Overview

Baba 30 Sail Plan and Line Sketch A collaboration between Bob Berg of Flying Dutchman, the design genius of Bob Perry and a Taiwanese boatyard that built fishing boats brought about the Baba 30, a serious go-anywhere boat packed into a diminutive 30 feet on deck. Traditionally styled, she is a beautifully proportioned double-ender with a full keel that’s a heavy weather performer. With excellent construction and a high end interior, Baba 30s have aged well, demanding a relatively high resale value  and  have become a favorite among cruising couples.

History

The Baba 30 was introduced in 1976 as a response to the unprecedented success of the Westsail 32 which with the help of a Time Magazine lifestyle feature is generally credited for creating the cruising boat boom of the 1970s.

Bob Berg of Flying Dutchman International enlisted Bob Perry to design the boat and contracted construction to a little known boatyard in Tainan City, Taiwan called Shing Sheng who’s first first foray from fishing boats to sailboats was a sophisticated 27ft racer built for a Japanese customer. The Baba 30 became the second yacht to be produced by Shing Sheng. It’s said that Perry had to kick chickens out of the way when walking to the yard in those early years. It was a place where the workers rechristened Bob Berg with the nickname “Baba”, affectionately meaning father; it was catchy enough to stick for the boat as well. By 1979 Shing Shen moved from An-Ping Quay to purpose built facilities in An-Ping Industrial Estate and a new name, “Ta Shing” was adopted.

Production ended in 1985 and although hull numbers go up to #246, there was a gap in numbering between #125 and #201 resulting in a total production count of around 170 boats. During this time the Baba 30 was joined by two other Perry designed stablemates, the Baba 35 and the Baba 40.

The Baba 30 concept was later evolved by Bob Berg using designer Gary Grant into the Panda 34 and chose boatyard Hsin Hang to build the boat in Northern Taiwan. While Ta Shing themselves commissioned Perry to design the Tashiba 31, an all new boat, one that Perry himself considers one of his best full keel designs, but is often mistaken as a revised Baba 30.

As a side note, in 1983 the Shing Sheng name was revived by Paul Wang, a senior partner in Ta Shing. Paul went on to build a number of Gary Grant designs including the Norseman 40 in his custom built facility in An-Ping Industrial District.

Configuration and Layout

Baba 30 Interior Layout There’s no questioning that this is a traditional full keel double-ender of Aitkens and Colin Archer heritage. The boat is nicely proportioned with beautifully balanced overhangs, a sweeping sheer, and the Perry favorite; a traditional canoe stern. A four foot bowsprit sits up front and from the mast hangs a cutter rig boasting a healthy 504 sq. ft. of sail.

John Kretschmer writing for Sailing Magazine commented, “it’s a big boat trapped in a short body” and certainly the displacement and ballast numbers are more akin to boats in the 35ft range. The cockpit is small, giving up most of the space to an expansive interior boasting 6′ 4″ of headroom. The layout down below has blue water in mind; there’s a seagoing berth and chart table combo on the starboard quarter and a large U-shaped seagoing galley to port. Two additional berths are provided in the saloon by way of settees either side of the saloon table. On some boats the table can fold away opening up the saloon, as per Perry’s original plans. The forward cabin came in two options, either a V-berth or a double berth which found favor in the East Coast. The quality of workmanship is superb and teak is abundantly used.

Construction

The Baba 30′s GRP hull follows the same layup schedule as the Valiant 32, with hull thicknesses running from just over a quarter of an inch near the topsides, to over a third of an inch near the bilges and grows to over half an inch in the tuck and keel. A single casting of iron is used as ballast which is encapsulated in GRP.

The hull to deck join is glued and through-bolted with a teak caprail sitting above the join. Early decks were cored with end-grain, kiln-dried, luan (philippine mahogany) affixed in 2 x 2 x 0.6 inch pieces, laid in filled polyester resin, later vessels utilized end-grain balsa on scrim with engineered kerfs (Baltec Contour core). Areas with through-deck fittings were locally cored in high quality marine plywood (made in Taiwan out of mahogany with waterproof glue, and boil-tested). All Baba 30 decks had a molded non-skid pattern, Thiokol-bedded teak decking was an option.

Bulkheads were of marine plywood that were staved with teak battens of 2 inches width, and much later, towards the end of production, models were available with teak veneered bulkheads as a means of reducing cost.

Early boats had wooden spars, of oregon and B.C. hemlock which do need regular care, but properly maintained will last the life of the yacht; owners tend to paint them (bad), and often do not understand that upkeep is required.

There has been an unconfirmed report of asbestos used in the galley. Tim Ellis who oversaw production of the Baba 30 from 1977 comments, “If woven asbestos was used, it was behind the stainless steel liner of the stove insert. Asbestos poses no threat in this situation and should not be disturbed. It is the handling and disposal of asbestos that requires care. To be honest, I don’t recall if we used it or not”

Under Sail

As a blue water cruiser, the Baba 30 will carry its crew in safety, and despite its small size, in relative comfort. The boat is well balanced and is relatively stiff. The best point of sail is on a reach with the first reef thrown in at a respectable 20 knots. In storm conditions the boat heaves-to beautifully and the boat is safe and dry.

Most owners report the boat under performs in light airs, to windward do not expect to make much headway in less than 6 knots of wind; 12-18 knots is her element. It’s worth noting Perry disagrees, commenting that the hull though pudgy, is easily driven, and under well trimmed sails can move very nicely in light airs.

Specifications

Lmax: 34′ 6″ (including bowsprit)
LOA: 29′ 6″ (excluding bowsprit)
LWL: 24′ 6″
Beam: 10′ 3″
Draft: 4′ 9″
Displacement: 12,500 lbs.
Ballast: 5,000 lbs. (iron)
Sail Area: 504 sq. ft.

