Sailboats 21-30ft

Bristol Channel Cutter, Morris 40, Alerion Sloop

The Alerion Sloop, Bristol Channel Cutter and Morris 40 cover the range from gentleman's daysailer to blue-water passagemaker. Each is of superior design and construction-it's nice to know you can still buy quality, but you'd better have deep pockets.

The Catalina 270 LE vs. The Beneteau First 265

Two of the newest 27-foot cruising boat designs are from Beneteau and Catalina, both huge builders. Checking out both boats at a recent show, we noticed that the base list price of the Beneteau First 265 with inboard ($38,050) was less than 10 percent above the base for the Catalina 270 LE ($34,775). Their Euro-styled interior layouts were at least superficially similar as well, as were hull and sail plan dimensions. Which boat, we wondered, is the better buy, and for whom?

Four Trailer-Sailers And the Keel/Launch Problem

Looking back at the Paceship PY 23, American 26, Yankee Dolphin24, and Aquarius 23-we can examine several other approaches to the same problem. That is for stability, a sailboat must have an underwater appendage such as a keel or centerboard, and ballast. Both are at odds with the concept of an easily trailerable boat that can be launched at most ramps. A deep fixed keel is untenable.

Baba 30

The Baba line of boats was conceived in the mid-1970's by Bob Berg, a Seattle yacht broker who with two business associates formed Flying Dutchman International Ltd. to import traditionally styled cruising boats from Taiwan. Bob Perry was commissioned to design the boats, which Berg envisioned as a smaller version of the Tayana 37, one of Perry's most popular designs. Though it is a full-keeled boat, the Tayana 37 has a greater turn of speed than…


The Alerion-Express is a costly little daysailer/overnighter. What you get for your money is a well-built, lively 28-footer that sails as well as it looks. Other boats in this class have substantially more accommodationsbut the boats traditional good looks and solid construction should help maintain its value well-especially if it catches on with that niche of the market that is looking for an easily maintained/ sailed boat that provides some fun out on the water.

The J/80

Comparing the J/80 with the Melges 24 may provide a frame of reference because of their similarities and differences. The Melges is clearly a faster boat, rating in the 90s, despite being nearly 2 shorter.Both have cavernous cockpits designed and rigged to maximize performance. Though waterline length, draft, and beam measurements are close, there are major differences. The Melges has a retractable keel and performs like an overgrown dinghy; the J/80 has a fixed keel. It is less buoyant and more comfortable going to weather in a chop.

A Herreshoff Legacy Lives On

It took some time for the Stuart Knockabout, an L. Francis Herreshoff design, to take root and finally flourish. The 28-foot day boat first appeared in 1932 as line drawing number 53 in the L. Francis annals, and only one boat was built. In 1933, Ben My Chree (a Galic term of endearment), was launched and wound up nestled away in Casco Bay, Maine, at the island home of owner Willoughby Stuart. With its own small marine railway and boat shed, Ben My Chree remained in the family for nearly 40 years. In the mid-1980s, it was discovered in a Massachusetts boat shed by Bill Harding, a sailor known for his deft hand on the tiller and the builder of the popular Herreshoff 12 replica-affectionately known as the Doughdish. Harding fell for the lines of daysailer he had discovered, and he researched the boats lineage. After getting a feel for what it had to offer under sail, he decided that this was another slice of sailing history that deserved being resurrected.

Craftsmanship is at the Heart of Construction

Modern engineering works well with many older designs. In the Stuart Knockabouts original plans, soft wood planks were mechanically fastened to hardwood frames and the its shoal-draft keel/centerboard was bolted to the keelson. Timber boatbuilding is labor intensive and the time-saving shortcuts found in molded FRP hull and deck construction have a well-proven track record. Add to this the fact that wooden hulls and decks are susceptible to rot, and its clear that Hardings vision of a fiberglass/foam sandwich Stuart Knockabout was a best-of-both-worlds solution rather than a sacrilege. The result of the FRP conversion is a stiffer/stronger, monocoque hull that required less maintenance and is much more immune to the elements.

The San Juan 24

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Clark Boat Co. jumped on the trailer sailer bandwagon, and became a successful player in this decade-long market. Earlier, Bob and Carol Clark built Lightnings and ThistIes, and later, with the business in the hands of their son Don, the company built boats as large as 34 feet. The last boats came out of the shop in 1986, the year the company went out of business. While the San Juan 21 trailer sailer really established the Clark Boat Co., it was the more performance-oriented boats such as the San Juan 24 and 7.7 that gave it the reputation of a successful builder of faster, under-3D-foot boats.

Boat Review: Marshall 22 Catboat

The stout Marshall 22, in production since 1965, rekindles the romance of shoal-water sailing. As a weekender or coastal cruiser, the Marshall has much to recommend it, especially to those who can fully exploit its shallow draft. Drawing less than 6 feet, the Marshall opens up new cruising grounds for those willing to put in a little extra effort. New boat prices range from the base $76,900 to around $90,000. Used boats range from around $18,000 to $70,000. Practical Sailor recommends a survey for the purchase of all used boats.