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Apr 3 09 7:34 AM

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Are you thinking about buying a B29 or other vintage Bristol from the 1960's? Here are some things to consider, some strengths of Bristol yachts and some areas of weakness that you should watch for.


  • Flare at the bow keeps her very dry in head seas. Her design is about perfect for sailing to windward. 

  • Her low freeboard keeps her anchored solidly; she doesn't sail around her anchor, nor is she easily blown off when stopped, but simply sits placidly and waits for you to anchor

  • Her long overhangs give her much more speed than her LWL would indicate. She has amazing windward ability, even triple reefed in 35 - 40 knots of wind.

  • She has a perfectly designed rudder, that simply can't be overpowered--she will never round up into the wind the way some boats do. The rudder post is 1.25" solid tobin bronze. The rudder is solid fiberglass around a solid bronze structure welded to the rudder post.

  • Deck stepped mast support is overbuilt and not prone to sagging or rot.

  • Gelcoat doesn't craze and crack the way many early Cape Dory's look.

  • Fully-molded headliner throughout the cabin. Few boats of her era and size are as nicely finished out as the B29.

  • The Monel fuel tank will outlive you and the boat.

  • Large cockpit, with seats long and wide enough to sleep on.

  • I can't speak for every Bristol 29, but mine has never suffered from bottom blisters. I have only had a couple, the size of a quarter over the past 17 years, with the boat in warm salt water year round.

  • I also can't speak for all Bristols on the subject of deck delaminating and core rot, but has not been an issue on my boat. Granted I have taken the trouble to properly bed all deck hardware, over-drill the holes and fill with epoxy to protect the core, but the boat was 20 years old when I acquired her and her deck core was in fine shape then.

  • Relatively large head with a built in shower pan and drain.

  • Large lazerette you can climb into. A great storage area.

  • Design of beam allows the B29 to carry a lot of gear without upsetting her lines. Her bow and stern are highly buoyant which allow you to carry lots of ground tackle without lowering her stem, and lots of storage in her stern without having her settle there.

  • Internal ballast is lead shot, no concrete, no iron or steel scrap. The shot is poured into the forward end of the keel and encapsulated in polyester resin.


    • Cast aluminum spreader sockets--very popular for this era boat--but a real safety issue with boats 30 - 40 years old. 

  • Hull to deck joint typically leaks on old--and probably new--Bristols. It's a constant challenge, as it can be with many different makes of boats. My solution was to glass the joint solid from the inside. Something to consider...

  • Lack of headroom forward of doghouse. It is limited to 5'-8" forward of the doghouse which may be an issue for taller sailors.

  • The masthead is open as is the mast, to rain and salt air. The open masthead has no provision for keeping halyards from jumping their sheaves, nor for sealing the mast. .

  • The water tank is stainless steel, about 50 gallons, but is often pin-holed after all these years. The tank is installed before a fiberglass liner / pan is installed for the floor, so to get the leaking tank out is a chore.

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    Fiberglass Sander

    Posts: 2

    #1 [url]

    Jun 16 09 2:54 PM

    Hi David,
    Thanks for your thoughts on the B29.  I also enjoy your website and blog.  I acquired B29 hull number 156 around Thanksgiving 2008 and have been giving it a bit of an overhaul since.  One thought that I would appreciate your input on:  The pinholes in the SS water tank- I was thinking of opening the inspection hatch and pouring epoxy inside to a depth of about 1/2 in and calling it a new tank.  Granted, the water might not be fit for consumption for 20 years or so, but other than a strong outgassing, do you see a problem with this?
    Charleston, SC.

    PS  The forum is great.

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    #2 [url]

    Jun 17 09 6:12 AM

    Hi Dan,

    Welcome aboart and congratulations on your Bristol. We would love to see photos and hear about the details of your overhaul. Also I will add her to the Links page on my website, so photos would be great for that too. 

    As to the water tank question. It's an interesting solution you propose. I don't see why it would not work, assuming the inside of the tank was very clean. I have had good success in gluing stainless steel to aluminum and to fiberglass using exopy. If you refer to the West System boat building manual, they describe in detail the steps in bonding epoxy to metal. Basically they say to clean the metal of any fingerprint oils or other contaminates and oxidation, and when you apply the epoxy, scrub it into the metal using emery cloth or a similar abrasive. When that coating of scrubbed in epoxy kicks, apply one or two additional coats. 
    Another solution that I consideed with my boat (before I lost patience and cut the whole tank out of the bilge) was to cut the top off the tank and then use a bladder tank inside the remains of the stainless tank.
    Good luck and please post photos and details.


    Restoring a Bristol 29 in my backyard.

