Popularly known as the Baba 35, this traditionally styled full-keel double ender from the drawing board of Robert H. Perry started life officially dubbed the Flying Dutchman 35. It’s one of the prettiest of double-enders from Perry, blessed with beautifully proportioned lines that many fall in love with.
She lies in the middle of the three Baba boats, not only in size but also in flavor. The Baba 30, being the pudgy go-anywhere liveaboard, while the Baba 40, plays the part of the fast and luxurious voyager. All these boats are built by Ta Shing, the best boatyard to emerge from Taiwan during the 1970-80s era. They have earned the reputation for respectable seagoing manners, sound construction and some of the best quality interiors to be found on cruising yachts even to this day.
The Baba line of boats were the brainchild of their developer, Bob Berg, who was a partner in a West Coast dealership called Flying Dutchman at the time. Berg was early to recognize the potential of a little yard in Taiwan named Shing Sheng, who had made its first foray from fishing boats to yacht production with a half tonner for the Japanese market. The boat was a limited success, but thankfully this was far from the case when Shing Sheng started production on Berg’s Baba 30. The boats were built to exceptional quality and its design by Perry became a hit.
Aided by this success, by 1979 the little boatyard moved into high gear with new purpose built facilities and a new name, Ta Shing. It was during this period Berg approached Perry for a boat to compete with his earlier Tayana 37 design which was selling in large numbers. Curiously this new commission was officially called the Flying Dutchman 35 and not the Baba 35. In subsequent promotional material we do see the Baba 35 name come up and it’s this name that has caught on .
The boat was lofted in the original Shing Sheng factory. Tim Ellis who supervised production for Berg recalls, “there was one particular issue with the lines in that the flat portion of the stem did not meld seamlessly with the sharp portion of the stem beneath it. We reviewed the lines and the offsets and decided to put a chine at the intersection of the flat and the stem. It gives a unique appearance to the bow.” Apart from this and a trim problem requiring Perry to make a revision to correct for a major list the project ran smoothly.
In addition to the popular aft cockpit layout, a small number of pilothouse versions were built and it remains one of Perry’s favorite. Ellis notes much of what was gleaned from building the Baba 35 Pilothouse made its way into the Baba 40 Pilothouse.
In total it is believed 75 boats were built including 7 pilothouses. Production ceased in 1986. The hull numbers run from 002 through to 126, with a gap in hull numbers between 51-100 inclusive.
In some respects the Baba 35 shares parallels with the Tayana 37, Perry’s most successful design in terms of production numbers. Her hull form is essentially an evolution in the same direction. With the Tayana 37, Perry infused performance into the traditionally slow domain of full keeled double-enders, a genre dating far back to the lifeboat designs of Colin Archer in the late-18th century. Perry’s formula was to take a canoe hull and attach a full keel as a separately defined surface without the traditional wineglass blend between keel and hull. With the Baba 35 the keel is still quite full, the forefoot cutaway being moderate, but with a leading edge that is more defined than on the Tayana.
The sheerline on the Baba is beautifully proportioned, which blends with a very shapely deck profile. The side decks are broad, the cabin house narrow, and there’s a wraparound cockpit coaming which Perry borrowed from his work on the Hans Christian 34.
Looking above, the rig is well canvassed, meaning the 35 will not disappoint in light air conditions, and of course a cutter rig with a bowsprit is obligatory for this style of boat. In his book Yacht Design According to Perry, Perry notes the original tall rig may have been too big for some cruising areas and he did get the chance to design a small rig for subsequent boats which may be better all-rounders.
Perhaps the most notable feature is the exceptional quality of interior. Master joiner work from Ta Shing combined with Berg’s own talents for interior layout made for a potent combo. Berg was known to take meticulous efforts to get space from every nook and cranny. On the Baba 35, interior space is more akin to many boats around 40 feet.
The interior layout had options in key areas. In the forepeak was either a v-berth or a double, while in the saloon there were either straight settees with a drop-leaf table or a L-shaped settee on one side wrapping around the table. Further aft to starboard the option was either a sea-going quarter berth or a generously sized hanging locker.
The U-shaped galley to port is very functional and the envy of boats much larger. All the critical areas of the boat are easily accessible making for excellent serviceability and maintenance.
Owners report of interior changes taking place around 1983. These changes included diagonally aligned galley sinks allowing for more cabinet space, all boats gained a teak enclosure around the mast, and the head was relocated from port to starboard. These changes came with minor finishing tweaks like less teak in the head and a move to a lighter polyurethane finish on interior wood over the original rubbed oil.
In typical cruising trim weighing in excess of 28,000 lbs in a full keel displacement hull, seagoing comfort is high on the list of positives. The hull is initially tender before stiffening up at around 20 degrees of heel; this soft initial heel tends to aid the gentle seakindly ride. She is well balanced in most conditions, and for a full keel boat, she does not hobbyhorse much unless the ends have been loaded.
Despite the heavy displacement, owners report their boats to be faster than most would expect. They are capable of out sailing lighter and larger boats on all points of sail, particularly in open sea conditions. Though the best point of sail is on a reach, the Baba 35 is capable of excellent close to the wind performance and notably gives away little leeway.
There is general agreement that the boat sails best with a yankee plus staysail combo, and light airs a cruising spinnaker is more useful than a large genoa. As sea conditions pick up the Baba 35 comes into its own; under storm conditions her displacement and relatively full keel allows for heaving-to in relatively high comfort.
Expect respectable 130 mile days in typical trade wind sailing.
As with many boats older than 25 years, have your surveyor check items such as chainplates and areas of balsa coring for rot. The original teak decks are still going strong on most boats. Overall, the Baba 35s have aged well, better than most boats of this era due to their excellent build quality.
The mild steel fuel tanks have proven susceptible to corrosion mounted in the bilge and most owner have replaced these.
Like all boats from Ta Shing, resale value has remained high. It’s recommended prospective buyers contact the Baba Owners Group at for advice, they run a Yahoo discussion group that’s worth checking out.
» Baba, Panda, Tashiba sailboat Yahoo Group, information and owner discussions
» Yacht Design According to Perry: My Boats and What Shaped Them, by Robert H. Perry (ch7)
Thanks goes to multiple people who aided the research of this article including historical notes from developer Bob Berg and Tim Ellis (who supervised production at Ta Shing), Allan Kaplan for providing information regarding the Baba 35 boat records and hull numbers, as well as Baba 35 owners Bud and Leslie Dougherty (S/V Play Actor) and Robert Shulman for relating their experiences. Also thanks goes to Robert H. Perry for granting permission for use of his line drawings.