Bruce Roberts Yacht Design


Bruce Roberts-Goodson

Australia, NZ & South Africa








Dear Bruce,   Please print this.

We recently purchased a used Roberts 44 offshore and stored her  in a yard in Ft. Lauderdale .One month later we received a notice to vacate the yard (the bulldozers are coming in 3 weeks!!) . We jumped on a plane to rescue our new treasure, they put Fortuna in the water the day we arrived . We set out the next day for Glades Boat storage yard 135 miles north &west.

I have owned at least 10 boats, and was in delighted shock as the first large boat wake bounced off our boat and we did not go for the usual roller coaster ride !! My wife is now a confirmed steel boat convert.  We took the boat through many different conditions; shallow, deep, calm, choppy, etc., and were always prepared for the worst and pleasantly surprised that no matter what challenge was thrown at her, she met (and mastered) it without a care. What a wonderful smooth riding vessel.  We just cannot wait to start the refit and get cruising!  Will send pictures as able   Happy steel boat owners
Marc &Paty Makowski

Hi Bruce,

Attached is a picture of  my Tom Thumb "Margarita" crewed by my nephews, headed south again ...This shot is on Indian River in Cocoa Fla...They are headed for Bahamas and Turks...I launched this boat in 1990 and she looks like a newborn 15 yrs. later...and even better...Someday I might get her back  but in the meantime she is turning heads....Please use the pictures and script as you wish...Regards. John Larkum.  SEE Tom Thumb  26 page


R39-FRANK.jpg (20842 bytes)

Roberts 39
Builders: Dick and Judy Frank
To those who couldn't witness the event - 
ll went well with the launching of CORAZON de Acero.



Hi! Bruce, I have been very fortunate so far,  I have found a place to build my boat " Roberts 39S " and as soon as the snow disappears and things dry up a little I'll be able to start assembling the frames that my friend Ian Jackson and I have cut and notched out, ready for the stringers. Ian is a friend of mine who also used to work for the Museum of Science & Technology and retired 15 years ago at the ripe old age of 55 to go off cruising the BVI and two solo crossings to the place he calls home Sunderland England,on his home built Ferro cement 35ft Endurance which he sold a little over a year ago to someone in England. Now Ian says that if he were to build again, he would make out of steel and I'm very happy that he has offered to practice on mine. Regards, Adrien.

R39- Ian 1.jpg (12729 bytes)

R39-Ian 2.jpg (10528 bytes)

Hello Bruce,  About 22 years ago whilst living in Cape town I built a Roberts Ofshore 44 (multi chine steel).  Now living in Auckland, New Zealand I have been building the Roberts 370E RC steel for the last 3 years. I am planing to retire in a few years time and then go full time cruising till I keel over. I attach some pictures of a clamp which I used to hold the hull plating prior to tacking and welding. I find these clamp arrangements very usefull and as I am the only person on the job they were a great help.These clamps were made up as follows. (sizes were based on available slot punch) Wedge section is ex 5mm plate x 120mm long tapering from 12 to 20mm. Slotted plate ex 1.5mm plate 35mm x 20mm with a 27 x 6 mm slot punched in the centre. pin spot welded in slot 6mm dia x 35mm long. These clamps are used as follows:-

Pull the hull plating up to each side of the slotted plate and secure with the wedge. This clamps the hull plates together keeping them level/parallel and pre sets the weld gap at 1.5 mm. Position these clamps as required, at about 80-100mm crs. When the hull plating is in position tack weld together then remove wedges and slotted plates. The few slotted plates that get stuck are ground flush
and welded into the joint. I set the stringer at about 40mm off the side of the raduis chine plate and tack welded it in place. When putting on topside and hull plating it was a neat and very straight joint using these clamps. I hope that this information will be usefull to others that are building in steel. Thanks and regards, PATRICK GOLD.

Hallo.  Ive received your book Metalboats and studyplanes of Spray 28 and Tom Tumb 26. That book is a goldmine for metal boatbuilders.Well I dicide for the Tom Tumb. Thanks fore one of the best and educating internet sites on the web. Best regards from north of Sweden Lennart Broman


My main question for now is the attachment / location of the bulkheads. If I space them according to the interior layout there is no way to weld them to the frames as the plans call for, as there are no directly corresponding ones. So do I just weld them to the stringers or do I build spacers or..?!  My apologies if the questions seem like ones I should have asked sooner

To attach plywood bulkheads to steel hulls where there is no corresponding frame is a simple matter. All you have to do is insert a piece of flat bar frame material between each stringer where the bulkhead is to be located. We call these pieces of frame 'tags'. The flat bar should have holes pre-drilled to allow the plywood bulkhead to be bolted in position. Bolts will be 1/4" / 6 mm dia. spaced at say 5" / 125 mm intervals or spaced to suit length of  tag.   The section of frame material should be about 50% in length of the distance between the stringers. The welding of the frame flat bar should be the same sequence as used for attaching the frames to the hull plating .. short staggered welds of no more than one inch long spaced say 2
inches apart on alternate sides of the frame flat bar.  Snape the ends of these 'tags' so that there will not be any hard spots showing through to the outside of the hull plating


