Home     News     Plans   Dimensions   Projects    Modifications    Sources     Links     About     Site Map     Search

About Sally B #165


This site details all the work I have done to my '71 Bristol 29 and all the work I will do from this point forward. The boat and I started out with old blown out sails, funky roller reefing that never worked, useless aluminum Southcoast winches, and an antique Volvo MD2B rated at 12 hp but throwing only a 12-inch diameter prop so that its effective usefulness was about 4 hp at the shaft. The boat had sat on a mooring during the sailing seasons in New England, and the old bronze sea cocks were mostly seized. The engine sported this Rube Goldberg water-jacketed copper exhaust muffler that must have weighed 150 pounds. It had a leaking water tank, too small of a fuel tank and a head that didn't work. I noted all this and just saw her beautiful lines and all that potential.

I added a bowsprit in '88.  Re-powered her with a Yanmar 3GM30F in "90, adding more batteries, refrigeration, rewiring the engine compartment and replaced the sails and some canvas. In '94 I added 4 group 27 West gel cell batteries and a separate starting battery. In '95, I rewired the entire boat, added radar, GPS, A Signet wind machine, Ampair wind generator, repainted the boat in Awlgrip, replaced all the seacocks with Marelon fittings, and rebuilt the rudder. See the Plans page for what I intend to do for this refit.

About Bristol 29's


Are you thinking about buying a B29 or other vintage Bristol from the 1960's? Here are some things to consider, some strengths of Bristol yachts and some areas of weakness that you should watch for.


  • Flare at the bow keeps her very dry in head seas. Her design is about perfect for sailing to windward. More about her sailing abilities here.

  • Her low freeboard keeps her anchored solidly; she doesn't sail around her anchor, nor is she easily blown off when stopped, but simply sits placidly and waits for you to anchor

  • Her long overhangs give her much more speed than her LWL would indicate. She has amazing windward ability, even triple reefed in 35 - 40 knots of wind.

  • She has a perfectly designed rudder, that simply can't be overpowered--she will never round up into the wind the way some boats do. The rudder post is 1.25" solid tobin bronze. The rudder is solid fiberglass around a solid bronze structure welded to the rudder post.

  • Deck stepped mast support is overbuilt and not prone to sagging or rot.

  • Gelcoat doesn't craze and crack the way many early Cape Dory's look.

  • Fully-molded headliner throughout the cabin. Few boats of her era and size are as nicely finished out as the B29.

  • The Monel fuel tank will outlive you and the boat.

  • Large cockpit, with seats long and wide enough to sleep on.

  • I can't speak for every Bristol 29, but mine has never suffered from bottom blisters. I have only had a couple, the size of a quarter over the past 17 years, with the boat in warm salt water year round.

  • I also can't speak for all Bristols on the subject of deck delaminating and core rot, but has not been an issue on my boat. Granted I have taken the trouble to properly bed all deck hardware, over-drill the holes and fill with epoxy to protect the core, but the boat was 20 years old when I acquired her and her deck core was in fine shape then.

  • Relatively large head with a built in shower pan and drain.

  • Large lazerette you can climb into. A great storage area.

  • Design of beam allows the B29 to carry a lot of gear without upsetting her lines. Her bow and stern are highly buoyant which allow you to carry lots of ground tackle without lowering her stem, and lots of storage in her stern without having her settle there.

  • Internal ballast is lead, no concrete, no iron or steel scrap. The lead is fitted into the forward end of the keel and encapsulated in polyester resin.


  • Cast aluminum spreader sockets--very popular for this era boat--but a real safety issue with boats 30 - 40 years old. Read more about it here.

  • Hull to deck joint typically leaks on old--and probably newer--Bristols. It's a constant challenge, as it can be with many different makes of boats. My solution was to glass the joint solid from the inside. Something to consider...

  • Lack of headroom forward of doghouse. It is limited to 5'-8" forward of the doghouse which may be an issue for taller sailors.

  • The masthead is open as is the mast, to rain and salt air. The open masthead has no provision for keeping halyards from jumping their sheaves, nor for sealing the mast. Read more about the importance of this here.

  • The water tank is stainless steel, about 50 gallons, but is often pin-holed after all these years. The tank is installed before a fiberglass liner / pan is installed for the floor, so to get the leaking tank out is a chore.



About me


I am a software technical writer by trade. I have sailed, and worked on and with boats--over 50 years now--since I was a kid, learning both skills from my father. Four years in the Navy only whet my appetite for the engineering side of boating. I would rather sail than eat and I usually like to head out when everyone else is being chased in by approaching bad weather. I have sailed too many small boats to count including racing Lightnings, Flying Dutchmen, Blue Jays, Inland Scows, and Snipes, and sailing my Bristol for thel past 23 years in most of the waters in and around Florida to deep out into the Gulf, the Dry Tortugas and the Keys.

I have done almost all the work on the Bristol's refits myself, other than stainless steel welding and sail making, and what I don't yet know I will surely learn as a part of this refit. Hopefully there will be generous souls out there who will contribute to this site and teach me some of what I don't know...the rest I will pick up along the way.


How to reach me: email me at   davebro31 at g mail dot com

Copyright 2005 - 2014 by David Browne, all rights reserved, hosted in USA