Shearwater 39
GRP, aluminum or timber Classic Cruiser

Shearwater 39 GRP , aluminum or timber classic cruiser
Shearwater 39 "Kalahari" in Hout Bay

A cruiser to be proud of

~ Admired wherever she goes

~ Grace, space and pace

~ Timeless appeal = resale value

~ Cruise anywhere in comfort

~ Inboard rudder now available for
timber version

~ Too small? See the Shearwater 45

~ Read the Log of "Ithaka"

~ Design review on SA Yacht Blog

~ Shearwater Owners' Group on Facebook

~ Flickr Album



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My brief for this design was very clear in requiring a yacht of strong traditional appearance above the waterline while having a modern underbody. Gerfried Nebe of Nebe Boats commissioned this design and is now world cruising on his own one. He was strongly influenced by some of the Bruce King designs as well as the Cherubini range of boats and they formed the starting point from which we worked to produce my version of that type of concept. Gerfried is also influenced by his own experience of the very able Miura as a cruising design and some of her features are to be found in this boat.

The final design has a pretty hull with pronounced sheer, a clipper bow with strong flare to the forward sections and a short bowsprit. Her stern is more champagne glass than wine glass in shape with a radiused transom, strong tumblehome in the after sections and transom hung rudder. Her deck configuration features a horseshoe shaped cockpit with plenty of length for sleeping while having a small well for safety offshore combined with a squared off cabin in keeping with her hull style. A powerfull double spreader cutter rig with standing intermediate or running backstays to support the inner forestay provides a versatile sail plan.

Shearwater 39 GRP, aluminum or timber classic cruiser

Shearwater 39 GRP, aluminum or timber classic cruiser

Shearwater 39 GRP, aluminum or timber classic cruiser

Shearwater 39 excursion schooner

Click on pictures to enlarge. More photos - Interior and exterior.

The fine entry of the hull combined with the flared clipper bow give good wave penetration for beating while providing a large amount of deck area and a dry ride under most conditions. The U-shaped bow sections reduce pounding when heeled by presenting more curvature for impact with the water than would be the case with V-shaped sections. The V-shaped stern sections combined with skeg mounted rudder right aft and the shallow forefoot provide good downwind control. The keel is a NACA foil and has external bolt-on lead ballast.

Layout A is designed for privacy for two couples or, if the quarter berth arrangement is varied, a family of 5 or 6 can be accommodated. The need for a feeling of space in the central area was kept in mind in planning the layout. Lockers there are aplenty but this part of a boat is subject to modification to suit the owner and the volume available in this hull provides plenty of scope. Opposite the head compartment is a workbench with lockers for routine maintenance. The galley has a large ice box or freeze locker, plenty of work area, twin sinks and work surface over the engine. A wet locker can be built under the companion steps. The remainder of the accommodation is self-explanatory and very comfortable.

Shearwater 39 GRP, aluminum or timber classic cruiser

Layout B offers a full width owner's aft cabin with direct access to the cockpit. The companion ladder into the saloon will be used by crew if the owner wants privacy. The excursion version features a 30 passenger cockpit and 2-berth accommodation.

Originally designed around a 2m tall client for whom the design has been built in aluminium, headroom has been reduced to 1,925m for the production GRP boats. Detailing has also been done for cold moulded timber construction.

The SHEARWATER 39 is a design for the serious cruising person who wants to get there comfortably but with little dawdling on the way. She is efficient as a sailboat and can aquit herself well in club or passage racing. She also has a big sister, the Shearwater 45, which can be built with either a cutter or a staysail schooner rig.

Follow these links to material lists for the structure in aluminum and wood, a stability curve or a list of drawings for this design.

Comments by Rod Turner-Smith, owner of "Sheer Tenacity"

Justin, a lot earlier in our travels, you asked if I felt that the Shearwater was the ideal cruising boat. We have now done just over 4000nm in "Sheer Tenacity" since we left Cape Town last month, and have had time to assess her performance , and time to learn how best to trim and sail her. The answer is unequivically YES!! She is an absolute joy, and a real passage maker! Not only is she good on all points of sail, but she is naturally fast, spacious, and better ventilated than any other boat I know. She is also a real "looker", and commented upon wherever you go! A great combination of classical elegance, and efficient yacht design. Her reputation preceeds her, and people from all over the world recognise them, and respect them.

Gerfied and Dudley certainly hit the jackpot with this boat, and I cannot believe that only about 25 of each size were built, and.. that we are lucky enough to own one!


LOD 12.00m (39'4") LWL 10.30m (33'9") Beam 3.90m (12'10") Draft 1.80m (5'11")
Displacement 9800kg (21600lb) Ballast 3800kg (8375lb) Area Waterplane 22.18sq.m (239sq.ft) Immersion Rate 227kg/cm (1271lb/inch)
Wetted Surface 34.57sq.m (372sq.ft) Fineness Coef 0.62 Block Coef 0.41 Prismatic Coef 0.52
Displacement/Length 258 Sail Area (Main + Fore-triangle) 78.2sq.m (842sq.ft) Sail Area/Wetted Surface 2.26 Sail Area/Displ 17.3
Righting Moment @ 30 deg 6464 kgm (46754ft.lb) Righting Moment @ 60 deg 8683 kgm (62804ft.lb) Righting Moment @ 90 deg 6800 kgm (49184ft.lb) Powering35-50hp inboard diesel

Please note that our plan prices include for adding imperial measurements to our metric designs if needed by the buyer.


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This page was updated 1 November 2018