Boat Reviews

C & C Landfall 38

We've yet to find the perfect cruiser, but much of what we'd want can be found right here.

The C&C Landfall 38 was the midsize boat in the Canadian company’s three-boat Landfall range, which also included a 35- and a 43- footer. This series was produced as a distinct line until 1987, when the Landfall name was dropped.

Unlike other C&Cs, whose interior and deck layouts are designed for racing as well as cruising, the Landfalls are geared toward cruising, with more comfort, a slightly higher degree of finish detail, and deck layout concessions to the cruising couple.

These are performance cruisers, however. Despite more wetted surface, more displacement, and a slightly smaller rig than the original C&C 38, the Landfall 38 is a fast boat, designed for cruisers who want to get there quickly, as well as in style.

The Landfall 38 is a direct descendant of the old C&C 38, the older hull design having been modified with slightly fuller sections forward, a slightly raked transom rather than an IOR reversed transom, a longer, shoaler keel, and a longer deckhouse for increased interior volume.

Nevertheless, the hull is more that of a sleek racer rather than a fat cruiser. For the additional performance that makes the boat a true performance cruiser, you trade off a hull volume that is slightly smaller than you would expect in a pure cruiser of the same waterline length. This is most notable in the ends of the boat, where the V-berth forward narrows sharply, and the hull rises so quickly aft that C&C’s normal gas bottle stowage at the end of the cockpit is eliminated.

C&C was a pioneer in composite fiberglass construction. Balsa coring became synonymous with the company name over the years.


Construction of the Landfall 38 is typical of the C&C line. Hulls are a one-piece, balsa cored molding. The deck and the top of the cabin trunk are also balsa cored. Hull and deck are through-bolted with stainless steel bolts on 6" centers. The hull-to-deck bolts also serve as fasteners for the teak toerail, which replaces the familiar and businesslike slotted aluminum toerail used on other boats in the C&C line.

C&C used butyl tape as a compound in the hull-todeck joint. Although this is a good, resilient bedding compound, it has no real structural properties. We would rather see an adhesive rubber compound such as 3M 5200 used in the joint to provide a chemical backup to the strong mechanical fastening.

The keel is an external lead casting, bolted to an integral keel sump. The keel is a fairly low aspect ratio fin, keeping the draft of the Landfall 38 to 5'. The keel is flat on the bottom, and the boat will stand on its keel, something that can’t be said for a lot of fin keel boats.

All deck hardware is through-bolted, and is equipped with either backup plates or oversize washers. The relatively narrow hull-to-deck flange, however, means that some of the backup plates do not lie flat on the underside of the deck, as they bridge the narrow flange. This can result in uneven local stresses which can lead to gelcoat cracks in the vicinity of hardware such as lifeline stanchion bases.

The Landfall 38 uses bronze seacocks on all underwater through hull fittings. These are properly bolted to the hull, and their hoses are double clamped. The skin fittings are neither recessed flush to the hull nor faired in, however. This would be a fairly easy task for the owner.

In contrast to many boats, the mast step does not sit in the depths of the bilge where it can slowly turn to mush, taking the bottom of the mast with it.

Rather, the mast step spans two deep floor timbers in the bilge sump, keeping the heel of the mast out of the water and providing stiffness in an area which is frequently too weak in fin keel boats.

Although most construction details are excellent, there are some shortcomings surprising on a boat of this quality. The engine compartment has no soundproofing, despite the fact that the engine sits a few feet from the owner’s berth.

C&C construction is light but strong. The Landfall 38 is heavier than the old C&C 38 because of extra ballast, more interior joinerwork and molding, and a longer deck.

Handling Under Sail

Although the Landfall 38 is a cruising boat, her performance approaches or exceeds that of many production racer-cruisers. Her hull is basically an undistorted IOR shape, and the rig is a slightly shorter version of the old C&C 38 rig.

