Vida: A 1977 Rival 38 Centre Cockpit Yacht

While Rival Yachts are a well known range of safe cruising yachts the 38 feet long centre cockpit is one of the rarest. We believe only 5 were built.

Compared to other boats we might have been able to afford and which might have been suitable for our dreams Vida was unique in combining a proper cruising sailing boat with the centre cockpit and a semi enclosed “wheelhouse”.

So you get to sail properly, but to do so in more comfort (protected from the weather) and there is the aft cabin too. Having a “proper” sailing boat is critically important for all three of our sustainability aims. It reduces our dependence on a diesel engine (our goal will be to end up fossil fuel free). It saves money (the wind is free at point of use, yes we know gear/sails wear out but it is nothing compared to the cost of fuel). Sailing is so much more pleasurable than motoring so key to sustaining our emotional well being.

With their “traditional” shape there isn’t a huge amount of volume in a Rival boat compared to many modern designs. So the 38 is the smallest which allows an aft cabin with “walkway” (more accurately a stoop & squeeze) access from the main cabin. That gives us a double bed (with the added and unexpected bonus of an en-suite head) that is separated from the rest of the boat. That means it can be kept further away from the salt and chaos during passage making so that it is more pleasant when at anchor (and an aft cabin is a much more quiet and comfortable place than a v-berth at the bow).

What we don’t get is the huge cockpit so key to modern designs designed for high speed sailing (providing you avoid storms and loading the boat too much) and entertaining large numbers of people when moored stern to a quay in the Mediterranean (not something on our wish list anyway). The galley is also rather small compared to more modern designs (culinary expectations were perhaps lower in the 1970’s).

So what sort of condition is a 42 year old boat in? Does that explain why she was for sale at a price we could afford?

The most obvious problem is that the toerail (in this case a rubber capping over an aluminium strip fixed on top of the bulwark [upstand] that is the joint between the hull and the deck) is missing. Fortunately, the previous owner is paying for this to be done by local businesses.

Our survey shows the hull and deck to be in great condition. There are very few places needing any work (the davits have caused some crazing in the deck as has one stay). The standing rigging is also ok for a couple more years. However, all the running rigging needs replacing and the mainsail furling (added to the aft edge of the mast) has a lot of problems. The anchor, chain and manual windlass are all in very poor condition.

Inside the main need is for a huge clear out and clean. 42 years of stuff and quite a lot of mildew. All the cushions have passed the end of their usable life. The entire gas system (bottles, regulator, flexible hose, fixed pipe, tap to cooker, flexible hose and the cooker itself) have all been condemned.

The engine is only a few years old and seems sound. It needs a new seacock, the stern gland and cutlass bearing need work, one oil filter is leaking.

Electrically, the system is very old. It needs new batteries, the grounding isn’t complete, the autopilot needs a new on/off switch, the VHF is ancient, there is no chartpolotter or AIS. The fridge and the hot air heating don’t work.

The timber throughout is in pretty good condition with just some bits of mould, water damage and corroded screws.

The headlining is coming away in some lockers but is adequate in the main cabins.

The toilets work but there are no holding tanks so they both direct discharge. The main heads has a sliding basin which is pretty dirty and all the taps are quite corroded.

So we have a boat where the fundamentals are good (hull, deck, masts, engine). Not too much needs to be done for her to be able to be launched. Lots to do to make her nice to live on but that can be done in stages. Nothing where things have been updated in ways we don’t like (apart from the mainsail furling, but that is now worn out anyway).

Going Sustainable

As we make changes our goal is to make choices that improve all the different aspects of sustainability. The two main areas that we hope to make improvements are through reducing fossil fuel use and through changes that have low impacts, long lifetimes and low maintenance.

As we go forward our goal is to share what we find and learn from others. Meanwhile, this is how the inside looks after a Bank Holiday weekend of clearing and cleaning:-)

28 thoughts on “Vida: A 1977 Rival 38 Centre Cockpit Yacht

  1. Martin Lloyd January 27, 2022 / 8:13 pm

    Hi Jane and Dave, I own a 1979 Rival 39 CK like yours, she is in Sydney Australia. I know you are removing gas. Would you be able to check your gas locker and see if there is an over board drain. My boat does not seem to have one and I need to put one in. Thank you for a great WEB page, nice to have contact with a sister ship.


    • dave42w January 27, 2022 / 8:35 pm

      Wow, that’s fantastic. Are a ketch or sloop rig?
      We do have a drain. It is in the middle of the stern, a small silver shroud is on the outside to deflect water.


