Subject: Aloha 32 and Niagra 35
From: Alohaowners Forum
Date: 17 Apr 2008

The A32, I understand, was designed by Ellis as a smaller version of the Niagara 35. Yesterday, have had the chance to compare the two side by side, I must say that the family resemblance is striking.

I had intended to sail my own A32, but on arriving at the dock, I saw a boat with familiar lines just a couple slips down. "Excuse me, but is that a Niagara?" I asked. It was - a 1982. Some short while later, as I had just finished tweaking the tuning of my standing rigging, the Niagara motored past my stern. The two gentlemen aboard asked me if I would like to go out 'for maybe an hour' with them. Of course I went, and equally of course, 'an hour' became four.

Anyway, If you haven't seen a Niagara 35, here's my impressions. Seen from any angle, that family resemblance is obvious; but there are differences. The Niagara sheer is not as pronounced, and this shows especially at the stern, where the sheer rises almost not at all. The other place this shows is the eyebrow. On the Niagara it has just enough to avoid the awkwardness of a straight line. The Aloha 32 has a very pronounced sheer to the coach roof eyebrow line. The sides of the Niagara coach roof are also more tapered toward the bow, resulting in better footing going forward, but less roominess below. There is no bowsprit.

At the stern, the transom has the same shape, but does not rise quite as high. The cockpit combings are lower, tapered, and and curve upward going forward, reminiscent of Pearsons of that era. The result is a cockpit that is considerably less sheltered and cozy than the Aloha; and I suspect wetter that the Aloha 32 as well. The other drawback (at least I think so) is that those so comfotable 'corner seats' on the propane locker covers, where you back just snuggles into the curve of the combing don't exist on the Niagara.

The layout below is very similar to the V-Berth Aloha. The major difference being that the port settee is a U seat, with a post table. The galley area is also somewhat smaller, but with more storage lockers all across the aft bulkhead - a big plus.

The sail started with wind varying from barely steerage way to none at all. But a dark line to the east kept us hoping. All good things come to those who wait. After half an hour of not much but the very sail friendly sounds of Miles Davis, the breeze began to fill in, eventually reaching about 10 knots.

The Niagara has a very similar overall feel. The notable exception is that, in my impression, it does not have quite as strong directional stability. I would love to sail in snotty seas to confirm this. On the other hand, this may be related to the Niagara's clearly superior agility in tacking: it accelerates into the turn much quicker and looses less speed in the tack. The Aloha 32 seems to need to be 'sailed' a bit more through a good tack. One other point, there is very little weather helm. No that may be just how my A32 is rigged, compared to this Niagara, but having spent two seasons reducing my weather helm to it's current point, I suspect it is more than just tuning differences.

I also would love a light-air/heavy-air shoot out. The I, J and P of the Niagara are 2 and a half feet greater, but the E is the same. I think the A32 would do better in light air, and curious about the other extreme as well. This Niagara is due to be hauled shortly, so I will be able to confirm my suspicions as to the under water body. I think I will find that the keel is not a long fore and aft, and will be slightly farther aft. I am betting that the run aft is straighter and comes up quicker.

Finally, that gestalten impression that so often colors our feelings towards a boat: The Aloha 32 and the Niagara 35 are siblings, but the Aloha is by far the prettier one!

    {second post}

The one I was on was laid out almost exactly like a V-Berth A32. But it may well be an unusual Niagara - it's the only one I've been on.

Coming down the companionway, the galley is to starboard aft, and to port is a quarterberth, with a forward facing nav station using the berth as seat. The port settee just ahead of the nav station is U-shaped, with a pedestal mounted table rather than a fold down table. Starboard settee is straight. There are lockers above both settees. The head is port side forward of the settee, with a hanging locker starboard opposite. Then forward again is the V-berth.

Below, the Niagara was probably the same size as the A32; the Niagara cockpit is larger, with the traveler just ahead of the wheel. There is no lazzarette, the aft cockpit combing is just inches from the transom. Below felt a bit claustrophobic compared to the A32, probably due to a combination of the narrower coach roof, and that there is only one opening light a side, rather than the A32's two. As this single light is located in the head, it means that the only practical lights for the salon are the two fixed lights, in the same position as the A32, but a couple of inches smaller.

The Niagara has a hatch just ahead of the mast, about the same size as the A32, and a single hatch the same size just aft of the mast, rather than two smaller hatches a bit farther aft. There is no hatch in the V-berth.

I must say that the V-berth hatch is a source of endless delight to me. Lying in the berth, looking up at the mast, watching it swing past the stars and the moon is a priceless feature.

Subject: A32
From: Alohaowners Forum>
Date: 12 Sep 2008

... The fiberglass carries most of the load, while also providing impact resistance and waterproofing for the balsa core. Without a balsa core, the topsides, deck, and coachhouse would need to be much heavier to obtain the required stiffness.

So why not use a balsa core below the waterline? Some boats in fact do so, such as the cousin of our Aloha 32, the Niagra 35. But having such an absorbent material like balsa below the waterline requires very careful attention to sealing of through-hulls to avoid the core becoming saturated. If the core becomes wet, the balsa can eventually rot and turn to mush, after which there will be nothing holding the inner and outer skins in place, leading to serious weakness or even failure of the hull.