By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
|Principal Dimensions & Specifications|
|Measurements should be considered approximate and the manufacturer&s specifications may be relied upon. Bow & stern appendages are generally excluded.|
|Length Overall||44’ 2”|
|Waterline Length||34’ 1”|
|Maximum Beam||12’ 6”|
|Maximum Draft||Board Up 4’ 11”|
|Board Down 8’ 9”|
The proliferation of incredibly beautiful, outrageously expensive, classically-styled daysailers over the last few years has given me renewed confidence that there will always be a place in this world for beautiful boats no matter how impractical they may be. The Alden 44 is not a particularly fast boat compared to a modern 44-footer and her accommodations are not as "accommodating" as a modern 38-footer. That said, it's hard to deny that this is one of the most beautiful yachts ever built.
Design credit for the Alden 44 is often given to company founder John Gale Alden although Alden sold his company in 1955 and was long out of the picture by 1976 when the Alden 44 was introduced. Her lines were drawn by Nils Helleberg of the Alden design office and are quite different from any of the designs of the late J. G. Alden himself. The Alden 44 was built by Tillotson Pearson International (TPI) of Warren, RI, and marketed by Alden Yachts of Boston, MA. The model continued to be offered until 1996 and should not be confused with the Alden Offshore 44 which is a ketch sold by Cheoy Lee Yachts in the early 1970s.
The hull is constructed of hand-laid fiberglass and vacuum bagged with a 3/4-inch balsa wood core to within six inches of the deck edge. The decks and cabin are similarly constructed resulting in a strong but light structure. Unidirectional fiberglass cloth is used for reinforcement in high load areas. The hull and deck are joined on an inward flange with 3-M's 5200 adhesive sealant and through-bolted. Early on an aluminum toe rail was used which was later replaced with a more traditional looking, if less functional, teak rail.
Photo by John Osetek
The deck layout of the Alden 44 features a narrow, low trunk cabin and very wide side decks. The location and number of deck hatches and ports was dependent on the interior arrangement chosen but in any event first class materials were always used. The cockpit is T-shaped, comfortable for four adults and adequate for six.
Because most Alden 44s were built on a semi-custom basis, it is rare to find two models exactly alike below deck. Although there were only two arrangement plans offered, original buyers had considerable flexibility regarding the finish and equipment. The arrangement sometimes referred to as the Mk I, featured a V-berth forward with a bureau and hanging locker followed by the main saloon with port and starboard settees and centerline drop-leaf table.
A companionway ladder at the aft end of the saloon leads to a cabin top entrance hatch. The engine compartment is below and a port head and starboard galley flank the engine compartment and provide a pass-through to the owner's cabin. The owner'cabin features port and starboard quarter berths, a navigation table, lots of storage and a starboard companionway leading to the cockpit.
The Mk II version offers a less chopped up arrangement with a single centerline companionway from the cockpit to the cabin where there is a starboard galley and double quarter berth to port. Moving forward there is a dinette to starboard and settee and pilot berth to port. The owner's stateroom is forward and there is a large head to starboard between the dinette and owner's stateroom. I would prefer the Mk I for extended offshore cruising but the more open Mk II is better suited to shorter cruising and entertaining. In either case, the quality of joiner work, fit and finish is excellent.
Originally, auxiliary power was provided by Perkins model 4-108 diesel engines which were later replaced by Yanmar models. Both are dependable, long-lived engines when properly maintained although the Yanmar engines tend to be cleaner operating with less of a propensity for minor but nagging oil leaks. The Mk I model places the engine near amidships, a better location for weight distribution and no shaft angle while the Mk II places it beneath the aft companionway necessitating a V-drive and shaft angle that is less efficient.
The sail plan of the Alden 44 is perhaps best described as a cutter-rigged sloop. She has a relatively high aspect mainsail with a club-footed staysail and genoa. This arrangement allows for the versatility of the cutter rig when sailing offshore. The sail area is a conservative 875 sq. ft. for a sail area displacement ratio of 16.8. The displacement length ratio is 270. Although the 44 is a centerboard model she is quite weatherly even with the board raised, and her excellent sailing qualities are well documented by numerous bluewater passages and many circumnavigations.
Recreational boats of this size often are called yachts particularly by non-boaters. Most who own them simply think of themselves as boat owners and sailors. To me, whether a boat is a yacht or not has little to do with size but everything to do with quality, style and lasting appeal. Yachts turn heads when they sail by or enter an anchorage and by these standards the Alden 44 deserves to be called a yacht.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.