Salona 38

2011 October 3

Performance cruiser

It's interesting that given similar markets different designers and builders come up with totally different boats. Catalina has its approach and the Salona Yachts group from Croatia has its own, and the two boats are an interesting study in contrast. The design of the Salona 38 is a combination of design office efforts. The basic design is from J&J, the keel design is from Jason Kerr, and the interior design is another combination of efforts but the brochure does not give any names.

The boat is light. The D/L is 167. The boat is pretty beamy with an L/B of 3.17. The entry is fine and the overhangs are minimal. There is a lot of rocker in the ends of this boat. Look how the canoe body kicks up at the stern. I would think that this boat has been designed for racing under the IRC rule. You can choose from three keels with a shoal keel drawing 5 feet 9 inches, a "middle" draft keel drawing 6 feet 6 inches, and a deep keel drawing 7 feet 6 inches.

The rig is a triple spreader fractional type with spreaders swept 20 degrees. The SA/D is 20.32, so while this boat is promoted as more of a cruiser than a racer there is sufficient sail area to give the boat good light air speed compared to the Catalina's SA/D of 15.9. The roller-furling jib features a furling drum that is below the deck. The mainsheet traveler spans the sole of the cockpit, but if you prefer to keep the cockpit clear the brochure says you can move the mainsheet traveler to the cabintop. Looking at the drawings that would put the traveler too far forward for my taste.

The deck design features a big cockpit open at the transom. There are twin wheels notched into the coamings. There is an option for carbon fiber pedestals. Foot chocks for the helmsman fold down flush into the sole when they are not needed. I like the relatively short cabintrunk but while it looks good it is going to take a chunk out of headroom forward.

The Salona 38 comes with three layout options. You can have three "staterooms" with one head forward. You can have two staterooms with one head forward and one head aft. Or, you can have two staterooms with one head aft. I can't see any good reason to have two heads on a 38-foot boat so my preference would be the two-stateroom model with the head aft. Apart from those options the layouts are very ordinary looking on paper but they appear comfortable and functional. I have never seen a Salona in person so I have no idea what its finishing details are like.

One of the interesting aspects of this design is that it uses a stainless steel framework in the bilge to take the keel and rig loads. This includes a hefty looking large U-shaped channel piece for longitudinal loads and steel floors spreading out from the center channel. Carbon fiber layers are added to this framework "to obtain equilibrium of stainless steel structure and inner liner attached to it." The brochure also says the "slamming zone" is built with a single skin "in order to avoid shear failure of the core material under heavy loads."

There is a lot of competition in this size range. To catch the market's eye designers need to come up with something different. I don't see much here that is different. I'm sure it is a very nice boat and I'm certain it will perform well.