Our resident used boat expert Phil Sampson explains how to find a good Linssen Classic Sturdy 360AC on the secondhand market and what features to look out for…
In build: 1976-2000
Price range: £40,000-£105,000
With more than 6,000 kilometres of navigable waterways crisscrossing Holland, a third of which sits below sea level, it’s hardly surprising that the Dutch have elevated the act of designing and building river boats to something of an art form.
Among the nation’s leading exponents is Linssen Yachts, whose highly respected brand name graces the 70 or so meticulously fashioned boats constructed by the firm every year.
Founded by Jac Linssen in 1949, initially to salvage barges scuttled in Dutch canals by retreating German forces at the end of World War II, the business progressed into producing 9-16m steel-hulled vessels of its own design, built entirely in-house.
In 1976, Jac’s son Jos designed a boat named the St Jozef Vlettern, which was destined to form the basis of the Classic Sturdy range offered until the mid-1990s. At that point it was superseded by what became known as the ‘.9-series’, due to designations such as 29.9, 33.9 and 40.9.
Available in lengths of 32, 36 and 40 feet, around 400 Classic Sturdys were built in total. Of these, the majority were aft cabin models with a raised cockpit and a cabin at either end. The alternative was a single cabin sedan model.
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The word ‘Sturdy’, incidentally, refers to the hull form and has been used by Linssen across several of its model ranges – others include Grand Sturdy and Dutch Sturdy – and given their all-steel construction, the name seems entirely appropriate.
In the case of the Classic Sturdy, the hull is a snub-bowed affair equipped with a fin keel for directional stability. For additional robustness, the propeller shaft is encapsulated within the keel, and the fin itself extends beneath the prop for protection before becoming the lower hinge point for the rudder.
For this review, we visited Shepperton Marina on the River Thames to catch up with a 1994 vintage Linssen Classic Sturdy 360AC being offered by the on-site broker, Boat Showrooms.
Its owners for the past eight years have been former yachtsman John Hoadley and his wife Linda. Their parting with the vessel is due to the passage of time or, as John puts it,
“I want to give it up before it gives me up!”
Their time with the boat, however, has been quite an adventure. In addition to covering most of the Thames, they crossed the Channel to cruise the French canals and rivers and ended up keeping the boat there for five years.
“My wife had this great idea to go to Paris,” explains John. “But she didn’t realise the distance it was. So I said, if we’re going to do it, why not go beyond Paris? Crossing from Dover to Calais, we went down to a place called Saint-Jean-de-Losne, which is on the Saône, and the boat stayed there for a couple of years.
“We went on from there to Chalons-sur-Saône, Mâcon and Lyon. Then we took the canal which runs from the Saône to the Rhine, eventually reaching Strasbourg where the boat ended up staying for three years due to Covid. We returned last April to bring her back, crossing the Channel from Dunkirk to Ramsgate.”
All of this gave John and Linda extensive experience, not just in terms of living on board for extended periods but also in taking a single-engined vessel, many would consider to be a riverboat, across the open sea to France and back again.
“She can roll a bit but it depends on the sea conditions,” says John. “If you’re crossing from Dover to Calais and the wind is westerly and you’re going through the waves rather than across the crests, then she rolls.
“But when you’re in anything other than a beam sea, she’s perfectly stable. We crossed in a Force 4, no problem. Our air draft was perfect for France as all the windscreens and the mast fold down flat.
“We had the mast down on most of the canals, but on the rivers we didn’t need to lower it at all. The boat was lovely to live on, and we had people come out and stay aboard with us for up to two weeks at a time – and no-one complained at all!”
When you check out the accommodation, you find that the boat’s guest cabin is indeed a bit of a masterpiece. Clad entirely in mahogany with sumptuous wraparound seating and a large central circular table, it’s more akin to a wood-panelled den than a second cabin.
It’s not hard to imagine Terry-Thomas, the irrepressible cad in the classic movie Monte Carlo or Bust!, lounging feet-up in smoking jacket and cravat as you swish back the entranceway curtain that separates the cabin from the galley.
While the table drops down to form an enormous near-circular bed, it’s as an entertaining space that this area really scores: “We had eight people around that table for a roast dinner once,” says John – and that pretty much sums up what the Classic Sturdy is all about. For a boat of its length, it’s incredibly sociable.
Adjacent to the guest cabin is the day heads. Given that this washroom is so spacious, it’s perhaps a little surprising that there’s no shower in here. That would certainly be a major benefit for the occupants of cabin two but in every other respect, this is a very serviceable facility.
The remainder of the forward space is occupied by the galley – a fully fitted area incorporating a three-burner hob with extractor, sink, fridge and extensive storage above and below a worktop which offers plenty of room for food preparation.
From the galley, there are three steps up to the main saloon, gently separating the two areas in a manner we feel many chefs will appreciate.
