Tuesday, April 14, 2009

38' Downeaster Cutter

I'm smitten on this boat a bit. It is a 1975 38' Downeaster Cutter. It is at the top of my range, they are asking $25k. But it is one of the biggest, and toughest looking boats I have come across in my price range. Judging from the photos, it could use some work; although it looks well rigged to go anywhere. Here are the specs from the ad:

Additional Specs, Equipment and Information:


Builder: Downeaster Designer: Henry Morschiadt


LOA: 38' LWL: 29.5 Beam: 11' 8"
Displacement: 19,500 Draft: 5' Bridge Clearance: 48'


Engine(s): Diesel Engine(s) HP: 50 Engine Model: Yanmar


Fuel: 90 Water: 100 Holding: 14

photo of  38' Downeaster Cutter
photo of  38' Downeaster Cutter
Cabin Entry
photo of  38' Downeaster Cutter
photo of  38' Downeaster Cutter
50hp Yanmar Diesel
photo of  38' Downeaster Cutter
Bowsprit and Anchor
photo of  38' Downeaster Cutter
photo of  38' Downeaster Cutter
photo of  38' Downeaster Cutter
Bunks and setee

Forward Stateroom, Convertible bunks portside in salon Convertible dinette, and starboard aft 3/4 berth. This vessel will sleep 7.
  • Seafrost refrigeration with engine mount and 110V compressors
  • Diesel cabin heater
  • 3-burner LPG stove

Sails & Winches
  • 1 mainsail with cover
  • 1 roller furling jib with attached cover
  • 3 #8 Lewmar winches
  • 1 staysail with cover
  • 2 #25 Lewmar winches

Cockpit & Helm
  • Stainless Helm with Tiller backup

Navigation & Electronics
  • 1 Alpha 4404 autopilot
  • 1 Raytheon 1200 radar
  • 1 Garmin GPS 50
  • 1 Ritchie 5” compass
  • 1 Garmin GPS 120
  • 1 Raytheon VHF

Mechanical & Electrical
  • 5 12 V SG-29 sealed gel cell batteries in three banks
  • 2 35 amp 115V shore power cords
  • 1 35 amp splitter
  • 1 Westmarine 40 amp multistage battery charger
  • 1 50 amp to 35 amp reducer

So far so good! I did further research and found the following article on it. Check out the link for more pix and diagrams. I love the description:


"Designer Henry Morschladt
Newport Beach, California
Builder Down East Yachts Inc.
700 E. Alton Avenue
Santa Ana, California 92707

LOA 38 ft. 11.58 m.
LWL 29 ft. 8.84 m.
BEAM l1 ft. 10 in. 3.61 m.
DRAFT 4 ft. 11 in. 1.50 m.
DISPLACEMENT 19,500 lbs. 8,845 kg.
BALLAST (encapsulated lead) 8,000 lbs. 3,630 kg.
SAIL AREA (cutter rig) 665 sq. ft. 62 sq. m.
ENGINE Faryman diesel (24 hp; 32 hp optional)
FUEL 90 gals. 340 liters (Note this should read 75 gals - CP)
WATER 50 gals. (100 gals. 190 liters (380
optional) liters optional)
CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass hull and deck; aluminum
fuel tank; stainless-steel water
tank; aluminum spars

The Downeaster 38 was conceived by Bob Poole, a Maine sailor transplanted to the West Coast, as a "classic cruising yacht utilizing modern materials and technology where they belong while retaining the traditional features of the fine early cruising yachts of Down East." Himself experienced in fiberglass yacht construction as an executive of Columbia Yachts, Poole commissioned Henry Morschladt, a young California naval architect who specializes in cruising sailboats, to come up with a suitable design. The result is a straightforward, common-sense boat that will evoke a nostalgic twinge in those who remember what sailboats used to look like. The Downeaster 38 is no greyhound of the sea, but in the long run a friendly shaggy dog makes the better companion for many of us, and for such people the 38 or something like it may very well be the right boat.

The Downeaster 38 is a larger boat than its overall length would indicate since the waterline length is 29 feet and the beam is nearly 12 feet. A ballast displacement ratio of 41 percent, together with the large beam, means that the 38 will stay on her feet despite the shoal draft of just under five feet. Three rigs are available: cutter, ketch, and schooner. All seem well proportioned and easy to manage, though the sail plan in each case is rather on the scant side. The basic sail area of the schooner can be augmented to a greater extent than the other rigs by setting a 498-square-foot gollywobbler between the masts or even a 727-square foot "gollyaker" (a balloon jib set from the main masthead), but it seems a shame to be obliged to use such clumsy sails in light airs on a cruising boat. Still, when the wind pipes up a bit. all three versions of the Downeaster 38 ought to perform merrily without imposing any' stress on their crews. There are a few items in the sail plans I don't particularly like-for instance, the angle of the mainsheet in the cutter and the pin rails in the shrouds of the ketch and schooner-but these are easily corrected.

