Posted by: summerhillbob | March 10, 2011

Performance / Cruiser Sailboat for Sale: Fast & Safe !

One of the best designed Performance / Cruiser Sailboats around.

Of Designs and Men!

Is the “Formosa 43” a Ron Holland design? The Formosa 43 is now listed under both the Formosa Boat building company and under Ron Holland in the web site.  For a while, there is no “Formosa Boat Building Company” listed. All the “Formosa” boats seem to have been built by TaChiao.  Ron Holland Designed a sail boat built in the mid 1980’s  by the Ta Chiao (CT) company and sold as the “Ron Holland CT 43”. The Hull lines on both boats (the Ron Holand 43 & the Formosa 43) are exactly the same. The deck and interior are somewhat different.  I contacted Ron Holland via email when I first bought the boat- doing research on her pedigree; He said ‘He could have designed her but he didn’t remember & there was no way to look it up -(before CADD you see)’…  He said ‘the Chinese builders where always stealing other people’s designs back then’..  ‘Maybe they even made some extra hulls from the master mold’ – ‘that wouldn’t be unheard of’. I’ve seen various iterations of this hull design for Formosa  (Formosa 43) since about 1979 – on to 1986 .  I’ve only seen the “Ron Holland 43” around  1985 /1989. So I think maybe, Ron Holland did design her back in 1979 and Formosa built about 19 of them or so,  in the next 7 years (Meander being hull # 18) Then to get the most out of the hull mold they laid up a bunch for CT to build the Ron Holland 43. It seems the Formosa Boat Building Company & TaChiao shared the same yard , work force and materials…and designers! Maybe they are just different parts of the same company & CT is still in business! -OR- I read somewhere that Formosa went out of business in 1986 so maybe TaChiao bought / assumed the molds and continued on building with the same hulls, & same workforce at the same location. Who Knows !

Doug Peterson has designed a few Formosa’s also and sometimes he gets credit for this design, but I don’t think so.  A search of his designs on the web site “” shows no designs of a similar configuration. His boats are well built and  fast, but they don’t have that sleek euro /Swan look that the “Formosa 43” boasts.  In fact I think she looks a lot like Ron Holland’s Swan designs of that same era. They are not exactly the same but the similarity s are there if you look for them.  Robert Perry along with William Garden designed some of  the CT’s & Formosa’s also, but most of these had that classic “Pirate ship” style the Formosa & CT boats were  known for. (The Movie:  “Capt’n Ron” had a “Formosa 51” I think).

I  think The Formosa Boat Building Company & TaChiao should gets more credit than they do for building strong and safe sail boats.  But they do have a reputation for inconsistent quality of materials, and to some extent that is true.  Though the workmanship is Bristol ! On Meander, the white laminate on some of the bulkheads  have cracks in the very thin plastic.  The marine plywood expands and contracts at a different rate than the plastic laminate so expansion cracks are the usual result. This is about the only place I’ve found where the materials used should have been of a higher quality, or just of a different nature.  Painted wood would have even been better.  Its only cosmetic but I would like to know how to fix this nuisance.

I have sailed “Meander” for over 10 years now and I can truly say (at least here on the Chesapeake Bay) That I was NEVER fearful when caught out in nasty weather.  We were in a “White Squall” off the Magothy river a few years ago and that was scary enough, especially when everything around you just disappears in a maelstrom  white flying spume. My Formosa 43 just pointed into the wind  at low idle and took all the weather gods could throw at her.  The Bay  can get very ugly, very fast.  The waves got steep and square – They don’t call it the Chesapeake Chop for nothing!  The flying spume and sideways rain was so bad I couldn’t open my eyes to look around. I could only squint at my compass through slitted eye lids and hold my heading.  It only stayed like this for about 10 minuets but it seemed longer. The next one of these I find myself in I will don my snorkel mask before it hits. A least I could see then.

And to add insult to injury… the 3 kids we had below in the main salon were singing at the top of their lungs…Billy Joel’s “And We All Go Down Together” !!!!

Thanks for reading along & click the “Like” button on  face book to share her info with all your friends, you never know who among them is a closet sailor  looking for the sailboat of their dreams!



  1. Hi I just bought a 1983 Formosa 43 hull number ??? but I can find out. It has two fuel tanks but only one fill that I can see, portside about halfway up the deck. Any ideas if you had the same setup? I will figure it out somehow. I also have an old Volvo MD21B but since it still runs will not swap it yet. If I do I will get a BETA 50 since they can optimize them for the 110S saildrive.

    • Hi Jim,
      I have 2 x 32 gal fuel tanks ( the last pair of 3 pair of tanks all about the same size) under the floor. The first 2 pair are stainless steel the last pair are iron ( for the fuel). I have 1 fill for the fuel about mid ships on the Starboard side. The 1.5″ fuel fill line has a very long way to travel before it gets to the fuel tanks, and therefore is a real bear to take on fuel. she likes to back up the fuel a lot).

      I also have the Volvo MD21B, It’s a GREAT power plant. I was told (by an surveyor who knows) that these were very well designed and built engines. ( Now Volvo just uses Perkins engines and slaps their “Volvo Penta” stickers on it). I love the sail drive – way back there by the big rudder. she is very maneuverable for such a large boat. But they don’t make the 110s sail drive anymore, so if you have any corrosion issues with your old sail drive you may want to look at a power plant like a yanmar that has a sail drive of their own. ( though I don’t know how good the yanmar sail drive’s are). Also, There is a guy out of New York some where that buy’s and sells reman. sail drives 110’s for the yolvo. It’s a shame because these drives were almost bullet proof ! but they all have some corrosion issues, Aluminum & salt water… not the best combination.
      “Meander” is splashing this week, & I’m going down to the boat yard to clean her up and recommission her for this coming season. I live about 3 hrs. due north from the Chesapeake Bay so it’s a long trip.
      Keep me posted of how you & your Formosa 43 are doing. It’s great to hear from another Formosa 43 owner. There are not many of these fine boats around. One was sold (hull #17 I think) on the US west coast in 2001 for around 120 K and there is one doing charter work ( #19) in the Pacific North West.
      Meander is # 18 and built in 1985.
      Thanks for reading along, & Keep on Sailin’
      ________________ _/) ________________ !

  2. Hi, sorry about my poor English. Do you know something els , about the Formosa 51?, I am the owner of one. Thank you for your help. Kind Regards.

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