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New owner of a Parker Dawson 26 Ketch

60652 Views 164 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  ScharpeStGuy
Hello All!

I have wanted a PD 26 since I was a kid in the 70s, always thought they seemed like a particularly cool little boat capable of taking one out on any adventure one manages to squeeze into ones life.

A tidge about myself:

Name: Allan, I'll let you figure out my last name, it's pretty obvious.
Age: 45 now...
Location: Kansas City

Lived on a wooden Chris Craft for a short time during college. Learned to hate wooden boats, revile through hulls and particularly dislike seawater on my bunk

Did long distance backpacking for several years after college Appalachian Trail 1 1/2 times, Pacific Crest Trail once, started on the Continental Divide but stopped by and injury in New Mexico after only 300 miles.

Got a real job working for the man every night and day then took on running a 24 hour a day, 9 day long reenactment event with a friend of mine that ran once per year for the last 8 years or so. That kept me busy as a bee with project after project ranging from rebuilding trucks to repairing vintage radio equipment.

Now coming back around to boating after years away.
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Now about that boat... Pics tell the story best:

I picked the boat up off of a Craigs List ad in Fon Du Lac Wisconsin. Quite a ways from home base here in Kansas City, but we don't have much variety to choose from around here so I was planning to travel anyhow. There were three on the market at the time I got this one. One in Texas with a stuck keel (hard to fix in a place with no boat yards) one in Detroit with a kaput saildrive and this one. All were Ketch rigged boats although this one is sort of a mix but more on that later.

First order of business was to make sure the trailer was up to standard so that we did not pose a menace to society on the drive home. The previous owner had already done the brakes as well as the bearings and electrics leaving only the tires which looked good but were plenty old. No reason to risk it, a quick visit to a local farm and home store had us sitting on 4 new tires and wheels with the originals then riding along as a full set of spare tires.

The nice thing about trailering a boat is that you always have a place to stay for the night. As long as you do not pack up so snug that you lock yourself out of course... I did leave enough clearance to get into the back cabin. [smile]

A quick stop at Walmart got us easy access to the boat (it was taller than it looked and just recovering from surgery I am not as springy as I usually am)

Some of the crew still needed a hand getting up there.

But settled in fast.

We arrived at Smithville Lake on a quiet sunday morning and set about the task of figuring out where everything went and how she rigged up with the help of a few saavy friends.

Quick wash down once the masts were up and she was ready to hit the water.

In the water tied up at the marina (we are stuck on a mooring ball for now, on the waiting list for a slip)

On a broad reach headed back down the lake with my friend Mark at the helm after a quick shake down cruise.
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Quite the dragons hoard of documentation with this one!

This is just some of the main bits. Lower left shows the original owners manual for instance.

Most of the docs are originals from Parker Yachts in South Freeport Maine.

Others are for accessories added later like the Yanmar Engine and the, uh... 8-track player. (long gone)

Some original sales stuff plus a review from a magazine.

This bitchin picture of a PD 26 being towed by a Olsmobuillac of some sort.

And of great interest, this notebook full of illustrations and notes on the unique rig on this boat including many 4x6 photos showing the layout a rigging.
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Now trimmed back to a cutter for my convenience. This boat was originally a sloop that had a mizzen added on by someone who was a great deal more excited about excess standing rigging than I am. My sail shape on the mizzen was always pretty lousy since the sail did not particularly fit well and I now have a great deal less to buy when I replace standing rigging this winter.

Next up, the cutter dilemma. Tacking is more of a nuisance and again, my staysail really does not fit well so I am likely to end up once the music stops with a sloop.
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Nice boat brother! , very interesting I am a ketch and schooner sailor so any ketch , catches my eye, had never heard of a Parker Dawson, hope you get that rig sorted out.
It is mostly sorted now. Set up as a sloop and tuned up, she sails much better. Lesson: If you want a ketch, buy a ketch! Don't ketchificate a sloop and think it will work out the same. I'll always miss the class of the rig but sure don't miss all the extra stuff on the back of the boat.

The good news is the Mizzen half has been the gift that keeps on giving to a buddy of mine who happened to be riding along with me when I drove down to Arkansas to look at a suit of sails a guy had for sale on a boat he was parting out. Turns out that my mast is actually taller than the OE mast and therefor the original suit of sails would not fit but the raggety looking little Midships 25 that was being parted out turned out to be too much for my buddy Stagg who just had to have it once the guy dropped the price down to "seriously, just get this damn thing out of my yard" pricing. The mizzen rig has done wonders in providing little bits and pieces for the second boat.
Congratulations! She looks awesome! Interesting to see the two masts on her. I also have a mast lowering system on my boat, I still have to figure out how I do that, alas, I have to figure out a lot of things. For now the mast is upwards and stays like this.
You must be excited and with a lot of plans. :) I know!

