Designed in the late 1960s by Peter Nicholson, the Nicholson 35 quickly earned a reputation as a steadfast ocean cruising yacht. Duncan Kent reports
USED BOAT: Nicholson 35
Nicholson 35 review
See the Summer 2016 issue of Yachting Monthly for the full test
What’s she like to sail?
Like all long fin-keeled heavy displacement cruisers the Nicholson 35 is designed to take almost any adverse weather and sea conditions in her stride. Her overhanging, deep-vee bow section means she parts the waves resolutely, with little drama or spray, exuding only a gentle rocking motion as she goes. The very conservative sail plan of the early models versus her generous ballast ratio means she’s a very stiff yacht that only really starts to heel in a Force 5 and can keep full sail up until well over 20 knots of wind is blowing over her decks.
Her big genoa can make headsail sheeting hard work, but this is mitigated her leisurely tacking speed compared to a shorter
fin keeled yacht. She makes good passage time due to her steadfast ability to drive through the rough stuff, and being so stable and sea kindly means you can live, sleep and cook aboard safely and comfortably, relaxing in the knowledge that these robust and resilient vessels have covered millions of sea miles in their lifetime.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
Like all yachts of this era her accommodation is fairly rudimentary. Though 35ft overall, her interior is ideally suited to a couple, with occasional guests. The forecabin isn’t massive – I’m 6ft tall and in ours we used to sleep heads forward so my feet could hang over the end of the bunk through the door! The saloon is much roomier, but means you have to make up the beds every night, which is tedious long term. Later models offered a quarterberth, which, though useful on passage, nearly always gets used for stowage and you lose a deep cockpit locker.
Closing both forecabin and saloon sliding doors gives a good sized, ventilated heads compartment, which is easily fitted with a shower. Her galley is a good size too, so cooking for friends and crew presents few problems and her deep cool box is often converted to provide separate fridge and freezer compartments.
She has a roomy cockpit for living and eating al fresco, but her slightly retroussé transom can make access to the water for swimming a little awkward.
Would she suit you and your crew?
She comes with an excellent pedigree and is fondly loved by those for whom safety and comfort at sea is more important than speed and agility. That’s not to say she can’t make impressive passage times. Given enough wind she’ll still be battling to windward in sea conditions that would make many a more modern cruising yacht owner run for the nearest cover.
The original deck gear was made from top quality materials and substantially engineered, thereby making it all simple to maintain regularly. Obviously, it depends on how they’ve been worked over the years, but it’s not unusual to find them still going strong with 40 year-old winches, tracks and cars. Probably the only aspect of the boat that could put off a potential buyer is the original reverse-mount engine with its hydraulic drive system. It’s getting more difficult to gets spares for and the location of the prop, on the back of the keel, makes her very difficult to manoeuvre at close quarters, particularly when going astern.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Guide price £30-40,000
LOA 10.76m (35ft 3in)
LWL 8.15m (26ft 9in)
Beam 3.20m (10ft 5in)
Draught 1.70m (5ft 6in)
Displacement 8,013kg (17,628 lb)
Ballast 3,318kg (7,300 lb)
Ballast ratio 41.4%
D/LWL ratio 411
Sail area 65/70m2 (698/757ft2)
SA/D ratio 16.48
Diesel 160 lit (35 gal)
Water 275 lit (60 gal)
Engine 47hp Perkins 4108
Transmission Z-drive hydraulic
Designer Peter Nicholson
Builder Camper & Nicholson