Bristol 30/29

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By Jack Brennan
Shanachie, 1974 Bristol 30
Tierra Verde, Fl.

It’s difficult to believe these days, but the Bristol 29 and 30 were marketed back in the late 1960s and early 1970s as racers.


Shanachie, a 1974 Bristol 30.

“Halsey Herreshoff’s new Bristol 30 has so much youthful pizzazz, we find ourselves calling her the Bristol “Under 30.”…Everything on her works — well and together — to make this taut racer as stiff sailing as they come.”

Well, it wasn’t long before the 1970s racer-cruisers put an end to any thoughts of a trophy dash with a Bristol 29 or 30, but the boat has endured as a comfortable, reasonably fast cruiser for two, with room for maybe two small children.

The 29 was the first to be built and has a slightly different lazarette than the 30, but both use the same hull and are largely the same boat. The 29 was produced from 1966 to 1971, while the 30 was built from 1968 to 1978. They totaled about 345 boats.

They have the head-turning look of a classic sailboat — long overhangs, graceful lines, a distinctive cabin and plenty of exterior teak. Most 29s have tillers, while most 30s have wheel steering.

The cabin


Shanachie’s cabin is a double-settee model with mahogany and a fold-down table.

The 29 and 30 have a traditional V-berth that narrows sharply at the bow, where your feet go, but has plenty of room at the other end. Next is a smallish head to port, with room for a toilet and small sink, and a hanging closet to starboard that functions well once shelves are installed.

The salon was furnished in a number of ways. One version of the double-settee model has 11 storage bins with doors — all done in mahogany — scattered in the salon and V-berth. The dinette model has a large galley to starboard and, to port, a small dinette that can be transformed into a double berth. Many 30s have one or even two quarter berths.

The double-settee models often have tables that fold up onto the bulkhead on the port side of the cabin. If you don’t have one but would like to, here’s a link to building one.

The original brochure may claim that a 29 or 30 will sleep four or five, but only if they are the best of friends. A couple with two children is the rational limit, and just a couple makes it much better for a cruise.

I use the port quarter berth for storage. At the head, where the quarter berth juts into the cabin, I have a Waeco portable 12-volt refrigerator that is a nice addition for people who don’t like dealing with blocks of ice.



The exterior has plenty of teak to add to its classic looks — and increase maintenance time.

The hull is thick polyester resin and well-supported with bulkheads. It has a long keel with cutaway forefoot and attached rudder, a design that ensures minimal damage if/when you run aground. The ballast is enclosed, which means you don’t have to worry about aging keel bolts breaking.

How strongly were these boats built? Once, when I was out of town, the teak anchor platform on my 30 got caught under the dock during some unusual tides and winds. At high tide, the entire stern was lifted out of the water, supported mainly by the platform and the deck it was bolted to.

I expected the worst but, when I got back in town, damage was minimal. A small crack in the platform took a couple of hours to fix. Surprisingly, there was no damage to the fiberglass deck and no leaks in the stressed areas.

The original electrical wiring is minimal and substandard and needs to be replaced, if it hasn’t already. The boats originally came with an Atomic 4 or Gray Sea Scout gasoline engine, but many have been replaced with diesels. Parts are still ready available for the Atomic 4.

 Sailing characteristics

The 29 and 30 have large mainsails that can cause plenty of weather helm if they are old and bagged out, or if you are carrying too much sail. It’s time to think about reefing when the wind hits 12 knots.

The boats sail remarkably well under jib only when the wind picks up. Usually, a 130 percent jib is plenty of canvas for these boats. With their wine-glass hull shapes and  heavy masts, the 29 and 30 provide a smooth ride in choppy and rough seas.

That’s a big selling point for these and similar first-generation Bristols..

I used to sail out of Hillsboro Inlet in Pompano Beach, Fl., one of those East Coast passes where an easterly wind opposing a tide could cause a nasty, steep, five-foot chop even on a nice sailing day.

On my old C&C 25, one of those 1970s racer-cruisers, the motion would turn my wife green as we rocked wildly and pounded through the chop. On the B30, she barely noticed it.

I have also been in steep 8- to 10-foot seas in the Atlantic off the South Florida coast and, while it was an adventuresome ride, there was never a moment when I was concerned about whether the 30 could handle those conditions.

The key is carrying the right amount of sail; Trying to bury the rail in rough weather will take its toll on you and the boat.

Because of the hull shapes, these boats heel easily at the start, but then lock in around 20 degrees of heel.

The 29 and 30 cruise comfortably at 5 to 5.5 knots and regularly reach 6.6 knots. With the boat heeled over and the waterline lengthened, it’s possible to exceed 7 knots. In light airs, a cruising chute helps a lot because these are not light-air sailboats.

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 vessels can require thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades if they were neglected.

Some of the 29s and 30s came with a centerboard and more shallow draft. If you buy one of these, know that you have to have to pay regular attention to the centerboard cable. If it breaks through negligence, replacing it is difficult work.


