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Second Hand Focus - 'Yachting Monthly' 2000

We sailed Duloe, a 1979 example owned by John Bishop, whom we met at the Cowes Classics rally last summer.  While obviously a GRP boat, Duloe's kinship to the painted classics around her was equally evident.  The pretty sheerline, a gentle curve of her stem, the slight tumblehome in her aft sections, and the businesslike transom-hung rudder puts her in a different aesthetic class to most of today's smaller cruisers.  Duloe has just emerged from a loving refit and her glossy topsides and unmarked mouldings proved the adage that you'll be enjoying he quality long after you've forgotten the price;  Nicholson 31s were top-dollar boats in their day.  Construction was conventional, hand-laid GRP to Lloyds specifications, with balsa-cored decks and coachroof and encapsulated lead ballast.

C&N made full use of GRP technology, and most of the 31's interior -galley, heads, furniture bases- is made up of moulded modules bonded to the hull.  Allied to stringers and frames, this makes for a very strong unit.  It would also make for a rather plasticy feel to the interior, but for the extensive use of teak trim and joinery.

At first sight the saloon looks rather snug, but this is down to the settees being brought so far inboard to make room for stowage.  She is actually not a lot narrower than most modern 31-footers, in which stowage is usually sacrificed in favour of a more spacious feel to the interior.  The settees are fairly short but,being aligned with the boat's centreline, make good seaberths with the aid of trotter boxes under the galley peninsula and chart table.  To port, a useful pilot berth faces a bank of overhead lockers to starboard.

There is a vast amount of stowage outboard of and under the settees, and also in the forepeak.  Much of this is due to the location of the tankage; the 65-gallon water tank is part of the keel moulding.  The 17-gallon fuel tank is under the cockpit sole and batteries are below the quarterberth.