Deck Leaks, Mast Step Are Top Concerns


The Ericson 34-2 hull hand-laminated monocoque structure made from a single mold.

The boats structure relies on the tri-axial force grid, which Ericson describes as a one piece hand laminated system of fiberglass transverse and longitudinal hat section beams fiberglassed inside the hull bottom to support the mast, shroud, keel and engine loads. It is constructed of unidirectional roving matte, and woven roving, with limber holes for draining.

Ericson 34’s fiberglass-bonded hull-to-deck

The deck is balsa-cored with extra laminate at high stress areas and additonal reinforcement at all deck penetrations and load bearing areas-winch pads, stanchion bases, etc.

Headsail sheet winches are mounted on fiberglass islands that are part of the deck molding. Plywood is frequently used by builders to add compression strength to laminates under hardware.

One of the more reassuring features is the laminated hull-to deck joint, a labor intensive feature that is rarely seen in production boats today.

A few owners in our survey report leaking shroud chainplates, and cracking in the force grid at the mast step.

The ballast is a lead casting bolted on with 12 bolts. A surveyor might recommend one be pulled for inspection, depending on the condition of the boat.

Leaky portlights and hatches are common on boats of this age, and along with the mast step, you’ll want to check the grid where it ties into shroud loads. Sharp corners in lockers or external locker lids may have gelcoat cracking.

In the later version the 35-2, about 30 percent of our surveyed owner had hull blisters. Owners of two 34s in our survey reported blisters.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at