About the Nic 38

Information provided by Jeremy Lines, who was a designer at Camper & Nicholsons starting in 1958.

The Nicholson 38 was designed by Camper & Nicholsons in 1965 as a ketch motor-sailer. C&N came to an arrangement with John Alden to modify his Mistral design which had previously been moulded by Halmatic, this included increasing the length and freeboard with new hull and deck moulds, arrangement and rig.

The first yacht was exhibited at the 1966 London Boat Show and had been built alongside Gipsy Moth IV. All Nicholson 38’s were moulded by Halmatic and nearly all were completed by C&N at Gosport except for ten sold as Part Assemblies completed by their owners.

No 26 Mauna Kea was the first to complete a circumnavigation in the early 1970’s and the last one No 134 NICOLISA was moulded in 1976 and completed by her owner in 1978.

We’ve got some interesting documentation available:

Original Camper & Nicholsons marketing brochure (4MB download as PDF)

Original Build Specification for the Nic 38, complete with Jeremy Lines hand written edits. (<1 MB download as PDF) – See here to learn how to order a CD that is a comprehensive set of Nic 38 documentation and drawings

– Jeremy mentions the Mistral by John Alden above as the basis of the Nic 38 design. If you are curious about what the Mistral was like, here is the Sail Plan and some Design Specs.

There are three Yachting World magazine articles about the Nic 38, which we cannot post because they are still under copyright. But you can buy at least the second one from Yachting World archives.

– July 1972: “Nicholson 38” This is a boat review of the Nic 38 while she was still in production! Their conclusion from this motorsailing trial – she was chosen as the winner of the “Principal emphasis in Sail” category and described as having “quality workmanship”. Apparently she came in last under power and first under sail.

– October 1993: “Test of Time – Nicholson 38” This review is of Chihili Q, currently owned by Adrain Weston. The article largely describes the refits made by the owner of the day. Also interesting, it has a “surveyors report” that speaks very highly of the Nic 38, then around 20 years after production, saying that survey reports are rather ‘routine’ for the Nic 38s. The cautions: inspect the rudder stock to look for GRP bonding of the bronze rudder stock onto the rudder blades moulding, which can work loose; the engine in noisy so don’t run at high revs; cockpit canopy is probably siezed in place though by-design is removable; freshwater tank blisters; dodgy placement of the cockpit drain valve under the batteries; exhaust pipe up to water mixer has a short life. (Moderator comment: Based on our experiences with our 1974 vintage Nic 38, seems right on to me!)

July 2019: “Find me a …”  section highlights the Nicholson 38 with a nice review stating it is a classic yacht that meets the criteria of being a 32-28 ft cruising ketch under £35K.

Here’s one of the beauties under sail.

This is 38/4 MOAIA in a gale off Cowes in 1967. Photo provided by Jeremy Lines.