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Old 02-12-2021, 07:34   #1
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I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

Dear CF,

I hope the 'collective experience' in this forum can provide me with some useful info and insights based on ownership -and I expect sometimes opinion...

I have sold my 43 ft sailing yacht this summer after owning it for more then 10 years....One who sails finds out what One really wants and really like...

I fell in love with the classical S&S Swans over the years by only looking at it ... never sailed one, read a lot about them and admiration only grows...can't find any (pre)owner who doesn't like these beauty's...

So I decided to look for one range 44 to 48ft...there are -relatively- many for sale..in the US much cheaper then Europe...I am aware of the 'deep holes in the water' aka Teakdeck, Mast, Osmosis, old engines but this can be part of negotiation...

I am biased...when I talk to fellow sailors (modern yacht owners) they overload me with 'DON'T/IDIOT/YOU HAVE NO CLUE/' however for every negative argument I happen to have 10 positive...quite naive I agree...

Are there any CF members that can provide me with any positive/negative/constructive experiences or points that I really should look after/pay attention? I read/subscribed the S&S Swan blogs etc.

Without insulting anyone...No I will never buy again a modern yachts like Bene/jea/Hanse/Bav/Duf etc. Simply because I don't like the modern looks, interior, massive aft cockpits, seagoing capabilities/stability etc. Nothing wrong with them, they are all good etc etc...but pls no energy in convincing me. Had a few of them, enjoyed them, S&S Swan is next.
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Old 02-12-2021, 10:49   #2
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

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Originally Posted by 12 sail away View Post
Are there any CF members that can provide me with any positive/negative/constructive experiences or points that I really should look after/pay attention?
Although my sailing experience on them is quite limited, (day sails,) I have worked on many of them.
I too have a "soft spot" for them, they sail and handle well, but in stock form are not well set-up for single/short-handed work.
As with most boats of that age and style, they don't have much easily accessible room for additional "stuff".
Space around the engines is limited, installing big alternators, larger batt banks, watermakers, additional filters, and such, can be challenging, mostly due to the difficulty of routing wires and hoses.
The "pointy" bows and small anchor rode lockers can make the installation of "cruising" gear like big anchor rollers/lots of chain/windlasses, "interesting".
Relative to boat size, the fuel and water tankage is limited.
Please don't think I'm trying to "pile up" a bunch of negatives about them, the points I've made could be equally applied to most any of the "performance cruisers" of that time period, they are still strong and very well-built boats that you could take anywhere,, and in style.
The ones I've been on gave me the feeling that they "won't break", and I do like the "seagoing" layouts of the interiors.
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Old 02-12-2021, 11:52   #3
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

I have sailed about 10,000 ocean miles on a friend's 1975 S&S Swan 44. They are fabulous boats. If you consider purchasing one, you'll need to pay particular attention to the teak decks and the engine. If he decks are original, plan on spending a small fortune on getting them replaced. They will need it if original. In the US that will cost about $2000 per linear foot so expect a bill of $80K+. The original engine is a Perkins. (I am told that the reason that the British don't build computers is that they have not yet figured of how to have them leak oil.) For a new engine installed, figure $25K-30K. So. clearly one needs to buy a boat where someone has already done the decks and installed a new engine. I have had the misfortune of being in 60+ knots wind with a big sea running in the Gulf Stream, but I had the good fortune to be in the Swan 44 at that time. I never needed to doubt the boat for a moment. I have another friend who has done 5 trans-Atlantic trips on his S&S Swan 38. He loved it. Finding a good one will take work, but they are out there. Happy shopping!
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Old 02-12-2021, 12:08   #4
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

^ what he says about the teak decks and engine. I've sailed some 10k nm on Swan 65. A fabulous sail boat but 4 crew is absolut minimum if the original sail plan. Never counted but some 20+ winches along other stuff so a lot of gear to maintain..
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Old 02-12-2021, 12:13   #5
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

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^ what he says about the teak decks and engine. I've sailed some 10k nm on Swan 65. A fabulous sail boat but 4 crew is absolut minimum if the original sail plan. Never counted but some 20+ winches along other stuff so a lot of gear to maintain..



