The Tayana 37 is perhaps the most successful semi-custom cruising yacht to be built. It was designed by Bob Perry and introduced in 1975 as a response to the Westsail 32 which were selling in enormous numbers. Today looking back, with the boat still in production with a boat count of 588, most still sailing, and an active and owners community, it’s very apparent that Perry has succeeded.
One could say the yacht was designed to ignite imaginations of tropical sunsets in exotic locations; think oodles of teak and a beautiful custom interior, wrapped into traditional double-ender hull with a full keel. Beneath the alluring romance, you’ll find a boat that is solidly built, and indeed many Tayana 37s can be found on the blue water cruising circuit around the world.
When in June of 1973 Time Magazine featured a four page spread on the “cruising life” with a photo of the Westsail 32 it was clear that this diminutive boat had caught the imagination of a generation. They sold like hotcakes and the cruising life came out of the fringes and into the mainstream. Meanwhile, fresh from the success of his groundbreaking Valiant 40 and having more recently designed the CT 54 Perry was approached by Bob Berg, former owner of Flying Dutchman Yachts in Seattle, to design a boat to capitalize on the success of the Westsail. It is said that the success of the Westsail was not that it was the right boat at the right time, it was also the right style; it was exactly what Americans thought a cruising boat should look like. This may explain the Tayana’s copious amounts of teak, her traditional full keel, and double ender style.
The boatyard that was originally selected to build the boat was Ta Chaio Brothers of Taiwan, builders of CT yachts. Interestingly, they declined thinking the boat would not be a commercial success. Thus the contract to build the boat was passed to Ta Yang, another high quality Taiwanese boatbuilding concern.
The boat, which was first known as the “CT 37”, was introduced in 1975 and offered as a semi-custom boat, with all manner of internal options and layouts. The rig was offered with options of cutter or ketch, however cutters were the fashion of the day and only 20 boats were built as ketches. In 1979 the CT 37 name was discontinued, instead boat inherited an offshoot of the Ta Yang name, changing to the Tayana 37.
The Tayana 37 continues to be in production today in very low numbers, they have declined in sales as buyer tastes have favored boats with more expansive interiors, stern entry, and avoidance of higher maintenance teak on the exterior. However the Tayana 37 remains popular in the used boat market, at the time of writing the Tayana Owners Association reports the latest hull number is 588 or 589.
The Tayana 37 is a classic full keel double-ender which when we look back today marks the start of modern design philosophy for full keel boats. Perry took a very traditional Atkins 1930s inspired design and worked his “boatspeed” magic firstly by cutting away forefoot of the keel, a common technique to reduce wetted area with gains in maneuverability. He then connected the keel to the bilge of the hull as a distinctly separate surface without the traditional wine-glass blend, which tends to help with close-windedness and form stability. Other deviations to the Archer theme included his own flavor of a canoe stern which had worked well in his radical at the time Valiant 40 design as well as opting for a modern inboard rudder over the traditional aft hanging rudder that Archer used.
Most boats are configured with cutter rigs carrying a lot of sail area with the help of a bowsprit. Those with a keen eye may notice the mast position quite far aft from the usual position on most yachts and this has been the cause for some windward helm issues which in the early days was corrected by raking the mast forward. It’s rare to find a Tayana 37 sporting the optional ketch rig which Perry notes is a pity as he thought the ketch examples were particularly fast and well balanced.
On deck, you will find lots of teak, some owners have removed the teak in order to reduce maintenance. The side decks are wide. There are two deck versions, the first being designed by Perry, which was later revised by Ta Yang which according to Perry is far nicer, more aesthetic, with a better cockpit. Most boats have the original Perry designed cockpit. Both versions sport small volume cockpits well suited to mitigating the risk of the cockpit flooding from large following seas. The cockpit has been described as safe secure with high coamings. Visibility forward from the helm is usually impeded by on most boats by butterfly hatches, boom gallows, and mid boom sheeting.
Going below deck you will find a high quality interior reflecting some of the best boatbuilding craftsmanship to come out of Taiwan. The interiors are all semi-custom and it’s unlikely to find two boats identical. While some interiors were well suited to blue water sailing others were not so functional. Blue Water Sailing Magazine writes, “We have seen some interiors that were simply inappropriate for a seagoing boat. Truth is many people who ordered new Tayanas did not have the knowledge to make the choices that were required of them, and either made bad choices or tried to fit too much into a hull already restricted by its design”.
Of note is the location of the fuel tank. In the original design, Perry located the 90 gallon tank below the saloon settee, but Ta Yang relocated them forward to in the fore peak, with the idea of creating more stowage space in the saloon. A full tank weighing 700 pounds so far forward has resulted in trim problems and hobby-horsing. It’s reported a some owners have relocated their fuel tank back to the original spot that Perry intended.
The Tayana 37 hull is built from solid GRP, generous amounts of glass is used, the hull is 3/8″ thick at its sheer. Perry has been quoted as saying there has never been any consistent structural problems with the boat. The deck is balsa cored to save on topside weight. The ballast is cast iron and internal to the keel cavity and glassed over. The hull-deck join is built into a strong hollow box section, which forms a high standing bulwark.
One would not expect the Tayana 37 to progress with much vigor from a fleeting glance, however the Bob Perry makeover of the traditional Atkins configuration gives the boat a new lease of life. The boat performs faster than similar boats of this period, especially in a fresh breeze.
The Tayana is relatively tender initially. The first reef is usually thrown in at about 18 knots, in 20-25 knots it’s usually a staysail and the single reefed main. The boat tracks well to windward, but its forte is off the wind, particularly in a broad reach; ideal for the trades.
The cockpit is dry, Tayana 37 owner Rolland Hartstrom writes of a passage between from San Francisco to San Pedro in Mar 2009, “I surfed down 20 footers in this boat doing 14 knots, and they were breaking about 3 feet of white water on top; never took a drop of water in the cockpit”.
Probably the most common bugbear of the Tayana 37 under sail is its often cited weather helm in boats configured with cutter rigs. Many of these problems have been corrected through the years by their owners, some by raking the mast forward. Harvey Karten from the Tayana Owners Association notes, “When properly rigged with a good adjustable traveler and well made sails, rather than their original factory configuration, the much reported weather helm is no longer a problem.”
There is an enthusiastic and active owners association with a wealth of information and tips to share, well worth contacting prior to purchase. Particular areas for inspection are listed below:
As of 2010 asking prices range from $55k-$115k USD.
» Tayana Owners Association, information, discussion group and links.
» Tayana Owners Association Google Group, discussions on Tayana boats
» Tayana UK Corporate website, Tayana 37 brochure and pictures.
» Good Old Boat Magazine, Mar 2005, Tayana 37 review by Karen Larsen. Boat comparison by Ted Brewer.
» Blue Water Sailing Magazine, Jun 1997, Tayana 37 review.
» Used Boat Notebook: From the pages of Sailing Magazine (p118-121), review of the Tayana 37.
Thanks goes to Harvey J. Karten and the Tayana Owners Association for their assistance on this review.