the forestay to the mast. The boom is 13 ft. long. With a 155% genoa, my rated sail area is 530.5 sq. ft. and my Southern California PHRF rating is 186.

Ericson offered a standard interior with aft galley, fore and aft bench dinette to port with settee opposite, head forward to port with hanging locker opposite and v-berth in the bow. That's what I've got. The optional layout has quarter berths aft, side galley starboard and U-shaped dinette opposite.

For one or two people, the standard layout works well and has the advantage of three huge cockpit lockers, one each port and starboard plus a lazarette aft of the cockpit that spans the width of the stern.

Interior woodwork, including bulkheads, are varnished mahogany, which has held up well over the years. The only Formica is in the galley counter and dinette table tops.

The hull is solid fiberglass. Exposed portions inside are thick woven roving. No chopper-gun fiberlass is apparent anywhere. The deck is inner and outer shells of fiberglass with a half-inch balsa core. The cabin sole is painted 3/4-in. marine plywood.

Overhead is a single molded fiberglass headliner which runs from forward of the forward v-berth bulkhead aft through the rest of the cabin where it is brought down to form the inside of the aft bulkhead of the cabin. The bulkheads that form the head and hanging locker compartments were built inside the boat before the headliner and deck assembly were lowered onto the hull. As a result, fastenings through the cabin top or the aft bulkhead are leak prone because in the main cabin there is a natural gap between the fiberglass headliner and the fiberglass and balsa cabin shell.

Fortunately, most of the wiring runs near the outside edges where mahogany planks can be removed (with some difficulty) to gain access both to wiring and to hull-deck bolts, lifeline stanchion bolts and aft pulpit bolts. Other forward deck fittings are easily accessed through the chain locker through doors in the v-berth forward bulkhead.

A 1968 Ericson advertisement listed the price of the 30-footer at $13,750, and touted a string of race victories in its first racing season up and down the California coast and in Florida.


Anonymous said...

I believe there were actually three Ericson 30s, all designed by King. In between your boat and the 30+ there was a full keel 30 with out board rudder and over the transom tiller. Apparently intended as a small blue water craft, it had a very short product run.

Dick O'Reilly said...

If you have any further details or, better yet, drawings, brochures, photos, please email them to me so that I can add a post about that model. Go to "About Me", ... complete profile, and use the email link to reach me.

plastic stanchions said...

Great Blog!! That was amazing. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master

EP said...

Beauty! The stern looks very much like an Ericson 35 MkII (to me) but with the sheer and forward freeboard more pronounced.

zhaba83 said...

I have just purchased an Ericon 30 in Marina Del Rey, and would love to ask you a few questions regarding the Albin and the carburetor specifically. Do you still update the blog? I can't find any links to an email address. Would be good to ask you a few questions.

Thanks said...

Thanks, just bought an Ericson 27
they are Racing boats.
Stoic and solid, V hull design.


Scott Burrell