The Landfall is a full 2,000 lbs heavier than the original C&C 38. Nevertheless, there is relatively little difference in the performance of the two boats.

In typical C&C fashion, the rig is aerodynamically clean, with airfoil spreaders and Navtec rod rigging. Shroud chainplates—also Navtec—are set inboard for good upwind performance.

The large rig and big headsails of the Landfall may be intimidating to some cruising couples. The 100% foretriangle area of 385 square feet is pretty intimidating, since it means that the 150% genoa has an area of almost 580 square feet.

Because of the large foretriangle, the boat is a natural candidate for a good roller furling headsail system if it is to be cruised by a couple.

Main halyard, reefing, and cunningham lines are all led aft to the cockpit. Headsail halyards, however, lead to winches atop the cabin trunk just aft of the mast. This prevents the helmsman from assisting with headsails when the boat is sailed by a couple. This may or may not be a problem, depending on how agile the foredeck crew is. Since you can get two headsail halyards and two headsail halyard winches, a better solution might be to relocate one of the headsail winches aft, leaving the other near the mast. Then, headsail hoisting and dropping can be tailored to the particular crew’s needs.

Surprisingly, self-tailing winches were not standard on the boat, except for the mainsheet winch. On an expensive boat which has hot and cold water as standard items, we’d certainly expect to see selftailing genoa sheet winches, particularly if the boat is to be used for shorthanded sailing. Self-tailers make sail handling so much easier when cruising that they are just about the first thing we’d add to any cruising boat. And they’d be the biggest self-tailers we could fit on the winch islands.

The Landfall 38 is stiff and well-balanced under sail. Owners report that she is as fast or faster than similar boats of the same size. The Landfall 38’s PHRF rating, for example, is 120, squarely between the 114 of the Cal 39 and the 126 of the Tartan 37— two boats to which the Landfall 38 will inevitably be compared in size, type, and price.

To our way of thinking, performance cruising is what it’s all about. It’s all well and good to have a heavy, underrigged boat if you’re cruising around the world. Most people’s cruising, however, is limited to a few weeks a year, with moderate distances between ports, and schedules that have to be met. A boat that will get you there fast, safely, and in comfort is a highly desirable type of boat for this kind of cruising. From a performance viewpoint, the Landfall 38 meets those requirements.

Handling Under Power

C&C was one of the first boatbuilding firms to introduce Yanmar diesels into the US market, and they stuck with Yanmar through thick and thin. Yanmar engines have been a paragon of reliability, but they have had the reputation for vibration and noise. Vibration has at times been so bad that engine mounts have broken and shafts have refused to stay in their couplings. It is always difficult to say in an engine installation whether the engine, the design of the installation, or the person doing the installation is at fault when there are problems. One Landfall 38 owner has had three prop shafts in his boat. Now, after careful matching of the shaft flanges and careful alignment of the engine, he reports satisfaction with the installation. C&C picked up a hefty bill on that one, but they did it without hesitation.

Careful engine and shaft alignment is a key to good engine performance, particularly in a modern boat with a short shaft and a flex-mounted diesel engine.

The 30 hp Yanmar 3HM, which replaced the 3QM in the Landfall 38, is perfectly adequate power for the boat, easily achieving hull speed. The boat handles well under power in either forward or reverse.

Engine access for service is a mixed bag. The engine is tucked well aft, under the cockpit, and drives the prop through a V-drive. The oil is checked by removing a panel in the quarterberth in the owner’s cabin. The companionway ladder and a bureau next to it remove fairly easily for access to the back of the engine, although it will probably be necessary to empty the drawers before the bureau can be lifted out. The oil filter is reached by climbing down into the starboard cockpit locker. Once again, emptying the locker may be necessary.

Since there is no engine drip pan, you must exercise great care when changing oil and oil filters to keep the bilge clean. The engine is wedged so tightly under the cockpit sole that a funnel is required— with along hose—to add either oil or engine coolant. A partial plywood bulkhead that hangs over the engine complicates this, and could easily be cut away to give slightly better access.

