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JimBowie

Best All Around Little Boat for Traveling

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With retirement approaching the travel bug had been biting badly.  So many cool little regattas in so many cool little places I'd like to visit before the children take away my keys and lock me in the Old Folks Asylum.  I want to do a small-factor combo: Little Van + Little Boat.  What boats/vans would you sage sailors recommend.  Here's my parameters:

  • 20 - 22' LOA
  • Less than #2000 boat
  • Prefer carbon mast
  • Easy to drop keel/centerboard
  • Decent performance < 150 phrf
  • 2 to 3 crew max
  • Something with at least minimal national class organization

The Van

  • Turbo 4 or 6
  • Gas or diesel
  • Can store bikes inside and SUP on top
  • Enough towing capacity for said boat
  • 2 passenger seating cargo van style for conversion

I think I know the usual suspect candidates, but give me cause to choose your choice.

 

 

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You already know the boat. The van is more difficult. Perhaps a hybrid.

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Sorry no Melges 24. Too much boat for what I need. U20?

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Viper 640—my cousin swears by hers and they have a good class.

Vans are tougher. They don’t really build vans for towing anymore a la Aerostar, Astro, unless you go full-size. Mercedes sprinter is really the best choice but expensive. Ford Transit probably almost as good and a better value. The Ram pro master is fugly. 

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5 hours ago, JimBowie said:

Sorry no Melges 24. Too much boat for what I need. U20?

U20 meets your needs quite well and is probably lower cost than most options in that range.

Not all have carbon masts if that's an absolute requirement, but I don't recall there being much weight difference between carbon and aluminum.  I believe it was a strength decision to transition to carbon.

Raising/lowering the keel is simple and straight forward with the crane.

Good support from the class.

You can sail it relatively hard or back off and chill.

 

Viper and VX-One are quicker, if a little more athletic.

I don't have experience with the Far East boats, but they have boats just below and above your size range.

Laser SB3/SB20 is within your range, but I don't think you'll find much of a class in the US.

 

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My early 2000s 4Runner had a tough time hauling a U20 up the big hills.  It has a six cylinder.  A turbo 6 may work just fine and if you're not leaving Texas too much, it shouldn't be too much of a big deal.

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What about that Donovan 22 that never quite got finished ? Might still be for sale 

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2 hours ago, 44forty said:

What about that Donovan 22 that never quite got finished ? Might still be for sale 

I believe that boat went to the east coast,  not sure where. It's a shame about the status of this project, it looked like it was going to be awesome

FB- Doug

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23 hours ago, JimBowie said:

Sorry no Melges 24. Too much boat for what I need. U20?

I was thinking vx1, not m24. Two or three up boat. U20 is a good 3 up boat too, and even their aluminum masts are easy to put up and take down thanks to extra padeyes for the lower shrouds that keep it aligned during the process. RS21 and Viper 640 are also easy to rig, but the RS21 is best sailed with four in breeze. Depending on where you want to travel too, viper likely has the biggest fleets.

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JB - I made the same calculation before retiring.  How many summers do I have left? Bought a VX1 and don't regret it. We already know you think a VX 1 is too expensive.  However when you are ready to sell it you will get most of the purchase price back. The boat plus trailer weights 1100# total.  Tows great.  I have been out to the midwest twice and up and down the west coast (Seattle to San Diego) every year. One person can step the mast.  With a 2hp outboard you can motorsail at 7kts. You can keep all your camping gear in dry bags in the back of the cockpit.  My wife can run the kite up and down.  Where ever you go people will stop to ask you about it.   Room to take the grand kids or another couple sailing. Sail in 25 knts or 3kts. Have fun phrf races.  Win a few, lose a few. And finally, it is a fun boat to sail.  cheers!

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Thanks Sailhmb.  Sounds logical.  Indeed I am calculating 5 years max. I'll be 70 then and frankly don't see sailing sportboats at that age.  The VX 1 is ideal in many factors.  I owned Viper for couple years and that beast lacked refinement.  I think the decades between the Viper and 1 gave designer all he needed to know to get it right out of the gate. Surprised even the 1 had some early keel size issues.  The U20 has few more creature comfies, but perhaps I need to test drive a 1 before deciding.

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Brian Bennett stated with the VX1 he fixed the mistakes made on the Viper.  There have been a few minor hiccups.  The VXOne owner FB pages have noted all of these and the fixes. The builders have responded with design upgrades.  The boats are very robust. Mine is 7 years old and I have replaced 2 machine screws on the forestay padeye and reinforced the spreader stubs.

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Hmm.  I'm tempted.  Just up the road in Dillon.  Might have to take a serious look-see.  Will that tow behind a Model 3?

