Our offer was accepted on a 1977 Ericson 36c “Cruising” cutter “Alta”. After over a year of searching, this boat is the smallest, oldest, and least expensive. Unexpectedly, Marcia and I like Alta the most. For the length – 36′ – we find her to be roomier than many of the 39′-45′ boats we’ve seen. It really does seem like she’s Bigger On The Inside. We are also purchasing her from the original owners, who have loved and cared for her over the past 38 years.
We’ve read and have been told many times that buying a boat is all about compromise. We have found this to be true, but the compromises on Alta are few:
- The stateroom bunk is narrow
- The galley is a bit small
- She needs some TLC*
*TLC includes such items as brightwork (wood) refinishing, polishing, new lighting throughout (We’re keeping the oil lamps, though!), possibly new standing rigging, possible engine work, and new canvas within the next few years.
She’s a cutter – which means she has two staysails forward of the mast, instead of just one. This gives us more sailing options, which can be important in heavy weather. She also has a “flush deck” – the deck is the full width of the boat, with no raised cockpit interrupting the surface area. This adds freeboard – the distance from the waterline to the deck – and opens up the cabin area quite a bit. The forward hatch in the image to the right is over the V-birth, and the closer one is a butterfly hatch over the salon.
She has the largest, most comfortable cockpit we’ve seen – with a high backs on the seats and an ice chest in the center that, surprisingly, doesn’t get in the way. The reverse-mounted wheel is a bit strange, but either sitting behind it or off to either side is actually very comfortable.
The salon is cozy. Not much wasted space here (the image to the left is a wide-angle, and a bit misleading; the mast isn’t quite as far into the salon as it appears, and the salon isn’t quite as wide as it appears, either). We had planned on replacing the salon cushions in any boat we purchased, but these are actually in pretty good shape, and we may hold off on that decision for a bit.
The aft stateroom is small, and the bunk is a bit narrower than a double, but we’ve made our peace with a small bunk long ago. There’s a bit of a knee room issue as well. The lights pictured here, as many of the lights on this ship, will be replaced with smaller LED fixtures. Also, we will probably move the refrigerator motor and compressor, which are on the shelf to starboard.
Before we close, we will be taking her out on a “Sea trial” – where we go out on her with the current owners and check that everything works. “Kick the tires”, so to speak. If all goes well, we have a Marine Surveyor check her out – which are akin to both a home inspector and appraiser. The survey will tell us if there are any issues with the ship, from rigging to keel. After the Survey, we will have the option to move forward, cancel, ask for a price adjustment, or ask the sellers to fix some of the issues. The escrow terms are 25 days or sooner – and we expect much sooner. We’re shooting for more like 14 days.
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