Battery access is poor. A mirror is required to check electrolyte levels, and filling the batteries just about requires removing them from the battery boxes.

The standard prop is a solid two bladed wheel. To reduce the considerable drag of this installation, we’d change to either a folding two bladed prop such as a Martec, or a feathering prop such as the Maxprop.

C & C managed to cram three cabins into the Landfall 38 with fair success, and was even able to include an enclosed head with separate shower stall. The nav station and owner’s cabin aft of the head need some protection from the weather, however: if the companionway is left open under sail, spray could get below and ruin everything from charts to instruments to bedding.

Deck Layout

Although the deck layout of the Landfall 38 is similar to that of other boats in the C&C line—performance oriented—some changes have been made to make

the boat more suited to cruising. The stern rail incorporates a fold down swimming ladder, and the bow pulpit is the walk-through type, suited to tying up bow-to at the dock. The bow pulpit also incorporates international style running lights, rather than the running lights mounted in the topsides that were a C&C trademark for years. Thank God for progress.

Unfortunately, the wiring for the running lights is relatively unprotected inside the anchor locker, and the electrical connections there are simple butt splices with no weathersealing.

The anchor locker has strong hinges, but lacks a positive latch. There is also no means of securing the bitter end of the anchor rode. Prudent owners will install an eyebolt or through-bolted padeye.

A new stainless steel stemhead fitting incorporates bow rollers for both chain and rope. There is no provision for a keeper pin in the bow roller, however, and the cheeks of the fitting do not extend high enough to guarantee that the rode will not jump out of the roller when the boat pitches at anchor.

With the shrouds set well inboard, fore and aft access is excellent. There are handrails along the cabintop, and a stainless steel guardrail over the forward dorade boxes to keep headsail sheets from fouling.

A few Landfall 38s were built with teak decks. This $10,000 option really makes the boat elegant, and is practical underfoot.

Although this is a cruising boat, there is no molded coaming for the attachment of a cockpit dodger, except a small lip around the companionway hatch. Admittedly, leading all sail controls aft along the cabin top complicates the installation of a dodger, but it can be done. Of course, the dodger can be installed even without a breakwater, but it won’t be as effective in keeping water out of the cockpit.

The cockpit is a fairly typical T-shaped C&C design. A large-diameter Edson wheel makes it possible for the helmsman to sit to weather or to leeward, but requires making the cockpit seats too short to lie on. On some C&C models, molded seats in the aft corners of the cockpit serve both to support the helmsman’s seat and as storage for propane bottles. On the Landfall 38, the cockpit has been pushed so far aft—because of the longer deckhouse—that the hull is too shallow under the aft end of the cockpit for the traditional gas lockers. A separate molded bottle locker that fits under the helmsman’s seat is installed when a gas stove is used. Unfortunately, this eliminates the normal life raft storage position. Owners who want both propane and a life raft are going to have to figure out another place to stow the life raft.

A shallow locker under the port cockpit seat is handy for small items, and there is a deep locker under the starboard seat. Changing oil filters requires climbing down into this locker, as does adjusting the stuffing box.

The forward end of the cockpit is protected by a good bridgedeck. Although the companionway is slightly off center, it is not enough to be concerned about in heavy weather. The companionway has other problems, however. Since the bulkhead slopes forward, the drop board must be left in place when it rains. Also, since the bottom of the companionway is below the top of the cockpit coamings, ORC requirements demand that it be left in place when racing offshore. Although this isn’t a racing boat, the ORC requirements make good guidelines for offshore cruising practices. Because the drop board is a single teakfaced plywood board, in either situation the companionway must be all the way closed—or left all the way open.

The companionway sill has no lip, so that water can enter the cabin under the drop board. This is a simple fix for owner or factory. The prudent owner will also install a barrel bolt to secure the drop board in place when sailing offshore.


