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Santana 35 Hull Construction


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I've come across a 1979 Santana 35 while looking for a coastal cruiser. Not many photos, and I've requested more, but they get a pretty good write-up. My research came across a site "About Santana 35" that said the hull was hand glassed with balsa core. The integrity of a balsa core in a boat this age worries me. Are my worries highly justified? I would expect some osmosis in a 40yr old glass boat, and in solid glass I don't see it as a major issue, but in a balsa sandwich I am guessing the moisture can have more serious structural consequences. Is a survey going to be highly reliable in picking up internal damage?

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Be worried only where hardware pierces the cored laminate.

In most areas of the hull where hardware goes through, like where the prop shaft goes out and where the keel bolts are, they left out the core and put in extra laminations of solid glass fiber.

I forget whether thru-hulls are placed in no-core areas. I'd pull out at least one and check the core. Replacing rotted core with a filled epoxy is not difficult or expensive. You just dog out the soggy stuff 'til you hit solid, then let it sit under a heat lamp for a few days.

I would be much more worried about soggy decks under hardware.

If I recall correctly, most hardware was bedded in 5200 so in most cases the factory-installed bits should be OK.

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Soggy or even rotted core is not uncommon at all, also not difficult to fix. If it's large areas, it gets expensive though.

I'd be more doubtful about the intending to 'coastal cruise' in a boat that was designed on the racier end of the racer-cruiser spectrum. It's a boat that's fun to sail, and IMHO a bit easier to handle than the mast-head Schock 35 which is the same boat with a bit less ballast and more sail area.

FB- Doug

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It's a vintage cored hull built in a low tech manner by a builder with a so so reputation.

Caveat emptor.

Sea trial before you pay anyone anything. 

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3 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

...

I'd be more doubtful about the intending to 'coastal cruise' in a boat that was designed on the racier end of the racer-cruiser spectrum. ...

FB- Doug

Thanks Steam Flyer. I've been thinking that myself. I've had lots of performance dinghy racing experience in my younger days, but my partner has never sailed before, so short-handed sailing ability is a necessity.

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4 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

If it's large areas, it gets expensive though.

Euphemism of the month . .  maybe the year. 

Likely a thousand per square foot, or more. 

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4 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

I'd be more doubtful about the intending to 'coastal cruise' in a boat that was designed on the racier end of the racer-cruiser spectrum.

I have a friend who took several years to sail a Santana 35 from Los Angeles to Malaysia, stopping at about every island along the way. He didn't have any major problems but he did replace the Volvo with a Yanmar in Australia. He found it Spartan, but enjoyed the voyage.

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I recently bought a 1979 Santana 35. It was cheap and because of the border issues, I bought it without seeing it. The surveyors didn't return calls at the time, so based on the price and my instinct on the seller, I went for it anyway. Turns out, the seller was honest, maybe even undersold it. When I got it to Canada, I had to have it surveyed for insurance. The hull read 10-15% almost everywhere. Three or four spots with 20-30%. Incredible for a 1979 boat. 

The deck not so much, although the seller had given me a pretty accurate description of that issue. That was why the price was low. That said, even the wet areas are solid. I have cut out and replace a couple of sections from the underside and so far I have found wet but solid 1/2" okuome plywood. For those in the know, is this unusual? Seems so to me.

As for cruising on it, I plan to do some of that. It seems like a Winnebago to me. Note that I just spent the last 10 years on an Olson 29. 

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46 minutes ago, inneedofadvice said:

 

As for cruising on it, I plan to do some of that. It seems like a Winnebago to me. Note that I just spent the last 10 years on an Olson 29. 

All comes down to expectations!

 

Tough boats, we beat the crap out of one on SF Bay. Always solid.

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20 hours ago, alanfw said:

I've come across a 1979 Santana 35 while looking for a coastal cruiser. Not many photos, and I've requested more, but they get a pretty good write-up. My research came across a site "About Santana 35" that said the hull was hand glassed with balsa core. The integrity of a balsa core in a boat this age worries me. Are my worries highly justified? I would expect some osmosis in a 40yr old glass boat, and in solid glass I don't see it as a major issue, but in a balsa sandwich I am guessing the moisture can have more serious structural consequences. Is a survey going to be highly reliable in picking up internal damage?

