The Nicholson 32 Sailboat

The Nicholson 32, a heavy displacement long-keeled masthead sloop, was designed by Charles Nicholson & Peter Nicholson and built in the UK by Camper & Nicholson Ltd.

A Nicholson 32 sailboat moored on the River Tamar near Plymouth, UKA Nicholson 32

Published Specification for the Nicholson 32

Underwater Profile: Long keel

Hull Material: GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall: 32'0" / 9.8m

Waterline Length: 24.0" / 7.3m

Beam: 9'3" / 2.8m

Draft: 5'6" / 1.7m

Rig Type: Masthead sloop

Displacement: 12,200lb / 5,534kg

Designer: Charles Nicholson & Peter Nicholson

Builder: Camper & Nicholson Ltd (UK)

Year First Built: 1962

Year Last Built: 1981

Number Built: 369

Owners Association: The Nicholson 32 Association


Published Design Ratios for the Nicholson 32

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 14.2

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 55.7

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 394

4. Comfort Ratio: 36.9

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.6

Performance Predictions, Based on the Design Ratios
These ratios indicate that the Nicholson 32 is a heavy and stable boat, with a low sail area to displacement ratio and a high ballast to displacement ratio. This means that the boat is not very fast or responsive, but it can carry a lot of weight and resist heeling and capsizing. The boat is also relatively narrow and deep, which reduces drag and increases directional stability.

Production Period and Numbers Produced
The Nicholson 32 was one of the first sailboats to be built entirely out of fiberglass, using a technique called monocoque construction. This means that the hull, deck, ballast, bulkheads and furniture were all bonded together to form a strong and rigid structure. The boat was built by Halmatic Ltd and Camper & Nicholsons in the UK, from 1963 to 1981.

The boat went through several modifications and improvements over the years, resulting in 11 different models or marks (Mk I to Mk XI). The most significant changes were made in the Mk X model, which introduced a higher freeboard, a lower coachroof, a larger cockpit, a centerline companionway and a redesigned interior.

The total number of Nicholson 32s produced was 369, making it one of the most successful production boats of its time. Many of them are still sailing today, and some have completed remarkable voyages around the world.

Alternative Versions & Options
The interior layout of the Nicholson 32 was subject to variations and options over the years. The original design had four berths (two in the forepeak and two in the saloon), a galley on the port side, a chart table on the starboard side, and a head (toilet) in between. Later models added more berths (such as a pilot berth or a pull-out double), more storage space (such as lockers or drawers), more headroom (by raising the coachroof or lowering the cabin sole), and more amenities (such as an oven or a fridge).

Number & Location of Sleeping Berths
The number and location of sleeping berths on the Nicholson 32 depended on the model and the owner's preference. The original design had four berths: two in the forepeak and two in the saloon. The forepeak berths were V-shaped and could be converted into a double berth with an infill. The saloon berths were single and could be used as seats during the day. The boat also had a large cockpit that could accommodate two more people under a sprayhood or a tent.
Later models added more berths, such as:

  • A pilot berth on the starboard side of the saloon, above the chart table;
  • A pull-out double berth on the port side of the saloon, under the galley;
  • A quarter berth on the starboard side of the cockpit, under the cockpit seat.

The maximum number of berths on the Nicholson 32 was six, but most owners preferred to have four or five for comfort and space.

History of the Boatbuilder
The Nicholson 32 was built by two renowned boatbuilding companies in the UK, Halmatic Ltd and Camper & Nicholsons:

  • Halmatic Ltd was founded in 1947 by John Hallett and Peter Micklethwait, who were pioneers of fibreglass boatbuilding. They developed a method of moulding fibreglass hulls in one piece, using female moulds and polyester resin. They also invented a technique of bonding the hull, deck, ballast, bulkheads and furniture together, creating a monocoque structure that was strong and rigid. Halmatic Ltd produced many successful boats, such as the Halmatic 30, the Nicholson 32, the Nicholson 36 and the Nicholson 55.
  • Camper & Nicholsons was founded in 1782 by Francis Amos, who started a shipyard in Gosport, near Portsmouth. The company was later taken over by his son-in-law William Camper, and then by his grandson Benjamin Nicholson. The company became famous for building high-quality wooden yachts, such as the J-class Shamrock V, Endeavour and Velsheda. The company also designed and built many racing and cruising yachts, such as the 12-metre Sceptre, the South Coast One Design and the Nicholson 32. The company was also involved in naval and commercial shipbuilding, such as the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Secondhand Values
The Nicholson 32 is a classic boat that has retained its value over the years. The price of a secondhand Nicholson 32 depends on many factors, such as:

  • The model or mark (Mk I to Mk XI);
  • The condition and maintenance of the boat;
  • The equipment and upgrades on the boat;
  • The location and availability of the boat.

According to some online sources, the average price range of a secondhand Nicholson 32 is between £10,000 and £30,000 (or between $14,000 and $42,000).

The above text was drafted by sailboat-cruising.com using GPT-4 (OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model) as a research assistant to develop source material; we believe it to be accurate to the best of our knowledge.


Other sailboats in the Nicholson range include:

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