When two boatbuilders—both steeped in leading-edge construction techniques—share a vision for a design they can market to a discriminating audience, something good is bound to happen. Don Campbell and Randy McCurdy had worked together at Admiral Marine in Seattle. They shared a desire to produce a limited number of semi-custom yachts built stronger and lighter than competitive brands for superior performance, and with fit and finish to rival the hand-craftsmanship of a true custom design. Hence, the San Juan 38.
Campbell and McCurdy opened the doors of San Juan Yachts in Anacortes, Washington, in 1998. Naval architect Greg Marshall of Victoria, British Colombia, drew the lines for the San Juan 38, eschewing the traditional lobster boat deckhouse look for flowing lines that softened the overall look, and complemented the springy sheerline and rounded deckhouse.
She was built with resin-infused composite construction. E-glass, Kevlar, a Corecell foam core and vinylester resins were in the structure, supported by a modified-V hull with a modestly angled stem, rounded forefoot with a sharp angle, and full-length chines that terminated in a slightly convex transom.
The first San Juan 38 launched for the 2000 model year. Originally offered with twin 350-hp diesels, the 38 was eventually built with optional 440-hp Yanmar 6LY-STE diesels that turned four-blade Nibral props. The boat could achieve a top-end speed of 39 knots. Owners reported excellent handling from the Marol hydraulic steering and MicroCommander electronic controls, as well as precise docking control courtesy of a Side-Power bow thruster.
Under the semi-enclosed hardtop, the San Juan had banquette seating for four at the dinette to port, and one starboard helmsman’s chair—all raised for improved sightlines through nearly 360 degrees. In the cockpit, two sun lounges could be pulled up for engine access. A wide bench seat at the transom offered additional seating.
Teak was used in the cockpit, pilothouse and accommodations spaces. The two-stateroom layout included a galley.
Produced for 10 years, the San Juan 38 is now retired, with the San Juan 40 available for owners who want an improved version of the design that launched a legend.
This article was originally published in the August 2022 issue.