I had a santana 30, bow needed fiberglass to add strength, too much oil canning.

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8 minutes ago, Benytoe said:

I had a santana 30, bow needed fiberglass to add strength, too much oil canning.

I've heard the same, but I think the 35 scantlings were beefed up for SF Bay. The one I sailed on was a tank. 10-11 guys on the rail kinda tank.

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9 hours ago, Timur said:

35 footer with same rating as J 26 (120)?  No thanks.  4, 5, almost 6 knot shitbox there.

6 knots up and down baby.

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9 hours ago, Timur said:

35 footer with same rating as J 26 (120)?  No thanks.  4, 5, almost 6 knot shitbox there.

Now there's a really valid comparison.

Probably rates higher than an AC 72 as well.

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17 hours ago, Benytoe said:

I had a santana 30, bow needed fiberglass to add strength, too much oil canning.

Santana 30, or 30/30?  The 30/30 was uncored and a fairly thin skin of solid glass that needed some reinforcement depending on where you sailed.  I had one on the Chesapeake, and never felt the need to there, but on SF bay, or out in the ocean?  Sure.  But its kinda apples to oranges, as the 35 is a cored hull...

 

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1 hour ago, PinkSpinnaker said:

So how did my santana 35 end up on the front page of sailing anarchy???

thank you Google.

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1 hour ago, Crash said:

Santana 30, or 30/30?  The 30/30 was uncored and a fairly thin skin of solid glass that needed some reinforcement depending on where you sailed.  I had one on the Chesapeake, and never felt the need to there, but on SF bay, or out in the ocean?  Sure.  But its kinda apples to oranges, as the 35 is a cored hull...

 

30/30 PC, yes a SF bay boat where sailing in 20-25 was a normal afternoon. It was a former solo transpac boat that had to turn back because of the stress on the stock hull. It was repaired and made stronger when I bought it.

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On 5/19/2021 at 1:20 AM, Timur said:

35 footer with same rating as J 26 (120)?  No thanks.  4, 5, almost 6 knot shitbox there.

What is a J 26?

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26 minutes ago, Timur said:

Precisely.  I also owned Santana 30/30GP in early 90s.  Beautiful boat in terms of layout and deck space.  Also rated 120.  The J80 came out same time and kicked our asses every race.  The old school designs were just aweful performing boats.  OK upwind, but atrocious offwind.  Broaching bitches.  Glad them days over.  Why anyone would waste $1000s to restore the dog is not debatable, it's silly stupid.

Pretty simple really - because some people like to cruise their local waters as well.

OK, the GP not so much, but you could certainly cruise the PC version.

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Did a ton of weekend overnights on my 30/30RC.  It was a great boat for that.  Plus could race it as well.  And as a MORC hull, it actually goes downwind pretty damn well I'd say.  Sure it won't get on a plane, but neither will a J/80 unless its really blowing.

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A Santana 35 was my fist sailboat. Definitely likes the heavy air better but with a short fractional rig it's probably just right for double handling with limited experience. It's also better behaved downwind than most IOR boats. Just do it man!

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On 5/17/2021 at 9:13 PM, alanfw said:

I've come across a 1979 Santana 35 while looking for a coastal cruiser. Not many photos, and I've requested more, but they get a pretty good write-up. My research came across a site "About Santana 35" that said the hull was hand glassed with balsa core. The integrity of a balsa core in a boat this age worries me. Are my worries highly justified? I would expect some osmosis in a 40yr old glass boat, and in solid glass I don't see it as a major issue, but in a balsa sandwich I am guessing the moisture can have more serious structural consequences. Is a survey going to be highly reliable in picking up internal damage?

My 73 Ranger 33 taken last fall finishing a race. Solid glass hull. 

Your right about the moisture. If the inevitable leaks were ignored, the deck will be a nightmare.

