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Marshall 22

2011 January 3

Style, substance and smooth sailing come in a compact package perfect for sprucing up.

There are times when you just want to get out on the water and sail. I am well-past my dinghy days, but I don't need a big keelboat. To paraphrase Sterling Hayden, I only need space for a few pounds of food and six feet to lie down. OK, I want a little more boat than that, but you get the idea. My tastes have turned a bit more traditional in last few years, but my interest in lots of boat maintenance is still pretty low. I want a classy, traditional boat that's also low maintenance. I am willing to give up a bit of speed for a boat that will stir my heart as I gaze at it on its mooring.

I spent a few weekends poking around on a Stone Horse 23, and considered a little Allegra 24, but ultimately settled on a Marshall 22 catboat. The Marshall 22 is a classic catboat-gaff-rigged, very beamy for stability with a two-foot draft centerboard for gunkholing, and just enough cabin space to satisfy my needs, all in a very classy, well-built package. It is also available in a sloop rig that provides a bit more sail area. The Cape Cod catboat was a popular design in the 1800s. It proved robust enough for the trying waters of Cape Cod, and was fast enough and carried enough cargo to be useful. Breck Marshall, the founder of Marshall Marine, set off to study and recreate the classic catboat in 1962. Marshall introduced an 18-foot catboat, the Sanderling, in 1962 and added the 22 to the line in 1965. Both boats are still produced today by Marshall Marine in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and the company is now run by Breck's son Geoff.

Our boat is a lightly used, well maintained 1996 model. We found the boat in Connecticut, and ultimately paid $34,500 for it. The boat appears to have spent a good amount of its life just hanging on a mooring.

We decided to call in a diesel mechanic to take a look at the cute little Yanmar diesel just to make sure everything was in order. He checked everything over, changed the oil/filter, primary and secondary fuel filters, as well as the impeller. He even used his oil change pump to clean out the sump of the diesel tank, since the boat sat for long periods of time and there was a little water and growth in there. Everything checked out fine and our bill was just $275.

After getting lazy with the diesel mechanic we decided to put some sweat equity into the bottom paint. The ablative paint was in pretty good shape but a little thin in places, so we decided to sand and put on two coats of Interlux Micron Extra with Biolux. We were able to squeeze two coats out of a gallon of Micron, so the cost was just $220 plus rollers and sandpaper.

Our boat needed a little clean and shine, but after that bottom paint job we were a bit tired so we again called in the professionals. We found a local boat detailer to do a full wash, a buff and wax on hull, and a wax job on the smooth parts of the deck and cockpit. This set us back $425, but the boat looks great.

With our auxiliary propulsion in order, we moved onto the primary system, the sails. Our boat had been lightly sailed but the years had not been kind to our sails. We enlisted the help of Peter Grimm of Super Sailmakers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We discussed the project with Peter at length and learned that he had spent many happy days sailing a Marshall 22 with a family friend. He had lots of good ideas for us.
Peter tells us the gaff mainsail on the Marshall is short and wide, which puts heavy diagonal loads on each corner. Adequate patching helps to address this but it is important to choose a good low-aspect fabric to maintain sail shape. He suggested that we choose 6.3-ounce Dacron cloth offered by Challenge Sailcloth. Early gaff mainsails had a hollowed-out leech with no battens, but Peter added three short battens to support a straight leech, adding a small amount of sail area, but, more importantly, extending the life of the leech and maintain sail shape. As designed, our new mainsail is 338 square feet. The sail is designed with a leech profile that has minimal twist since the boat doesn't have a boom vang and the sail will twist open by itself. The body of the sail is pretty full, with a draft-forward profile for additional power, and one reef so the stable boat balances better in heavier wind conditions. The small jib is a tiny 100 square feet, but it helps balance the boat and increases the pointing and reaching ability of the gaff rig.

The new main and jib in white Dacron would run about $3,000. Peter suggested going with a more traditional look by using Egyptian Cream sailcloth. This cost us an extra 25%, but the boat really looks good. Our total bill with Peter was $3,750.

Peter had some additional rigging tips for us. He can remember the work involved with hoisting the main and gaff. The mainsail on the Marshall travels on separate mast hoops that slide up when hoisting. To make hoisting a little easier, Peter found it useful to paint a Teflon coating on the mast and interior of the rings, and replace the halyard and gaff blocks with low-friction ball bearing blocks.

Our running rigging was serviceable but not very pretty. Keeping to its salty heritage, Marshall equips its boats with Dacron three-strand running rigging, but we opted to modernize a bit. We were not willing to go all the way to double-braided Dacron, but decided to go with New England Ropes, Regatta Braid. Regatta Braid is a Dacron single braid. It looks pretty salty yet is a bit less elastic than three strand, and handles a little more smoothly. All the rigging, including the splices, cost us $650 for a peak halyard, throat halyard, mainsheet, topping lift, jib halyard, jib sheets and lazy jacks. Our rigger threw in a set of nicely spliced three-strand docklines.

Strangely, our boat did not come with any on-deck canvas and we really wanted a dodger for those cool passages. I got in contact with Marshall Marine and they were happy to help me out. I picked the options right off the new boat option sheet. I got a factory-fresh dodger, wheel cover and cockpit cushions. I enlisted the help of some boatyard buddies to help me install the dodger. The total cost for these items was $3,500, plus some beer for the install crew.

We don't really need too many electronics for our purposes but decided to get a new handheld GPS and a VHF radio. The Icom M72 was our choice. This is a six-watt submersible handheld with a really good lithium-ion battery. This radio should hold up well under all conditions and the battery will last for several days at a time. We chose a tried and true GPS model from Garmin, the GPS72. This unit is a no-nonsense GPS with a four-color gray display and WAAS technology. It's nothing fancy but we will always know where we are going.

I did choose to splurge a little on a stereo. These days the only thing I use a stereo for is to listen to my iPod; a little music or a podcast accompanies a nice sail very well. I didn't want to bother with an automotive style unit and a boom box or iPod dock was too cluttered for my taste. I found the perfect solution in the Left Coast Stereo. This ingenious little black box attaches to your iPod, a pair of speakers and a 12-volt source. You control the volume and song selection right from your iPod and the rest of the gear is hidden away-the only things visible are the speakers and the little panel where you hook up your iPod. I combined this stereo with a pair of Polyplanar MA4055 waterproof speakers. The whole combination cost me $240. I know I could have spent less on a traditional system that gave the same or more functionality, but I really like the way this unit is packaged up. As a bonus I can use the USB charging port for my phone.
My pretty little catboat is all set to carry me off to whatever destination I want, and I guarantee I will always give her a loving wink as I row away from the mooring.

Project list and
cost summary

1996 Marshall 22:  $34,500

Retrofit budget:
1.    Diesel servicing    $275
2. Bottom paint    $220
3. Wax    $425
4.    Dacron main and jib    $3,750
5.    Running rigging    $650
6.    New canvas    $3,500
7.    GPS    $150
8.    Stereo    $240

Total retrofit work    $9,210
26.70% of purchase price
Grand total    $43,710