4 Types of Pocket Cruisers
The upcoming release of Steve Wystrach’s outstanding documentary film Manry at Sea: In the Wake of a Dream about Robert Manry, the former copy editor who sailed across the Atlantic in a 13-foot sailboat, got me thinking again about the virtues of small cruising boats. In my view, there are at least four main types of pocket cruisers. Manry’s modified lake boat fits somewhere in between the first two.
Types of Pocket Cruisers
Estuarine Elves—These are the maritime equivalent of the pop-top camper. The poster children are the popular West Wight Potters. The Victoria 18, the Sanibel 18, the ComPac Eclipse and other small catboats with any kind of cabin fall into this category.
These are boats that can creep up the lakes, creeks, and rivers of North America and still manage bay chop. They have enough cockpit space for family daysailing, but also offer a place to sleep, eat and be cozy when it’s wet and cold.
Trailer Sailers - These are small cruiser/racers like the Rhodes 22, San Juan 21, Catalina 22, Hunter 23, Tanzer 22, that can be Friday-night raced around the cans with other vintage boats, but also cruised.
Like the Estuarine Elves, these are easy to trailer fairly quick to rig and launch, but with longer waterlines, more sail and more efficient hull shapes, they generally perform better. There are too many boats in this category to list.
Auxiliary Pocket Cruisers - These boats can be trailered, but they require vehicles with big towing capacity and take much longer to rig. They usually have more ballast, built-in tanks, and can be equipped with inboard auxiliary engines—something you rarely find in the two smaller categories. Trailerability, in this case, means hauling the boat down to the Keys or Mexico for the winter, not down to the local ramp on a Sunday.
These can be fixed-keel boats like the Contessa 26, the Pearson Ariel, and Cape Dory 25D (both Carl Alberg designs); or swing keels like the Paceship 26 (also available with fixed keel), Yankee Dolphin 24, the Nimble 24, and the Lyle Hess-designed Balboa 26. Although some boats in this category have circumnavigated, going offshore in these boats requires a special breed of sailor.
Bahama-Mamacitas - Multihulls like the Corsair F-24, the Wharram Tiki 21, and the semi-custom trimarans like PS contributing editor Skip Allen’s new custom Wildflower probably could be shoehorned into the above group, but that would surely incite the wrath of the multihull crowd, so I’ll give them their own group here.
Microships - Generally these are fixed-keel boats with hefty ballast- displacement ratios that make them capable of cruising offshore. They are trailerable, but with displacement pushing 10,000 pounds, they require a powerful tow vehicle. Some, like the Bill Crealock’s Dana 24, have circumnavigated. Bruce Bingham’s Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20, or Hess’s Falmouth Cutter 22 are other examples of small boats that pop up in far flung ports.
If you have a favorite pocket cruiser, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more preview of the film, check out the trailer on Vimeo. For more information on the film and related projects visit www.robertmanryproject.com, and click the subscribe button for information on ordering DVDs and Blu-Ray.