Bluewater Sailboat – Panda 38


The Bluewater Sailboat Panda 38, which debuted in 1982, is one of a family of Scandinavian-styled cruisers developed by Bob Berg from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, which also featured Bob Perry’s successful Baba 30, 35, and 40 designs. The sailboat was designed to be a smaller and lighter alternative to the Panda 40. (aka Baba 40). The Panda 38, like other Berg boats, was built by Ta Shing, which is widely regarded as Taiwan’s premier boatyard, and the exquisite interiors reflect this.

The Panda 38 is known for its sea-friendly action, smooth handling, and quick performance. Only 29 have been produced since their launch, making them relatively uncommon to locate on the market, and they, like all boats from the Bob Berg / Ta Shing combo, have a devoted following.

Panda 38
Panda 38
  • LOA: 37′ 7″ (excluding bowsprit)
  • LWL: 31′ 6″
  • Beam: 12′ 0″
  • Draft: 5′ 9″
  • Bridge Clearance: 49′ 6″
  • Displacement: 19,000 lbs.
  • Ballast: 6,600 lbs.
  • Sail Area: 704 sq. ft.
  • Engine: Universal M40 32hp diesel / Universal M50
  • Water: 140 US Gal.
  • Fuel: 75 US Gal.
  • Year Introduced: 1982
  • Designer: Gary Grant
  • Developer: Bob Berg
  • Builder: Ta Shing, Taiwa


To understand the history of the Panda 38, we must first go back to 1976, the year the Baba 30 was introduced to the world. Berg created the small boat by combining the design talents of Bob Perry with his new discovery, a small boatyard called Shing Sheng. The Baba 30 demonstrated to the American public the type of boat that Taiwan could build. It was a salty full-keeled cruiser with a surprisingly habitable interior in 30 feet. The boat, brimming with excellence, aided the yard (now operating out of purpose-built facilities under the name Ta Shing) in its quest to become Taiwan’s finest boatyard.

The Baba 30 led to the 35, which led to the speedy and luxury full-keeled Baba 40, whose lines were inspired by the now-legendary Valiant 40. Following a naming rights conflict, the Baba 40 was renamed the Panda 40. Bob Berg was seeking for a smaller and lighter alternative at the same time, in 1981. Berg puts it thus way:

“…the market wanted a lighter, smaller boat with a different stern than the Baba 40. I envisioned a stern comparable to the James W. Hart, a catboat designed by Bill Garden with an old-fashioned extended counter stern. This stern design allowed for a larger cockpit.”

He commissioned Gary Grant for the design, who had previously worked in the Perry design studio and had prior experience with this sort of boat. It would be his first commission as a freelance designer. He began tinkering with the design formula in order to increase waterline length, reduce wetted surface area, and reduce displacement.

Ta Shing, of course, created the boat, which debuted in the later part of 1982. Despite the fact that most of the paperwork were shredded in 1992, Berg claims that at least 29 boats were completed. The majority were shipped to the Pacific Northwest. White Bear, Berg’s own boat, was the first Panda 38 to leave the factory, the name being the direct Chinese translation of Panda Bear.


The hull of the Bluewater Sailboat Panda 38 is hand-laid fiberglass, while the decks are coring of end grain balsa cut into two-inch squares with resin barriers to prevent the potential for rot damage from leaks. Ballast is made of 6,600 pounds of cast iron that have been sealed and glassed over.

Vertical teak staving makes up the bulkheads, while detachable sheet laminate or spruce staving is used between the laminated beams overhead. The interior of the hull is lined with polyurethane foam in the living sections to reduce moisture.


The Panda 38 is a good performer under sail; she is sea-friendly Bluewater Sailboat and is reputed to excel in light air. Owners have reported 150-mile days with only ten knots of wind in close reach; however, more wind is required going downwind in any major sea state. The Panda 38’s total boat speed is said to be comparable to the remarkable Baba 40.

The boat has a slight weather helm with a very good rudder reaction in terms of balancing (aiding close-quarter maneuvering).

Quick Notes 

Overall, the Bluewater Panda 38 has proven to be durable and reliable. Aside from the original v-drive transmission leaking often, a few flaws have been uncovered over the years.

Now you can also precisely calculate the expenses related to boat ownership to make smart choices based on your budget and sailing needs. Use this bluewater Sailboat Calculator to explore different options and make the best decision.

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