I have done a number of Double-Handed Spinnaker Class Newport-Bermuda races on my friend's S&S Swan 44. Two sailors is not a problem on a 44 footer and that includes jibing the spinnaker. Hence for cruising, it would not be an issue.
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Old 02-12-2021, 22:54   #6
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

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Originally Posted by Roniszoro View Post
I have done a number of Double-Handed Spinnaker Class Newport-Bermuda races on my friend's S&S Swan 44. Two sailors is not a problem on a 44 footer and that includes jibing the spinnaker. Hence for cruising, it would not be an issue.
I'm sure that's pretty accurate. It's a big difference from 44' to 65'. My take for 4 crew is for the minimum crew to reef the main on Swan 65' safely manner.
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Old 03-12-2021, 00:25   #7
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

I agree with what everyone else says, and that they are a huge pain in the ass in all the different ways mentioned, especially if buying an old neglected one. Be prepared to open your wallet if a full rebuild is in order.

But... also as mentioned, they sail well, are bullet proof if looked after, and can look stunning in that timeless way.

As @Roniszoro mentioned, I also had had the misfortune of being in 60+ knots wind with a big sea running (no actually not big, but enormous white out conditions...), beyond the Gulf Stream on the way to the Caribbean from New England. At 50kn we were still reaching hard with a triple reefed main and storm jib, with the autopilot steering and felt completely safe without any concern for boat or rig at all.

That was in a little bit later generation Frers Swan 51 (basically a Swan cruising version of his famous Admirals Cup racing boat Blizzard), but Swans of that generation and earlier were built like the proverbial brick outhouses - and the S&S models looked even prettier.

From what you wrote you clearly want a boat like this and seem to have your eyes open to the problems that may exist and the cost that may be involved so if that is the case then why not.



PS: here's another link in case you don't have it already: https://www.classicswan.org/market.php
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Old 03-12-2021, 03:59   #8
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

Sail Away,

I can speak with some authority, albeit slightly tainted.
I have a Cole 43 in Aus launched 1970. Compare the Cole 43 and Swan 43 on boatdata site and they are literally millimetre for multimetre copies - hull and rig. Peter Cole obviously copied (but to avoid libellous claims, let's say "heavily influenced" by) the Swan back in the day when such couldn't readily be identified (plus, at the time no real legislation existed regarding duplicating moulds etc). The Cole has a rounded cabin top but still similar in size and position to the Swan's trapezoidal.
And to round off the "authority" I claim, I have a Beneslow Oceanis 430 (43') in Thailand.
For the same length, the two couldn't be more different - the internal volume of the Oceanis is truly incredible. Personally I have always despised the Jeanesleau breeds, and I don't tell my sailing mates I own a Beneteau. But it was a ridiculous deal and serves a purpose so I live with my shame.

Back to the Swans ... I have sailed extensively on the 86' (prototype for the Swan 90), and several 50-60 foot versions, but not smaller - disregarding my Cole. Recently did a survey on a Swan 62 which was 30+ yrs old.
These are really wonderful boats. Beautifully designed and immaculately and thoughtfully finished. They also hold their value well.

As for sailing and seaworthiness.. really hard to beat. My Cole has done 10 Hobart's and after a bit of modernising could easily do another 10. With unknown history of the rig, I asked my rigger mate to pull the mast and re-rig it. (Incidently he is rigger of Camanche and Am Cup boats etc). He said he'd done 2 Hobart's on the Cole's and knows them well. One of the best rigged boats of the era.

There honestly is no comparison between sailing the Beneslow vs the Cole/Swan. The Cole is an absolute dream. Sails itself. Has very soft entry, points well and happy with any wind angle or speed.

If you have a chance to own a 40-50 foot Swan ... do not hesitate.
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Old 03-12-2021, 04:26   #9
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

Buy one and post photos! Who doesn’t love a Swan? Yes it will need a refit, but better to put effort into a Swan than a Bene.
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Old 03-12-2021, 08:21   #10
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

