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For sailors with big ambitions and small budgets, the Bristol 27 has to be near the top of the list.
This Carl Alberg design is yet another first-generation Bristol with the long overhangs, a wine-glass-shaped hull and attached rudder that gives the boat an easy ride in a seaway.
A review by bluewaterboats.org sums it up: “Although the boat was intended more for coastal sailing, the design is inherently seaworthy; well-prepped boats are easily capable of offshore work.”
There are many B27s around: More than 330 were built between 1966 and 1978, when Bristol transformed from narrow, full-keeled sailboats to somewhat beamier vessels with long fin keels and skegs to protect the rudder. And they are affordable.
B27s come in a variety of flavors — inboard and outboard engines, a weekender with a large cockpit, a double-settee model and a dinette version that has the galley situated along the starboard side of the cabin.
The outboard models usually have wells, so you don’t have to hang the engine off the stern, although it can be difficult to put a modern four-stroke outboard into them. Some owners hunt for older two-stroke engines that are in good running shape.
Inboard models originally came with Atomic 4 gasoline engines, but some have been repowered with small diesels. Parts are still easily available for the Atomic 4.
Whichever version you have, there will be limited cabin space even for a 27-foot sailboat, although the salon will accommodate someone as tall as 5 feet, 10 inches without making him or her stoop.
B27s have a V berth up front that provides 6 feet, 6 inches of space; The settees are 6 feet, 4 inches long. In the dinette version, the table converts into a small double.
The dinette version provides more galley space than the double-settee model at the expense of seating in the cabin.
Like all Bristols, the 27 was heavily built with thick polyester resin and woven roving. It has strong bulkheads, including one to support the deck-stepped mast. Electrical wiring is primitive, if it has not been upgraded, due to the use of untinned wire. Also be on the lookout for substandard electrical upgrades by previous owners.
Old water hoses can look alarming after 40 years, so check and possibly replace them before drinking from the fiberglass tanks. Some owners install EPA-approved flexible water tanks for drinking and use the fiberglass tanks for washing up.
The B27 is not fast by modern standards, but it is capable of respectable speeds while cruising.
Because of its design, like other first-generation Bristols, it heels easily at first before firming up at about 20 degrees of heel.
Well-known sailing author and bluewater adventurer John Kretschmer fondly remembers his first sailboat, a B27 that was named Lobster Mobster when he bought it.
“The 27 is faster than you might think, partially because when it does heel, the 19-foot, 9-inch waterline suddenly becomes a lot longer. I remember crossing the Gulf Stream to Bimini in a snotty norther and clipping along at close to 6 knots for 10 hours,” he said in a review.
With a large main, the B27 can suffer from weather helm, particularly if the sails are old.
As with all older sailboats, have it checked out thoroughly if you are considering a purchase.
Conditions vary widely because some owners didn’t do required maintenance, and even small vessels can require thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades if they were neglected.
Hull type: Full keel
LOA: 27.2 feet
LWL: 19.75 feet
Beam: 8 feet
Draft: 4 feet
Displacement: 6,600 pounds
Designer: Carl Alberg
Water tank: 20 gallons
Fuel tank: 22 gallons
PHRF New England: 240
Motion comfort ratio: 28.87
From Gordon Winder, Milwaukee, Wi.
Cirque, Bristol 27
I find my Bristol 27 to be a good, confidence-inspiring boat for two. And, as Otis Redding said, “Try a little tenderness.” Initial heeling helps to remind you when you may need to reef. I have found that if I have the proper size headsail up, there is little increase in weather helm as she heels. In mild conditions, I can balance the sails, let go of the helm and she will stay on course indefinitely.
What cruisingsailboats.blogspot.com said
“If you are looking for seaworthiness and stability in a small cruiser, and if you don’t mind a traditional interior that foregoes some of the elbow space of a beamier boat, the Bristol 27 is worth considering. … Keep in mind, however, that it’s a small cruiser—roomy enough for a couple, and possibly a child or two, but slightly cramped down below and in the cockpit for four adults.”
What the Bristol brochure said
“Custom quality! For a reasonable price, the Bristol-27 provides a quality hull filled with excellent features and workmanship. The proven reliability of both designer and builder makes it a lasting value. She’s roomy! She’s fast! She’s a good heavy weather performer! She’s a boat we are proud to place against any kind of competition. We feel she’s an “inside and out” bargain. Pick the version that best suits your needs … and compare!
“Hand lay up construction and full length keel with attached rudder provides strength and sailing stability.