  2. Martin Lloyd January 31, 2022 / 7:57 am

    Hi Dave, Thanks for the info. Quiet Bird is a ketch rig, she looks identical to Vida, except she has tan sails. We will be ready for your arrival in Sydney, some time in the future.


    • dave42w January 31, 2022 / 9:07 am

      Oh, wow. That is brilliant. I didn’t know there were any other ketches left (there was one in the UK but that has been converted to a sloop).
      My Mother-in-law was Australian so Jane has cousins around Australia.
      Are you members of the Rival Facebook group, we find them friendly and helpful?


  3. Aidan July 30, 2022 / 7:15 pm

    Walkthrough to aft Cabin:
    For anyone interested in this feature, the Westerly 33 Discus ‘bridge deck’ has one. So do the Westerly 36’s…the Conway (fin keel) and Solway (bilge keels). They are roomy, strong sailing boats. Of course, being a Westerly owner, I am biased!!!


    • dave42w July 31, 2022 / 12:46 am

      We looked at a Westerly Renoun which of course does not have as much space, no walkthrough and no aft double bed.
      Nothing against Westerly Conways but just looked now and the cheapest is about twice what we paid for Vida.
      I know Westerly Centaurs have circumnavigated.
      So no trashing other boat choices by us, however, we are still very much in love with our Rival πŸ™‚


  4. Aidan August 1, 2022 / 3:59 am

    ‘next generation’ chainplates??? Where did you study yacht design and construction?…do you have any qualifications,?…have you done an apprenticeship in any remotely relevant trade? You have no idea what you are doing. I would not go to sea in Vida after your modifications.


    • dave42w August 1, 2022 / 8:36 am

      Oh Aidan I am so disappointed. I was about to ask you to join us on our first sail which will be from the travel hoist to Cape Horn.


  5. Aidan August 1, 2022 / 4:27 am

    Clueless people take to the water every day (e.g. on JetSkis, paddle boards and in power boats). Occasionally they buy yachts. They are a danger to themselves and others. Experience/seamanship cannot be bought or granted…it has to be earned.


    • dave42w August 1, 2022 / 8:39 am

      I’m so pleased that we have you, Aidan, to advise us.


  6. Aidan August 1, 2022 / 6:42 pm

    You would do well to take what I say seriously. I fear for you…I really do. If you intend to sail in the Southern Ocean your priorities really should not begin with where to store your s**t…nor should you be tampering with such important structural features as your chainplates (other than beefing them up using conventional, proven methods).
    I suggest you get a satellite phone, life raft, EPIRB, immersion suits etc. etc…and make sure you have written your wills before departure…in case your family never see you again. Btw sarcasm is the lowest form of wit…it makes you appear bitter and pig-headed.


    • dave42w August 1, 2022 / 11:26 pm

      You are tilting at windmills.
      I think you are referring to us fitting temporary shelving to store stuff while we are ashore doing a refit, note “temporary” for storing tools and parts during the refit!!
      If you want to see about our focus on safety and strength then probably our videos on the Bow Roller, Watertight bulkheads in the forecabin, watertight battery box, and strengthening the mizzen mast support would be more helpful. Or the earlier writing here about seacocks.
      My mentioning the Southern Ocean was an attempt to laugh at your belief that we would be stupid enough to head straight across oceans immediately after launching. There is a post where we wrote about our idealised itinerary, that would include the UK, Baltic, 3 Atlantic crossings before deciding on the Panama Canal or Pategonia.
      As for your obsession with our chainplates, what you describe as proven now have a number of cases where they are proven to have failed, including in mid Atlantic. Plus ours had a specific warning in the survey. You might like to look at YouTube Channels such as FRee Rabnge Sailing and The Duracell Project to see other dyneema chainplates (as well as many large racing boats.
      We are a while from launching for local cruising. So our current equipment list reflects that. Absolutely no point in buying things with a limited life far ahead of time. Having said that we do already have a life raft, drysuits and more so you are being misled by your faulty assumptions.


  7. Aidan August 1, 2022 / 6:55 pm

    …and read ‘Once is enough’ by Miles Smeeton. They were pitchpoled twice attempting to round the Horn in their very seaworthy boat ‘Tzu Hang’ with a strong and experienced crew. They were lucky to survive.