All, Thanks for the candid feedback....I agree with all above (certainly the Cole 43)...my headache is primarily the Teakdeck..I indeed heard horror stories of 60 to even 100K$ repairs for 44-48 foot Yachts with leaking decks that are ignored. Another dangerous boobytrap of these S&S Swans is that they are always moored/for sale in 'paradise harbours/environments' hence dry teak deck, lots of sun, palm trees, gorgeous restaurants etc. Not One S&S for sale in The Netherlands with our depressing rainy & cold climate.
Wrt your other feedback: a new engine is an investment I would always calculate in, based an offer on and once a new engine is installed, and you take good care of it via dealer, use it intelligent it is a value you can rely on...An 80K$ teakdeck is another story. In my budget I have reserved approx 50k$ for 'unforseen' costs...and in fact $$$ I don't want to spend...but 50K$ means, if needed :a new Volvo/Yanmar 55HP+ engine, new rigging, new sails (North for Swan), dyneema ropes, B&G/Raymarine etc. Some of the S&S swans are very nice priced but are for sale for years..., I will take a look at some of them coming months, never been so easy to convince my wife to join me to South of France, Italy, Spain, Greece etc for a boat view... A good surveyor is crucial if i find one. The remarks about space/room store stuff is true, not a seventies 'design requirement', friends of mine have a new Beneteau 46..if you sit outside having dinner or drink you 4 m/12 foot apart! you need Whattsapp to communicate...
All in all thanks...confirms again that the sailing capabilities/seaworthyness/stability/hull quality is fantastic. Another question: concerning the teakdeck costs etc...Isnt this the same if i would have asked this CF group about Hallberg Rassy or our -beautiful build Dutch brand- Contest yachts?
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Old 03-12-2021, 08:33   #11
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

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Originally Posted by 12 sail away View Post
All, Thanks for the candid feedback....I agree with all above (certainly the Cole 43)...my headache is primarily the Teakdeck..I indeed heard horror stories of 60 to even 100K$ repairs for 44-48 foot Yachts with leaking decks that are ignored. Another dangerous boobytrap of these S&S Swans is that they are always moored/for sale in 'paradise harbours/environments' hence dry teak deck, lots of sun, palm trees, gorgeous restaurants etc. Not One S&S for sale in The Netherlands with our depressing rainy & cold climate.
Wrt your other feedback: a new engine is an investment I would always calculate in, based an offer on and once a new engine is installed, and you take good care of it via dealer, use it intelligent it is a value you can rely on...An 80K$ teakdeck is another story. In my budget I have reserved approx 50k$ for 'unforseen' costs...and in fact $$$ I don't want to spend...but 50K$ means, if needed :a new Volvo/Yanmar 55HP+ engine, new rigging, new sails (North for Swan), dyneema ropes, B&G/Raymarine etc. Some of the S&S swans are very nice priced but are for sale for years..., I will take a look at some of them coming months, never been so easy to convince my wife to join me to South of France, Italy, Spain, Greece etc for a boat view... A good surveyor is crucial if i find one. The remarks about space/room store stuff is true, not a seventies 'design requirement', friends of mine have a new Beneteau 46..if you sit outside having dinner or drink you 4 m/12 foot apart! you need Whattsapp to communicate...
All in all thanks...confirms again that the sailing capabilities/seaworthyness/stability/hull quality is fantastic. Another question: concerning the teakdeck costs etc...Isnt this the same if i would have asked this CF group about Hallberg Rassy or our -beautiful build Dutch brand- Contest yachts?
You can allways replace the teak deck with nonskid of your choosing with fraction of the costs. Personally I'd use teak only in the cockpit..
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Old 03-12-2021, 11:01   #12
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

I just did a quick search and found this: https://www.boatzilla.eu/nautors-swa...s/for-sale/215

Teak has already been replaced, looks have lots of upgrades and priced right (especially if it's any shape similar to the photos.

When you find and buy, post photos so we can vicariously enjoy it with you.
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Old 03-12-2021, 16:00   #13
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

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I'm sure that's pretty accurate. It's a big difference from 44' to 65'. My take for 4 crew is for the minimum crew to reef the main on Swan 65' safely manner.
You don't need 4 to reef a large main. One or two is plenty.
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Old 03-12-2021, 16:44   #14
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

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You don't need 4 to reef a large main. One or two is plenty.
you welcome to try solo. Not saying it couldn't be done with time, but that's not allways an option.. Like F10..
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Old 03-12-2021, 18:19   #15
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Re: I want to buy a Classic S&S Swan from the 70s...any feedback

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you welcome to try solo. Not saying it couldn't be done with time, but that's not allways an option.. Like F10..
It hasn't been a problem over the past 20 years or 50,000 miles. Here's the misses reeving a new 200' halyard while we were in St Martin earlier this year. The air draft is 93'. Since this photo was taken we've sailed back to Florida, to Maine, to Bermuda and we're currently in Antigua.
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