When I was a kid, one of my favourite hobbies in summer was to cycle to a local harbour to check out the boats, that were mooring there. I was especially fond of sailing yachts that looked capable of handling the most demanding offshore conditions. I was also a keen reader of boating magazines and sailing books, and many of these were dog-eared from heavy usage. Once I happened to come across an article on the Swan 40 (Germán Frers’ –design), which became my ultimate dream boat.

Not too much has changed in twenty years, since I still love to check out sail boats in the harbours and boat shows or read about them on magazines, books and blogs. However, the criteria for the ’perfect boat’ has perhaps evolved a bit during these years. For example, I still consider the Swan 40 a great yacht, but I wouldn’t consider her an optimal choice for shorthanded sailing. Especially, if taking into account the price and yearly maintenance costs.

What I still share today is the passion for Nordic (or Scandinavian) boat building tradition. It is great, that there are still so many top sailing yachts built in Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

This blog post lists six of my ’dream boats’ in the size category of 34 to 37 foot, which I consider roughly the ideal size. None of these models are manufactured anymore, so the only way to find them is from second-hand markets. A problem with the new and hand-made Scandic boats is, that their price has elevated compared to their rivals from central Europe. However, if looking for about twenty years old boat, the price is not astronomical. Often the choice might be made between new (or almost new) central European boats, or 20+ years old Scandics. It is good to note, that this listing does not attempt to be a realistic list of options for us  especially as we are not searching for a new boat at the moment. Merely, the boats listed here are ones that have caught my eye somewhere, and I have wanted to find more information on them.

Baltic 35

Press image by: Baltic Yachts

This boat might be a rather hard to find on the market, but there was one Baltic 35 (Judel/Vrolijk design) from 1985 actually on sale last year in Finland with a price tag of about 100 000 €. With a recently replaced teak deck, she looked just stunning and I was hungry to seek more information. Based on the plan and photos, the interior looks very cleverly designed and roomy for her size. There is a decent chart table, the galley is very well organized and the aft cabin is spacious due to the fairly large bridge deck. On the other hand, the cockpit seems to be a bit small and sprayhood does not give good protection for the cockpit and helmsman. There is also a shortage of locker space in the cockpit according to the test article by Vene-lehti (9/85). The boat has sandwich-structure in the hull and deck with balsa as a core material. This is a minus in my books, but I think that Baltic Yachts  if any yard in the world  knows how to make a proper boat with this structure.

In production 19842001. One example on sale (in USA) at 88 000 €.

Hallberg-Rassy 34

Press image by: HR

This model was introduced in 1990, and remained in production for sixteen years. During the years, the model has been upgraded a lot. For example, the early 34 did not have a windshield or bathing platform and the long galley was on the opposite side of the sofa. These and other features were improved during the first years of manufacture. Of HR 34’s I would be especially interested in post-1994 models  that’s when the bathing platform was added.

In HR34, I like especially the simple fractional rig, which is supported exceptionally well. The 28 hp engine is powerful, and tankage (water & fuel) is sufficient. I believe that she is an example of a rather small cruising boat, which is capable of taking her crew anywhere with comfort, style and relatively good speed. Furthermore, a tiller steering is a definite plus in a boat of this size. 

+10 boats on sale in Europe, early models start from 90 000 €.

HR 36

Press image by: HR

The HR 36 was only the second HR, which was designed by Germán Frers. Compared to the HR 34, the 36 is more conservative with her center cockpit, masthead rig and a semi balanced rudder supported by a partial skeg. Tankage is very generous and this, among other qualities, makes her a great choice for blue water sailing  and even sailing round the world, if you like.

In production 19892003. +10 boats on sale in Europe, early models start from 100 000 €.

Malö 36

Press image by: Malö Yachts

Malö is a top brand in sailing business. The yard is located in Kungsviken, Orust  the mecca of Swedish boat building. Compared to its neighbour yard in Ellös, Malö’s production is in smaller scale, and therefore the company can offer better customization for its customers. Therefore it is rare to find two identical Malö yachts.

Malö 36 is a very beautiful looking boat, dedicated purely for comfortable cruising lifestyle. The targa arch is a trademark feature for Malös and together with the windshield, makes the cockpit very well protected. Furthermore, because the mainsheet traveler is located on the arch, the cockpit is also mostly line-free.

Malö 36 was in production 1996 – 2006. Three boats on sale, prices from 195 000 €.

Nautor’s Swan 36 (Frers)

This ’Baby Swan’ is actually almost 37 ft long, but was named after the classic Swan 36 (S&S). Her large cabin wraparound skylights make the new Swan 36 distinguishable in the Swan family. This model has caused some controversy among sailing folks, but I have always liked the rather modern looks of this boat.

Tankage is sufficient for most cruising sailors, but still less than half compared to the HR 36. The cockpit is large compared to some earlier Swans, and there is no bridge deck in front of the companionway. The hull is solid hand-laid fiberglass, which is a definite plus in my opinion.

Swan 36 was in production 19881996. Two boats on sale, asking prices 114 000 & 145 000 €.

Sweden Yachts 340

Image by: Yachtworld.com

The SY340 was built in Swedish West Coast for demanding offshore sailing. She was designed by Peter Norlin, and although built originally according to the IOR-rule, is fairly moderate in this respect. As always, Norlin has succeeded in drawing beautiful lines for this boat. The interior is traditional and designed to work at sea. She has a decent chart table, and the galley seems very functional and safe at sea. There is a small bridge deck, and the aft cabin is large for the boat of this size and era. Like in Baltic 35, the hull and deck are of balsa sandwich structure. The SY340 was in production between 1986 and 2002. 

Five boats on sale, asking prices between 56 000 €  116 000 €.

This listing does not attempt to be conclusive in anyway. What is common for all of the boats listed here, is that they are sturdy boats, designed especially for offshore. Also, another common feature is a beautifully made teak or mahogany wooden interior, which is typical for almost all Nordic boats – when down below, one has basically no idea of being inside a plastic boat.  However, otherwise the boat’s design philosophies differ quite a lot; for example the Baltic 35 is a Cruiser/Racer of the 80s, whereas HR 36 and Malö 36 are purely designed for cruising lifestyle.  

What is your dream boat or have you already got one? What boat(s) should be included in the list? It would be also interesting to hear suggestions of non-Scandinavian boats, which are less known here. 
/Antti