Ericson 35

By Jack Hornor

Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012

Photo by Sean Engle

Is there anyone out there, other than me, who would vote for some sort of standardization when it comes to designers and boat builders naming and identifying their various models? This month we are going to take a look at the Ericson 35 LOA 34' 8" circa 1969-1982, not to be confused with the Ericson 35, LOA 34' 9" circa 1965; or the Ericson 35, LOA 35' 6" circa 1983-1990; or the Ericson 36, LOA 35' 7" circa 1982-1986; or the Ericson 34, LOA 34' 10" circa 1987-1996. Are you beginning to see where I'm coming from on this?

This Bruce King designed cruiser-racer was introduced in 1969, continued in production until 1982 and was one of Ericson's most successful designs. Nearly 600 boats were built. In a classic sense, this is a great looking boat with a pronounced sheer and very well balanced overhangs. The trunk cabin is nicely proportioned and extends far enough forward to allow good standing headroom in the forward cabin.

Principal Dimensions & Specifications
Measurements should be considered approximate and the manufacturer&s specifications may be relied upon. Bow & stern appendages are generally excluded.
Length Overall34’ 8"
Waterline Length27’ 10"
Maximum Beam10’ 0"
Maximum Draft4’ 11"
Displacement/Weight11,600 lbs
Fuel Capacity22 Gallons
Water Capacity25 Gallons
Sail Area 100%
Fore triangle
533 Sq ft.

This Ericson 35 is representative of a transition period in cruiser-racer design. When this Ericson 35 was introduced, the CCA (Cruising Club of America) rating rule was in effect. However, the IOR (International Offshore Rule) was gaining considerable support and loomed large on the horizon. Influences of late CCA, early IOR and even 12 meter rules can be seen in this design. In fact, the Ericson 35 had a very successful racing career under the CCA rule and continued to be competitive through the early years as an IOR racer.

Construction of this Ericson 35 utilizes a solid laminate of fiberglass cloth and plastic resins in the hull. Hulls were built in split molds resulting in two halves which were then joined on the centerline. This is a common method of construction which allows boats with a molded inward flange at the sheer for joining the deck or boats that have tumblehome hull sections to be removed from the mold once cured. This method of construction is perfectly acceptable provided that adequate reinforcement is used and that secondary bonding is sound. I have not heard of nor seen any problems with the hull joint of Ericson boats over the years. There are a few common and persistent problems one should look for if considering an Ericson 35 of this vintage. It is common to find some degree of deck leaks in the area where rigging chain plates penetrate the deck. If these leaks have been ignored, the main bulkhead, to which the chain plates are attached, may be delaminated or rotted. Plywood was generally used to add strength to the deck composite where hardware is attached. In some cases, attachments were poorly bedded and leaked. This has lead to the deterioration of the plywood core severely weakening these attachments. Other safety concerns or annoyances include the use of gate valve closures on the through hull fittings of older models, the use of ternplate steel fuel tanks that are prone to rust and failure, and use of a 3/4" diameter propeller shaft which may be prone to failure. Most Ericson 35s of this vintage exhibit some degree of mild osmotic blistering although it is unusual to find severe blistering.

Ericson 35

Photo by Sean Engle

Nearly 30 years after its introduction, the performance of this Ericson 35 is still respectable. With an updating of sail handling gear and good sails, a number of boats still compete and win. The sail area displacement of 16.4 is quite high for a boat of this period. This combined with a relatively narrow beam of 10' and a draft of 4'11" result in a boat that may not stand up well to a blow and is likely to develop more than a normal amount of weather helm if a reduction in sail area does not accompany an increase in wind velocity. Other than this you are likely to find that this boat has no particular bad habits sailing either upwind or down.

Despite its relatively narrow beam, the interior arrangement of the Ericson 35 is roomy and well thought out. There is a V-berth forward followed by head and lockers. The main saloon offers either a port side dinette and starboard side settee or port and starboard settees. Aft there is a starboard side galley and port side quarter berth and navigation station. The cockpit of this boat is very large and separated by a full-depth thwart on which the traveler is mounted. Steering may be by either a tiller mounted forward of the thwart or a wheel mounted aft.

Until 1973 all, Ericson 35s were built with Universal Atomic-4 gas engines. After 1973, several diesel engine options were offered. Engine installation on early model boats, with the dinette option, was beneath the aft end of the dinette. On the double settee model, engines were located in the more standard location beneath the companionway.

Ericsons generally enjoy a good reputation for quality, sound construction and style. The draft of 4'11" is not too restrictive for cruising the Chesapeake. This should prove to be a nice family cruiser that should not put you in the poor house. 

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.

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