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Halman21250Nov2By Lloyd Hircock

One of the first boats I considered buying during my search for the perfect ""starter"" many sailing years ago was the traditional ""North Sea Double-Ender,"" a design similar to the Halman 21. To me, it possessed the quintessential qualities necessary for the perfect offshore vessel - transom-hung steering, long keel, curving sheer, an almost plumb entry, and powerfully built.

A stout and hardy vessel to be sure; the right vessel to carry me unscathed to the destination of my choice. But I didn't buy her and unfortunately I never got to sail the yacht. On a lazy August day, 15 years later, I renewed an old acquaintance and finally test-sailed such a design.

The Halman 21 is built by the Halman Manufacturing Co. in Beamsville, Ontario. Purchased by Richard Navin in 1978, the company also manufactures the famous 24-foot Shark, the Halman Niagara 26, the Bluejacket 23 Motorsailor, the Henley 20, and the Horizon 31 cutter in its 8,000-square-foot facility. The plant consists of a complete cabinetry and paint shop and enough floor space to lay-up three designs simultaneously. "We're small," says Navin, the hands-on owner, "but I believe that's good for our customers. We can service everything we manufacture - and if there are warranty problems I personally get involved for the duration."

While not exactly a household brand name, the Halman 21 has attracted a following. Either you like the traditional design or you don't &&emdash; there's no middle ground. New owner Murray Belisario purchased a Halman 21 in the spring of 1989. "It was our first sailboat," the enthusiastic owner told me. "My wife and I saw the yacht sitting outside Richard's place and bought it - that simple. I had seen the Nordica (a similar design) before, and liked the lines." And reports from owners indicate one of the benefits of owning a traditional vessel is the buoyancy of the resale market.

The boat was introduced in 1977 as the Halman 20, and its reincarnation as the Halman 21 four years ago provides an interesting perspective on the boating market. A U.S. dealer "who thought we should dress the boat up", according to Navin, placed a custom order for a 20 with a bowsprit and increased sail area to enhance sailing ability in light air. He also wanted a higher standard of finish, which included bronze port lights and halyards led back to the cockpit. Navin was tentative ("I was really reluctant to put the bowsprit on, because it might affect sailing performance") but he agreed, and the result was a revelation. The more upmarket version, dubbed the Halman 21, was an immediate success. At a time when builders were trying to woo customers by building cheaper boats, Halman scored by building a more expensive one. "The moment we sold a 21," he says, "we never sold another 20."

The one-piece hull is manufactured using 4 1/2 oz. mat bonded with polyester resin to 24 oz. woven roving and 1 1/2 oz. mat throughout. Extra 24 oz. roving is employed below the waterline. The bilge and keel area is further strengthened using unidirectional glass, stem to stern. The deck is reinforced with a core of endgrain balsa sheets.

The roomy cockpit is deep with high moulded coamings surrounding the perimeter. Wide, flat side decks make the journey to the mast and bow area easy and safe. All deck hardware is first class. Here the builder has gone all out, installing bronze ports, winches and cleats throughout. Controls lead aft and are rigged outside cockpit seating space - away from the traffic flow.

The cabin interior is appointed with teak solids and veneers. A white vinyl headliner and moulded pan serve to accentuate the darker wood tones of the strip panelling fastened to the hull walls. Head room is a modest five feet, enabling comfortable sitting. Ventilation is adequate. With six opening ports and the cabin hatch cracked a decent cross draft is achieved. One of my pet peeves is lack of sufficient ventilation. Thankfully the Halman 21 is well vented and should prove to be airy, even during those heavy sultry days.

Sleeping accommodations are understandably limited for a boat this size, but the design will serve well as a weekender. In keeping to scale a small galley has been fitted to port.

Standard equipment includes an ice box, single sink and plenty of storage space for utensils above and below the galley area. A fitted recirculating head is stationed in the V-berth. The deck-stepped single-spreader masthead rig employs twin lowers fore and aft, and a 7/8 upper.

The mainsail is large for a masthead design, but with a 2,500-pound payload perched on a 21 foot frame with a long keel, the vessel requires all the power the 220 square feet of sail can generate to maintain speed.

Unfortunately, as with the Precision 23, I picked a calm day for the test-sail. The wind was a no-show. Although the air filled in every few minutes it was a teaser with never any great velocity above 5 knots. Nevertheless we sailed smartly onto a close reach with good burst of speed.

Owner reports indicate the yacht sails well in a freshening breeze and paces well to weather. Certainly, when sailing off the wind the yacht should track exceedingly well. I found the yacht well-founded and a comfortable sailing vessel.

To contend with dead calms or uncooperative zephyrs, buyers have the option of ordering a 9-hp Yanmar IGM diesel. Historically Navin says only about two percent of customers have opted for the diesel, although in recent years that proportion has risen to about ten percent as the boat has attracted a more affluent buyer looking for a mini-motorsailer. The boat otherwise only requires a 6-hp outboard for auxiliary power, but Navin recommends a 7.5 or 8-hp model to get electric start.

The design makes trailering a snap. The long keel, modest draft and moderate beam positions it well on most single or double axle trailers with a 3,000-pound load capacity. While the Halman 21 is not everyone's cup of tea, the relative security of design and proven sailing ability, especially in a heavy seaway, will appeal to first-time sailors with small children who enjoy wandering down the asphalt highways in search of more challenging sailing venues. It will also appeal to veteran sailors desiring a strong, compact sailboat up to the challenge of stiff breezes. The price is also right, with a fairly completely equipped boat (including sails, but less engine and trailer) listed at $20,900. I probably should have bought one.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting's March/April 1991 issue.

Specifications

LOA            21 ft, 2 in.

LOD             19 ft 10 in.

Beam             7 ft 9 in.

Draft             2 ft 10 in.

Displacement             2,500 lbs.

Ballast             1,000 lbs.

Sail Area            220 sq ft.