Welcome to Kenneth, looking for a Nic 38

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June 11, 2020 at 17:32 #26719
Moderator
Moderator
Keymaster

Kenneth asked to join our forum – he’s seeking a Nic 38 to buy and has some questions for us.

Kenneth, my question for you is where are you located?

Welcome, and I do hope the forum can be useful for you.

Marilyn, moderator

June 11, 2020 at 17:40 #26720
Kenneth
Kenneth
Participant

Thank you for having me!

I’m in the Uk on the south coast and am indeed in the lookout for a nic 38

the few questions I have is really;

is a 50 year old boat still serviceable on a budget?

how do you guys cope with the small cockpit (we would be sailing 2 adults one teen but ultimately I want this as our round the world boat so our son will be moved out  by time we leave)

And the aft cabin… I love everything about the nic 38 except that aft cabin, is it possible to get a double in there? And what hides behind the sink, can you take that section out to create a sideways double?

what’s the average sailing speed, for  a 38ft boat there is only 27ft lwl, does that hinder you?

long keel and marinas… is it manageable or should I look out for a bow thruster?
(I’m used to modern keel boats)

 

thanks in advance!

 

June 13, 2020 at 22:17 #26721
Moderator
Moderator
Keymaster

I’ll take a shot at answering those questions:

1) A 50 yo boat as well-built as the Nic 38 is likely more affordable to service than a more modern boat for a variety of reasons.

a) Nic 38 has solid hull, glassed deck-to-hull join, most the deck is solid (the cabin top is not, and under the mizzen mast has been a weak point for Nic 38 with teak decks). Most newer boats have thin FRP with some sort of hull/deck coring, which often means labor intensive repairs to fix the rot, if the boat is worth salvaging at all.

b) If you find a Nic 38 without a lot of “modern conveniences” added by a PO,  there will be less to repair in the first place. e.g. no fancy rigging, no fancy galley features.

c) if you need to replace thru-hull, hoses, rigging, or sails – the age of the boat doesn’t matter. You don’t need to find the original manufacturer for most repairs.

d)  Many Nic 38 components work great even though they are 50 y.o. I am thinking of the robust chain plates, the range rover-like steering, and in our case, the original Perkins 4-108 engine and Thamesway gearbox – all of which are still serviceable and parts readily available, especially if you are in the UK.

2. The small cockpit is both a blessing and a curse. Three people in the cockpit feels like a crowd. On the other hand, small spaces are good when the seas are rough, when that cockpit feels like a safe cocoon.

IMHO, the Nic 38 is really a cooler climate cruising boat, not a weekend party boat. I say cooler climate because you realize she doesn’t have much ventilation once you reach the heat of the tropics. We’ve added opening portlights, which helps a lot – but required money and time to retrofit.

3. The aft cabin is a great storage area for sails. And can be a reasonable berth for the 3rd person. I would think your teenager would love having their own space. Our aft cabin has the aft head turning into a hanging locker and the sink is replaced with a useful cabinet.

This photo shows what you see if you look under the sink. That is the rudder post and part of the steering gear, so no, you cannot move it.

The obvious next question is, where you can have a fixed double berth in this boat? When coastal cruising with frequent anchorages, we have outfitted the v-berth to be one big V-shaped bed. When blue water sailing, it can be a bit rough up in the v-berth, so we added a lee-cloth to the dinette seat and hot-berth there when needed. The big V-berth bed can also be stowed and turned into 2 singles with lee cloths (we took the lee boards out to add locker-top hatches.)

4. Hull speed is calculated to be 7.7 knots. We’ve sustained just above 8 knots when completely over-canvased and almost surfing down swells. But that’s hard on rigging. I’d guess our average speed is 5.5 or maybe 6 knots, and our rigging and sails hold up well. She’s not a fast boat, be she is very sea-kindly and capable, especially in higher winds and rougher seas.

5. Full keels require some skill to maneuver. You use prop wash in forward to turn the boat when going either fwd or reverse. Find a wide-open space to practice, and you’ll get the hang of it. Also learn how to use spring lines to warp your boat out of a tight slip. I’ve never used a bow thruster, but I would  think it’s one of those fancy modern things that require maintenance and money, and consequently result in less time at sea.

I’m definitely biased about the Nic 38. We’ve only owned 2 boats, a 24 foot Dufour and our Nic 38. After 11 years of Nic 38 ownership, I see no reason to change boats. I love the center cockpit, the helm, the one step into the cabin, and the ketch rigging that makes sail handling easier for a 2 person crew. And I especially appreciate that she is well built and tough enough to sustain kissing the bottom or taking on boarding waves. We’ve had too many of both, and have required no repairs because of it.

Marilyn, moderator

June 15, 2020 at 12:35 #26722
Kenneth
Kenneth
Participant

Thanks for this, and also for the photo, it’s hard to tell but I’m hoping it’s low enough to stick a bunk over it.

 

that and going astern in one are really my only concerns. While I want to cast off the lines, I’ve a few years before then and my berth is a pretty tight finger so I’d Be reversing out or in and don’t want to be restricted if it’s blowing a bit as I like to sail solo too

June 15, 2020 at 20:23 #26723
Moderator
Moderator
Keymaster

Hi Kenneth –

Just to add a few more thoughts, based on your last comments.

If you search the our forum for bow thruster, you’ll find that many people have them and like them. (e.g. here.) There is a lot of windage on the Nic 38 so is easily blown about if you are not aggressive with the engine. (as discussed here.)

Also search for “single hand” and you’ll see that people who sail solo have made modifications to run the lines aft, which I suspect is tricky do to the fixed windscreen. If you have an autopilot you trust, you could go forward to manage the sails.

Our Nic 38 still requires going forward for most sail handling. Just like how she was built, all halyards are at the mast and reefing is done from the deck. We did add slab reefing rather than use the old-style roller reefing. And we added a roller furler headsail, but still have a solent stay that uses hank-on headsails.

Most boats that are 50 years old have had considerable modification by past owners. For example, our aft cabin looks nothing like the original as PO completely modified it.

Good luck finding the right one for you.

Marilyn

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