Why a Hallberg Rassy 352?
I have always been attracted by classical boats, ideally wooden ones like the Atkin’s Ingrid. I like the feel and smell of wood but maintaining a wooden boat is not a minor job. I respect people who keep an old classic to a pristine condition. I think I am not that kind of person as I am not well organized. Steel on the other hand is also not really an option I think, because it does not like salt water and also needs good insulation in order to keep it dry inside. Aluminium needs a lot of attention in order to prevent from electrolytic problems and is quite expensive too. So, fiberglass seems to be the right material and if you like classic boats there is only one choice: A Glassic. US residents have more choices if they look for such a type of boat. Boat design has been a bit more conservative compared with the European mass production brands and prices on the used boats market are low. There are designs like the Cabo Rico 38 or the Pacific Seacraft 37. There is the Valiant Esprit 37 the Cape Dory 36 and many others. Amongst those classic fiberglass boats, I also found the Hallberg Rassy 35 Rasmus which caught my attention; one of Hallberg Rassy’s first fiberglass boats. A simple and strong boat for an affordable price. I started looking for the best HR 35 Rasmus on the market. On my search I traveled as far as Traverse City in the US (at the very top of Michigan lake) where I inspected two ketch rigged Rasmus. The Euro was rating quite high at that time against the USD allowing for a purchase in the US without really having to pay more than in Europe (including taxes import duty and transport of course). One of the two boats was in a quite bad condition. The owner of the second boat regretted his decision to sell. I must admit that he was quite friendly and said that he would sell if I wanted but I shouldn’t expect any reductions from the asking price. Not a good starting point for buying a used boat. Anyhow, I had a great time in the US and although I didn’t succeed, I never regretted having done the trip. After about three years of searching, I had seen more than 20 Rasmus. I even hired one for a week and sailed from Germany to Danmark and back in order to get the feel of sailing a full keel classic and I was quite pleased with her sailing performance. But there was something with this kind of boat that did not work for me and I finally accepted that I would never buy one.
So, I was back to square one. What is the right boat for me? I had seen some other types in a similar price range like the Nicholson 35, I also looked for smaller boats like the Monsun 31 or the Contessa 32 and also some more expensive ones like the Victoria 34, but they all had their problems, were too small or too expensive.
I had to take the decision to increase my budget and look for the next price range or I would never own a boat. To cut the story short, I always stopped by when I saw a HR352 in a harbour but never considered buying one because they were quite expensive. Things had changed though and the euro crisis had turned the used boats market into a buyers market. I saw a few 352’s during the next few months, all of them in Germany or Holland and finally bought MATILDA almost the same day I saw her.
Some characteristics of the HR352:
- Sturdy high quality hull construction
- Hull and deck completely joined by overlapping GRP laminate
- Polyvinyl instead of balsa as deck core material (no rot)
- Encapsulated ballast, full keel and deep bilge
- Walk through access to the spacious aft cabin
- High ballast/displacement ratio
- Kind motion in heavy seas
- Seakeeping ability
- Nice woodwork
By the way, if you ask me about modern boats, they are ok too. There is nothing wrong with them. They are technically up to date, everything is new and they are fast. They are practical every days gadgets and you can have a lot of fun with them. I did see a few of them too of course but they did not work for me. I had the feeling that they where dead, just a piece of plastic, no soul…
People who do not know that a sailboat is a living creature will never understand anything about boats and the sea.