C&C’s interior designs are among the best in the business, and the interior of the Landfall 38 is no exception. The preponderance of teak is a little overwhelming, but it is varnished, rather than oiled, making it slightly lighter than you might expect.

It takes quite a bit of ingenuity to cram a threecabin interior and huge head with separate shower stall into a 38' boat. In the Landfall 38, this has been accomplished with a reasonable amount of success.

The forward cabin has the usual V-berth, drawers, several lockers, and a cedar-lined hanging locker. This hanging locker is the only really usable hanging space on the entire boat, despite the existence of a rudimentary hanging locker in the aft cabin.

A large hatch over the forward cabin can be used as an escape hatch; a single step is mounted on the bulkhead to make it possible to climb out the hatch. There is solid 6' headroom in the forward cabin, and enough standing room for comfortable dressing. The V-berth, however, is too pointed at the foot for reasonable comfort for two tall people. There are reading lights over each side of the berth, and a light in the hanging locker—a welcome feature.

The main saloon begins aft of the forward cabin, with no intervening head compartment. Lighting and ventilation of the Landfall 38 is about the best we’ve seen in a production boat. Both fluorescent and incandescent fixtures are located throughout the main cabin. Remember that you should not use fluorescent lights when you are operating the Loran, as the RF noise of fluorescent lights may interfere with signal acquisition.

The main cabin, galley, and head are ventilated by four large cowl vents in dorade boxes, plus small opening hatches in head and galley. C&C gets an A+ for ventilation in this boat.

Water tanks are located under the main cabin settees, where they belong. Unfortunately, these tanks vent to the outside of the hull, risking contamination of the water supply. This is a common fault in American production boats, and one with no real justification. We’d rather risk spilling a little water in the inside of the boat by overfilling the tanks than risk salt water in our fresh water supply from water siphoning into the tanks in heavy weather through vents mounted in the topsides.

The Landfall 38 uses molded polyethylene water tanks. Occasionally, these tanks are “overcooked” during manufacture, imparting an unpleasant taste to the water that cannot be removed. We’ve seen it on more than one boat, including C&Cs.

Fresh water plumbing is butyl tubing rather than the more commonly seen clear PVC. Butyl is far less likely to impart any taste to your water, and is highly

desirable. It is easily recognized by its battleship gray color and relative rigidity. A manifold under the sink allows switching between the three water tanks, which have a total capacity of 99 gallons. In addition, the 30 gallon holding tank could easily be replumbed as a fresh water tank, giving a very respectable water capacity properly distributed throughout the boat.

In typical C&C fashion, the galley is well laid out and well executed, with deep centerline sinks, kickspace under the counters, and a large icebox. The icebox lid is insulated (hurray!) but ungasketed (boo!), and the icebox melt water is pumped overboard (hurray!) rather than draining into the bilge.

Counter space is excellent. In an attempt to get more, a fold-down counter is fitted over the stove.

Unfortunately, it must be folded up when the stove is in use, making the locker behind the stove inaccessible. Since the boat already has good counter space, we’d eliminate the folding nuisance.

The standard stove is a large gimballed alcohol affair. Don’t even consider it. Get either the optional propane installation, or the optional CNG stove. Alcohol has no business as a cooking fuel on any boat to be used as a serious cruising boat.

The stove recess is protected by a stainless steel grabrail which gives the cook a handhold and prevents him from being thrown against the stove in a seaway. A counter with built-in bottle storage separates the galley from the main cabin.

Generally, the galley is usable at sea or at anchor, with excellent storage, usable spaces, and functional appliances. Hot and cold pressure water is standard, and a backup fresh water foot pump is provided at the galley sink.

The main cabin table is strongly mounted to both cabin sole and mast, and easily—and honestly— serves six at dinnertime. Port and starboard settees can be used for sleeping, although the backrests at the head and foot of each settee will have to be removed and stored somewhere for anyone over about 5’8" tall.

