Bristol 35.5

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The Bristol 35.5 Summer owned by Jen and Jonny Coveny of Moss Landing, Ca.

With the 35.5, Bristol introduced its line of second-generation sailboats in 1977 and cemented a solid reputation for well-crafted cruising vessels with modern amenities.

Designer Ted Hood upped the beam to 10 feet, 10 inches in  a sailboat that traded traditional full keels — Bristol’s favored design until that point — for a long fin keel with a stout skeg to protect the rudder.

The B35.5 proved popular enough to remain in production until 1997, when Bristol shut down its manufacturing facility. More than 180 of the B35.5s were made.

One reason for that, according to a Practical Sailor review of the centerboard version, is that the 35.5 is one quick Bristol, able to keep up with the fin-keel racer-cruisers that could sail circles around first-generation Bristols in moderate conditions.


The cabin facing the stern on the 1989 Bristol 35.5 Adena, owned by Marilyn Kinsey.

“The Bristol 35.5C is tender, as are most centerboarders. In return you get a very lively boat that is quick in any air, like many more modern fin keelers except that with her moderate keel and centerboard, the Bristol 35.5C doesn’t require slavish attention to the helm,” the review says.

The B35.5 came in keel and centerboard versions. But the real story was the quality and spaciousness of the interior, which far surpassed the Spartan tone of the first-generation Bristols.

The woodwork is teak or mahogany with a fine fit and finish, a large galley has plenty of counter space, you can stand up in the shower and the icebox is exceptionally large. A fold-down bulkhead table provides a comfortable place to eat. A quarter berth doubles as a seat for a chart table.

35.5 cabin

Adena’s cabin facing forward.

This is a sailboat capable of cruising anywhere in style and comfort. You’ll pay a lot more for a B35.5 than, say, a first-eneration 35, but you’ll get a modern sailboat that still features the traditional values that make it kindly and seaworthy when the seas get rough.

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 35.5s 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

Owners’ comments

From Marilyn Kinsey,
Adena, a Bristol 35.5

1. Excellent accessible storage:  The two large water tanks are located under the pilotberth and V-berth.  This leaves all of the easily accessible space below the saloon berths for VERY easy access storage.  These spaces are divided into three sections on each side, each with their separate access door, keeping everything orderly and handy.  The heavy extra spares: anchor and rode, pumps, propeller, nuts and bolts, tools, etc. are all heavier than water, adding to the excellent distribution of ballast.  Lighter items have lots of storage space behind and above the saloon berths.

2. There was a significant model change for the Bristol 35.5c about 1983.  The inline galley was changed to a U-shape, and additional large deck drains were added.

3. Seakindliness: Sometimes even a gentleman must beat to windward.  I have experienced motor sailing into 5- to 8-foot swells, alongside a friend’s boat with a much larger motor, but a flatter bottom at the bow.  The other boat pounded so hard they slowed down to avoid damaging the very well-built boat.  Our Bristol sliced through the waves, without pounding, maintaining our usual speed and comfort.

On a broad reach in 35-knot winds, big seas, sailing under the genoa reefed down to ~90 percent, I was amazed to find the motion relatively smooth, like a train on a track.  She was well heeled but seemed to float up and down, like a seagull riding the waves, rather than rolling with each large swell.  I think the very shallow draft, when well heeled, does not “catch” the force of the wave passing beneath the hull.

The exceptionally high motion comfort rating is a significant safety factor, providing a more comfortable ride with a lot less fatigue.  e.g., when the planned 12-hour, open-water trip turned into 24 hours with a wind shift …

Author Gregg Nestor on the Bristol 35.5 in his book Twenty Affordable Sailboats To Take You Anywhere:

“The Bristol 35.5 combines quality construction and finish, good sailing performance, and comfortable cruising accommodation in a handsome, traditional package.”

What the Bristol brochure said

Gratifying Comfort In A Performance Cruiser The Bristol 35.5 combines the classically modern design of Ted Hood with the meticulous craftsmanship of Bristol Yachts in a responsive yet comfortable racer-cruiser. With her efficient hull design, the 35.5 features the graceful lines and comfortable layout which provide an un-cramped, uncluttered feeling when above or below decks. This proven design epitomizes the obsessive concern for quality of workmanship and structural integrity built into every Bristol Yacht. Here’s what to look for!

Hull & Deck:
Molded high-impact fiberglass reinforced polyester resin largely woven roving, strongest material available. Hull and deck thickness vary to suit structural demands. Deckhouse, deck and cockpit are integrally molded. Deck clamp and cove stripe molded with hull. Non-skid pattern molded into deck, seats cabin top and cockpit. Deck layout reflects careful planning. Opening hatch forward is large enough to permit handling sailbags. Molded sea hood is standard and molded rail from sea hood aft is perfect mount for dodger. All rails, coaming covers and trim are teak furnished natural, sealed or varnished (optional).

Main Salon:
Featuring a large dining table (bulkhead mounted) and generous seating for a comfortable living area below decks. The main salon aptly demonstrates both attention to detail provided by Bristol craftsmen and the open space look of Ted Hood’s design. The beautifully varnished interior comes in you choice of teak or mahogany (Brunzeel bulkheads and Honduras trim) while the extension settee berths to port and starboard provide the type of accommodations one comes to expect from a Bristol.

Forward Cabin:
With its traditional V-berth arrangement and selection of fine woods hand-crafted into the closets, berths and dovetailed drawers; the forward stateroom epitomizes the quality workmanship Bristol has built its reputation on. There is also separate access to a well appointed head with hot and cold pressure water and shower.

