The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Rustler Yachts: Maybe There’s Hope Yet?

In my last piece I remarked on the current state of production boat building, and wondered where the builders (and the market) for honest, well-built cruising GRP (fiberglass) yachts had gone. In a world of identikit models destined for the charter market, built to a price, are there yards out there that have been successfully bucking the trend?

To find at least one answer to that question, I didn’t need to look too far: just down the hill from our home in the Cornish port of Falmouth, where Rustler Yachts have for some years been building a range of attractive cruising yachts that embody most of the qualities that seem to have fallen by the wayside elsewhere.

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More Articles From Rustler:

  1. Rustler Yachts: The New Rustler 37
  2. Rustler Yachts: Maybe There’s Hope Yet?
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richard s. (s/v lakota)

hats off to these folks…caliber yachts out of fl, a brand of similar ilk to this one, bit the dust as a result of the great recession…maybe they didn’t market their boats strongly enough ? cheers

richard (home base tampa bay, but lying today at marina key, bvi…overcast all morning, almost no breeze, 8o degrees)

Colin Speedie

Hi Richard

They’ve done very well by refusing to compromise on what they believe works at sea as opposed to in harbour (amongst other things). I’ve just passed a Caliber yacht here in the anchorage at Carriacou, and – who knows – maybe they deserved to survive, too.

Best wishes


Dick Stevenson

Dear Colin,
You have done a great service to all American sailors planning to visit European waters. They will not have to endure the feeling of ignorance that yours truly experienced when we ventured across the pond. I believed I could carry on at least a knowledgeable conversation about boats and boat manufacturers, but quickly learned that I was woefully ignorant of the quality manufacturers whose products rarely grace American shores and never get to our boatshows.
Great article and, as usual, I learned a lot.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Colin Speedie

Hi Dick

If I’ve done US sailors a service in this regard, I’m only too happy to have down so. Quality endures, wherever you are, and I’m sure many of your compatriots will be only too happy to show me US made excellence when we visit your waters next year, so it will haves been well repaid. And judging by the next comment from Ben, maybe Rustler are making efforts to become better known in the USA – which they deserve to be.

And thanks, as always, for the kind comments.



I delivered a new 36′ to Annapolis boat show in 2013. What a sweet little ride she was. Got a chance to speak with the builders, I mean sailors who build the boats. Glad to see them making some good decisions. Thanks for sharing.

Colin Speedie

Hi Ben

good to hear they’re making themselves known in the USA, especially as I’ve always thought they would appeal to the American market. And it’s interesting, isn’t it, that they are indeed sailors (like the Boreal team) who build boats they’d want own themselves, not bankers who are just looking for the next dollar. I’m sure there’s a moral in this….

And for what it’s worth, I think the 37 is a much better boat than the 36, nice though it is – have a look next week and see whether you agree.

Best wishes


Marc Dacey

Colin, you may not have received any “consideration” from Rustler Yachts, but that’s a fine piece of marketing material you’ve written! Like the best examples, it informs just enough to make the reader wanting more.

Colin Speedie

Hi Marc

I am unashamedly enthusiastic about any business that turns out an honest product that is fit for purpose. As John will attest, I am equally down on dishonest products that are simply ‘sheep in wolves’ clothing.

The difficulty is finding those products to enthuse about…..

Glad you liked the piece – thanks for saying so.

Best wishes


Justin C

I’ve long aspired to a Rustler 36. My current boat is a baby of similar ilk, a Trintella 1a. The R36 has always seemed to me the logical “step up”, sea-kindly, and correctly laid out with not even a nod to the marina ‘caravan’ of the mass produced European yards (and I can stand upright in one!!!). OK, I agree, not as fast as an Adventure 40, but, the displacement, and where the mass is situated, I’m certain an R36 can give the A40 a run for her money in the comfort-at-sea stakes.

Thank you so much for this post on yard I respect so much.

Oh, BTW, I took a look at a 42 at a boat show a few years ago and found the engine housing/galley just too close to the bottom of the companion-way steps and banged my knee *really* hard. I didn’t damage the boat but it put me off the 42!

Colin Speedie

Hi Justin

these boats are very different from the A40 concept, but both aim to be safe, fast and seaworthy. As an Ovni owner I know there are many ways to achieve those ends!

Sorry to hear about your knee – I hadn’t noticed that myself.

Best wishes


Bill Attwood

Hi Colin.
I thought for some time about a response to your article. I own a R36, launched in 1992 and with a circumnavigation behind her. Bought in 2007 and started a refit in 2009 in preparation for a second long voyage. I owned a Twister for 10 years and had the R36 identified as my next boat for a long time. Helped another R36 owner bring his boat from Borneo to Mauritius in 2012 and was very happy with heavy weather performance. He had owned a Rival 34 for the previous 8 years, but had endless problems with Rustlers with the new build of his boat. My refit has exposed any number of problems in both build and fitout, some of which I list below. A friend with a somewhat older R36 and a lifetime of deep water experience has identified similar problems with his refit, and I have had some email correspondence with the US owner of a brand new R36, confirming that even new boats have some problems. I should emphasise that this is not a general criticism of Rustlers, but merely identifies some of the problems we have had. I shall probably never have another boat, but if I did have a new R36 built, I would accompany the whole process of build and fitout, and recommend anyone else to do the same. If you don´t have the time to do it yourself, then get a professional to do it for you. Not a surveyor (the failings of my surveyor would fill another few pages) but an experienced deep water sailor.
The following items can all be fixed by a handy sailor, and probably don´t matter for a weekend/summer holiday sailor, but have no place on a boat meant for voyaging:
Mooring cleats – no backing plates, only penny washers
Hollow core on edges of cabin top
Deck hatches with rounded corners fitted to cutouts with square corners
Chainplates inaccessible without surgery
Diesel tank inaccessible without removing engine
S/s tanks sitting direct on GRP = sitting in water = rusted
Cockpit lockers not watertight
Drain for anchor locker too small to be of use
None of holes/apertures in deck sealed (probably true of all GRP yachts)
I am now very happy with the yacht I have, but the investment of time and money makes no financial sense. If I weren´t a retiree then I could not have afforded it. I have tried to separate out only the items which in my opinion are the result of poor design or build, and not to include all those items which are the inevitable result of the hard life that a voyaging yacht has. In conclusion, I would buy a R36 again, but my approach to a new build or second-hand purchase would be different!
Yours aye,

Bill Attwood

On rereading my comment above I did not make it clear enough that the new build which had so many problems was launched in 1999. Adrian Jones of Rustler Yachts has pointed out that a lot has changed in the intervening years. However, my basic thesis remains, that while the R36 has the basics of a sound off-shore boat, it is not “off the peg” so to speak, a voyaging yacht. The A40 is, in contrast, designed to be exactly that.


Very helpful comment Bill – thank you. I’ve added these issues to my list of issues to be aware of when purchasing my next boat.