Would be interested to see some inside photos and design papers.
Parker Dawson Sales Brochure - Parker Dawson 26/Midship 25 Sailboat Owners

Above link is to an original sales brochure. I still need to scan in my original owners manual as well as the SAIL mag article on the thing and the promo ad from the OSTAR race one of the little Parker Dawsons raced in. Neat stuff!

I have a few inside pics but like most smaller boats it's tough to get decent inside photos. This is exacerbated by the double cabin on these guys since now I do not have the usual 26 footer cabin I have a 22 footer cabin up front and a 19 footer cabin in the back!

Galley, port side front cabin

Quarter berth, starboard side front cabin. Currently set up as a seat to the dinette.

Marine head sits under quarter berth.

Vee berth forward (popular with the chihuahua as you can see) Also doubles as second seat to the dinette.

Aft cabin. Both berths are quarter berths that run slightly under the cockpit giving reasonable legnth but are kind of scrawny width wise. Perfect for scrawny people of course but not so great if you have broad shoulders. Aft is a vanity with sink. That's probably going to suffer under the yoke of my simplicity tyranny and get turned into a dry vanity. The port side berth is likely to get converted into additional storage space. I am not hauling space marines to Klendathu for the big invasion, I'd rather have space than berths.

One last pic of it parked at it's mooring a few weekends ago.
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She actually seems to have a fairly good space.
I am pondering changing the interior in mine a little, to make it more airy, but I wonder if its as easy as I think it is. :)
It really does have decent usable space as long as you do not pack too many people along anyhow. I am a single guy and as you can see my dog is no horse so the layout works well. I have my front cabin for livin in and my back cabin to use like a walk in closet. Additionally, the cockpit locker is fairly substantial so I can jam all manner of loot in there when I need to.

I have full standing headroom in the galley which is a big help and with all the hatches up it's pretty airy inside.

So far, I have been very impressed with the quality of construction on this thing. I am a very picky person and I cannot find much wrong at all.
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My ! What a curiously pretty little pocket cruiser! Probably the smallest CC design I've ever seen. :D Visually, quite balanced, too. As a matter of fact; I was wondering just what my W27 would look like with an aft "garage". ;)
Now I know it could be done with style and grace .
Good luck getting her set up
Fair winds,
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Neat boat. Congratulations. Taking off the mizzen mast should improve boat stability. These boats have only a marginal ballast to displacement ratio, which is fine for sailing on an inland lake.
Should be fine on inland lakes I think:

I am not the least interested in sailing on lakes, I consider that akin to driving my car in the Walmart parking lot. I do not live near a coast so whatever I get needs to be practical to trailer since otherwise I just end up with a blue water super cruiser marooned forever in an inland lake due to transport costs and the amount of time it takes to move them.

Short term, I am enjoying the heck out of the boat and tolerating the lake. :p
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Update with the winter work done. Boat is now sitting merry at it's ball getting to run about the lake rather than languising on it's trailer.

Over the winter:

Redid exterior wood

New sails

New bottom paint

Painted boot stripe

Painted cove stripe

Compound, polish and wax hull (hell of a lot of work but worth it)

Lots and lots of interior work!

Now that it's warmed up some and I have the water system commissioned again I am going to start fooling with all of that stuff. Planning to basically pull all the plumbing out of the fresh water as well as head system and redo everything as the current system is a little slipshod and does not inspire confidence.
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Finally got to get out cruising with this guy! I was out for a 10 day trip to the Apostle Islands and it did splendidly in spite of some fairly heavy weather. Above pic is the boat tucked up snug in the little harbor on Devils Island just before a fairly mean southerly blow in the evening.

Good times!
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Hi Allen, I've been following this thread ( and will continue to do so) with great interest as I just acquired a Midship 25 and trailer gratis. :) Long story there. Anyway, my Midship is missing a sail drive and a marine head. No sweat. Fixable. There seems to be so little information on Midship and Parker-Dawson boats. I would welcome any advice on information sources for these great pocket cruisers! Like you I intend to sail my boat in the ocean. Any recommendations for a sail drive for this boat would be greatly appreciated.
Hi there Shannon! Congratulations on your new boat.

Happens that I know a bit about the Midships 25 version and it's associated Baldwin saildrive. My buddy Stagg bought a Mid 25 and we have been working on it over the last year or so.

You can find our flickr album on the Midships 25 here:[email protected]/albums/72157659925972816

Additional pictures and such of my Dawson here:[email protected]/albums/72157657339628026

More pics of the Apostles trip here:[email protected]/albums/72157672409435380

The saildrive on these is not that common but the good news is it's a pretty simple arraignment unlike the later OMC ones and although an odd bird it does mostly use fairly easy to source parts. The Midships was fitted with a 9.5 HP Evinrude power head set up with a delco starter generator. We have the engine running just ducky on Staggs now but unfortunately are now plauged by an issue with the shaft between the motor and the lower unit. Stagg is up in there air on whether to fix it or to succumb to the temptation to yoink it out, glass over the hole, and refit a BMW diesel we happen to have sitting around over here.

