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The Bristol 32 has been described as one of the prettiest small production sailboats ever built.
With a waterline of just 22 feet, the 32 has long overhangs, narrow ends and distinctive lines drawn by Ted Hood. A well-kept 32 will turn heads where ever it sails.
It’s also very seaworthy. The 32 has made some impressive voyages, including an Atlantic Circle by Kestrel that is detailed in a web site here, along with the improvements John Atkisson made before embarking.
The price of beauty and seaworthiness, though, is cabin space. It is really a cruising boat for two people. One Bristol owner who moved from a 30 to a 32 said he actually lost cabin space — but that it didn’t matter because it was such a beautiful sailboat.
More than 320 B32s were built between 1966 and 1983, which means that plenty are still around, although are some aging and in need of a refit.
Review by James Baumgartner
Phyllis M, a 1975 Bristol 32
The first thing that strikes you about the Bristol 32 is the way she looks. The graceful sheer and overhangs are, to my eye, just lovely. When I was shopping for “the next boat,” I couldn’t keep my eyes off this boat.
She is not as nimble as some, but that is what makes her a comfortable cruiser. Though as long as she is, her accommodations would be tight for two couples. A couple with kids would work fine.
The galley is big by comparison to some boats her size, and the ice box is huge, easy to access and away from the heat of the kerosene range.
We have a love-hate relationship with that range. Kerosene is the perfect cooking fuel for a vessel with such a deep bilge, but the range is a bit fussy to light. It puts out plenty of heat, so I’ll take that instead of the potential problems of propane.
Our boat has a portable toilet, which for a couple is fine. I can dump it without moving the boat at most facilities, plus I really don’t know where folks put a holding tank. We carry 100 gallons of water in a 70-gallon tank in the keel and 30 under the V berth. I don’t use the small tank as it puts the boat out of trim.
I love the way she sails with her soft ride. She is relatively dry and goes to weather OK. This design type likes to heel and, by doing so, extends the waterline and gains speed. The rig is beefy, as is the boat in general.
The decks on my boat have a plywood core, and the hull-deck joint can be seen stem to stern just outboard of the full fiberglass headliner. It is through bolted. Two translucent hatches provide light when closed and ample ventilation when open.
There is a generous V berth forward and, in the main cabin, there is a slide-out double berth to port and single to starboard.
Our boat is clean, but not a spit-and-polish boat, and the solid teak and holly sole has a nice, well-used patina, giving her a shippy feel for me. I like that. We do have wheel steering and a Universal, 4-cylinder diesel that helps heat our hot water tank and push us along easily.
All in all, we are enjoying our Bristol 32. She is an excellent value.
Having cruised our boat 400 to 500 miles each of the last two seasons here in the Northwest, for a couple, given the tankage, storage, cooler size, etc , for the money, I don’t see much else I’d opt for in a 32 foot boat. It was serendipity that we came across her. Don’t know what I’d settle for if I had to choose today.
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 many thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades if they were neglected.
Some of the 32s 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
I’ve owned Beauty for over 10 years and put many sea miles on her. Our home port is Charleston, S.C., but I’m presently sailing up the Gulf Coast of Florida. Another thing that is great about the Bristol 32 is the draft and mast height. She can go out to sea or in the Intracoastal Waterway, depending on weather conditions. Really, there are few limitations.
Beauty, 1976 Bristol 32
Just wanted to share that my wife and I bought our 1980 B32 (No. 298) in 2000 and departed San Francisco June 2008 on a westward passage across the north Pacific. We are currently in Gibraltar bound next for the Canary Islands. We are thrilled at how well our stock B32 has held up and performed for us. Great boat!
Ken and Katie Stuber
Sand Dollar, 1980 Bristol 32
Hull type: Full keel
LOA: 32.36 feet
LWL: 22.1 feet
Beam: 9.47 feet
Draft: 4 feet, 8 inches (keel); 3 feet, 6 inches (centerboard)
Displacement: 10,800 pounds
Designer: Ted Hood/Dieter Empacher
Water tank:100 gallons
Fuel tank: 25 gallons
PHRF New England: 231 (CB), 228 keel
Motion comfort ratio: 34.97
What the Bristol brochure said
“Speed and Comfort! The Bristol 32 gets her extra go from Ted Hood’s fine line design. Her look alike big sister, the Bristol 40, is consistently in the money. But comfort is what we are really after. And an extended trunk provides really comfortable accommodations for six in the centerboard or full-keel models.