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I currently own a Hot Foot 20. Have owned B25, Santana 23, Capri 22 and a few others.  I am 66 yrs young. Love the Hot Foot but would like a little more  comfort for longer day sails.  The Ultimate 20 might be the logical move but I would  think still a rough ride when you have to sail unwind in chop.  Just did that on the weekend.  Blasted down the lake hitting sustained double didgets in 20 kts breeze and more at times. My ass is still sore from the return  8 mile unwind slog back to my mooring ball. I am wondering if a J70 might be a better ride for an old guy who still likes to plane at least a couple times a year.  Thinking 1700lbs and a longer water  line should  provide a somewhat less rough unwind in chop ride. What do you guys think about  the J70

 

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Back in the day, it was fun racing u20s against hotfoot 20s. Each had their sweet spots. Any given race, it was a toss up, who would beat who. Fun times.

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2 hours ago, JimB said:

I currently own a Hot Foot 20. Have owned B25, Santana 23, Capri 22 and a few others.  I am 66 yrs young. Love the Hot Foot but would like a little more  comfort for longer day sails.  The Ultimate 20 might be the logical move but I would  think still a rough ride when you have to sail unwind in chop.  Just did that on the weekend.  Blasted down the lake hitting sustained double didgets in 20 kts breeze and more at times. My ass is still sore from the return  8 mile unwind slog back to my mooring ball. I am wondering if a J70 might be a better ride for an old guy who still likes to plane at least a couple times a year.  Thinking 1700lbs and a longer water  line should  provide a somewhat less rough unwind in chop ride. What do you guys think about  the J70

 

That;s very true in chop.  I;ve sailed Corpus bay for 35 years.  Owned everything there from Holder 20 (no good) to Santana 30/30GP (broaching bitch).  My decade of J22 ownership there was finest.  At 1800# just big nuff to get through the chop.  Same with my Melges that I destroyed sailing too hard.  Destroyed my old U20 there too.  Too light.  But I'm now focused on smaller venues on lakes.  This weekend in Dillon it blew like stink couple times.  Was happy to be on the J80, but a competent U20 skipper could have survived. THat's about as extreme as I seek nowadays.  BTW.  Your sock puppet initials match mine buddy.

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On 8/3/2020 at 11:03 PM, JimBowie said:

 The U20 has few more creature comfies, but perhaps I need to test drive a 1 before deciding.

I love the U20, but don't recommend test driving a VX One in a breeze unless you have the cash on hand to buy it. You'll forget any reservations you have about it and look for your wallet.

 

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My VX demo sail experience is that a breezy demo intimidates some sailors who are not comfortable accelerating and going that much faster than what they have experienced before.  They opt for the heavier design choice.

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I’m a huge fan of the A27 and if the Ultimate 20 is as similar as I expect it might be, it would be a great boat.

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Beneteau First 18. Not 20' but meets most of your other criteria.

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Just now, 23feet said:

Beneteau First 18. Not 20' but meets most of your other criteria.

For less than $100,000 however.

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On 8/6/2020 at 6:44 AM, sailhmb said:

My VX demo sail experience is that a breezy demo intimidates some sailors who are not comfortable accelerating and going that much faster than what they have experienced before.  They opt for the heavier design choice.

But when up to speed, the loads are minuscule. Heavier is just fucking stupid.

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8 hours ago, Varan said:
On 8/6/2020 at 9:44 AM, sailhmb said:

My VX demo sail experience is that a breezy demo intimidates some sailors who are not comfortable accelerating and going that much faster than what they have experienced before.  They opt for the heavier design choice.

But when up to speed, the loads are minuscule. Heavier is just fucking stupid.

  1. I really liked the VX-1. The ergonomics are the best of any sailboat cockpit I've ever seen It's easy and comfy. And it feels very natural to sail. You can just sit there and piddle along, relaxing taking it easy, and the boat works like it should (unlike a lot of high performance boats that need to have the foils booted up before they will act like a sailboat). Or you can work it, and sail the boat up to it's potential.

It's not conventional. The people I test sailed it with hated the main sheeting off the boom, and the self-tacking jib with the over-under traveler/sheet control, and a few other unconventional but IMHO very practical touches.

FB- Doug

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On 8/10/2020 at 5:41 AM, Steam Flyer said:
  1. I really liked the VX-1. The ergonomics are the best of any sailboat cockpit I've ever seen It's easy and comfy. And it feels very natural to sail. You can just sit there and piddle along, relaxing taking it easy, and the boat works like it should (unlike a lot of high performance boats that need to have the foils booted up before they will act like a sailboat). Or you can work it, and sail the boat up to it's potential.

It's not conventional. The people I test sailed it with hated the main sheeting off the boom, and the self-tacking jib with the over-under traveler/sheet control, and a few other unconventional but IMHO very practical touches.