The saloon is another mahogany-fest. Expertly crafted lockers run almost the entire length of the port side, with a six-seater settee and dinette to starboard. There’s a freestanding drop-leaf table which is moved aside to access the engine.
In fact, with the table out of the way, no fewer than four floor hatches can be lifted to give unfettered access to the propulsion unit and equipment. While having the engine mounted directly beneath the saloon floor may raise noise concerns, fear not. Linssen has taken great care with the soundproofing and it really is very effective.
The single-seat helm is situated to port at the forward part of the saloon and its vertical ship’s wheel together with the three-pane windscreen creates a real little ship feel.
At the rear of the saloon, two steps lead down to the owner’s cabin.
Despite the many attractions of the forward cabin, the ensuite aft cabin represents the Classic Sturdy’s trump card in terms of the comfort and space it provides. The full-size double bed is offset to port, leaving a clear passageway along its starboard side in order to access the cabin’s hanging wardrobe and ensuite.
Needless to say, the mahogany theme continues throughout this cabin, the effect being to create a calm, restful space to be appreciated at the end of a long day’s cruising. The ensuite is fully equipped with a spacious separate shower area.
Plenty up top
While the Classic Sturdy has much to offer below decks, it’s up top where owners and guests will principally be looking to enjoy their days on board and the Linssen doesn’t disappoint.
The exterior social space is wholly focused around the raised aft deck, which incorporates a starboard helm position, two large storage lockers and an expanse of teak decking, which is ideal for sunloungers or a freestanding table and chairs.
With all its attention to detail and single 150hp engine (other options were 100, 130, 145 and 200hp Volvo Penta units) this boat is very much designed for comfort rather than speed. John tells us it cruises happily at 5-6 knots, with a top speed of around 9 knots.
He also says that at 5 knots the fuel consumption is 2 litres per hour or less, meaning a full day’s cruising can be had for around £30 at current fuel prices.
Add to that the cost of a decent bottle of Chardonnay as you chug a stately passage along sunflower-lined French canals and the appeal of the Linssen Classic Sturdy 360AC is clear for all to see.
Linssen Classic Sturdy 360AC surveyor’s report
Although primarily a canal or inland waterways craft, a Linssen Classic Sturdy 360AC is perfectly capable of coast-hopping at a sedate pace of 6-8 knots. It has a sturdy and simple hull shape, with propeller and rudder protected by a skeg running aft from the keel sections.
Clever use of notched interlocking frames and longitudinals provide extra torsional strength and rigidity to the hull form.
Points to note when considering buying:
- Steel boats are strong and rugged and will stand the test of time but it’s imperative that the coatings are scrupulously maintained. Look around all the cracks and crevices where fresh water can hide, such as window channels, deck radii, teak/synthetic teak deck interfaces, deck fittings in corners, cleat bases and chain lockers.
- Rubbing strakes, shoulder sections and quarters are prone to paint damage from mooring issues and mishaps.
- Ensure that cathodic protection has been kept sound, with ample anodes of the correct type for the environment, all satisfactorily bonded.
- Ensure the veneers around the windows have not faded or degraded through UV or water ingress.
- Be mindful of interior hidden traps in bilges and corners, where ends of copper strands of wire, old and replaced crimped terminals and other metal debris could be lying. These can rapidly create problems with plate corrosion when in a salt environment.
- Ensure all bilges remain dry and aired.
Ensure that all systems are fully functioning or have been replaced/updated over time.
– Chris Olsen, Olsen Marine Surveying
Linssen Classic Sturdy 360AC specifications
Type: Aft cabin cruiser
Designer: Jos Linssen
Hull type: Displacement
RCD category: C
LOA: 35ft 7in (10.85m)
Beam: 11ft 8in (3.55m)
Draft: 3ft 7in (1.1m)
Air draft: 8ft 2in (2.5m)
Displacement: 9 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 500 litres
Water capacity: 500 litres
Fuel consumption: 2 lph @ 5 knots / 6 lph @ 9 knots (owner’s estimated figures)
Cruising range: 600nm at 8 knots with 20% reserve (estimated)
Annual fuel burn: 400 litres (based on 50 hours at 9 knots and 50 hours at 5 knots).
Mooring: £5,148 (based on a marina mooring on the River Thames upstream of Teddington Lock)
What’s on the market?
Engine: 150hp Volvo Penta TMD41B6
Price: €117,500 (VAT paid)
Engine: Not stated
Lying: Verkoophaven, Netherlands
First published in the April 2023 issue of MBY.
In association with SETAG Yachts. Design and refit specialists SETAG Yachts bring luxury to the pre-owned market – by creating the bespoke yacht of your dreams, with no compromise. To fall in love with your boat all over again visit www.setagyachts.com or call +44 (0)1752 648618 for more details.
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