    • dave42w August 1, 2022 / 11:13 pm

      I have no idea why you are so confident that we know nothing. I assume it is because we are making different choices to you. Choices that we have consulted widely on and had expert feedback on. We have had long discussions with people who have re-rigged boats with dyneema and crossed multiple oceans with those rigs; with professional riggers, with our sailmaker, with our surveyor, insurer and more.
      Jane is a Civil Engineer by training with plenty of experience in calculating loads, in choosing materials etc. We have refitted multiple boats before, and yes we agree that the Hornet that was the first boat we refurbished over 30 years ago was not a complete success in watertightness πŸ™‚
      Yes, of course, I have read the Smeetons book. As I have the Adlard Coles book, the Peter Bruce book, the 1979 Fastnet report and much much more.
      Yes, we have decades of sailing experience in UK coastal waters on cruising boats as well as dinghies, as crew and as a couple.
      We are still nearly a year from launching and several years of weekend and holiday cruising before we hope to retire and live aboard. Our cruising plans for that will start around the UK then the Baltic before any ocean crossings – because we are not idiots!
      If you take a pause and reflect on the false assumptions you have been making then we will be able to have a much more enjoyable conversation rather than you ranting at an imaginary target.


  8. Aidan August 1, 2022 / 10:11 pm

    Bearing in mind I do not plan to go any farther afield than Iceland, here is the list of safety equipment on my own boat…for your consideration, nothing more:
    McMurdo Fastfind 220 PLB.
    GME Accusat EPIRB.
    Various safety lines and harnesses.
    S/S Lifelines.
    Quad S/S jackstays. Various substantial anchor points in cockpit.
    2 x manual gas lifejackets with integral harnesses and auto lights. Spare firing pins and CO2 cartridges.
    5 x Crewsaver combined buoyancy aids/life jackets (Adult) with lights.
    1 x Henderson manual bilge pump (cockpit flush mount). 2 x spare Henderson bilge pumps. Small Whale gusher bilge pump. Assorted buckets.
    6 bilge pump handles.
    Emergency plugs.
    Octahedral radar reflector at Mizzen top. Portable oversize radar reflector.
    Electric bilge pump (auto/manual).
    Horseshoe lifering with drogue.
    Fladen floatation suit (large).
    Swim fins, goggles, mask and snorkel.
    Emergency ladder.
    Emergency tiller: custom stock fits square drive on rudder shaft head in aft cabin (long tiller – can be used in cockpit).
    Orange smoke x 2
    Parachute Rockets red x 4
    Orange Handsmoke x 4
    Red hand flare x 7
    White hand flare x 4.
    N.B these are all out of date.
    Lightsticks. Various torches.
    Throwing line.
    XM Quickline.
    Lead line.
    Heavy duty towing warp/bridle.
    Heavy duty synthetic polyhemp warp.
    Small drogue.
    Medium drogue.
    12ft. Para-tech sea anchor with warp. Unused.
    External storm boards for saloon windows.
    7 Fire extinguishers of various types: water, CO2. ABC Powder.
    Fire blanket.
    Smoke alarm.
    CO2 alarm.
    Emergency VHF aerial.
    Bosuns chair. 2 x rock climbing harnesses.
    LW and SW/SSB portable radio receivers.
    Various fog signalling horns and whistles.
    Bolt cutters.
    Signalling lamp.
    Spot light.
    Well stocked First Aid box.
    Radar, AIS, DSC VHF, H/H VHF, multiple independent GPS’s/plotters.
    If I were going where you intend to, I would have to upgrade this inventory…starting with a Sat phone!
    Sail safe πŸ™


    • dave42w August 1, 2022 / 11:49 pm

      Please save yourself from all this effort. You are a random anonymous internet person so we are not going to take a list from you as gospel, we have numerous resources and checklists that we use. But remember we are not about to buy stuff for ocean crossings a year before we even launch for local cruising, including items that have limited shelf lives, .
      Beyond that, there are a number of items on your list that I would not consider good practice and others that are not relevant to us.

      – stainless steel jacklines. No thanks. Webbing is much kinder to the boat and does not roll when you stand on it. We recommend you read the solid advice on Attainable Adventure Cruising about the use of central jacklines and multiple harness lines permanently attached to the jacklines that are the correct length for each area of the boat.

      – stainless steel guardrails. No thanks, we prefer dyneema as it is stronger, faults are much more visible before becoming dangerous and it is easy to replace anywhere, anytime.

      – bolt cutters. No use for dyneema rigging

      – 7 types Fire extinguishers. We will not be carrying fossil fuels so no propane, no diesel, no paraffin. Makes a significant difference.

      – All those sea anchors and chutes. We will be carrying a Jordan Series Drogue based on concrete scientific research and we have written about the “chainplates” to attach them to (which we have been in discussion with John Harris and others on Attainable Adventure Cruising about – they have done a lot of research into this subject. I recommend subscribing to their very useful online books).

      – emergency bungs: Even better, beyond that, we have reduced our seacocks to 2 (cockpit drains) and will be building a coffer dam around those so a failure is not catastrophic. Plus we upgraded to TruDesign seacocks as our 1977 bronze ones were pinking.

