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Hughes 38 Owners Group                               H38 Favicon

The Hughes 38 is a fine example of the work done by the premiere yacht designer of the twentieth century – Olin Stephens.   Along with his brother Rod Stephens,  Olin Stephens designed many of the most famous and successful yachts of the 20th century.farfalla-deck-from-dock

SV Farfalla

The Hughes 38 was designed to the Cruising Club of America (CCA) Rule by Sparkman & Stephans (design #1903) and built by Hughes Boat Works of Ontario, Canada.  Evidence of this CCA heritage can be seen in the large overhangs and narrow beam.  The design also shows elements of later era (IOR) ideas in the separated rudder and fin keel, reverse transom and large foretriangle.  The design can therefore  be considered a transition between the  CCA and IOR eras.


SV Clarity

Hughes Boat Works did such quality work that Hinckley Yachts purchased finished hulls  from Hughes  to produce the Hinckley 38.   Hughes built 256  H38s between 1967 to 1981, through several changes of ownership.  Hughes Boat Works was one of the largest production boatbuilders for a number of years in the 1970s. The company was started by Howard Hughes (no relation to the famous aviator) and his brother Peter Hughes.  For a period of time in the 70’s the company was called Northstar Yachts and S&S design #1903 was called the Northstar 38.

SV Arabesque at Dock

SV Arabesque

Hughes 38 owners have consistently reported excellent handling and balance on all points of sail.  They are excellent sea boats in chop and high winds and are known as very weatherly, pulling hard up to 30 degrees off the wind.  SV Wildcard, previously owned by Fatty Goodlander of Cruising World fame, has circumnavigated twice, surviving many storms along the way.


SV Wildcard

Some Hughes 38s are now approaching fifty years old, as they were made from 1967 to 1981.  As is to be expected with aging yachts, some are in need of restoration, while others are still in fine sailing shape, due to the excellent construction of the hull by the Hughes brothers and regular maintenance. Various owners have over the years made modifications to their H38s, some installing diesels in place of the Atomic 4.  It would be hard to find a better value in a great yacht design than a well cared for Hughes 38.


SV Water Lily

Hughes 38 Owners Group is an attempt to be a comprehensive resource of information for the little known but superb alongshore or offshore yacht, the Hughes 38.  If you have information that would be of help to owners of Hughes 38s, please feel free to contact us.


SV Wildflower


SV Galatea V

48 thoughts on “Home”

    1. Its been my pleasure to share my research with you. May i ask: what is your interest in the Hughes 38?

  1. Howdy

    I just found your site. I have a 1972 Hughes 38 MKII and I love it.
    In any event you have a great site and I will enjoy it. Would you have any info regarding the torque settings for keel bolts on this boat I can’t seem to find them anywhere. I am currently doing some work before launch and wanted to check the keel bolts.

    Jerry Henderson (bluepelican1@hotmail.ca)

    1. Nice to hear from you Jerry. i was reading a thread on another forum about keel bolt torque settings for a Catalina 30 or 34. i have wondered about his issue myself. i turned down a nice H38 that had water in the bilge (hatch left open on hard) and a flooded engine, because of water seeping OUT of the keel/hull joint. Comparisons with torquing steel or aluminum wheels on cars is not a valid comparison (imho) because of the relatively soft nature of the fibreglass that is on our Hughes 38s. i will do more research on this as this is something we need to address on this website. Perhaps you might want to tell us about yourself on the Who’s Who page. Anyway keep in touch.

      1. A quick search turned up this thread here: http://forums.sailboatowners.com/index.php?threads/keel-bolt-maintenance.178671/&highlight=keel%20bolt%20torque
        Its for a Catalina 310 with a 4000lb external lead keel. The Catalina 310 has 1″ stainless bolts. i believe that these torque specs are low for a H38. i believe that the thread gives good advice on cleaning up the threads of stainless steel bolts before retorquing. Perhaps new nuts are in order as well. It seems to me that periodic maintenance (retorquing) of keel bolts is a smart and sensible way to prevent the caulking between the keel and the hull from working and cracking, which would lead to deterioration of the keel bolts. What size are the keel bolts on your boat? On the H38 to completely retorque the bolts, the engine would need to be moved.

        1. Here is more information from Beneteau


          It recommends torquing in a staggered pattern. Values given are for metric bolts. M24 is 15/16″ and M30 is 1 3/16″. Values seem high to me. i would torque to the lower end of the range.

