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Longshore 16 and 19

1998 November 6


I want to dedicate this review to the memory of my dear old dad, Robert E. Perry. Dad never owned a boat but he loved them. All my familyvacations involved staying at the ocean and using fishing skiffs. My dad treated boats with reverence and passed that feeling on to me.

He taught me how to row, feathering the oars, and he taught me how to fish, respecting the fish. In 1957 he bought passage for the family on a very tired old Liberty ship, SS Lakemba, and we spent a month picking up raw sugar cargoes in the South Pacific and traveling from Sydney, Australia, to Seattle. In his last days, he lived in a fantasy world where he was on a luxury yacht I chartered to take us around the world. "This must be a nice vacation for you," he told me. I couldn't interfere with that fantasy. I should be so lucky.

Dad would have looked at the Longshore 19 and said, "Now that's a real boat. That's all you need." Both the 16-footer and the 19-footer are very much real boats and truly all you need to start the adventure of cruising. Both of these boats have enough shoal draft that you could even get by cruising without a tender. Just hop over the side into knee-deep water and wade ashore carrying your shoes. No, you can't take the breadmaker.

The general hull form is a synthesis of types found among the Shetland Island boats of Scotland. They are double-enders with outboard rudders, copious sheer spring and modest beam. They don't have any kind of centerboard or daggerboard, and that means they will rely upon their long, straight, shoal keels for lift to weather. I just can't see how you would get any reasonable weatherly performance out of these boats. I'm not sure I have the patience or the imagination to enjoy beating in one of these little sloops.

Both sloops are rigged as standing lugs. I think they are standing lugs. There's standing lugs and dipping lugs, but the standing lug is the easier rig to use. It doesn't really matter if this is a weatherly rig; all it has to do is match the weather performance potential of the hull. There's no backstay and the jib is set flying on furling gear.

I suppose what I want out of a small boat like this is strength, the ability to get warm and dry and the ability to sail the boat seriously and effectively. If you lived on a body of water that gave you cruising destinations of 20 miles or less on a beam reach in both directions, I think these boats would work. Even when its blowing 25 you could reach across the bay in fine style. But when I started my spring cruise, the temperature climbed to 45, the wind blew 20 on the nose for most of the day and it rained that Pacific Northwest, ever-present rain. You can always motor. But that's not the point. We're sailors. If I wanted to motor, it wouldn't be at 5.5 knots.

These boats certainly capture the desire to take off. Much as I try to convince myself that I couldn't cruise Puget Sound in one of them, the more I feel challenged. The 16 and 19 are beautifully built little hookers. Can't you just imagine sliding into Port Ludlow and dropping the hook right next to a Swan 65? You could disappear below for an hour. Drive them crazy trying to figure out what you can do below for an hour on such a small ship. You tell me who's got the bragging rights.