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The Santana 35 is under-canvassed until the more realistically rigged boats are starting to reef. At that point they start to sail (unreefed) to their potential.

Witness the Schock 35: A Santana 35 hull with the bow made with less overhang (longer waterline, finer entry) and a much needed jacked-up rig. The Schock 35 was made by mocking up a more plumb stem on the Santana and fairing everything to that with straight tangents... nothing fancy. Instant success.

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Santana 35 was my first keel boat and we raced the crap out of it.  Ocean and one-design SF bay racing.  Could really take a beating.  Won the crewed Farallons overall on a windy year.  The only structural repair was a simple job--reinforcing the seat back to hull attachment (due to chainplate loading).  You get a lot of boat for very little money (sleeps 8, standing headroom, etc).

However, nobody has brought up the rig yet--aluminum fractional rig that bends a lot in normal use.  Best to check it carefully, as it would be difficult and expensive to replace...

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Like most "old" stuff, hulls, blocks, etc are built to last, and seldom are  abused, personal inspection notwithstanding. 

Though not large, my  current wee rig is composed of old hulls and some new stuff, and not destined to sit in a landfill for eons, from which I saved them...

However, one cannot ignore the regeneration costs in tems of time, labor and moola. Then there is mooring and storage etc...

Personally, I like old...lasting rigs keep "lasting" avec some satisfying effort.

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I have many great memories sailing on a 'Tuna 35. Back in the day we won our Div. against a very tough fleet at the Whidbey Island Race Week in a Santana 35.  Yes, they like breeze but do OK in moderate winds as well. I have come across far less water logged Santana 35's compared to many J Boats of the same era. For the money the Santana 35 offers a lot of bang for the buck. The aft. berths are huge which is great as the v-berths are almost always non-existent. Being a frac. it is easier on your headsail budget and for cruising you don't need to worry about the runners. Many had Volvo's diesels for power so that kind of sucks but otherwise I think a decent boat - beamy and a fair bit of draft for the era.  In big breeze with the blade and a full six pack of beef on the rail you can give PHRF headaches to a lot of faster hardware out there. You can do way worse than a Santana 35 is my .02 

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Thankyou everyone for the interesting discussion. By the sound of it, the Santana 35 is not a good choice for 2 handed (or single handed) sailing, which is one of my major requirements.

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41 minutes ago, alanfw said:

By the sound of it, the Santana 35 is not a good choice for 2 handed (or single handed) sailing, which is one of my major requirements.

Well neither is the Moore 24 which Webb Chiles took around the world...

After he retired, my friend took a Santana 35 from Los Angeles to Malaysia, stopping at virtually every island along the way, mostly single-handed. The biggest obstacle he dealt with was storage. Storage for tools, spares, food, clothes, etc. Smallish fuel tank and fresh water tank. Other than that he didn't have many complaints.

There are a lot of little tweaks you can do to a boat set-up for full crew to make it better for single-handing. This is the area where experience really matters.

  • Setting up the reefing so it is easy to use.
  • Hanks on the heads'ls instead of luff groove systems.
  • Slides on mains'l instead of bolt rope in a groove.
  • ...many more
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5 hours ago, Somebody Else said:

Well neither is the Moore 24 which Webb Chiles took around the world...

After he retired, my friend took a Santana 35 from Los Angeles to Malaysia, stopping at virtually every island along the way, mostly single-handed. The biggest obstacle he dealt with was storage. Storage for tools, spares, food, clothes, etc. Smallish fuel tank and fresh water tank. Other than that he didn't have many complaints.

There are a lot of little tweaks you can do to a boat set-up for full crew to make it better for single-handing. This is the area where experience really matters.

  • Setting up the reefing so it is easy to use.
  • Hanks on the heads'ls instead of luff groove systems.
  • Slides on mains'l instead of bolt rope in a groove.
  • ...many more

You make very good points...  Ease of depowering (reefing main, furling or changing headsail) is VERY high on my list of requirements, as is full 6ft headroom.

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