Hull type: Full keel
LOA: 30 feet
LWL: 22.67 feet
Beam: 9.1 feet
Draft: 3 feet, 4 inches (CB), 4 feet, 6 inches (keel)
Displacement: 8,400 pounds
Designer: Halsey Herreshoff
Water tank: 26 gallons (CB) 41 (full keel)
Fuel tank: 20 gallons
PHRF New England: 231 (CB), 219 (keel)
Motion comfort ratio: 27.07

Owner comments

What the Bristol brochure said about the 29

“Her fair and easy lines were reached after selective design analysis and the shaping of a wooden half-model. The result: low wetted surface to minimize frictional drag, but sufficient lateral plane and a large rudder for good handling. The record books prove her racing ability!”

What the Bristol brochure said about the 30

Extra long keel! Halsey Herreshoff’s new Bristol 30 has so much youthful pizzazz, we find ourselves calling her the Bristol “Under 30”. She slashes through water with a clean, steady cut. No bobbing all over. Everything on her work – wll and together – to make this taut racer as stiff sailing as they come. Halsey designed the 30 with an extra long keel (rudder attached) to give you exceptional balance and response. No more over-steer or fighting the helm as in spade rudder configurations. And the 30’s hollow waterline add that much more go.

“The Bristol 30 also seems bigger than many other 30’s. She’s actually more comfortable , with lots of head room and a big roomy cockpit so the crew can speed up the action without bumping into each other.

“Testimonials! We are pleased with the comments recieved from owners and dealers. We invite you to see and sail the boat at your nearest dealer and make your own comments. These are typical:
“Best 30-footer in the world!
“Unexelled performance to windward
“Design and workmanship miles ahead of the competition
“Outstanding heavy weather performance.

“As we said, these comments are typical. they reflect the latest achievements in yacht design by Hasey Herreshoff. See the Bristol 30 for yourself and you’ll know for yourself.

“Choice of models: The Bristol 30 is available (keel or centerboard) in either standard or dinette arrangements. Check the advantages of each in the following drawings and data … and relate to your personal needs. Both are outstanding values .. in price and performance.

Bristol 30 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. Deck house, deck and cockpit are integrallly molded. Deck clamp and cove sttripe are molded with hull. Teak toe rails. Non-skid pattern molded into deck, seat and cabintop. Two dorade boxes molded into trunk cabin. Opening forward hatch (translucent) with molded gasket receptable, hatch lock, and hatch adjuster. Hinged lazaret hatch.

“Cockpit: Seat level enough below deck level to provide high coaming for comfortable backrest. Self-bailing cockpit. Molded cockpit seat hatch, completely scuppered to prevent leakage, is fitted with security hasp. Coamings and other trim … first quality mahogany (sealed and varnished).

“Deck hardware: All fittings are highest grade stainless steel, chrome-plated bronze with brushed satin finish, or special corrosion-resistant aluminum alloys. Many items are custom-made to our own designs.

“Interior: Underside of the deck in the main cabin finished with smooth fiberglass “headliner”. Four large fixed ports in main cabin. Four smaller fixed ports in forward compartments. Curtain tracks installed over ports in main cabin. Galley features formica counter tops; recessed 2 burner alcohol stove; dish racks enclosed behind sliding panels; stainless steel sink; high capacity, self priming galley pump; and top-loading icebox. Dinette (portside) lowers to form double berth. A quarter berth is aft of main cabin galley. Area under the the port cockpit hatch (which extends into cabin) has been finished in Dinette model …. may be used as small additional quater berth fi desired. Enclosed head compartment ( forward on port side) … marine toilet ( with seacocks on both inlet and discharge), toilet paper holder, towel bar. Forward cabin has two berths … hanging locker, Mattresses furnished for all berths. Cabin sole … teak plywood with black inlaid strips. Generous use of satin-finished varnished mahogany bulkheads and trim provide the warmth expected in a custom quality yacht.

“Engine installation: 30 H.P. Universal Atomic 4 gasoline engine. Bronze propeller shaft run in bristol-type rubber mounted shaft log. Throttles and shift controls installed on cockpit side and connnected to engine with rattle-proof ball joints. Water temperature, oil pressure, and ammeter gauges are located on aft side of cabin house. Two bladed solid sailboat propeller. Over-sized, non-breakable fuel filter. Engine room exhaust blower .. as well as natural forced draft ventilation (U.S. Coast Guard approved).

“Electical system: Heavy-duty system using alternator on engine and 12 volt marine battery. Fused circuits. Master disconnect battery switch. Centrally located electrical panel. Seven (7) interior lights, bow, stern, and side running lights.

“Tanks: Water tank (fiberglass) … 26 gallon capacity, centerboard model ; 41 gallon capacity, standard model. Gas tank (monel)… 20 gallon capacity.

“Spars & Rigging: Anodized aluminum mast and boom. Mast extrusion with extruded sail track. Standing rigging … stainless steel with swaged terminals and satin chrome-plated bronze turnbuckles. Main and jib halyards are stainless steel with dacron tails. running rigging is dacron. Flag halyard. Main sheet arrangement includes a traveler.

“Colors: Owner may specify colors to be molded into hull and deck and choose from a variety of available colors for boot-top, anti-fouling paint, cove-stripe and mattresses.”


A Bristol 30 on a choppy day

Video of sailing San Francisco Bay in a Bristol 29

Video of sailing a Bristol 29 off Gloucester, Ma.

Bristol 29, a restoration site

Line drawings and more specs on the 30

Line drawings and more specs on the 29