“Fall in love! The best way to judge a boat is to sail it, to live in it, to owne it over a period of time. This isn’t always possible to do before you buy, but you certainly can ask other owners what they think. Ask them what they think of the Bristol styling inside. Ask them about the quality of materials and workmanship. Maybe you could turn on the charm and ask them for a ride. If you fall in love with it … great! You’re on your way to sailing satisfaction!
“Note: Remember … inboard power available. Check the long list of Optional Equipment … and tailor this mini-yacht to taste.
“Bristol 27 standard equipment
“Hull & Deck: Molded high-impact fiberglass reinforced polyester resin … largely woven roving, strongest material available. Hull and deck thicknesses vary to suit structural demands. Deckhouse, deck and cockpit are integrally molded. Deck clamp and cove stripe molded with hull. Deck is mechanically bonded and sealed to deck clamp in hull to prevent leaking. Full length non-skid dexoleum on deck and in walkways. Teak cap rail. Opening forward hatch (translucent) with molded gasket receptacle, hatch lock, and hatch adjuster.
“Features of opening hull mold:
“Fair Sheer line
“Molded cove stripe
“Overlap joint on hull-deck bond eliminating leaks and provides extra strength
“Controlled resin cure eliminates fiberglass pattern on hull finish (print through)
Uniform lay-up in keel section
“Cockpit: Generous cockpit area 6′-2″ (cruising model). Storage in large lazarette and in sail lockers under cockpit seats. Molded fiberglass winch bases with handle storage. Extra large 1-1/2 cockpit scuppers. Cockpit seat hatches completely scuppered to prevent leakage.
“Deck Hardware: All deck hardware is satin finished chrome-plated bronze or high tensile alloys. Custom cast manganese-bronze, chrome plated stem head with integral chocks.
“Interior: Smooth fiberglass headliner. Interior finished with satin-finish mahogany bulkheads and trim … Formica-covered counters. Carpeting is 100% polypropylene (indoor-outdoor) … washable, colorfast & mildew-proof. Companionway grabrails. Hand rails in main cabin.
“Cruising Model: Forward berths (2)6′-6″ long; main cabin berths (2) 6′-4″ long. Four (4) mattresses of 4″ polyurethane foam covered in leather-like vinyls (with Zippers). Large choice of colors. Galley features wide counter area; stainless steel sink (14″ x 10″ x 6″deep); icebox door (with chain restrainer) forms shelf; bin storage under galley counter. Locker storage under sink. Dish, package storage galley counter racks and shelf over icebox. Icebox drains overboard. Two-burner alcohol stove. Ports: main cabin, 4 fixed ports; head, 1 opening, 1 fixed; forward cabin, 1 opening, 1 fixed. Plastic track and slides for curtains. Enclosed thwartship head compartment (5′-10″ high) with linen storage cabinet and hamper portside; hanging locker on starboard side. Generous storage & drawer space; main cabin … 2 full-length shelves, storage under berths, large bookshelf, bedding storage behind backrests; forward cabin … 3 drawers, bin storage under berths, storage cutouts in berth fronts, 2 full-length shelves, rope locker.
Bilge storage … thru cabin-sole trap. Outboard models provide additional storage space in motor compartment … access is behind companionway steps.
“Dinette Model: Equipment is basically the same as for Cruising Model. Table is standard equipment on Dinette Model. See drawings for sleeping accommodations and galley arrangement.
“Engine Installation: Completely sealed, self bailing outboard motor well in aft lazarette with ventilators. 10 H.P. motor recommended. (Inboard): Atomic 4 under the companionway is optional.
“Electrical System: Includes electrical switch panel with switches and fuses for: running lights, cabin lights, bow light, miscellaneous lights, blower (inboard only), ignition (inboard only). Running lights include: 20pt bow light, 12 pt stern light, port & starboard lights. Interior lights include: galley dome light, 5 bulkhead-mounted lights, 12 volt system.
“Tanks: Standard cruising model; water tank (polyvinyl) … 20 gallon capacity. 20 gallon monel gas tank available with inboard engine models.
“Spars & Rigging: Modern masthead rig with fully anodized mast (31′ 9″) and boom (12′). Mast extrusion (our own design) with extruded sail track. Shrouds are 7/32″ stainless wire. Turnbuckles (7/16″)are chrome plated with monel shaft. Roller reefing gooseneck (spring type). Main and jib halyards are stainless steel with Dacron tails. Main and jib sheets are 3/8″ Dacron Samson yacht braid. Grounded stays and wiring. Main sheet jam cleat. Topping lift. Sail slide gate. Flag halyard.
“Colors: Owner may specify colors (from standard color selections) to be molded into hull and deck and choose from a variety of available colors for boot-top, anti-fouling (vinyl) paint, cove stripe (unpainted is standard) and mattresses.”