by Quentin Warren
Blue Water Sailing
A swift, sensible passagemaker
The Saga 35 is a modern vision from designer Bob Perry in which every effort has been made to combine comfort, simplicity, manageability and performance in a cruising boat nimble enough to move along with acceleration and speed, yet tempered enough to remain a dependable offshore passagemaker. Aimed at shorthanded crews with long-distance plans, the boat came in at a size “about as small as most people would be comfortable taking offshore,” which is how we described it in the March 2002 issue of BWS.
Perry may have been right on target with this one. His goals that it sail very well, handle with ease and provide a viable living platform in 35 feet are noble ones, and though plenty of designers have tried to combine all three in a working model, few have really succeeded. Maybe the Johnstones did with the J/35, but arguably not to the extent that Perry has here. To cite but one reason, take the Saga’s Variable Geometry Rig, which allows a furling Solent and a furling genoa to occupy the foretriangle simultaneously, each at the ready and capable of deployment from the cockpit. Perks such as this one are incremental but they add up to a formidable sailboat.
We noted, “Saga has derived concepts from the cruiser-racer school of thought and from singlehanded offshore racing, and put them into cruising boats with relatively shallow underwater sections, deep bulbed keels and large spade rudders. The boats are easily driven and simple throughout. The idea behind the Saga 35 has been to apply these attributes to a small boat capable of sailing offshore.” Displacement/Length at 151, combined with the 35’s large mainsail and SA/D mark of 20.3, indicates a light boat, easily driven in all conditions, with substantial horsepower aloft.
BWS’s outing on the boat occurred in 20-30 knots of biting wind in early-December on the Chesapeake. Off the breeze under full sail in these conditions we observed, “Boatspeed didn’t dip below 7.5 knots, and whenever a puff hit the boat responded eagerly. She would heel over a little and accelerate into the eights. She tracked along as steady as a rock with very little weather helm. The large rudder allows you to drive her down and maintain control.” Turning upwind it was goodbye genny, hello Solent, on with a tuck—all without leaving the confines of the cockpit—and she settled into a steady ride with tracking again spot on.
The interior is open, with a light, airy disposition and plenty of ventilation. It is rendered in cherry, and dedicated to simplicity, functional comfort, and plenty of storage. Sleeping accommodations occur in the V-berth forward and in the starboard hip aft, but as we suggested, “The settee seats port and starboard are almost seven feet long and will be the best bunks at sea; lee cloths come standard with the boat.”
On deck, systems are simplified and sailing options exploited. “There is no maintenance-intensive wood whatsoever, rather a fusion of nonskid and stainless steel.” The bow platform that supports the genoa headstay is massive and indestructible, and includes an anchor roller canted forward allowing you to drop the hook with a gravity assist, or in other words without having to go up there and lift it off. Because of this platform, the foredeck enjoys considerably less clutter right on out to the stemhead.
We wound up our report calling the Saga 35 a couple’s cruising boat in the truest sense. “None of the gear aboard will be too heavy for one person to handle, and the forces on sheets and lines will never be more than can be handled by a lone watchkeeper.” She is simply a “sensible modern cruising boat that happens also to be a heck of a lot of fun to sail.”
LOD 35’6” (10.8 m.)
LWL 33’7” (10.3 m.)
Beam 10’9” (33.3 m.)
Draft (std. bulb) 5’1” (1.6 m.)
Ballast 5,100 lbs. (2,313 kgs.)
Displ. 12,810 lbs. (5,811 kgs.)
SA (100%) 713 sq.ft. (66.2 sq. m.)
Fuel 45 gal. (170 ltr.)
Water 80 gal. (303 ltr.)
Auxiliary Yanmar 40-hp
Designer Robert Perry
423 Lakeshore Road
Ontario L2R 7K6
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