Navigation Area:
Combining a seakindly quarter berth with a full-sized chart table, the 35.5’s navigation area is designed and built for the seagoing skipper. There is ample room for chart storage under the large lift-top table and outboard shelves easily handle books and electronic equipment.

The spacious and efficient galley is located adjacent to the companionway for good ventilation and to keep the cook in close contact with the cockpit. Built in a U-shape, this area combines large counter surfaces and ample storage space with a deep sink (hot and cold pressure water), large ice box and three burner alcohol stove with oven (propane-optional).

Standard Equipment:
Hull: Hand lay-up, with alternate layers of mat and woven roving. Three-inch flange integrally molded below the top edge to receive the deck. Bronze seacocks on all through-hull fittings.

Deck: Hand lay-up, with mat, cloth and balsa core; gel coated liner with wood paneling.
Ballast: Lead, 6,500 (Keel) 7,000 (CB), internally cast.
Centerboard (option): Fiberglass, with lead ballast, steel rods and bronze pin through fiberglass pipe; stainless wire rope runs along bronze sheaves in fiberglass casing and stainless pipe to C/B winch on cabin house.
Rudder: Fiberglass, molded around bronze plates welded to bronze rudder post and bearing on bronze rudder shoe.
Engine: Universal 24 H.P. diesel engine with 2:1 short profile sailing transmission, 1″ bronze propeller shaft and cutlass bearing mounted on fabricated glass, mahogany and stainless steel beds. Water lift muffler. Tachometer, oil pressure light and water temperature gauge. Ventilated engine compartment. Two-blade propeller. Alternator. Fuel tank – 36 gallons, aluminum. Edson steering gear.
Compass: – 5″ Ritchie with black non-glare finish. Emergency tiller.

Domestic Water Tanks (2): Stainless steel, approximately 100 gallons; 1 bow and 1 under cabin sole.
Pressure Pump: 12 Volt.
Hot Water Heater: Raritan 6 gallon with heat exchanger, copper tubing and polyurethane on cold water system.
Sinks: Stainless steel in galley with hot and cold pressure mixing faucet. Stainless steel in head with hot and cold pressure water and shower attachment.
Interior Joiner Work: Choice of teak or mahogany (Brunzeel bulkheads and Honduras trim).
Cabin sole: – teak with ash inlay, hand-laid, screwed, and bunged. Cabin sole – sealed.
Formica: colors for counters and head available for owner’s selection.
Head sole: – molded fiberglass pan with non-skid surface.
Finished bulkheads and trim sealed and hand rubbed varnish.
Sheathing in main and forward cabins.
Dinette table:– bulkhead mounted with drop leaf.
Exterior: Two teak dorade boxes forward, teak trim, grab rails and toe rails.
Deck Hardware: Stainless steel, satin chrome or anodized aluminum.
Stemhead: fabricated stainless steel with tack, chocks and 1 bow roller.
Cleats: 1 – 8″ bow, 2 – 8″ aft, 2 – 8″ jib sheet, 1- 7″ main sheet.
Vents: 2 – Nicro Fico 3″ high profile.
-Bow and stern rails, lifelines and stanchions with gate.
-Cast ports with opening port in head.
-Genoa track – anodized aluminum “T” track – 1 ¼” bolted inboard.
-Blocks – Schaeffer Series #7.
-Hatches – Bomar opening in forward and main cabin (option).
-Sliding fiberglass hatch for companionway with sea hood and rails.
-Anchor well and chain locker.
Winches (Lewmar): 2 #40C Jib Sheet
1 #8C Main Sheet
1 #16C Jib Halyard
1 #8C Main Halyard
Electrical: 12 Volt system.
Lightening ground: all standing rigging
Bass panel with circuit breakers
1 – 30 Amp shore power outlet.
Electric bilge pump.
2 Batteries – 74 amp hours each with 4 way switch.
Lighting – Cone and dome lights in appropriate areas .
International Running Lights.
Stove: Alcohol, 3 burner with oven.
Spars: Fabricated aluminum extrusions, anodized with stainless steel fittings, tapered spreaders.
Standing Riggings Stainless wire rope with stainless steel turnbuckles.
Optional Equipment: LPG Stove and Locker, Radio and Antennae, Datamarine Package (Depth Finder, Knotmeter and Wind Machine), Additional Opening Ports, Screens, Outboard Genoa Track, Mid Boom Traveler, Chrome Vents, 3-blade propeller, Double Lifelines, 2nd Lifeline Gate, Painted Cove Stripe, Higher-Wider Toe Rails, Teak Rubrail with S.S. Molding, Swim Ladder with Teak Treads, Varnished Exterior (5 Coats), Varnished Cabin Sole (5 Coats), V-Berth Filler. Photos and Drawings may show optional equipment.
Specifications subject to change without obligation or notice

Quality Without Compromise A Superior Investment

Traditional Bristol quality construction and master craftsmanship assure lasting value and make the purchase of the Bristol 35.5 a long term investment that will pay excellent dividends. Designed for the yachtsman who enjoys cruising comfort without sacrificing performance, the Bristol 35.5 must be seen and sailed to be truly appreciated. Contact your nearest Bristol dealer.


Hull type: Fin keel
LOA: 35.5 feet
LWL: 27.5 feet
Beam: 10.83 feet
Draft: 5 feet, 9 inches (full keel), 3 feet, 9 inches (centerboard)
Displacement: 15,000 pounds
Designer: Ted Hood
Water tank: (35.5C) two at 50 gallons
Fuel tank: (35,5C) 35 gallons
PHRF New England: 156 (CB), 150 keel
Motion comfort ratio: 32.2

Practical Sailor reviews the 35.5

Line drawings and more specs on the 35.5

New blog on a Bristol 35.5 sailing the California coast