FB- Doug

I stayed with the boom sheeting for 3 years then switched to the deck mounted swivel cleat which felt more natural.  

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On 8/9/2020 at 10:30 AM, JimBowie said:

For less than $100,000 however.

Non comprendo Jim. A Bene First 18 is around 30K new, plus expenses.

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On 8/11/2020 at 8:01 PM, Steam Flyer said:

How about the Bavaria B-One?

Think of the graphics possibilities!

FB- Doug

Why didn't I think of that?  @Editor can have a field day

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Sprinter Van.  I'm partial to the Viper as I own one.  J-70 seems to be a better candidate though.

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On 8/3/2020 at 2:18 PM, Varan said:

RS21.

This has been at the top of my short list for a while now, and if I had boat money it would be between the RS21 and the VX One. Only thing that gives me pause about the RS21 is the size of the class- I have absolutely no idea how many have been sold in the US so far. We're spoiled in Houston by the 10 boat club fleet at Lakewood Yacht Club, but even with that baked-in fleet there usually aren't more than 2-3 on the line for any given race.

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We raced the RS21 in Sarasota back in Jan. and Feb. It's a pretty wet boat that needs work on ergonomics. VXone is a different animal. 4 person boat versus 2. I believe there now is a fleet of RS21s in Houston. It would be fun to race them again, after Workd War C.

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I chartered a Houston boat for the NAs. It was a highly competitive fleet in ideal conditions.  Great for what it is.  Not as exciting as the Melges, but more so than J70.  The forward cockpit is not ergonomic in any form or fashion.  My young talent was exhausted each day.  The lifting motor is probably best feature on the boat.  Makes owning "outboard" (more like inboard) doable.  If I had to choose between VX One and RS 21, the Bennett boat wins hands down.

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Agreed. I was the front person, hence the ergo comment. Hopefully I can buy you a drink at the next NAs, covid-forbid.

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Get the U20! You can bounce between North American events. We rotate East to West each year.  I doubt you would notice it behind most vans unless on a steep grade. 

The van is a bigger problem. They have become quite expensive with everyone switching to RV's during the pandemic. 

 

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9 hours ago, JimBowie said:

I chartered a Houston boat for the NAs. It was a highly competitive fleet in ideal conditions.  Great for what it is.  Not as exciting as the Melges, but more so than J70.  The forward cockpit is not ergonomic in any form or fashion.  My young talent was exhausted each day.  The lifting motor is probably best feature on the boat.  Makes owning "outboard" (more like inboard) doable.  If I had to choose between VX One and RS 21, the Bennett boat wins hands down.

I'm really intrigued by the RS21, but have never sailed on. I really like the idea of the lifting electric drive, but the boat is not pretty.

I have sailed the VX-1 and it's an awesome boat, but it's a little big and heavy to paddle, and there's no other reasonable propulsion option. You could rock it like a Laser, I did not get a chance to try that.

FB- Doug

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Buy a VX and adopt me.   I've owned'em all and that's the one i really miss.  Refined  

 

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1 hour ago, Steam Flyer said:

I'm really intrigued by the RS21, but have never sailed on. I really like the idea of the lifting electric drive, but the boat is not pretty.

I have sailed the VX-1 and it's an awesome boat, but it's a little big and heavy to paddle, and there's no other reasonable propulsion option. You could rock it like a Laser, I did not get a chance to try that.

FB- Doug

The VX1 has a motor bracket option. A Honda 2hp works great for cruising.  Standing on the foredeck with a long SUP paddle works for short distances. 

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30 minutes ago, sailhmb said:

The VX1 has a motor bracket option. A Honda 2hp works great for cruising.  Standing on the foredeck with a long SUP paddle works for short distances. 

A long SUP paddle seems like a better option than the usual little aux paddle. I've paddled a lot of boats a lot further than I'd like to admit, not my favorite way to get around in anything bigger/heavier/draggier than a canoe.

And yeah, you -can- put an outboard on anything including a canoe. I consider it a very poor option. What's going to happen to that outboard on the back of a VX1 when it gets sporty? I'd suggest a very inexpensive lightweight motor you don't mind ditching or ruining.

I'd think that rocking it would be the best form of no-wind propulsion. We did that for miles on a Lightning, we got to where we could rock it in glass conditions faster than other crews could paddle.

FB- Doug

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23 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

A long SUP paddle seems like a better option than the usual little aux paddle. I've paddled a lot of boats a lot further than I'd like to admit, not my favorite way to get around in anything bigger/heavier/draggier than a canoe.

And yeah, you -can- put an outboard on anything including a canoe. I consider it a very poor option. What's going to happen to that outboard on the back of a VX1 when it gets sporty? I'd suggest a very inexpensive lightweight motor you don't mind ditching or ruining.