          Also some report that stainless steel bolts need to be lubricated before torquing, and torqued in steps. Loctite Blue has been recommended as a lubricant with the added advantage of preventing the loosening of the bolts over time. There are Loctite products specifically for stainless. Maybe worth checking out.

  2. Hello. We’ve recently purchased the boat referred to on your registry as “Northport unknown.” Very excited to find your group! We’re doing some work on the boat on the hard, but will be launching her soon, and sailing her across Long Island Sound to her new home port in Connecticut.

    1. Great to have you Stephanie. Can you tell us about your boat and ill post it on the Who’s who section? Any information that you have that we dont have here on the website, please let us know. Welcome to Hughes 38 owners group.

      1. Thanks, Jon. Will provide more info later, but the basics are that she’s a 1969 vintage with an Atomic 4. She appears to be largely original, but we didn’t know anything about Hughes boats until we first saw her, so I might have to amend that statement after further review. We fell in love at first sight and can’t wait to get her launched. She’s been sailed all these years, according to the prior owner, whom she’d been with since 1980.

        1. Hello, Commodore. We launched our boat over the Labor Day weekend and we are enjoying her immensely. She’s called Windflower, which is a name she’s had for quite some time, but we’re not sure how far back it goes. The owner is Douglas Bell of NYC (my longtime boyfriend). Windflower is moored in Rowayton, CT. I can send a photo if you’d like to see her.


          1. Ahoy Stephanie. Congratulations on your launch. Windflower, what a beautiful name for a boat! Yes, i’d like to see a picture. i’d post it to the site, if thats OK. i made an offer on a H38, but the ask and offer were too far apart for compromise. i’m researching another H38, and maybe i’ll make an offer later. they have reduced the price twice, and are getting closer to my target. it’s in good condition, but needs lots of equipment – it’s like a bare boat, which is OK because i can buy the stuff that i like.

  3. Jon
    Your website incorporates some great photos of elegant sailboats.
    When I lived on Exuma, one of the out islands of The Bahamas, my boyfriend bought an Abaco hull (considered one of the best at that time) and built a ketch for our sailing adventures.
    Your website is beginning to soar.
    Sending Love.
    Your cousin – Cherie Pipes…

  4. Hello I am looking for info on the hughes 80/20. In particular the steel I beam along the keel.
    City. SMALLEY

    1. i used to have a link to a website about a Hughes 80/20 based in San Francisco bay. The link no longer works. Sorry. i also would like to know more about the steel keel bed on most Hughes boats. Anybody know?

    1. Congratulations Gary, on Wiskejak’s new home on the water. i believed all along that the two of you could do it and you did!

  5. Hey there! I was wondering if you guys had any idea what the three different discs on the helm are responsible for on the Hughes 38? Is it mere aesthetics (which usually doesn’t happen on sailboats, everything always has a job), if not, what does it control? Thanks!

    1. the three wheels on the steering pedestal are: largest main rudder;2nd wheel is for trim tab (rudder) on rear of keel; 3rd and smallest was for a small trim tab on rear of one of the rudders. My boat: Xanadu: has the trim tab / rudder on rear of keel glassed solid to keel and any remains of small trim tab is gone. Xanadu was raced and the trim tabs were probably required to be nonfunctional

    1. Ahoy Jake, i’ve seen the listing, but i haven’t seen the boat in person yet. There is also an unadvertised one for sale in Toronto area, which i have pics for but don’t have permission to post them. Seems to be in good condition, trim tab, A4. If you’re interested email me and i will give you the man’s email address.

    1. Ahoy Gary. i’ve seen swim ladders on the side and i’ve seen them on the stern. i don’t have details, but i can sort thru my pics.

      1. We have a portable folding one. We tried it on the side, forget it. It’s is ok on the stern but it is still not an easy climb. The overhang will be a challenge for a permanent one.

