Big Adventures in Small Boats

Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:24AM - Comments: (4)

Kevin Oliver and Tony Lancashire portage the Norseboat 17.5 during their Northwest Passage expedition. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Oliver,

I've always admired adventurers in small boats. If I were to trace my sea addiction it would likely be to Kon-Tiki, a book that fell into my hands as a boy. So I was happy this month to get the chance to spend some time aboard Kevin Jeffrey's Norseboat 21.5, the sort of craft that inspires small boat adventures. In fact, two Royal Marines were so taken by Jeffrey's Norseboat 17.5, that they sailed one through the Northwest Passage.

I don't know if it's that my own tastes have gravitated toward smaller boats, or if the interest in small boats is actually surging. I couldn't help but notice that many of the new boats being launched seem to cater to the sort of adventures that captivated sailors years ago. These are people who travel light, travel small, and aren't too picky about their comfort. I find the the latest twist to this passion, the small-boat human powered "races" like the Everglades Challenge, particularly appealing.

Our article last month on the bargain-priced Venture 21 generated a number of nostalgic e-mails, as well as requests to include more small boats. In fact, if there is one question that threatens each month to de-rail an issue of Practical Sailor, it is requests from readers to recommend small pocket cruisers. I could spend hoursó no daysódreaming and scheming on that topic.

Just thumbing through our archive boat tests, the search under trailer sailer turns up a few interesting boats like the Rob Roy 23, but few of these boats are as easily trailerable as the Norseboat 21.5. The field expands greatly when you start looking for something that a big dually pickup can haul, like the Seaward 26RK, the Balboa 26, and even the Dana 24. Though short on details, Steve Henkel's book makes fun dreaming. One boat that I keep stumbling upon that falls in this category is the McGinnes-Eldridge-designed Eastward Ho 24, which looks like a pretty stout boat.

And if you're looking for these bigger pocket cruisers, this response to a reader query, rolled off a number of suggested boats.

You might recall that a few years back, PS offered their own take on the trailerable pocket cruiser, although it was a pretty darn big boat.

If you got some thoughts to share on the ideal pocket cruiser, trailerable or not, or one we should test, I'd like to hear them. Comment here or drop me an e-mail.

Comments (3)

I just purchased a Matilda 20 for my first cruising type sailboat that I can take the family out on weekends or day sails. My brother got his hands on one and got it on the water last summer. I liked sailing it so much that when one dropped in my lap this winter I sold my Hobie 16 and was even $500 ahead. I'm looking forward to getting it on the water this summer. The Matilda is a nice little trailer sailer with a ballasted centerboard keel. She'll float in 9 inches of water. It has a good size cabin with a head and galley. She sleeps 4 no problem. She has an almost 8' beam which makes her very stable. Google sailingwinded to have a look.


Posted by: Ralph | April 28, 2011 8:24 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Barbara, you're not the only Potter fan. We've received several letters from other readers recommending the boat.

Posted by: sailordn | April 28, 2011 1:06 PM    Report this comment

We have a 2009 19 ft West Wight Potter . I would highly recommend this sailboat for anyone looking for a trailer/sailor .

As a couple not in our retirement years yet , we were looking for a sail boat that we could escape away for a day sail , sleep out on our days off and be able to use on for our a vacation get away .

Our criteria was finding a sailboat that would meet both our needs. Performs well under sail , easy to trail and set up .. anchors close to shore/beach , great layout with nice size cabin to sleep in , stove , sink and its own hidden porta potty area ..

The Potter has lived up to that and more ..

As you are highlighting day sailors , I think the West Wight Potter would be of interest to your readers ...

Barbara Kane

Posted by: Barbara K | April 28, 2011 11:54 AM    Report this comment

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