Where you are currently sitting I recommend starting to think along those same lines:

As fitted saildrive advantages:

VERY light weight. Stagg is not a particularly burly fellow and he can pull the motor out of this thing by himself and carry it up and down the ladder without resorting to using lifting gear.

Engine is fairly reliable. The 9.5 Evinrude power head is well regarded by all the outboard mechanics we talk to. Parts are common and cheap and honestly we have had nearly no issues with the engine itself.

Starter generator spins the bejesus out of that thing. Literally faster than the engine idles so in a pinch you could bump in and out on it alone.

Multiple starting options. Starter generator fails? Pull start it, starter generator AND pull starter fail? Rope start off the flywheel.

As fitted saildrive disadvantages:

Saildrive unit sits lower than the keel when the keel is wound all the way up. That means that if you are slinking into a shallow spot and get it wrong, it's your saildrive that will hit first.

Engine does not make much power. Technically, the starter generator will make 15 amps. We have not got it to make any yet in spite of new generator and new regulator, I am sure we will get it worked out. Either way, that's not a lot of electricity which makes catching up the battery charge situation with the engine take a bit longer. Compared to the 35 amp alternator on my YSE-8 Yanmar at least.

Slow acceleration. It will eventually catch up to hull speed but does not get there in much of a hurry. It really does not make much way when confronted with headwinds and waves. By comparison, my YSE-8 8HP diesel is a rocket. We suspect that a prop change may improve this but need to do additional testing to know for sure.

Can only effectively service sail drive unit with it out of the water. Lower unit oil changes etc require the boat be out.
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Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions or if you see something that we are building that you are interested in as well. We'd be more than happy to share plans, measurements and the like.

We have a bit of an advantage having both the Midships and the later model Parker Dawson right next to each other, it makes it easy to decide we want something the other boat has and just yank it apart and copy away.

One bit of sage advice for you. When storing it outside either tarp the dickens out of it or don't park within 100 miles of any trees because it takes disturbingly little tree related debris to clog the cockpit drains and promptly fill the cabin and bilges full of rain water. When our boats are on the water, the bilges are dry as a bone, when on shore, we constantly have to pump the silly things dry. The Dawson has slightly better bilge drainage but honestly both are sort of Mickey Mouse. When we yank our keels for servicing we plan to upgrade to bigger drains.
Allen, thanks for the detailed reply! I can't do PM's yet. Too few posts. Anyway, Wow, a lot of work on the Midship! She's beautiful. So is the PD 26. I lucked out when I found out my colleague's dad was trying to give away a sailboat. No one seemed to be interested! The Midship had been stored in a large shed for several years. The boat is in great shape, very clean and mostly dry. As I said before there is no engine and the aft marine head was missing too. I'm doing a detailed survey chasing wires, scuppers, water lines, hull, etc. Currently the boat has been fitted with an outboard motor mount on the transom. It is an awkward set up for handling with the aft cabin in the way. So I'm going for a sail drive setup as best choice. 2nd choice would be installing a prop shaft through the hull with all the associated hassles like shaft alignment, thrust bearings, etc. I have some experience working on and handling motor vessels as a deckhand. Anyway, any suggestions where I could find similar drive systems for the Midship? This is a new area for me. I intend to sail most of the time. The motor is mainly for safe navigation in and out of marinas. To motor sail or just motor seems I would need a bit more horsepower e.g. 15+ HP. The fuel tank is 15 gallons I believe.
On a side note I noted in the forward cabin under the cushions near the bow is a stowage area filled with foam! Not sure why. I suspect the designer did not want any excessive weight stowed near the bow to prevent the bow plowing into waves. Just a guess.
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If you get a chance snap a picture of what is currently in your "engine compartment" If it was at one time a sail drive and there does not seem to be much there, you might be surprised at how little it takes to have "a lot" there. HP wise, the original 9.5 would move the boat along just fine we just think a better matched propeller would get things moving a tad quicker. My Parker Dawson with the diesel has well more than it needs so I don't think you need to really go much bigger. Bigger just uses more fuel and takes up more space in the fairly small engineering spaces down there.

Don't forget the side effect of motoring, making electrical power. Both my Dawson and Stagg's Midships have solar panels but even on the best days they cannot touch what my Yanmar can make chugging along here and there from time to time. We didn't even take the panels up to the Apostles because I figured we'd motor enough here and there to keep up on our power needs.

Some nice person was probably going the for the "fill the most likely pierced area with foam approach" to keeping the boat on the right side of the water. Which makes sense and really does not loose much really useful space particularly given that one if often tempted to do silly things like store over sized Mantus anchors and rodes up there like me. (Which, yes, causes the boat to get angry)

You will be happy to hear that the Dawson/Midships are VERY easy to handle boats.
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