Storage is provided outboard of each settee. The handy owner will install shelves in these lockers to better utilize the space.

Opposite the galley is a huge head complete with separate shower stall. The sink and counter are a single fiberglass molding with a large sink and a high protective lip, making this part of the head infinitely more usable than the usual tiny oval sink.

Although at first glance there appears to be a great deal of storage in the head, much of the locker space is occupied by plumbing. The only locker really suited for linens is located in the shower stall, and is equipped with a latch which must be reached through a finger hole in the locker door. Water will inevitably find its way into this locker. The locker could easily be fitted with another type of catch, and ventilation holes could be bored through to the head compartment to help prevent mildew. The separate shower stall will make those unused to boat living far more comfortable, although some might prefer the additional storage space the boat had before the separate stall appeared.

Oddly, the water closet is tucked so far under the side deck that it’s impossible to sit upright on it. While you may argue that few people sit upright on the toilet, there will be plenty of cracked crania before you get used to the required position.

Another oddity is that the head door is louvered. Admittedly, there is little privacy in the head on any boat. Since the Landfall’s head is already well-vented by a cowl vent and an opening hatch, we’d eliminate the louvered head door to restore at least a bit of privacy.

The aft cabin makes a good owner’s stateroom, with large double quarterberth to port and chart table to starboard. Unfortunately, the chart table makes a better dressing table than chart table. There is no provision for the installation of instruments such as radio or Loran in the nav area. A shallow hanging locker occupies the space outboard of the chart table where these instruments would normally be mounted. It’s a poor hanging locker, since the garments face thwartships rather than fore and aft. The only thing you can see is the last item you put in. It is unusable as a wet locker, since you’d have to drag your foul weather gear over the chart table.

For serious cruising, we’d eliminate this hanging locker, using the space to mount radios, Loran, repeaters, and provide a bookcase for our navigation books. This has the serendipitous byproduct of allowing the shallow chart table to be made deeper, which it sorely needs.

What about hanging space? Well, here goes. Make the linen locker in the shower a hanging locker by eliminating or reducing the size of the holding tank under it. Or (we can see marketing people putting guns to their heads), eliminate the separate shower stall and create more storage. So much for redesign.

In the way of modifications, however, the nice double quarterberth is going to get soaking wet the first time a big one comes over the weather rail and water pours through the companionway when the boat is on starboard tack. In the same situation on port tack, the chart table will get soaked. A set of plexiglass screens on either side of the companionway should solve that one, and should be considered if the boat is to be used offshore. For shorthanded cruising, that quarterberth is the ideal place for the off watch, provided it can be kept dry. The necessity for keeping the sacrosanct nav station and its fragile electronics—and equally fragile navigator—out of the weather should be obvious.

The basic interior layout of the Landfall 38 is excellent for the cruising couple that likes a private cabin aft, and will sometimes entertain others for extended periods of time. As with most boats, a certain amount of fine tuning of interior spaces will be necessary to get the most out of them. The boat has a fair number of complex systems: hot and cold water, electric pumps, multiple tanks. In fact, the 16 circuits provided for in the electrical panel are almost all used up before you get to things like navigation and performance electronics. Fortunately, there is space for an additional electrical panel. You’re probably going to need it.


With an average used price for a 1984 model at around $70,000, the Landfall 38 is not a cheap way to go cruising. The price is typical of luxury performance cruisers in its class.

General design and construction are excellent. The hull is a proven design, the rig is efficient and strong. There are a number of design details that should be improved for serious cruising, notably the companionway, cockpit protection, life raft storage, and provision for shorthanded handling under sail.

A serious cruising boat must function as well bashing to windward for days on end as it does at the dock. Above all, it must keep its crew dry and comfortable. We have yet to find the perfect cruising boat, but many of the things we’d look for are found in the Landfall 38. We wish they were all there, but the fact that they aren’t is what keeps designers and builders in business.

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