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Harbor 25

2007 June 7
June 2007

A sprightly yet handsome daysailer and weekender

Tom Schock kept apologizing, as if he was somehow responsible for the languid afternoon. The promise of a crisp fall sailing day on the Chesapeake Bay had turned into a drifter. Still, we eased along on a close reach, managing 3 knots of boat speed in fluky winds. This was the first sail for the stunning new Harbor 25 and Schock was frustrated. He was itching to put the boat through its paces, to reaffirm his expectations of just how well his latest creation would perform. The boat was doing its part, accelerating smartly with each meager puff, leaving no doubt that despite its winsome profile the Harbor 25 will be fast. However, until the wind returned there was nothing to do but sit back, enjoy the afternoon, and chat.

The Harbor 25 evolved from the Harbor 20, a handsome daysailer introduced a few years ago. The 20 merged ease of handling, solid construction, exciting performance and traditional lines. The new Harbor 25 bumps this concept up a notch and into the company of Alerion and Morris. Like the 20, the 25 is designed by Tom's son Steve Schock. W.D. Schock Corp. has always been a family-run business. The Southern California-based company traces its roots back to the 1950s, and came into its own when founder W.D. (Bill) Schock designed and began manufacturing the Lido 14.

Tom Schock joined his father in the business in the early 1960s and soon teamed up with Gary Mull. The result was the Santana 22, a legendary one-design that is now back in production. Schock also built the Mull-designed Santana 27 and 37. W.D. Schock Corp. is a rarity in the sailing industry, a family-owned business that has been in continuous operation for nearly 50 years.

The details
The design concept for the Harbor 25 was similar to the Harbor 20, to create a beautiful boat with traditional detailing, a large comfortable cockpit, an efficient hull shape and simple sail-handling systems. There's no doubt about the beauty, the Harbor 25 has fine lines and the finish is nicely executed. The hull shape includes a trace of sheer, a handsome bow entry and an honest transom. The short cabinhouse has two teardrop portlights per side. The Harbor 25 may look traditional, in a California kind of way, but don't be fooled.

Below the water it is thoroughly modern. The high-lift fin and bulb keel includes 1,900 pounds of lead, providing a ballast/displacement ratio of just about 50 percent. That should keep the Harbor 25 on its feet in a blow. The spade rudder is set well aft for good steering control, especially downwind. The hull is 100-percent hand-laid fiberglass, and by the way, there's nothing wrong with a solid fiberglass hull. The deck is balsa cored to keep it light and stiff. The keel is externally fastened to a stub. This provides for a decent-size bilge sump that keeps any water that does trickle aboard where it belongs, in the bilge.

On deck
The cockpit is 8 feet long and well laid out. Four adults can sit comfortably, and there's good foot support when the boat heels. There's a good-sized lazarette for stowing mooring lines and fenders. All sail controls are led aft to the end of the cabinhouse where they are easily accessed and the tails can be tucked into storage slots. Both father and son Schock were intent on making the Harbor 25 "delightfully easy" to sail, and they succeeded. The small, roller-furling headsail is self-tending and set up on a self-vanging Hoyt jib boom. The mainsheet traveler is aft, out of the cockpit, freeing up space. Tacking simply requires turning the lovely varnished mahogany tiller.

Like other elegant daysailers, the Harbor 25 is sans lifelines. It looks great but takes getting used to as you move about the narrow side decks. Of course, you shouldn't have to leave the cockpit very often, and there are stout handrails on the cabinhouse. The fractionally rigged spar includes upper and lower shrouds led to a single-pod chainplate. Schock opted for a backstay. I know that sounds natural, but some new small daysailers have full roach mains without backstays. Even daysailing, the wind can pipe up in a hurry and you may need to run or deep reach home. Also, I don't think it will take much to get the Harbor 25 surfing, and that's a good time to have a little backstay support. The adjustable backstay lead is cleverly led under the deck to the cockpit. Although designed primarily for daysailing, it has an anchor roller on the stemhead fitting for weekend cruising.

Down below
The interior is spare, however everything is in place for a fun weekend afloat. The plan maximizes sleeping accommodations. There are four good-sized bunks, two in the V-berth forward and two quarter berths aft. The galley cabinet with a sink is to port in the saloon with a large, well-insulated icebox to starboard. The settees are fairly comfortable. The interior is a place to bed down for the night after a lovely day of sailing and a delightful meal ashore. And let's face it, that's the way many of us use our "cruising" boats anyway. I would choose the optional marine head over the standard portable toilet.

The propulsion system is very interesting. Instead of squeezing a small diesel into the boat, Schock has opted for a two-cylinder four-stroke Yamaha gas engine married to a small saildrive 330. This is a very clever arrangement. The Yamaha is very clean burning, fuel efficient and light. A two-blade folding prop is standard.

Under sail
Back on the bay, fits of wind turned up as the clouds moved in. It was still light, but the Harbor 25 came alive. It is an easily driven boat and incredibly responsive. A small turn of the tiller resulted in an instant course change. Like most finely honed boats it was easy to over steer. Falling off to a beam reach we touched 4 then 5 knots, impressive performance considering the condition. The bay was lumpy, not from wind but from powerboats steaming toward the city docks for the upcoming boat show. The Harbor 25 sluiced through the chop without pounding. Sadly the wind never sustained and eventually we fired up the quiet Yamaha.

The Harbor 25 is, in many ways, just what I want in a sailboat. It is designed for daysailing, with the option of weekending. It blends great performance with very easy handling, and it's handsome, a boat to be proud of. In a perfect world I would have an offshore sailboat that I moved about the world, leaving it in exotic ports when I had to return home to work. Once home, I'd have a Harbor 25 moored out back, to hop aboard and sail, if only for an hour or two, after a long day at the computer. That sounds like a nice plan doesn't it?