Dear Bruce just a little note to pass on a tip for anyone using your suggested bending jig .the trick I have found is to be systematic and   methodical (good words hope I've spelt them right). Once you have mounted the flat bar in the jig snug up the jack and then pump the jack a set number of times (I found three or four to be about right), then release the jack and move the work piece along four inches then snug the jack up again and pump the set amount as before,do this the full length of your radius then check it on the full size pattern, if you feel that it is about half way to the correct profile then go back along it placing the jack in-between the positions  you used on the first pass and pump the jack the same amount if you think that it is more than half way or less than half way you can adjust the amount of pumps to suit .I messed about for long enough with my jig till I found this way of working it. Now I'm getting on like a head sail in a force four. Hope this helps someone.                                  Yours   FRANKIE   McGOVERN ..... Glasgow Scotland

R370C-YUGO.jpg (30903 bytes)

Hi Bruce, Here is one of Your 370Cs near the Adriatic coast (Croatia). Since You were so nice to re-send me "The METAL BOATS", I decided to Thank You with the picture I really like. She has a registered top speed of 12 kts and has been built in Zagreb,Croatia eight years ago. Best regards, J. Palcic

Roberts 58    Built by Put Veini
CLICK HERE .....  see more Roberts 58
No - this is not a small man on the transom - this is a BIG boat !


Roberts 370 D
Multi Chine Steel "HIGH TENSILE" was built by Charlie and Jimmy Brandt. Charlie writes: High Tensile is finally a sailboat. She was launched in May 1997. She sails unbelievably well, ten times better than I ever imagined. Her performance under sail is great even with her 26,000 displacement. In 15 to 18 knots (of wind) our speed is 9.1 knots. Thank you for a for a great design and a truly wonderful fulfilling experience. High Tensile is a sight to see and a joy to sail.......Enjoy the photos. Charlie Brandt

Click for more on Roberts 370

Here is a good idea - mockup your joinery in cardboard
Try it out for size before you install the final article.


A little history!

In 1972 there were very few steel sail or powerboats in North America. Bruce Roberts introduced a range of modern medium displacement steel designs early 1973.

  • By designing, building and promoting of these and other  new steel  designs Bruce has had a great influence on steel boat building activity not only in the U.S.A. but throughout the world. Bruce's modern steel cruisers are leading the field in design and building techniques. Many of Bruce's designs and plans have been carefully scrutinized and approved by such agencies as Lloyds, Norse Veritas, British Board of Trade, Australian Harbors and Marine, and many similar government agencies.

  • Many of Bruce's designs have been selected for use by several governments, as harbor patrol, fisheries patrol and similar government agency duties. Bruce's new book Metal Boats contains information gleaned during the past 25 years of designing and building all types of metal boats.

Australian built Tom Thumb "ARION"
See more about the Tom Thumb 26 ...CLICK HERE


Dear Bruce,

A quick note to let you know that I have finished my circumnavigation in the Roberts 434. She took 218 days and 8 hours sailing time to cover the 27,000 miles, In terms of elapsed time this is the fastest E-W ever by any kind of sailing vessel, but of course we do not get the world record as Guinness work on average speed and she was half a knot slower than the "Ocean Bound" (David ScottCowper) nevertheless not bad for a backyard building job.

She is in excellent condition and could go around again given a bit of sail repair. She is very fast for a heavy boat (3 tons of stores). She often reached 10 knots and could sustain 9 knots for hours on end. Her best day's run was 210 miles without current assistance. Her directional stability is excellent and in good conditions to windward she can hold her heading unaided for up to 20 minutes. I had one knockdown to 90 degrees and a few bad broaches but she picked herself up without difficulty. She is a superb boat, indeed she has to be to bring an incompetent single handler like me home safely.

Best wishes to you and many thanks for a fine design. I am starting to think about something in the 60-65' range.

Signed, Pat Garnett.

Dear Sir, A customer of yours named Lou Hunter built a 434 in Alameda, CA and they left for Mexico and points south in Nov. 1998.You'll be glad to know that Lou did a beautiful job, the boat was comparable to what very top quality professional yard would do. I haven't heard from him since he left, but he was an experienced cruiser and no doubt he and his wife, a very nice lady (whose patience I have great admiration for), are enjoying themselves greatly. He said the boat was very fast but was very comfortable and felt very secure. The name of the boat is "Tin Can", if you hear anything about a boat by that name you can bet it's Lou's 434 because I don't there's anyone else in the world who'd give their boat a name like that!!! Some day I'm follow Lou's example, although I may opt for a larger boat. Regards, Paul Braga Note from Bruce:

After a pleasant crossing on the Pacific, this boat is now cruising in Australian waters.

HI, Hope you had a good show in Maryland.  I will reach out to Keith Marine and see about a visit..  The pictures of that boat are beautiful.  Do you happen to now how the owners of that TY62 are planning to use it?  Coastal or passage making?  We are looking for a good passage maker.  Please also pass on that we are very much enjoying Bruce's "Metal Boat Making" which we ordered from Barnes and Nobel.  It answers so many questions we have as novices. Regards, Mark

Mana Maja
Mr. Roberts, I saw that you have posted Jpg's from the email we sent.  Mana Maja, She is a round bilge steel Roberts 53 / 55' LOD Cutter from New Zealand. Susan and Brendan McNamara sailed her from Port Adelaide to Portsmouth, NH USA.

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