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Old 07-04-2001
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What's a Good, Small Boat

Can you recomend a good used sailboat from 20 to 26 feet LOA that sails well in rough and shallow waters?

Sue & Larry respond:
The ability of a boat to sail in shallow water is completely a function its design. A shallow keel or centerboard/daggerboard arrangement is necessary for these restricted waters. The ability to handle rough water, on the other hand, is not solely dependent on design, but also upon the skill level and competence of the captain in knowing how to handle a boat in rough conditions.

Most boats in the size range that you’re interested in have relatively shallow drafts unless they are racing boats. Given that, we’ll give you some of our personal favorites in the size range that you’re looking at.

For the traditional lines, great stability, and very shallow draft, we like a full-keel design like on the 22-foot Cape Dory Typhoon Senior, or the Cape Dory 25. The Typhoon Senior sports a draft of only three feet, while the Cape Dory 25 draws three feet six inches. These offer pleasing lines and a stable safe ride in all conditions. If you do happen to ground this design, you’re not likely to damage anything.

For more spirited performance, some of the lighter displacement boats with modern wing-keels offer a lot of sailing fun. A Beneteau First 235 falls into this category and it also offers great interior accommodations. The winged-keel version draws only two feet nine inches.

Then there’s the ever popular and reasonably priced swing-keeled Catalina 22 that lets you go from a two-foot draft with the board up to five feet six inches with the board down. This type of keel offers the flexibility of being able to easily trailer your boat by car to new sailing grounds.

There are a number of other great boats out there in this size range. Our recommendation is that you look at as many different designs as you can before making your decision. Good luck.

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