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Yarmouth 23

2001 October 7

Pocket cruiserr

Clearly it's a major stretch to compare the Yarmouth 23 to the Ultimate 24. The Ultimate owes its origins to the world of one-design racing while the Yarmouth is right out of the 10-year-old boy's (me) daydream. With any luck at all you can prevent the world from beating that dream out of you, and while my eyes may be blackened, at 55 I can still see the appeal of this type of boat. If cruising involves style points, you have to give the Yarmouth the advantage.

Built by The Yarmouth Boat Company in Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, this little gaffer was designed by the Wyatt and Freeman office to be a modern antique and is available either complete or in kit form.

This hull has what you would call a raised sheer. Note how the sheerline aft rises to the aft end of the cabintrunk where it continues to the bow. This provides volume below and looks quite good. There is a deep well-deck forward and a narrow, straight-line trunk, which adds headroom to what is almost a flush-deck design. Note how your eye picks up the rubrail as the visual sheer of the boat. Photos of the boat show some awkward aesthetic points in this design as fiberglass construction meets traditional detailing. But from a cost perspective, these are very hard to avoid. All in all I find this a handsome vessel.

Let's do away with the performance question right off. The Ultimate 24 will literally sail circles around this boat; tight, quick little circles or big loopy ones depending on your mood. With a full keel and a draft of less than 35 inches I think we can assume that this boat will not be at its best on the wind. Actually, with a D/L of 429 and an SA/D of 15.42 (including topsail) the Yarmouth will not be at its best off the wind either. Performance, however, as measured against a boat like the Ultimate 24 should not be an issue with this boat. This boat will be at its best receiving admiring glances from the rest of us.

The layout features an enclosed head aft with a corner-mounted wash basin. On the starboard side there is a nice galley with a two-burner gas stove, a sink and some small lockers. There is even what appears to be an icebox outboard of the stove, although it must be very small. As I said earlier, on my boat I'm in favor of using a cooler, which I stow on the quarter berth. I like being able to take it home to load it and clean it. This way I also avoid having stinky water drain into my pristine, dry bilge. I don't pump my bilge, I vacuum it. The settees on the 23 appear too short, but in fact they extend through the forward bulkhead and under the V-berths so that they are full length for sleeping. The drawings show V-berths dimensioned at 5 feet, 6 inches when measured parallel to centerline. If we measure the length of the V-berth down the center of the angled berth we get about 5 feet, 9 inches, which is not long enough. This is a thoughtful interior (sans wet locker), but I would be very uncomfortable trying to sleep on a 5 foot, 9 inch berth. I'm also not especially keen on sticking my feet into a hole in the bulkhead. It would be like sleeping in stocks. Still, of the four boats this month this is the one I would find the most comfortable after a day's sail. It's cozy. Cozy is a good for cruising boats in the Pacific Northwest.

Sailing the Yarmouth would be a lot of fun. If the enjoyment you get out of sailing is in direct proportion to the number of strings you have to pull this is the boat for you. It takes a throat halyard and a peak halyard just to get that gaff up and peaked at the right angle. Now add mainsail sheet, jib sheets and flying jibsheets, and you have a lot of fine adjustments you can play with.

It's Saturday. There's not a breath of wind left. The sun has almost set. The Ultimate 24, mainsail cover on, sits buttoned up at the dock, flanked by two towering Bayliners, barbecues blazing. The Ultimate owners have long since gone ashore for dinner and relaxation at the local pub. But the Yarmouth 23 is just coming in from a day on the water. Preceded by the putt-putt-putt of its 13-horsepower Beta diesel, it motors around the point with sails furled. After a couple of turns around the anchorage it drops the hook. The skipper surveys the anchorage for a moment, takes an admiring glance at his boat, goes below and doesn't come out until the next day.