“Salty” – The Classic Peterson 34.

“The Peterson 34 is a thoroughbred vessel with comfort and turn of speed that can only be found in designs by Doug Peterson.” – Sailing Magazine

Homage to Salty’s designer, Doug Peterson (1945-2017)

Reprinted from Sailing Magazine, June 2015:

Whether you want to sail from point A to point B or to point XYZ, the Peterson 34 is a thoroughbred vessel with comfort and turn of speed that can only be found in designs by Doug Peterson. American yacht designer Doug Peterson gained the attention of the world’s most competitive sailors when he unveiled the one tonner Ganbare in 1973. The 35-foot sloop was innovative below the waterline and was praised for its looks and sailing capability winning the SORC. By 1976, Peterson had designed the Peterson 34, an offshore racer-cruiser fast, tough and well built, an affordable performance cruiser capable of safe passages or as a contender in an offshore race.

Peterson said the 34 was built “to deliver about eight people quickly and safely from point A to point B (such as Newport to Bermuda).”   In fact, the majority of Peterson’s performance cruisers were considered rugged enough for ocean racing.  This quality solidified Peterson’s reputation as a designer and was during this era that Peterson’s designs dominated offshore racing, winning with IOR boats Gumboots, Eclipse, and Ragamuffin and stock stock racers such as the Contessa 35 and the New York 40.

Having an excellent reputation for windward sailing performance in both light and heavy air, the Peterson 34s fine bow slices through the waves and does not pound.  Thanks to the advanced construction techniques of the era, the solid glass hulls of the Peterson 34s are extremely strong and built to take it in any sea.

The combination of spade rudder, fin keel, and substantial ballast give the boat both speed and handling ability.  Owners note the design had less of a pin tail than the pure IOR designs of the time, making it “less squirrely” when running downwind in a breeze.  Known for its upwind sailing ability, it points high in light and heavy air but requires frequent sail changes as wind speed increases due to the large foresails that were typical of that era.  The hulls are hand-laid fiberglass mat and unidirectional roving with polyester resin. Although the hulls might be considered thick by today’s standards, the materials were both lightweight and strong for the late 1970s.

Ask pretty much any owner and you’ll hear the Peterson 34 is one sweet boat under sail.  “It has a reputation as a boat that’s good in light air,” said yacht broker John Proctor at Lawson Yachts. “It’s attractive, well designed and can keep a crew of  five comfortable.”   “It sails like a dinghy,” said owner John Mills of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.

The dimensions are well proportioned—the 11-foot 2-inch beam is just about one-third of the boat’s 33-foot 11-inch overall length.  The smooth, rounded deck contour is clearly designed to shed seawater.  The compact cockpit, with its oceangoing bridgedeck, allows room for a tiller but little else. The traveler is mounted across the bridge deck.  Trimmers can easily reach the primary and secondary winches, none of which were originally self-tailing.

The Peterson 34 performs so well on the race course, that the boat’s cruiser capabilities are often overlooked.  An amazing yacht with a gorgeous interior set off by solid hardwood floors, about 92  were built between 1976 and 1981 in League City, Texas by Island Yacht Corporation, founded by boat builder and rigger Marion Hayes.  Whether you want to sail from point A to point B or to point XYZ, the Peterson 34 is a thoroughbred vessel with comfort and turn of speed that can only be found in designs by Doug Peterson.

Production Details – Peterson 34

LOA 33’11”

LWL 28’3”

Beam 11’2”

Draft 6’4”

Displ. 10,800 lbs.

Ballast 5,100 lbs.

Sail Area 339 sq. ft.