I sail an O'Day Daysailer and I think it should fit your needs nicely. It has lots going for it in 17 feet.
There is room for four, but you'll probably typically have three on the high side and one on the low side... four abreast is tight but we've done it many many times when the wind is brisk.
The boom is above heads, better for less-experienced companions. Rigging is simple and hardware is plenty adequate (unless you intend to race).
It has a very active class association (DaySailer.org
) with an excellent web-forum for repair, maintenance and upgrade advice. I've learned a lot there. All parts are readily available and in-stock at D & R Marine
. (Overnight replacement of my standing rigging saved my vacation in the boonies of Maine one year, and a new spreader overnighted saved me last year).
The DS is actively raced if that interests you though its performance lags some others in the sub-20-foot range (Chrysler Buccaneer, Lightning, Scot, Highlander, Interlake); mostly due to its shorter length and less aggressive sail plan. But it'll plane and what you give up in that last bit of performance you gain in it being somewhat less "demanding", more forgiving, to sail.
My wife and I (mid-fifties) trailer exclusively. We've gotten to where we can be in the water within 15 minutes of hitting the ramp... about the same for retrieval. We'll often launch for as short as a 60 minute evening sail. Do not underestimate the ease / difficulty of launching and retrieving... if it is a chore, you'll sail less and less.
There were a zillion Daysailers made, so there is always a market to buy and sell. Good ones (decent sails, trailer and general sail-ready condition) are out there for $1500 (real price) all day long... if you're patient, you can do much better. I paid $950 for my very
good condition 1968 DS I with an engine. My friend just bought one for $400 that's a bit rough, but sailable. Give him 50 hours to work on it and another $500 (he's handy and retired) and he'll have a beauty (hope its not nicer than mine).
Last... there were two DS models built in volume, DS I's and DS II's. Hulls, rigging, sails and rudder were identical.
Where they differ is that DS I's have:
- a totally open cuddy (a dog could easily lie down in there) but it cannot be secured with hatches,
- mahogony or teak floorboards lying on the single hull
- teak coaming around the cockpit
- handle-mechanism for the centerboard
- a 12-inch-or-so transom (with molded-in outboard well) that reduces cockpit space by that 12 inches.
DS II's have:
- a semi-enclosed cuddy; secureable, but also less accessable,
- fiberglass one-piece floor-pan / seats / deck. Causes seating to be a tad higher than in a DS I.
- all plastic (no wood floorboards or coaming)
- pulley mechanism for the centerboard
- 2-inch transom... provides a slightly larger cockpit than the DS I.
I have owned both and much prefer the DS I... it is saltier looking with its wood trim and the open cuddy is much more accessable when under sail. But if you were to dock or moor, the DS II with its securable cuddy would be the better choice. They sail identically (though I think avid racers prefer DS I's because they may be a tad lighter).