      – AIS and VHF aerials: see our recent video on fitting antennas to the mizzen to see how we will have redundancy with full antennas before we need to use the emergency antenna that we will be buying closer to the time.

      – emergency tiller, standard equipment on a Rival because they are boats designed for Blue Water cruising.

      Please believe me when I say there is nothing new for our plans in your list and recognise that we are years away from crossing oceans.


  9. Aidan August 1, 2022 / 11:54 pm

    My ’tilting at windmills’ might add years to your life, if you had the good grace to listen to what I say. A good sailor never challenges the sea. She will win always and send you to Davy Jones’ locker without hesitation.


    • dave42w August 2, 2022 / 12:02 am

      “if you had the good grace to listen to what I say.”
      You mean as in spend ages very carefully and specifically responding to comments from someone who doesn’t read my answers or our posts or watch our videos and makes numerous false assumptions about us and our plans?


  10. Aidan August 2, 2022 / 1:01 am

    Whatever. I tried. Good luck to you.
    May you have fair winds and flat seas πŸ™


    • dave42w August 2, 2022 / 1:27 am

      You are welcome anytime that you actually read my responses instead of diving in anonymously with false assumption after false assumption.


  11. Aidan August 3, 2022 / 3:28 am

    You will never get through your RYA Yachmaster unless and until you acknowledge that fire extinguishers on an offshore yacht are high up on the (very long) list of essential safety equipment!
    Btw fyi I have read many of your blogs and watched quite a few videos. It was you who said your first sail would be from North Wales to Cape Horn. Do you blame me for trying to make you think twice about such an ill-advised venture? Going to sea is a serious undertaking. You don’t seem to grasp this?


    • dave42w August 3, 2022 / 10:14 am


      Are you deliberately twisting what I said? Why?

      I didn’t say fire extinguishers are not essential. I said that we don’t need as many different types of fire extinguisher as we don’t have fossil fuels aboard so no propane, diesel, paraffin, petrol.

      As a very obvious joke (and really I think the signals were very clear as I joked about you being our crew and sailing direct from the travel hoist to Cape Horn) your reaction then and now after being told it was a joke is something I don’t understand.

      We appear to have fundamentally different outlooks typified by your belief that jokes and enjoying yourself are incompatible with having respect for the dangers of the sea. You will find plenty of serious content here on watertight bulkheads, seacocks, rig strength, being able to repair boats, Jordan Series Drogue etc etc. Not ignoring the fundamentals of why we chose a Rival in the first place as a boat with an impressive track record of ocean crossings. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy life, share a joke and a laugh.


  12. Aidan August 3, 2022 / 4:53 pm

    Would it help visitors to your website, going forward, if you be could be clear about what content on your website is to be taken seriously and what is not?
    For example, are you serious about designing a new generation chainplate arrangement for yachts…one that improves on – and will replace – methods that have been used for hundreds of years on small vessels (including for 50 years on GRP boats)? Maybe that is another wind-up? Whilst I am only concerned for your safety and hope that you might learn from the modest experience of a fellow yachtsman, you paint me as some kind of anonymous internet troll. I would be happy to meet you in person if you wish.


    • dave42w August 3, 2022 / 6:16 pm

      I have had nobody else show any confusion. There are no spoof blog posts. There is a single comment that you took seriously that I still believe is very obviously a humorous response when I was very irritated about your many messages making multiple false and unsubstantiated assumptions about us.
      We seem to have a different understanding of what anonymous means. In what way are you not posting these messages anonymously?


  13. Aidan again! August 3, 2022 / 6:59 pm

    You are impossible! Any comments I have made are responses to the nonsense you write in your blogs/posts or say in your video commentaries. Some people are beyond help…they simply refuse to listen to reason, instead engaging in evasion, avoidance, deflection, projection, whataboutisms etc. You are too headstrong and ignorant for your own good, sir. Again…I fear for you…your project is doomed unless and until you heed sensible advice.


    • dave42w August 3, 2022 / 7:22 pm

      Note to everyone else. This was caught by the automatic spam filter. I’ve let it through but won’t be responding.


  14. Aidan August 3, 2022 / 7:37 pm

    Now I am suddenly caught by a spam filter! Was it the exclamation mark? You know who I am, but confronted with the truth, you retreat and hide!
    Btw a Google search for ‘dyneema chainplates’ is 99% populated by your input!!! If you were not such a sad individual, you would be funny…nay, hilarious!!!
    Maybe you should pray that God grant you some humility.
    Goodbye and good luck πŸ™


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