The interior of the 38 is conventional in outline and well thought out in detail. The forward cabin sports a double berth. The starboard side of the main cabin has a pilot berth outboard of a settee and the port side can be arranged either in the same way or with a settee that converts to a double with a shelf over it. The galley has a double sink near the centerline, a desirable feature, and opposite is a fixed chart table and a quarter berth.

Construction specifications seem high, with the laminate to Lloyd's requirements. Seacocks on all through-hull fittings below the waterline, a steel back-bone in the rudder, and so forth. Sand set in a polyurethane adhesive is used for nonskid deck surfaces in place of the customary molded patterns that are invariably slippery when wet. Mr. Poole clearly cares about his customers. Another welcome item is the provision for hand-starting of the engine in an emergency. Wheel steering is standard, as are two independent batteries. Lots of options are available, of which some really ought to be part of the standard boat: an emergency tiller, the grounding of the rigging for lightning protection, a set of metric tools and a spare-parts kit for the German engine, dorade ventilators, and grab rails in the interior. Still. as production boats go, the Downeaster 38 is better in this respect than most, and on the whole. designer and Builder are to be congratulated on their work."


Anonymous said...

Hey, I bought a Downeast 38 a year ago and love it, though I am not experienced at all. Let me know if you want to get in touch to hear more

Erick said...

Hi! This is anonymous so I'm not sure how to contact you, please get a hold of me!

Anonymous said...

I dont really want to leave my email in an open comment...let me know how to contact you...

mike said...

this is a fabulous blog. I am just about to buy my own DE 38 . More to say about that later.

I have one important question. You list the mast clearance at 48 feet. Your site is the only place i have seen that number. Where did you get it and have you actually done the measurement? I am in Fort Myers and want to try to get to the East Coast by way of the Okeechobee canal. all the bridges are 55 feet except one railway bridge which is 49. Hate to go half way across florida and have to tun around.
Thanks for you help


Nahmen said...

After spending may years searching for the perfect sail boat that would take me to Europe and back through the Panama canal to spend the rest of my life sailing the south sea I found the perfect ship, a "Grand Banks 38". After some modifications I had planed this trip for 1984.But on December 7th 1981 I had an encounter with the LORD. He threw a monkey wrench in to all my plans.
I will forever be grateful.

Erick said...

Hi! I apologize for not commenting here. I posted my email on my profile, for anyone needing to get a hold of me:


Far Niente said...

My girlfriend and I bought a DE 38 cutter last fall. We are very close to launching, after along winter restoration.
We live in SE Mass. I was wondering if there are any other DE 38 boat owners in the area.
Chris and Robin

Far Niente said...

My girlfriend and I bought a DE 38 cutter last fall. We're very close to launching, after along winter restoration.
We live in SE Mass. and I was wondering if there any other DE 38 boaters in the area.
Chris and Robin

Anonymous said...

My wife and I will most likely be getting a DE 38 next year from a family member and moving aboard. We have sailed it as crew fairly extensively so we already know a lot about the boat.. anyone that has questions about them I can answer a fair amount already.

scott at scottcarle dot com


Jasko said...

Erick et al,
How is the work with your DE38 going, last we talked I was about to buy my own DE 38 but the deal fell thru. So here we are in late fall and I am still looking. After a summer of sailing other boats I realized that as much as I like the DE 38 roominess (I am 6'6" tall and plenty of head room) I am reluctant to get a boat that I have not sailed. Everyone has a different opinion about how a boat should handle so hard to get a realistic assessment of whats good and what’s not, Have no doubt that the DE 38 is sea worthy but I do a lot of coastal sailing and like to have a boat with a responsive helm. So if anyone has one in the water and would take me out for a few hours I would appreciate it. Happy to cover any expenses to get a hour of experience. I am in SC but going to Florida in a month and happy to come to any place to get this experience.
Mike in SC
PS If anyone is concerned about my ability . I have been sailing all my life most lately on a Bristol 41.1 about 5 trips up and down the East Coast.

hugo said...

Hi! Is this Downeaster still availalbe? If so I'm interested in seeing it.

Jerry said...

My friend doesn't have a computer. Looking at a Downeaster 38' Very exp trans oceanic sailor - just sunk a Cape George.
Said when he stepped aboard it seemed tippy.
Is it tippy under sail, safe in high winds rough seas ?
easy to knock down ?

Or good for above


Mel said...

Hi Erick! I've been taking a look at your blog and it's great. My boyfriend and I recently bought a DE38 in Hong Kong, where we currently live. She needs a bit of work (which we could use all the advice we can get) before we set sail for a six month voyage down to the Fiji Islands. I am particularly tasked with fixing up the interior (Main Salon, Setee, V-Berth, etc.). I would be ever so grateful for any advice on how to get started. You look like you've been down this path before ...

Thanks in advance!

Erick said...


I'd love to help you out with any specific questions you have on rebuilding the DE38. I haven't done much in terms of remodeling the interior just yet, I have been busy on the bottom job, engine room and decks. As for the interior, I've removed almost all wooden trim to refinish and have almost completely disassembled the interior. All of my cabinets were water damaged so I will be replacing them. If you would like to see what I do, just follow the blog. However, it will be a few months before I start to really work on the interior furnishings.