During the 1970s and 1980s, the C. E. Ryder Corp. of Bristol, Rhode Island, built four Southern Cross models, all of them designed by Thomas Gillmer. The company closed its doors in 1990.
The Southern Cross 35 was the last of the series. It’s a canoe-stern cutter with a traditional look but with a modern underbody featuring a shallow fin keel and a skeg-hung rudder. The contemporary, high-aspect-ratio sail plan is supported by Navtec rod rigging.
While not a racer, the SC 35 will keep up with most boats in its size range, and it will pass quite a few. It’s a sweet boat offshore. It’s always easy to control, even in high winds and huge seas, and despite its relatively low freeboard, the boat is very dry.
Early boats came with a two-bladed feathering propeller set into an aperture. Because the prop caused vibration, Ryder replaced it with a fixed three-bladed prop, which cut sailing speed by almost a knot. On later hulls, Ryder made the skeg thinner and went back to a two-bladed prop.
The decks are wide and the shrouds are inboard, allowing safe access forward, which is further assisted by plenty of handholds. The cockpit is small, but five people fit in it quite comfortably.
Belowdecks, the SC 35 is very roomy for two people and adequate for four. It has a U-shaped galley to starboard and a full-size chart table to port, forward of which is a large wet locker. Access to the engine, under the companionway, is good. Twin settees in the saloon make excellent sea berths and seat six in comfort around the large, sole-mounted table.
Molded-plastic water tanks occupy the spaces under the settees, but lockers outboard provide plenty of storage. The fiberglass fuel tank is fitted in the bilge, which, with the boat’s wineglass sections, is deep and capacious.
Forward, to port, is a roomy head with a handheld shower. To starboard are drawers and a small hanging locker. The V-berth is spacious, even for someone 6 feet 2 inches tall. A good hanging locker and huge plywood shelves over the berth hold a lot of clothes.
Except in the head, no plastic is visible in the interior. All corners are fashioned with a large radius to prevent injuries, and the standard finish of white oak with teak trim stands up well over time.
The SC 35 is rugged. Due to an apparent miscalculation in the layup schedule, the boat effectively consists of two complete hulls with an Airex core between them. As built, it’s more than 2,000 pounds heavier than the designed displacement. Neither hull nor deck deflect or groan under way.
One place to look for problems is the plywood dorade boxes, which may deteriorate. Another is the mast, which after several years may corrode where it rests on the stainless-steel mast step. A practical cure is to cut a few inches off the mast and raise the step on an epoxy-glass pad.
Ryder built fewer than 100 Southern Cross 35s. Their owners hang on to them, and they communicate through an active owners association (www.southerncross-boats.org). Prices range between $60,000 and $90,000, depending more on condition and equipment than on age. Ryder produced some “Gillmer 35” hulls to be buyer finished, but they lacked certain features, including the Navtec rigging and the high-tech system of tying it into the hull.
Rodney Glover is 74, and his primary goal is to keep sailing in Florida and the Keys until his boat is burned in a Viking funeral.
Southern Cross 35
LOA 35′ 3″ (10.74 m.)
LWL 28′ 0″ (8.53 m.)
Beam 11′ 5″ (3.48 m.)
Draft 4′ 11″ (1.50 m.)
Sail Area (100%) 632 sq. ft. (58.7 sq. m.)
Ballast 5,750 lb. (2,608 kg.)
Displacement 17,710 lb. (8,032 kg.)
Water 90 gal. (334 l.)
Fuel 35 gal. (130 l.)
Engine 30-hp. Universal or Yanmar
Designer Thomas Gillmer