Deck Leaks, Mast Step Are Top Concerns

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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, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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