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    Fiberglass Sander

    Posts: 6

    #3 [url]

    Jan 20 10 5:28 PM

    I just bought my first sailboat! well i did in august .
    She's a 1966 Bristol 27' hull # 59 ..
    She's in need of a little TLC but she's ready to sail..
    The tlc in question is the Depth , Speed and wind meters.
    They are mounted through the cabin on the port side of the gangway.
    I am haveing a problem locating any new devises with the 4.5" round face that the existing have. The holes are already there and would like to buy new ones to fit the existing holes. I have her on the Hudson river and I need to be very aware of the depth  as I go along . As for the rest of the old girl she is pretty much original. I am new at sailing (august)
    and have been surfing the web to learn as much as I can. I've taken lessons and am pretty confident in my sailing skills. maybe the inexpirence talking now. anyway . I love the old girl and she is beutiful.
    she will need some cosmetic touch ups when I get her on the hard again
    What do you recomend as a wood finish for her teak? is oil realy as labor intence as I've heard? There isn't all that much Teak there.
    Is there anything that i should know about this perticular model?
    I am planning to take her down the Hudson this July to NY harbor for the fireworks. would like to have some piece of mind. I know she is a well crafted vessel from all i've read. and plan to keep her for a long time. I want to do a total make over at some point but for now i want to enjoy sailing.
    I paid $2,200 for her. The preivious owner was into the marina for a few dollars and he wanted to be rid of her. I think that was for his bar tab. The waitstaff at the resturant said he never took her out. he was using it as sleeping quarters.. so she is in need of some work .
    any sugjestions?

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    #4 [url]

    Jan 21 10 6:13 AM

    Welcome aboard and congratulations on your B27. They are great boats, a Carl Alberg design and very heavily built. The B27 was the first model built at Bristol Yacht Co. and one of the most popular.

    Finding instruments that fit the old hole size may be difficult, but what I would do is to get a sheet of Starboard (white high density polyetheline (HDPE)) cut new holes for new modern instruments that align with the old, larger holes, screw and seal  the "cover" in place, and mount the new instruments. You can see in the pic below, that the owner of a B32 did this to the starboard side of his cabin bulkhead. I think it is an easy and clean way of dealing with old instrument holes. Here is a source for Starboard HDPE is:

    Oil looks great on teak, but because it is oily it attracts dirt very easily, and degrades in the sun quickly. It requires regular cleaning with a scrub brush which can damage the teak wood fibers over time. If you want the look of oiled teak I would consider Cabot's Australian wood stain instead. You can find it at Lowes. Otherwise your choices for your teak toe rail are to leave it bare and it will turn a grayish silver over time, or a coating like Cetol (!6456&keyword=cetol) which some people like--I have seen it applied in Florida and it looks very close to a varnished surface but lasts much longer--or varnish. regular cetol looks more like a dull stain than a varnish coating. Cetol Light is a nicer look in my opinion, and when you cover the several coats of the Light with the Cetol Clear it looks just like a varnished surface. The advantage of Cetol over varnish is that to touch up or apply additional coats, you simply scuff the surface with a ScotchBrite pad.

    Good luck with your new Bristol. Enjoy her, she is a very forgiving boat and will take good care of you. Feel free to post pictures of her, update us on your questions or projects, and generally feel that this forum is yours--because it is.



    Restoring a Bristol 29 in my backyard.

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    Fiberglass Sander

    Posts: 6

    #5 [url]

    Jan 21 10 3:35 PM

    Thanks that is a great solution to my guage dilema..
    I believe it will be a simple fix . The guages in the photo are the same as the ones I was looking for..  Thanks again!
    As for the wood finish... would you happen to have any photo's of the cetol light look?
    While I've got you here I would like to pick your brain a little more..
    The fresh water tank. It is made of plastic so I don't have the pin hole problem as the folks with the older SS kind .. my tank has lost it's conection to the line that runs to the pump. It seem that the V berth cabin was constructed around the water tank . Do you know how to access it. looks to me like I have to remove the door trim and pull up the floor to gain access to the line conection is there any trick to pulling up the floor ?
    thank you again for your help.
    This is great! I love my boat!

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    #6 [url]

    Jan 21 10 7:55 PM

    Hi Tracy,

    I will hunt around for any pics of a Cetol Light finish. You're most welcome on the gauge issue. I'm going on my third generation of gauges in my boat so I know the problem well. I'm not surprised by your opinion that the vee berth was built around the plastic water tank--that is the case with the B29 as well. I don't know where the outlet fitting is on the tank but if you can locate the general area, consider taking a hole saw and cutting a 4" hole thru whatever cabinetry is in the way of access the fitting. Once the hose is reconnected, simply install a Beckson plastic deck plate, like the example below. Alternatively you may have to take a saw to the area and remove enough cabinetry to get at the area of the tank. As to the floor, I believe the B27 uses a fiberglass pan that is tabbed to the hull that constitutes the cabin sole. It does not pull up without breaking the tabbing; although you may be able to cut an access hatch in the floor and build a wood hatch to fill the opening.



    Twist Off Deck Plate by Beckson

    Restoring a Bristol 29 in my backyard.

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    Fiberglass Sander

    Posts: 6

    #7 [url]

    Jan 22 10 10:57 AM

    Thanks again...
    I do have to investigate a little more to be sure the hose is off, or posibly the fitting to the line has froze at sometime in the past.
    I like the acsess plate idea, that will be usefull to use as a wire chase in the future.

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