First published in SAIL Magazine, 1988
Just Launched – Pearson 34
by Tom Dove
Pearson Yachts has a long reputation for building substantial, good-performing sailboats. They continue it with the new Pearson 34, a comfortable, fast vessel easily sailed by one or two people of average skill.
The wide side decks, modified T-shaped cockpit and convenient placement of halyards, sheets and reef lines in the cockpit promote efficient shorthanded sailing. Little touches that make big differences — like line hangars and good stowage space — are all around this boat. The helmsman’s seat is removable for access to the walk-through transom, making boarding from swimming or a dinghy easy.
The no-sweat sailplan features a fully battened mainsail with lazyjacks on Isomat spars and a standard solent self-tending jib with roller furling. The main can be hoisted, reefed or dropped from the cockpit by one person and the boomless jib uses a single sheet led to a curved track on the cabin top and back to the cockpit. In light air or racing, the small jib can be replaced by a genoa rigged conventionally. Deck hardware is of high quality and thoughtfully placed.
Accomodations below are comfortable for two couples. You won’t have to pretend to be a pizza to get into the forward double berth, as it is on an island that allows access from the sides. The aft cabin has a double, and both sleeping areas feature hanging lockers and good stowage.
The large, bright head with shower stall is to starboard of the companionway and another shower nozzle is in the cockpit. Light and air are everywhere in the cabin, which has numerous opening ports and hatches scattered throughout the living areas. The high-quality joinery is light-colored varnished teak and the overall mood of the cabin is of quiet, modern elegance.
The galley has a gimballed two-burner propane stove with oven, good stowage and a lovely little liquor locker.
The navigation station to starboard has a good-sized table and electrical panel. The boat is prewired for easy installation of electronics and even includes ducting for air conditioning.
In light air on the Chesapeake, the Pearson 34 handled easily and predictably under sail and power. The boat tracked exceptionally well and it was possible to leave the wheel and stroll slowly to the bow and return while the wake stayed straight. Wing keels may be good or bad; this one is good, and the four-foot draft will be welcome in many places.
The self-tending jib invites sailing to windward, and we short-tacked the boat effortlessly a half dozen times while the crew sat and watched in lazy amusement. The helm is responsive and nearly neutral, with a proper touch of weather helm to let you know what you are doing.
The Pearson 34 is a product of evolution, taking new technology and coupling it with standard seagoing design. The result is a solid, well-detailed, well-made boat from a reputable builder that can be sailed easily by an average couple on coastwise cruises with another couple for company. For a price in the mid- to upper- $80s, including sails and a long standard equipment list, that’s a good balance.
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