The Alberg 35 is a classic cruising from the board of Carl Alberg, built by Pearson Yachts from Rhode Island and introduced in 1961. It earned a good reputation for her fine sailing qualities, and with a six year production run of 280 boats, she was considered a success for her builder.
By todays standards the Alberg 35 may not offer the latest in performance or much room below decks, but she still delivers fine time honoured cruising qualities. The Alberg 35 is well designed, safe, and capable of serious offshore cruising; best of all she’s good looking and affordable.
As with all Alberg designs and in fact many sailboats of that period, the Alberg 35 derives its ancestry from Scandinavian folkboat influence. These designs are known for their classic beauty, safety and relatively good performance. Expect a springy sheer line, long overhangs, full keel with a forefoot cutaway.
Designed as a racer/cruiser and reflecting the latest thinking of her day, the beam is very narrow beam, only 9 feet 8 inches. The waterline is short at only 24 feet, which is good for light airs, but as the breeze stiffens the waterline will also extend by laying down on her long overhangs.
The hull and deck are of fiberglass construction, a very new material at the time, so hull thicknesses were conservative and heavy, an inch thick below the waterline. The deck is cored in balsa, resulting in a light and stiff structure with good heat and sound insulation, but note the early boats were not end grained balsa with its superior compression strength.
The cutaway keel has 5,300 pounds of lead as ballast which is cast into the keel cavity and encapsulated in fiberglass. The keel-hung rudder is normally on a tiller but some boats can be found with the optional wheel steering.
The boat came with two interior layouts. A dinette layout which has the cabin table dropping to form a wide berth to port while the galley was situated to starboard with a 3-burner stove, an icebox, and pantry lockers. The more commonly illustrated layout has settees to port and starboard of the cabin with the galley situated in the companionway area.
Engine accessibility is good, several panels can be removed to reveal complete access. Water and fuel are located below the cabin sole, the bilge is deep and safeguards against water sloshing into the lockers.
Performance underway is typical of folkboat influenced designs, her narrow beam and slack bilges make for a tender boat. She heels easily to an angle of 25 degrees before stiffening up. Inherent in the long overhangs of the hull shape, the waterline lengthens and so hull speed is in fact faster than the LWL figures may suggest. These designs also have a tendency to hobbyhorse.
The mainsail is known to be a bit large in relation to the foresail, giving the boat a weather helm which becomes particularly strong under a reach. Some owners have fitted small bowsprits to their boats in order to correct for this, while others shorten the long boom to reduce the mainsail.
Where the skinny hull containing deep wineglass sections and a decent displacement pays dividends is in the area of seakindly motion. The boat has a very gentle motion, and is especially seaworthy. Alberg himself cited a story of an Alberg 35 riding out the 1979 storm which claimed 16 lives in the Fastnet race with little fanfare other than battening down the hatches, eating, drinking and playing cards.
Watch for delamination in the deck or any water damage to the balsa coring (tap the deck with a mallet and listen for a dull or hollow thud sound). Especially around fittings and stanchions. Check for cracking, bending or movement in the mast compression post and supporting structure. For offshore work some recommend beefing up the bulkhead in this region.
Check tankage, early boats had galvanized tank which will eventually corrode through.
As with any boat of this age check the wiring, if not already completed by previous owners, they will need an extensive rewire.
» An article on the Alberg 35 and Alberg 37, Cruising World Magazine, July 2002
» Alberg 35 Review by Gregg Nestor, Twenty Affordable Sailboats to Take You Anywhere
» The Alberg 35 users group, articles and information.