Handsome, well-built racer-cruiser charms with its impressive performance and affordability
The C&C 35 is a survivor and, some claim, a classic. I sure wouldn't argue with them. Designed by Cuthbertson and Cassian in 1969, the boat was originally called the Redwing 35 and was built by George Hinterhoeller. The name was changed to the C&C 35 after Hinterhoeller merged with C&C Yachts. The C&C 35 was developed during the waning period of the CCA rule, when the IOR was emerging, but before it changed from an idealistic handicapping system to more of an intrusive developmental rule. And that may be why the 35 has survived and thrived-it is an undeniably handsome boat designed to sail well, not rate well, and good looks and good sailing characteristics never go out of style. The C&C 35 Walloon is one of the only boats to win the Port Huron to Mackinac Island race under both rules.
The C&C 35 was in production for six years, one of the company's longer runs. This was an era when builders retooled frequently and designs were rarely produced for more than a couple years. In fact, the C&C 35 underwent major changes in 1973 and as result, boats built prior to that are known as the MK I and those built afterward, the MK II. A total of 350 boats were launched. Interestingly, my friend, Ft. Lauderdale surveyor Paul Anstey, built the C&C 35 on license in his boat shop in Poole, England, during the early 1970s. There were around 20 English-built 35s.
Although both versions of the boat are similar in appearance, there are some notable differences, especially below the waterline. Both boats have a modest sheerline with fairly long overhangs, at least by today's standards. The LOA of the MK I is 34 feet, 7 inches and the LWL is 27 feet, 6 inches, revealing an overhang ratio of about 20 percent. The hull has a bit of flare forward and a springy stern with a slightly reversed transom. The underwater sections show rounded bilge sections, and although the boat was considered flat and beamy in its day, it seems softer to modern eyes. The cabintrunk on the MK I featured a distinctive spray dodger molding. The MK II replaced this molding with a slight rise in the trunk. The MK I has a single long portlight in the saloon while the MK II has two smaller ones.
Below the water, the MK I has a swept-back shark fin keel shape and an odd scimitar-shaped spade rudder trailing aft. The shape of this rudder, designed to keep the leading edge in turbulence-free water, was changed to a more balanced, freestanding blade on the MK II. The aft sections were also changed, flattened a bit, to take advantage of the IOR rule. The ballast was increased by 600 pounds in the MK II and the sail area increased by 50 square feet. Interior modifications combined to add nearly 30 percent to the displacement. Although the MK II has a more modern hull shape, and an LWL 2 feet, 9 inches longer, 35 owners who still race the boat prefer the performance of the lighter MK I.
The 35 predates C&C's extensive production of cored hulls, and the hull is made of relatively thick, solid, hand-laid-up fiberglass. However, the deck is composite with a balsa core. The hull and deck are joined on a standard flange and bonded chemically and mechanically. The overall construction is typical of the time, fairly heavy and not overly sophisticated. It is always interesting to read old reviews of the 35. Writers in the early 1970s considered the 10,500-pound 35 MK I to be almost radically light.
Bulkheads are securely glassed in place as is most of the interior infrastructure. Some secondary bondings have not held up well, but that's a sign of age more than a problem with the original construction. The keel is externally fastened with stainless fasteners, and the rudder stock is also stainless steel. The rudder is foam and fiberglass. Transverse floors are constructed of glassed-over plywood and can be subject to delamination. C&C's finish work was high quality, although the extensive use of Formica definitely dates the boat.
What to look for
The first thing to remember is that most C&C 35s are 30 years old. It is remarkable, really, how well the boats have aged, especially because almost all 350s have been raced hard at some point during their lives. When you begin inspecting boats on the used market, look for a 35 with a new engine. The original power plant was the well-loved and much maligned Universal Atomic 4. This venerable gas engine is reliable and cheap to repair or replace; still, I'd look for a boat with a retrofitted diesel, an upgrade that doesn't seem to drastically alter the asking price. Late in the production run some MK II models were fitted with small Westerbeke diesels, which many owners have repowered over the years.
Leaks are a common ailment in most 35s, particularly at the hull-and-deck joint and around the portlights. Bedding compound that has lost resiliency primarily causes these leaks. Remember that, while it is a straightforward task to rebed the ports, curing a chronic leak in the hull-and-deck joint is more challenging. Also, check the keel bolts, as some owners noted that iron washers were used, which of course, have likely rusted and will need to be replaced.
While in the bilge, look closely at the floors for signs of cracks, rot or delamination. The main bulkhead also needs close examination: Check to see if the bonding is fractured. Naturally check all the age-related items, especially old seacocks, hose clamps and other below-the-waterline fittings.
