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:-)

5 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?


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