Bristol 38.8

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The 1996 Bristol 38.8 Spirit belonging to Mike & Pat Orsatti of Cape Cod, Ma.

The Bristol 38.8, with about 80 built between 1982 and 1996, is a Ted Hood design that is very similar to two other fine cruising sailboats off his drawing board — the Wauquiez Hood 38 and the Little Harbor 38.

The 38.8 was conceived as a cruising sailboat capable of taking you around the world — or around the bay — in comfort with respectable but not blazing speed.

As a second-generation Bristol, the 38.8 was built with an emphasis on quality and fine craftsmanship that marked the company as it tried to transform itself from a mass-production builder to a top-end manufacturer.

At 12 feet, 1 inch, it is beamier than earlier Bristols of its size, providing a decent amount of interior space and amenities that were not even contemplated on earlier models. The cabin is filled with teak or mahogany (either was an option) and was billed as “luxurious” by Bristol.

Forward, the buyers had an option of a traditional V berth or a double berth to port with a vanity to starboard. There is plenty of storage, as well as access to a roomy head with a separate shower stall.


Spirit’s cabin looking forward.

The salon has settees to port and starboard with a fold-down table, along with more storage along the sides. Behind to port is a U-shaped galley with a double sink, while to starboard are a chart table and a quarter berth.

The hull has a long keel with a bite taken out of it between the aft edge of the keel and the skeg-protected rudder, which reduces wetted surface while still allowing the boat to track well.

It also has a centerboard with a 4-foot, 6-inch minimum draft, a major plus for cruisers who want to be able to venture into skinny waters without downsizing to a smaller sailboat with less living space.

The result was a stable and well-mannered sailboat that has done many ocean crossings although, with a PHRF of 132, it won’t keep up around the buoys with many sailboats of a similar size.

One 38.8 owner talked about that in a post.


Spirit’s galley looking aft.

“I have the Bristol 38.8 …and love the way it sails. It’s stable and predictable and the helm is beautifully balanced. It heels to 15% and then stops. It moves very well in anything over 10 knots of breeze. Less than that, you need an asym,” the Sailnet poster wrote.

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.

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 Harlan Robinson,
Bristol 38.8 Dulce Elena
Deale, Md.

“In the interest of full disclosure, the article might also mention that one of the principal contributors to the boat’s beauty is the abundant exterior teak, which is not exactly maintenance-free — every year, my boat gets compliments from dock-walking strangers while I am renewing the varnish and my Hunter-owning friends are out sailing.  Speaking of Hunters, good friends who owned one but wanted to move up and were considering a B41.1 somehow ended up on the phone with Ted Hood’s son, who told them that his father considered the 38.8 and the 41.1 the two most successful designs to come out of his shop.  My wife and I fell in love with ours practically the moment we saw it 12 years ago.”

What the Bristol brochure said

Similar to her popular sister design in appearance and performance, the Bristol 38.8 combines the graceful lines of a modern Ted Hood design and the meticulous craftsmanship of Bristol Yachts. At anchor or underway, this fine vessel attracts high praise not only for her appearance but also for the manner in which she moves and responds with special quickness and grace.

The Bristol 38.8 is a luxurious yacht that may be selectively personalized to reflect your own special style and particular living requirements. Built into evey Bristol Yacht is an obsessive concern for quality workmanship and structural integrity; the following are features to look for!

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. Non-skid pattern molded into deck, seats and cabin top. Deck layout reflects careful planning. Opening hatch forward is large enough to permit handling sail bags. Molded sea hood is standard and molded rail from sea hood aft is prefect mount for dodger. All rails, coaming covers and trim are teak … furnished natural, sealed or varnished (optional)

Main salon:

The roomy and liveable main salon aptly demonstrates both the attention to detail provided by Bristol craftsmen and the open space look of Ted Hood’s design. There is generous seating to port and starboard on the extension settee berths as well as a large dinette table that combine to form an ideal social setting. This beautifully varnished interior comes in your choise of teak or mahogany (brunzeel bulkheads and Honduras trim).


Located adjacent to the companionway for good ventilation and to keep the cook in close contact with the cockpit, the spacious and efficient galley is thoroughly equipped for your cruising needs. Stainless steel icebox, deeps sinks (hot and cold pressure water) and three burner propane stove with oven are all standard equipment. Combine these features with the large counter surfaces, storage drawers and tracks, his galley should keep the cook happy and the crew content.

Navigation area:

With its full-sized chart table and large seakindly quarter berth, the Bristol 38.8’s navigation area is designed and built for the seagoing skipper. There is ample storage space for navigational gear as well as outboatd shelves to mount your electronic equipment. This area can be enclosed as a stateroom for additional privacy.

