By Zuzana Prochazka
Mystery 35: Classic Looks, Fast Foils
This graceful sloop mixes traditional lines with a modern sailplan and underbody for a good turn of speed.
The Mystery 35 is an evolution of the old British Hunter Mystery 35 (no relation to the American Hunter Marine), and it has come to US shores in grand style. It’s a boat built by master craftsmen at the Cornish Crabbers yard in Cornwall, England, and is targeted at impassioned purists and perhaps couples looking to downsize from full-sized cruisers.
Designed by Stephen Jones, this is a beautiful boat with classic lines above the waterline, including a sleek low coachroof and safe, high lifelines. But beneath the surface, the Mystery 35 hides a modern hull shape and powerful underbody, featuring a six-foot foil keel with bulb and a spade rudder. The 9’11” maximum beam is carried well aft into the stern sections, and the whole hand-laid solid fiberglass hull suggests speed but with a comfortable, seakindly performance.
On deck, the Mystery 35 hearkens back to the timeless lines of classic yachts with a traditional cabin top and uncluttered decks – and solid glass. Good stowage can be found in two aft lazarettes and one sizable cockpit locker to port. A thing of beauty is the double bow roller well forward of the stem, with practical chocks and oversized cleats just aft of the opening anchor locker.
The Mystery 35 is powered by a 7/8 fractional Bermuda rig. The non-overlapping blade headsail is controlled with Selden single-line reefing and comes with an under-deck furler. This arrangement provides 576 square feet of sail area that is easily managed, even singlehanded, as all the lines are led back to the cockpit. This is a boat for the experienced sailor looking for performance, but its versatility makes it an attractive couple’s weekender as well.
Accommodations below offer an excellent finish in either completely varnished mahogany or light classic white-painted grooved bulkheads with mahogany trim and cedar hull ceilings. A large double V-berth forms the entirety of the master cabin, followed by a head to port and a vanity with storage to starboard. Two long, straight settees with a midships drop-down table form the main living quarters as well as guest berths. The quarterberth to starboard provides the seat for the forward-facing navigation station, and the compact galley with a two-burner stove, ice box, and rather limited counter space is to port. It’s a sensible, traditional arrangement, with lots of light and air via opening ports and hatches.
Tanks are beneath the settees, and include 43 gallons of water and 25 gallons of fuel for the 20-hp Yanmar engine. Two sealed batteries provide 220 amp hours. Other options include diesel heat, an electric windlass, and a custom dodger. An example of good thinking and experienced boatbuilding is the excellent access to pumps and through-hulls that are grouped below the cabin sole just at the foot of the companionway.
What It Does Best
The Mystery 35 looks terrific both at the dock and under sail. Its pleasing lines and classic bow and stern overhangs make it the kind of boat that starts conversations at the yacht club. And that talk is likely to continue at summer afternoon club races, because the Mystery 35 can sail. According to the company, in 10 knots true, the boat will sail six knots and point up to 40 degrees apparent wind angle. In gusts she stiffens up, accelerates, and sails on a rail. There’s also an option for a short bowsprit to fly a cruising chute, for improved downwind performance.
Of course, the same traditional appeal that makes this yacht so beautiful gives it some limitations. The cockpit is great for racing, even providing a separate space behind the traveler for the mainsheet trimmer or tactician. However, lounging in the cockpit under sail will be tough with the long tiller, which takes up quite a bit of room even as it makes for a very responsive boat. Given the cockpit layout, there’s really no place but perhaps the coachroof bulkhead to install a chartplotter. (Another option is to keep it below at the nav station and out of the weather.)
Down below, there’s ample room for a couple, although the builders advertise sleeping room for up to five. It’s a great weekend cruiser, but those wishing to do extended outings may end up stuffing extra gear into the quarter berth and limiting their guests.
Comparable Boats and Company Plans
At a base price of $325,000 (including sails, furler, and FOB most east coast U.S. ports), Cornish Crabbers company representatives see the built-to-order Mystery 35 as a competitor to the Morris 36, but at a fraction of the price. Approximately 25 hulls have been built so far for the European market, and the first hull in the U.S. recently made its debut. Refreshed by new ownership two years ago, the company plans to build 90 hulls a year of various designs, 10 of which are expected to be the Mystery 35 model.
For more information, visit Cornish Crabbers.
- Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.