Headroom: 6′ 4″
Fuel: 30 US. Gal. *
Water: 70 US. Gal. *

Year Introduced: 1976**
Year Ended: 1985
Designer: Robert H. Perry
Builder: Shing Sheng / Ta Shing

Also Known As: Ta Shing 30

* Some sources incorrectly report 40 gallons of fuel and 90 gallons of water.
** Some sources incorrectly report 1978

Buyers Notes

As with many boats older than 25 years, have your surveyor check items such as chainplates, areas of balsa coring for rot and if applicable, the teak and the wooden mast. Overall, the Baba 30s have aged well, probably better than most boats of this era due to their excellent build quality.

Most Baba 30 owners have replaced the original mild steel 30 gallon fuel tank, which was susceptible to corrosion mounted in the bilge. The tank removes easily in half an afternoon and a new one fabricated from $600 to $1000 from a variety of materials. It’s worth noting the stainless steel water tanks and even the engine are easily removable in the Baba 30, sometimes a big job in other boats.

Resale value has remained high for a boat of its size, but when comparing with other boats in its price range, the 30 offers good value. The value of a Baba 30 will depend largely on the owner care received over the years, as of 2010 the asking price is in the range of $50k-95k USD.

It’s recommended prospective buyers contact the Baba Owners Group at for advice, they run a Yahoo discussion group that’s worth checking out.

Similar Boats

Panda 34

Links & References

» Baba Owners Group, Baba 30 info
» Baba, Panda, Tashiba sailboat Yahoo Group, information and owner discussions
» Sailing Magazine, Jul 2008, Boats and Gear, A bluewater beauty that was built to last” by John Kretschmer
» Practical Sailor Magazine, Nov 1998, p12-15, Used Boat Review: an in depth review of the Baba 30
» Good Old Boat Magazine, Mar 1999, Baba 30 feature

Credits

For their assistance in the writing of this article, thanks goes out to Tim Ellis who supervised the Baba line of yachts built at Shing Sheng / Ta Sheng during 1977-1987 as well as owners from the Baba Association, particularly Alan D. Sugarman. Permission to publish line drawings and notes kindly granted by Robert H. Perry.

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7 Responses to “Baba 30”

  1. josh shepard says:

    Stan,

    first off, boats are often heavier than their listed shipping weight from the get-go. (and almost never lighter). particularly “cruising” boats.

    however, you’re also trusting the scale where you had the boat hauled out (on a travel-lift, perhaps?).

    two cases: my boat, a spencer 35, had a design weight of around 12,000 pounds. I’ve been told from 14,000 to 18,000 by yards. my parents own a baba 35 (flying dutchman 35 to be technical about it) which, if memory serves, was designed to weigh around 22,000 pounds. they’ve been told as much as 28,000 by yards (and it wasn’t loaded heavily)

    i would take the yard’s results with a (large) grain of salt and base your estimates on the design drawings and the actual waterline of your boat. it probably does weigh more than the design weight, but not 3500 pounds more.

    josh

  2. josh shepard says:

    Stan,

    first off, boats are often heavier than their listed shipping weight from the get-go. (and almost never lighter). particularly “cruising” boats.

    however, you’re also trusting the scale where you had the boat hauled out (on a travel-lift, perhaps?).

    two cases: my boat, a spencer 35, had a design weight of around 12,000 pounds. I’ve been told from 14,000 to 18,000 by yards. my parents own a baba 35 (flying dutchman 35 to be technical about it) which, if memory serves, was designed to weigh around 22,000 pounds. they’ve been told as much as 28,000 by yards (and it wasn’t loaded heavily)

    i would take the yard’s results with a (large) grain of salt and base your estimates on the design drawings and the actual waterline of your boat. it probably does weigh more than the design weight, but not 3500 pounds more.

    josh

  3. Stan Cox says:

    I just purchased a beautiful 1979 Baba 30 and have only one question. At the haul out for the survey the boat registered 16,000 pounds. It was not loaded with ‘stuff’ – in fact it was empty. No dingy or dingy motor, and the water tanks were almost empty. What could account for the 3,500 pound difference from the specified displacement of 12,500 lbs?

  4. Stan Cox says:

    I just purchased a beautiful 1979 Baba 30 and have only one question. At the haul out for the survey the boat registered 16,000 pounds. It was not loaded with ‘stuff’ – in fact it was empty. No dingy or dingy motor, and the water tanks were almost empty. What could account for the 3,500 pound difference from the specified displacement of 12,500 lbs?

  5. Bob Perry says:

    I think the review is correct in most of the facts. However the little, stubby Baba 30 sails very well in light air, if you know what you are doing. I have been very surprised at the boat’s performance in light air a couple of times.

    Also, I did not “rework” the Baba 30 to make the Tashiba 31. The Tashiba 31 is an entirely different design with a very different hull shape.

    Other than those points I congratulate the writer on getting the story correct. Reading it brings back some great memories. I talked to Bob Berg two weeks ago.

    [Thanks Bob, The review has been updated - Editor]

  6. Bob Perry says:

    I think the review is correct in most of the facts. However the little, stubby Baba 30 sails very well in light air, if you know what you are doing. I have been very surprised at the boat’s performance in light air a couple of times.

    Also, I did not “rework” the Baba 30 to make the Tashiba 31. The Tashiba 31 is an entirely different design with a very different hull shape.

    Other than those points I congratulate the writer on getting the story correct. Reading it brings back some great memories. I talked to Bob Berg two weeks ago.

    [Thanks Bob, The review has been updated - Editor]

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