I'd think that rocking it would be the best form of no-wind propulsion. We did that for miles on a Lightning, we got to where we could rock it in glass conditions faster than other crews could paddle.

FB- Doug

"What's going to happen to that outboard on the back of a VX1 when it gets sporty?" You tilt it up and go like a bat out of hell.

7329AB20-E229-490A-B618-625D0FEB18D3.jpeg

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4 minutes ago, sailhmb said:

"What's going to happen to that outboard on the back of a VX1 when it gets sporty?" You tilt it up and go like a bat out of hell.

7329AB20-E229-490A-B618-625D0FEB18D3.jpeg

I respectfully suggest that you and I might have slightly different definitions of "sporty." I can easily envision scenarios where it will end up getting dunked, washed away, or worse.

FB- Doug

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One popped up today on FB for free. Just finish, add mast, sails, fittings, trailers, etc. etc. etc.  You know.  Typical "free" boat.

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2 hours ago, JimBowie said:

One popped up today on FB for free. Just finish, add mast, sails, fittings, trailers, etc. etc. etc.  You know.  Typical "free" boat.

I've been down that road, ended up cutting it up and taking it to the dump.

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On 8/25/2020 at 7:47 PM, JimBowie said:

One popped up today on FB for free. Just finish, add mast, sails, fittings, trailers, etc. etc. etc.  You know.  Typical "free" boat.

Was it 85% finished? That's what everybody says.

FB- Doug

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16 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

Was it 85% finished? That's what everybody says.

FB- Doug

Here is the FB link to post: https://www.facebook.com/groups/122920237740920/permalink/3549724371727139/

Here is his Building blog: https://poozletrap.blogspot.com/?fbclid=IwAR2OCm277U6ldg1ZWE7KPlDNRR4eEeCch5Q32q0iNUpQtYLOFvPrFV91GWs

 

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^^^ thanks. I will share these links with a buddy, if you do not mine. He used to build boats back in the day, and has been talking about an i550 for a very long time. Rarely uses his U20, and I think he needs a project.

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As a tow vehicle, the Mercedes Metris might work. Much roomier than a minivan, 4-cyl turbo, rated to tow 5000 lbs. Can be had in passenger and cargo editions, the latter is available in a long-wheelbase version.

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I'm a bit late to jump in, but essentially will echo a lot of what was said above.

I just took ownership of a new Mackay VX One this summer (hull # 315 thank you very much!). This boat is literally perfect. I seriously give it a 10/10. No joke.

Bennett did a great job of taking the Viper and making the changes he wanted, took some 29er and 49er ingredients, then added a few small things of his own. Of course he had the benefit of hindsight! But couple that with two excellent, quality builders and a very robust yet tune-able rig - you get the perfect dinghy style sport boat.

On the rig... The biggest criticism i hear about the VX is that the crew weight is awkward (not quite two, not quite three up). I call BS. I am sailing the boat with my best mate (@marcfarmdogg) and we are a bit light at 395 lbs (180 kg). But in my humble opinion you can tune the sails / rig and your technique to sail at virtually any weight.

Furthermore, the comfort level is quite high. Lots of space in the wide open cockpit with the 9er style high boom. Chilling or day sailing with the family is totally doable!

So to sum it all up, you won't regret your decision to go with the VX One. I'm in love with mine and can't wait for the end of Corona to go race it!

Plus at 255 kg (500 lbs), you can tow it with a 4 cylinder sedan!

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On 10/16/2020 at 6:44 AM, cantp1 said:

I'm a bit late to jump in, but essentially will echo a lot of what was said above.

I just took ownership of a new Mackay VX One this summer (hull # 315 thank you very much!). This boat is literally perfect. I seriously give it a 10/10. No joke.

Bennett did a great job of taking the Viper and making the changes he wanted, took some 29er and 49er ingredients, then added a few small things of his own. Of course he had the benefit of hindsight! But couple that with two excellent, quality builders and a very robust yet tune-able rig - you get the perfect dinghy style sport boat.

On the rig... The biggest criticism i hear about the VX is that the crew weight is awkward (not quite two, not quite three up). I call BS. I am sailing the boat with my best mate (@marcfarmdogg) and we are a bit light at 395 lbs (180 kg). But in my humble opinion you can tune the sails / rig and your technique to sail at virtually any weight.

Furthermore, the comfort level is quite high. Lots of space in the wide open cockpit with the 9er style high boom. Chilling or day sailing with the family is totally doable!

So to sum it all up, you won't regret your decision to go with the VX One. I'm in love with mine and can't wait for the end of Corona to go race it!

Plus at 255 kg (500 lbs), you can tow it with a 4 cylinder sedan!

Absolutely!.  I have been testing an E-Propulsion electric outboard on my VX 1.  For non-race activities it is sweet and quiet.  Full power is 6kts for 90 minutes.

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