  6. Hi all,
    Gary, the West Marine 6-step gunwale-mount folding ladder works pretty well for us amidships.

    I’d be grateful for the group’s input on something I’m puzzling over. I’ve recored portions of the deck on my 1969 Hughes 38. I’m now dry-fitting the sea hood per the original cabin liner holes. There’s more than an inch gap between the aft end of the sea hood and the forward end of the closed companionway hatch. In other words, an aerial view would include a bit of the deck that’s under the sea hood. It seems to me the purpose of the hood is to keep water from entering the cabin when the hatched is closed, which I’d think would require the sea hood to slightly overhang the closed hatch. Is my boat an outlier, or does your boat have the same gap? Or does your boat have a slight overhang? When it’s closed, I assume the aft end of the hatch should be flush with the aft surface of the vertical companionway frame, so the aft end of the hatch is not flush with, but overhangs the drop boards. The forward end of the closed hatch is flush with the forward side of fiberglass cross-piece, so there is a slight overhang of the closed hatch above the companionway frame. I could reposition the hood 2.5″ aft, so that when the handle on the top of the open hatch butts up against the hood, the aft end of the hatch would have about an inch to go before it’s flush with the horizontal frame over the companionway. Is that how your open hatch aligns? Currently, the horizontal wood frame acts as a stop for opening my hatch when the hasp bolts contact it. Once I put it all together, should I seal under the three sides of the bolted hood rim or not–so small amounts water can escape under it instead of making its way to the aft opening?
    Thanks very much in advance,
    Doug Bell

  7. Thanks Doug for the ladder suggestion. My research so far is pointing me to the designs of the vintage pilot boarding ladders and the Davey and Company ladder hardware kits for a reverse hook folding ladder. I think it would hook nicely on a jib car at the lifeline gate. Most of the stern ladders look awkward on this transom.

    My hatch does the same thing. It leaves a gap. I picked up on that right away. So far it doesn’t seem to let water into the cabin but I do have a dodger.


    1. Gary, thanks very much. I’m guessing there’s a good rationale for the gap, but I don’t know what it might be.

      Your ladder solution is wonderfully elegant. Very impressed.


  8. I own Xanadu a U.S. documented Hughes 38 and recently found this site, it currently is in a storage yard in the Las Vegas Nv. area. I find your site to be informative and would like to be included on the owners list. have plans to move boat to the coast this next spring.

    1. Welcome to the Hughes 38 website. i will add your name and your email address to the owner’s list. i didn’t send out an email to the owners this month, because i have been busy doing other things than updating the website.

  9. Hello,

    Thanks to all who participate on this site and especially to the Commodore. This site has been invaluable to me as I researched the Hughes 38.

    I am happy to announce that I am the new owner of SV Farfalla!
    She truly is a beautiful boat and I look forward to kitting her out for extended cruising and the adventures she will bring. I am sure that I will be turning to other owners for advice and input along the way and I thank you all, in advance.
    Brian Dale

    1. Welcome Brian to the forum. Congrads on buying Farfalla. She is truely beautiful. i will add you to our owners list.

  10. I am a Hughes 38 owner (1980) and have just come up on your forum. I have owned her for the past 9 years. I am currently doing detailed drawings of the boat (deck layout and interior layout). If anyone is interested, I can share these drawings on this site.

  11. Hello, all.
    I am looking for information regarding the internal outhaul system on the original Hughes 38 roller boom. I recently purchased SV Farfalla and one of the first things I noticed was the hand crank outhaul was almost completely seized so I couldn’t tension the foot of the mainsail. It’s actually a pretty simple setup. The clew attaches to a sliding fitting at the aft end of the boom. The fitting is attached to a cable that rounds a sheave and runs forward inside the boom. 2/3 of the way forward there is a hand crank on the underside of the boom. It’s basically a beveled gear that moves a long, threaded rod back and forth to put tension on/off the outhaul cable. At first I thought my cable was jammed up somewhere but it is running free. The crank assembly will barely turn but I can’t actually see anything wrong with it. I put a bit of oil on the gears but that didn’t seem to make any difference. There is part of the assembly that appears sealed. Wondering if maybe it should be greased?? I didn’t have a lot of time to work on it and it’s a pain to remove completely without cutting the out haul cable.
    Any thoughts or experience would be greatly appreciated.

  12. Hello,

    We are from Germany and glad to be part of this community!

    Does anybody know the original size/measurement and thickness of the windows from our Hughes 38 MK3 from 1980?

    We would appreciate if anybody can kindly assist in this matter!

    With best regards,

    Drazenka & Josef

    Our Boat:
    Hughes MK3
    Building 1980
    Name „Mitan“
    West Bay / Bras d Or Lake/Cape Breton

  13. Hello all,
    What a great find of a site when you have just purchased a Hughes 38! Thanks so much for all your input and information.
    My wife and I acquired “Free Spirit” in the Fall of 2017 – in your registry as a Toronto, Ontario vessel but was on the hard in Port Dalhousie, Ontario when we purchased her (could this be the sv “unknown” in Port Dalhousie that is listed in the Registry?)
    She’ll be moored in Collins Bay, Ontario next season.
    Brent & Krista Young

    1. Welcome to the Hughes 38 owners group. The name “Free Spirit” rings a bell. i’ll have to check my records to see what i have on her.

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