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.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. 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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