The cockpits of the MK I and MK II have a few differences to be aware of. The MK I features a cockpit traveler just forward of the helm, effectively creating separate steering and trimming stations. On the MK II the traveler was moved forward, usually above the companionway.
The MK II has a substantial bridgedeck, a nice safety feature, while the MK I has a low-cut companionway with just a small sill, making it necessary to keep the bottom washboard in place in wet conditions. Both cockpits have a low coaming that hits you right smack in the small of your back, so seat cushions are a big help. Also, the helm station is well aft, effectively leaving the helmsman exposed to the elements, although the low-profile cabintrunk does provide good visibility from the cockpit, especially looking to leeward past a big genny.
The side decks are fairly wide, considering the overall beam is just 10 feet, 7 inches. The chainplates are located well inboard, as are the headsail tracks, allowing for narrow sheeting angles. Original deck hardware has likely been updated by now, although some boats have been maintained in near original condition, a testament to the overall high quality of the boat.
The original nonskid surface is most likely well worn by now, and it is also possible that the decks and cabintrunk have been painted. Many owners used a one-part paint that does not hold up very well and may be peeling; this was the case on both boats I looked at in South Florida. There were different sailplans for each model. The MK II had a tall rig option and many owners opted for a slightly shorter boom.
The interior plan is nearly identical in both models. After stepping below, there is a small chart table to port. The navigator sits on the foot of the quarter berth, a typical arrangement. A small U-shaped galley is to starboard. A two-burner alcohol stove was standard, although it's probable this has been updated. If a propane stove has been installed, be sure to check the system carefully. Sometimes the gas bottle is placed in the cockpit locker, which is not sealed and definitely not safe.
A single sink near the centerline faces aft and drains on either tack. The icebox compartment is rather small and will need better insulation to be efficient if upgrading to refrigeration. For short cruises the galley is more than adequate as there is plenty of storage and decent counter space. Incidentally, this arrangement is reversed on the MK II; the galley is to port and the nav desk and quarter berth to starboard.
The saloon includes a dinette to port with a settee opposite. I like a dinette arrangement because it keeps the cabin sole clear without having to fold a table up and out of the way. My kids always spend a lot of time around the dinette table when we're under way.
The shallow bilge does not allow room for tanks, which were located under the settee and quarter berth on the two boats I looked at. The cabin sole is molded fiberglass, practical and a bit sterile. The head is actually spacious for a 1970's vintage boat with a vanity and wash basin. There are two hanging lockers opposite, which I find a curious use of space. I guess you needed more room for blue blazers back in those days. The double V-berth is long and comfortable, and the cabin is lined with shelves and has lockers underneath the bunks and drawers below.
As noted earlier, the original engine was an Atomic 4, 30-horsepower gas auxiliary. These engines, which were first built in 1947, were installed in almost every boat under 40 feet until the mid-1970s. And, those that haven't been replaced are usually still running. They are pretty simple really, just keep the plugs, distributor and rotor clean, have a decent set of points, add gas and air and the thing will run and run. However, the Atomic 4 doesn't have enough umph to push the C&C 35 into a chop, and gasoline engines are dangerous. Late model MK IIs were offered with the option of a 15-horsepower Westerbeke diesel. Owners who have repowered more recently often have chosen the Yanmar 3GM series engines, or the 25-horsepower Universal diesel that has the same footprint as the Atomic 4.
The reason for buying an older C&C 35 is simple: It's for the sailing. These boats sail beautifully. Whether you are out for an afternoon, club racing under PHRF, pushing the boat in the Bermuda Race or just cruising, the 35 impresses with its performance and handling. By the way, in the 1997 Annapolis to Newport Race, a 1971 MK I finished third overall.
Both models are easily driven in light air, although the lighter MK I is faster. However, reaching or running in a good breeze, the MK I, with its scimitar-shaped rudder can be a handful and intriguing broaches are not unknown. The MK II is a bit stiffer, and with a more conventional rudder, easier to handle off the wind.
Both models are close-winded and few owners report excessive weather helm. The nature of the rig calls for flying overlapping genoas, which by design can load up the helm. Steve Purdy, who has sailed his 1973 MK I from Virginia to Nova Scotia, sums up the 35's performance like this: "easy to handle and comfortable for two to cruise, but still fast enough to enjoy racing and to be competitive." Not a bad combination for any boat.
The C&C 35 is an enduring favorite on the used boat market. It is a handsome, high-quality, fine-sailing boat with a proud pedigree that can be purchased for less than $35,000. Maybe that's why many sailors consider the 35 to be a classic.