Swan is undoubtedly the most notable of the Finnish yacht builders is undoubtedly Swan; however, Finland has a number of lesser-known builders who are no less skilled at producing high quality boats. Baltic Yachts, of Pietarsaari, Finland, builds great looking boats with interior joiner work and finishes that approach an art form.
Baltic Yachts was founded by five former Swan employees in the early 1970s. The Baltic 35, a collaboration of the design firm of Judec/Vrolijk and Baltic’s in-house designers, was introduced in 1993, and continued to be offered through 1997 model year. She measures 34’ 11" length overall; maximum beam is 11’6"; and the designed displacement is 9877 pounds. She was offered with two keel configurations, a standard fin drawing 6’2" and a shallow draft version at 5’ 6".
I think most would place this design into the cruiser/racer category with the emphasis on "cruiser." After all, teak decks are not exactly de rigueur on your average race boat these days. On the other hand, weight is kept to a minimum and the IOR influenced design returned a performance-oriented hull. OK, let’s be politically correct and call it a "performance cruiser." After all, there is no standard telling us where to draw the line.
The Baltic 35 is more than 2000 pounds lighter than typical of boats of this size, paying tribute to its sophisticated engineering and construction. Strong, lightweight boats are what Baltic strives for and takes a great deal of pride in producing. Hulls and decks are both balsa-cored, although the core is eliminated in the area of through-hull fittings to prevent water from entering the core. It is the small, unseen details of construction that rank Baltic among the highest quality and most expensive boats of its type, age, and size range. Just a few of these details include tanks that are fiberglass tabbed to the hull not only for strength, but to ensure that debris such as sawdust, bolts, and screws don’t compromise the tanks. Bulkheads are attached to the hull, as well as the deck, for a stronger overall construction.
The teak decks of the Baltic 35 are set in epoxy, although they are also screw fastened to hold them into place while the epoxy sets. The advantage to this method of installation is that, in theory all the fasteners could be removed without affecting the strength (once the epoxy has set). The disadvantage is that numerous screw fasteners in the balsa wood core will eventually require maintenance to keep water out.
The foredeck includes a small anchor locker at the bow, and the long, wedge-shaped trunk cabin is quite narrow; the side decks are wide and chain plates are well inboard. One of the unique features is that the companionway is several feet forward of the aft end of the cabin trunk with a long bridgedeck leading to it. This is done to make room for the large quarter berth cabin below. The T-shaped cockpit is small but seating is comfortable and the helmsperson can easily reach the large destroyer wheel seated on either side.
The interior arrangement features a V-berth forward followed by a port head and starboard hanging locker. The main saloon area has a port dinette and starboard settee forward, with the galley aft to port and an opposite side navigation station. The interior arrangement is pushed a little further forward than normal, to make room for a large owner’s cabin aft with standing headroom, a small settee, and double berth tucked under the cockpit. This is an interesting arrangement, although not likely to suit everyone because of the lack of six foot standing headroom forward, a rather small head, and limited storage. Nonetheless the quality of the craftsmanship is first rate.
Standard auxiliary power is provided by an 18-hp Yanmar diesel installed in an engine box below the companionway steps. Access for service is excellent when the engine box is removed.
The Baltic 35 has a fractional, double-spreader rig with standard rod rigging and some pretty impressive numbers. At her designed displacement and length, her sail area/displacement ratio is a healthy 20.1 and displacement/length ratio is 187--certainly light by 1985 standards. In reality, boats, like people, tend to gain weight over the years, and adding only 1500 pounds in people, supplies, cruising anchors, anchor chain etc. will drop the sail area/displacement ratio to about 18 and increase the displacement/length ratio to over 200. Still, these numbers combined with a well-balanced hull and large rudder result in lively sailing performance and good directional stability. As with any light boat, good performance is dependent on keeping weight under control--too much weight will slow the boat down, creating a wet ride vulnerable to pitching.
As might be expected of a limited production boat that was offered for only five years, there are not an abundance of Baltic 35s available. Enough were imported, however, though that there are usually a couple available for sale at any given time. As of this writing three offered for sale in Rhode Island, Kentucky and Florida. Asking prices ranged from $99,000 to $119,000. I found four boats that had been sold since 2000 with actual selling prices ranging from $72,000 to $96,000.
This is pricey for a 35-foot boat, considering that most are approaching 20 years old and the extensive exterior teak will add to maintenance cost. But for a boat buyer looking for great contemporary styling, performance, and construction quality, the Baltic 35 has a lot to offer.
--by Jack Hornor