Mark Ellis, the designer of this motorsailer, starts his comments with the statistic that cruising sailors spend up to 60 percent of their time on the water under engine power. I would say that's a generous figure, but I would like to add this vignette.

The Northeast 37.

The Northeast 37.


My old client Dick Philbrick called and asked me to join him for a portion of the local Cruising Club of America cruise. How could I refuse? We met at the early ferry to the San Juan Islands where Dick keeps his boat, a 38-foot Maxi-trailerable I designed about 10 years ago, and arrived in Friday Harbor around 10 a.m. We immediately got to work trying to put his diesel back together, but despite our best and persistent efforts, we failed to get the raw water pump to draw sea water.

Two impellers and four hours later, we made the decision that we would just have to sail the 25 miles to the rendezvous site, "like in the old days." We knew that in the fading breeze, there was little chance of making it on time for the chowder feed, but an air of excitement settled on me, and the very uncertainty of the situation was alluring.

We had Sucia Island in sight at around 8 p.m., as we ghosted to weather at about two knots. We enjoyed our own chowder and fresh corn with a bottle of Hogue Cellars Fume Blanc and a blazing red sunset. It was one of those magical moments under sail that we would have missed had the engine been operable. I felt heroic as we entered the anchorage late to see the other CCA members returning to their boats, the party long since over.

"Didn't think you were going to make it."

"We sailed."

So Mark is right. The typical cruiser motors a lot to ensure himself a mooring buoy or a place at the dock or just to enter the harbor in daylight. In my cruising area, we have notorious light winds and strong tides. My own clients want to cruise at hull speed at moderate rpm all day long if necessary. That has become rather typical. Then comes that awkward day when the sailboat is sold, and the couple buys what Mark calls a "sailor-acceptable" powerboat. The sad part is that there are boats that do bridge the gap between power and sail. The Northeast 37+ is a perfect example.

Here is a design with powerboat comfort and visibility, trawler yacht displacement speeds and a big enough rig to allow the boat to be sailed effectively. While the boat may not be an upwind rocket, it has the draft and rig required to give it reasonable weatherliness on those pleasant days.

The hull features a broad transom with an immersed lower portion that, combined with a flat run, will help inhibit squatting at hull speed. The hull has only three and a half feet of overhang, giving the waterline length of a boat 40 percent LOA and bigger. With power provided by a 100-horsepower Volvo, this design should move along at close to eight knots. Beam is 13 feet 8 inches, and that won't help much with speed under sail, but it is in keeping with the hybrid nature of this design.

Note the rudder setup. The aperture is big enough for a large diameter prop with a protecting skeg. This is the perfect place for a feathering three-bladed Max prop. The rudder is not balanced and is cut away at the root so that it does not fit snug against the hull profile. The keel is a long, shallow fin with 6,800 pounds of outside ballast. Draft is only 4 feet 10 inches. The D/L is 215.

The interior features a nice raised saloon with a very conventional layout and an inside steering station. The galley is down a level. There are two staterooms. The owner's stateroom is forward, and the second stateroom has upper and lower berths. The head is accessible from either the owner's stateroom or the passageway. There is no navigation area, although you could spread charts out on the dashboard area forward of the inside wheel. The cockpit is huge with large sliding doors — powerboat style — leading out of the saloon.

What I like about this interior is that it exemplifies how sailboat designers accustomed to working with more complex interior volume shapes are actually better at laying out interiors. This layout blends sailboat design cleverness with the volumes usually associated with powerboats.

The rig has the mainsail stowed in the mast and a roller-furling jib for hands-off convenience. The SA/D ratio is 15.41. The fuel tanks hold 150 gallons, and there are tanks for 200 gallons of water.

The second day of our CCA cruise saw a fresh breeze that changed direction to give us another long beat to the next rendezvous.

Our fractional rig with self-tacking stood us well for the long beat back, and we delighted in showing our heels and boat speed to much larger boats that were forced to sail in order to save face, I suspect, all the way to the next anchorage.

Perhaps, from time to time, we should all disable our engines before setting out for a cruise. I forgot what being a sailor meant.

Boat Specifications

Displacement18,900 lbs.
Ballast6,800 lbs.
Sail Area686 sq. ft.
SA/D ratio15.41
Fuel150 gals.
Water200 gals.
AuxiliaryVolvo 100 hp


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.