“Check the price! For those who know yachting values … check out the Bristol 32 feature by feature. Go aboard comparable boats in this category with a critical dollar-versus-value eye and find out what real value means when you compare them with the Bristol 32. After you’ve compared value compare performance. After you compared performance, compare accommodations. After that, what? Compare the reliability of designer and builder. After this it’s up to you!
“Bristol 32 Standard Equipment
“A Great Cruising Package
“All hand-laid construction with full length keel and attached rudder. No built-in pot catchers or bucking bronco steering.
“Hull & Deck: Molded high-impact fiberglass reinforced polyester resin … largely woven roving …hand laid up, strongest material available and the best construction available. Hull and deck thicknesses vary to suit structural demands. No fillers are used. 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 molded into the deck, seat, cabin top and in walkways. Teak toe rails. Dorade boxes molded onto trunk cabin. Opening forward hatch (translucent) with molded gasket receptacle, hatch lock, and hatch adjuster. Hinged lazarette hatch. Molded seahood for main hatch … with spray rail. Mounting base for companionway dodger.
“Cockpit: Molded as part of deck. Seat level enough below deck level to provide high coaming for comfortable backrest. Self bailing cockpit. Cockpit drains fitted with seacocks. Molded cockpit seat hatches, completely scuppered to prevent leakage, are fitted with security hasps. Coamings and other trim … first quality teak.
“Deck Hardware: All deck hardware are highest grade stainless steel, satin finished chrome-plated bronze or special corrosion resistant aluminum alloys. Many itmes are custom-made to our own designs. Custom cast manganese-bronze, chrome plated stem head with integral chocks. Two docking cleats fore and aft. Bristol-type winch bases … with handle storage in bases. Main sheet traveler. Edson wheel steering.
“Bristol 32 Standard interior looking forward
“Underside of the deck in main cabin finished with smooth fiberglass “headliner”.
“Main cabin is equipped as follows: Pull-out 42” berth port.
“Berth (starboard) has pipe berth over with mattress … sleeps two.
“All berths have 5” poly-foam mattresses with breathable covers
(removable for laundering.
“Lockers and cabinets behind and above berth in forward and main cabins.
“Cabin sole is scoured teak plywood.
“Interior wood trim is satin-finished mahogany.
“There is generous drawer and locker space throughout.
“Doors are paneled and fitted mahogany. Bulkheads are available in stain finished Honduras mahogany or muted shades of easily maintained Formica.
“Bristol 32 interior looking aft
“Galley: Located starboard aft … contains gimbaled four (4) burner alcohol stove with oven, and slide away cover. Molded icebox (styrofoam insulation) is on port side. Space for dishes, pots, pans and canned goods is outboard of the icebox. Additional lockers are located behind the stove and sink. Stainless sink (14″x 10″ X 6″) is equipped with high-capacity, self-priming pump … with swing-away spout. Sink outlet is fitted with 1 1/2″ seacock. All galley countertops are Formica. A hanging locker (wet locker) is conveniently located near the companionway. Toilet room (located athwartships) contains large linen locker and counter with stainless steel wash basin. Outlet leads to seacock. Towel bar, mirror and hooks are conveniently located. Bristol 32 with 2-burner stove (oven optional).
“Forward Cabin: Contains two full-length berths with 5″ foam mattresses. Each has drawer and storage bin built in under. Full length shelves run over each berth. Sides of hull are sheathed with mahogany ceiling strips.
“Engine Installation: Atomic 4 is the standard motor with options for a diesel. A bronze propeller shaft runs in Bristol-type rubber mounted shaft connected to engine. Water temperature, oil pressure, and ammeter gauges are located on aft side of cabin house. Two bladed solid sailboat propeller. Engine room exhaust blower .. as well as natural forced draft ventilation (Coast Guard Approved). Engine compartment is easily accessible .. with all switches and shutoff valves close at hand.
“Electrical System: Heavy-duty system using alternator on engine and two 12-volt marine batteries with four-way switch. Bow, stern and side running lights. Interior lights (7), courtesy night light in main cabin. 110-volt shore power … with 3 outlets.
“Tanks: Two monel water tanks 35-gallon capacity under the v-berth, and 55-gallon capacity in the bilge. Fuel tank (monel) 25-gallon capacity.
“Spars & Rigging: Anodized aluminum mast. Stainless steel standing rigging. Stainless steel wire halyards. Geared roller reefing with internal outhaul at gooseneck. Main boom downhaul.
“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 bottom paint, cove stripe and mattresses.”