Forward cabin:

This stateroom is available either in traditional V-berth arrangement or with a double berth to port and a vanity with filler (optional) to starboard. Regardless of the arangement, the finest woods are selected and hand-crafted into the closets, berths and dovetailed drawers. There is also separate access to a well-appointed head with hot and cold pressure water and a stall shower.

A Superior Investment:

Traditional Bristol quality assures lasting value and makes the purchase of a Bristol Yacht a long term investment. The Bristol 38.8 must be seen and sailed to be truly appreciated.

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; gelcoated headliner with wood paneling.

Ballast: Lead, 9,000 lbs., internally cast.

Centerboard: Fiberglass, with lead ballast and bronze pin through fiberglass pipe; stainless wire rope runs over 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 44 H.P. diesel engine with 2:1 short profile sailing transmission, 1 1/4″ bronze propeller shaft and cutlass bearing mounted on fabricated glass, mahogany and stainless steel beds. Water lift muffler. Tachometer, oil pressure light, water temperature gauge and alarm system. Alternator. Engine compartment insulated, lead-lined and ventilated. Two-blade propeller. Fuel tank – 36 gallons, aluminum. Edson Steerer with controls, pedestal guard, brake, and 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 with copper tubing, polyurethane on cold water system.

Sinks: Double stainless steel in galley with mixing faucet. Porcelain sink in head with hot and cold water pressure.

Shower: Stall shower in head with sump pump for discharge.

Interior Joiner Work: Choice of teak or mahogany (brunzeel bulkheads and Honduras trim). Cabin sole – teak with ash inlay; hand-layed, screwed, glued and bunged. Formica colors for counters and head bulkheads available for owner’s selection. Head sole – molded fiberglass pan with non-skid surface. Sheathing in quarter-berth, main and forward cabins. Finished bulkheads and trim sealed and hand-rubbed varnish. Cabin sole-sealed. Dinette table – fixed with drop leaves.

Exterior: Teak time, grab rails and toe rails.

Deck Hardware: Stainless steel, satin chrome or high-strength anodized aluminum.

Stemhead – fabricated stainless steel with tack, chocks and 1 bow roller.

2 – 10″ Bow

2 – 9″ Midship

2 – 9″ Aft

2 – 8″ Jib Sheet

1 – 8″ Main Sheet

Vents: 4 Nicro 3″ high profile.

Nicro Fico Ball Bearing Traveler with traveler control lines.

Double bow and stern rails, lifelines and stanchions with 2 gates.

Cast ports with opening port in head. Genoa Track – “T” track, 1 1/4″ bolted inboard.

Blocks: Schaeffer Seriers #9.

Hatches: Bomar #139 opening in forward cabin and midships.

Sliding fiberglass hatch for companionway with sea good and rails.

Anchor well and chain locker.

Winches (Lewmar):

2 Jib Sheet

1 #40C Main Sheet

4 #43C Jib Halyard

1 #40C Main Halyard

Electrical: 12 Volt System.

Lighting ground, all standing rigging.

Bass panel with circuit breakers.

1 – 30 amp shore power outlet.

5 – 110 volt outlets.

2 – batteries, 165 amp hours each, with 4 way switch.

Electrical bilge pump.

Lighting – cone, dome and flourescent fixtures in appropriate areas.

International running lights.

Galley equipment:

Stove: Propane – 3 burner with oven.

Ice Box: Stainless Steel.

Fabricated aluminum extrusions, anodized with stainless steel fittings (Metalmast Marine), double spreaders (tapered).

Standard Rigging: Stainless wire rope with stainless steel turnbuckles.

Optional Equipment:

Radio and antenna. Datamarine package (depth finder, knotmeter and wind machine). 12 Volt refrigeration. Three (3) blade propeller. Chrome ventilators. Teak Dorade Boxes. Varnished exterior (5 coats). Varnished Cabin Sole (5 coats). Additional opening ports. Higher flared tapered toe rail. Teak rubrail with S.S. molding. Teak head gate. Raritan Lectrosan. Spinnaker Gear. Gate in stern rail. Swim ladder with teak treads. Vinyl headliner. Double lifelines. Cockpit cushions. Painted cove stripe. V-berth filler. Split boot stripe. Cradle.

Video tour of a 38.8

Refitting a Wauquiez Hood 38, sister ship to the 38.8

Line drawings and more specs on the 38.8


Hull type: Fin keel
LOA: 38.29 feet
LWL: 30.6 feet
Beam: 12.08 feet
Draft: 4.5 feet (centerboard up), 10.4 feet (down)
Displacement: 19,150 pounds
Designer: Ted Hood
Water tank: 100 gallons
Fuel tank: 37 gallons
PHRF New England: 132
Motion comfort ratio: 32.3