As a boy in the late 1950s, Richard Allen used to ride his bicycle to school, going past a certain garage on County Street in his hometown of Seekonk, Mass. Inside were two men creating history. Clint and Everett Pearson were making dinghies out of a material called fiberglass, laying the groundwork for what would become the legendary Pearson Yachts. Clint Pearson went on to found the Bristol Yacht Co. in 1966.
So when Allen and his wife, Bev, came across a 42-foot Bristol trawler a few years ago in their search for a used boat, they knew all about the pedigree. “I was impressed by the quality of the construction and the condition of the boat for its age, compared to other trawlers that I had looked at,” the 67-year-old retired commercial fisherman says. “I was also familiar with the Eldredge-McInnis naval architecture firm and was impressed that the Bristol trawlers were designed by them.”
The Westerly, R.I., couple took the plunge and bought Sunshine Girl, a 1969 Bristol 42 Offshore, in 2010. Between the purchase price and improvements, the Allens have about $80,000 in the boat, and the aft-cabin cruiser has proved to be everything they had hoped for. Advertised originally by Bristol Yachts as an “ideal retirement home for a couple because of its comfort, seaworthiness, safety and economy of operation,” the boat has fulfilled the mission her designers and builders had for her, Allen says.
They first saw the boat in Palmetto, Fla., in February 2010. After two price reductions, Allen made an offer and “the rest is history,” he says. “Tom Thomas of United Yacht Sales was very helpful in my search for the right boat at the right price.” (www.unitedyacht.com)
The 42-footer has all of the “must haves” the couple talked about. There are two cabins, each with its own head, separated by the length of the boat for privacy. “The aft cabin also makes for an easier climb to the flybridge than the steep ladders found on many sedan models,” Allen says.
The deck extends all around the pilothouse to make line handling easier and safer, and the aft cockpit makes for easy access to the swim platform. “There are doors on each side of the lower helm, so I can handle dock lines when single-handed,” he adds.
The layout includes an enclosed shower, and the tub on Sunshine Girl is a plus, he says. Another important feature: The galley and dinette are up in the saloon, so the Allens can enjoy the scenery while cooking and dining. Allen also wanted a single diesel and a full keel with a skeg.
Sunshine Girl was in turnkey condition “if you were willing to live with a few deficiencies that could be corrected in time,” Allen says. “I was. I have thanked my lucky stars many times that I did not buy one of the project boats that I looked at. I realize now that those projects would have kept me from cruising for a long time.”
The Allens hit the water running. They immediately drove Sunshine Girl from Palmetto up to Brunswick, Ga., by way of Lake Okeechobee. A cruise down to Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., followed. Last year, Allen took her up the ICW from Florida to her home port in Rhode Island. During that time the Allens have been making constant changes and improvements.
They’ve modified the rudder to improve maneuverability and installed a new intermediate bearing on the propeller shaft, a new cutless bearing and new through-hulls, seacocks and plastic water tanks. The handrails have been replaced with Plasteak for reduced maintenance, the mast has been braced, the helm seat has been replaced, and awnings and port visors have been added for rain protection.
Inside the boat, they’ve added a new bulkhead between the forward stateroom and the chain locker and switched to a larger refrigerator. Allen recently raised the saloon settee and dinette table to improve visibility. Future improvements include adding a propane heater. “We’ve been working on her the entire time but nothing that kept us from cruising,” he says.
With an array of electronics and powered by a 185-hp Cummins V470M diesel, Sunshine Girl is poised for more distant waters. “The Bristol trawler is an excellent sea boat.” Allen says. “We hope to cruise the ICW southbound in the fall of 2013, and maybe we’ll make a trip to the Bahamas. Sunshine Girl has been everything we hoped for.”
The Bristol 42 Offshore has the sturdy, seaworthy look of a traditional trawler with its high sides, big bow and deck house. It sleeps four in two cabins and has flybridge and inside helm stations. There’s seating on the flybridge and on the aft cabin top. Wide side decks all around make for safe access and easy line and fender handling.
The layout below is centered on the two cabins, each with its own head. The forward cabin has a V-berth with the head compartment to port and a hanging locker opposite. Moving aft, there’s a C-shaped dinette and a U-shaped galley with room for a three-burner stove top and a full refrigerator, along with a stainless steel sink and counter space. Galley-up and galley-down models were offered.
The lower helm station is to port in the main saloon, with an accompanying nav table. The saloon features an L-shaped settee and various layouts for other seating. The master stateroom aft is outfitted with a double berth and a full head with a separate shower (tubs also were offered), along with a hanging locker and drawer storage.
Bristol Yacht Co. was founded in 1966 by sailboat builder Clint Pearson. The first offering was a Carl Alberg design, the Bristol 27, and it set a trend for success. A fleet of other sailboats followed during the next 30 years from such designers as Halsey Herreshoff, Ted Hood and Dieter Empacher. The 42 Offshore was the company’s first venture into the powerboat market, and it enjoyed a successful production run into the 1980s. Bristol Yacht closed in 1997 after building more than 4,000 sailboats and powerboats. The 42 Offshore remains popular in the used-boat market, and prices range from less than $100,000 to as much as $170,000, based more on the boat’s condition and extras than age.
LOA: 41 feet, 6 inches
BEAM: 13 feet, 6 inches
DRAFT: 4 feet
WEIGHT: 30,000 pounds
PROPULSION: single diesel to 270 hp
TANKAGE: 275 gallons fuel, 100 gallons water
BUILDER: Bristol Yacht Co., Rhode Island
August 2013 issue