The Pearson 385 Sailboat

The Pearson 385, a centre-cockpit cutter, was designed by William Shaw and built in the USA by Pearson Yachts.

'Island Dreams', a Pearson 385 cutter-rigged sailboat at anchor in Rodney Bay, St Lucia.A Pearson 385 centre-cockpit cutter

Published Specification for the Pearson 385

Underwater Profile: Fin keel & Spade Rudder

Hull Material: GRP (Fiberglass)

Length Overall: 38'3" (11.7m)

Waterline Length: 30'0" (9.1m)

Beam: 11'7" (3.5m)

Draft: 5'6" (1.7m)

Rig Type: Cutter

Displacement: 20,575lb (9,333kg)

Designer: William Shaw

Builder: Cal-Pearson (USA)

Year First Built: 1989

Number Built: 21


Published Design Ratios for the Pearson 385

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 13.2

  • Less than 16 would be considered under-powered;
  • 16 to 20 would indicate reasonably good performance;
  • Over 20 suggests relatively high performance.

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 47.0

  • Under 40: less stiff, less powerful
  • Over 40: stiffer, more powerful

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 340

  • Under 100: Ultralight
  • 100 to 200: Light
  • 200 to 275: Moderate
  • 275 to 350: Heavy
  • Over 350: Ultraheavy

4. Comfort Ratio: 37.5

  • Under 20 indicates a lightweight racing boat
  • 20 to 30 indicates a coastal cruiser
  • 30 to 40 indicates a moderate offshore cruising boat
  • 40 to 50 indicates a heavy offshore boat
  • Over 50 indicates an extremely heavy offshore boat

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.7

  • Under 2.0 (the lower the better): Better suited for ocean passages
  • Over 2.0: Less suited for ocean passages

read more about these all-revealing numbers...


Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Pearson 385

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of just 13.2 suggests that the Pearson 385 will need a stiff breeze to get her going. In light conditions, unless you've got plenty of time on your hands, motor-sailing may be the way to go.

2. A Ballast/Displacement Ratio of 47.2 means that the Pearson 385 will stand up well to her canvas in a blow, helping her to power through the waves.

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 340, tells us the Pearson 385 is clearly a heavy displacement cruising boat. You can load her down with all your cruising gear and equipment and it will hardly affect her waterline. Not an ideal choice for coastal sailing, but she'll come into her own on an offshore passage in testing conditions.

4. Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio of 37.5 suggests that crew comfort of a Pearson 385 in a seaway is similar to what you would associate with the motion of a moderate bluewater cruising boat - a predictable and acceptable motion for most seasoned sailors.

5. The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) of 1.7 tells us that a Pearson 385 would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0. 


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