A thoughtful design carefully built.
By Carol Nickle and Bryan Gooderham
It is difficult indeed to find a boat under 27 or 28 feet in length that provides civilized cruising comfort for two to four people. We are happy to report that the Mirage 25 is a surprising and successful example of a “livable” boat with an overall length (excluding the bow pulpit and outboard rudder) a few inches over 25 feet. Up to four adults could cheerfully weekend aboard, and with a few minor modifications a couple could cruise comfortably for indefinite periods.
The base price of the Mirage 25 is $24,500 and even with sails and a few other necessities priced as extras, total cost can be kept well under $30,000. The 25’s interior and unusual layout are its most striking characteristics. Its design permits an exceptional amount of interior volume, with five feet, 11 inches of headroom. There are two roomy settee berths, a generous V berth and a fully enclosed, completely equipped head.
For maximum privacy the V berth can be closed off from the main saloon by ordering a forward bulkhead with door. However, we liked the model we sailed, fitted with privacy curtains that can be tied back to create a longer sweep of open space. The interior is finished throughout with an attractive white, molded fiberglass headliner, and the upholstery comes in a cream-colored, brown-Oecked tweed-practical and bright. With two generous-sized fixed windows on each side and a large forward hatch, the interior design creates a remarkably pleasant sense of space and light.
Interior accents, z fiddles and bulkheads are teak, in proportions that contrast smartly with the clean, >light- colored surfaces. The standard – cabin sole is a textured gray fiberglass, and while the optional ($380) teak veneer is attractive and traditional, the fiberglass is highly serviceable and unobtrusive. The saloon also features a removable mounted teak table, which fits properly between the two settees and has fold-down leaf that keeps it clear of the passageway.
The fully enclosed head on the port quarters is first rate-better than some we’ve seen on boats over 30 feet! Oddly, plumbing fixtures are all priced as optional extras-perhaps to allow the prospective owner a wide range of choice. One gets a quality marine toilet with holding tank or discharge and a wash basin with water pump for approximately $500, a reasonable price for the luxury of a fully functional head.
There are several useful lockers, and the only feature we didn’t like was the location of the stainless bar that serves as a hanging locker directly behind the toilet. The reality of space limitations imposes constraints, but this is an arrangement we find less than satisfactory. The L-shaped galley occupies the aft starboard comer of the main cabin. Again, due to space limitations, the foot of the starboard settee extends underneath the counter and the (optional) two burner stove.
Mirage president Dick Stefan confirmed that it would be possible to install a larger stove with oven, at the cost of shortening the starboard settee so that it could no longer be used as a full- sized berth. Such a modification would probably appeal to a couple or small family cruising extensively who don’t intend to invite overnight guests. Galley space includes a roomy icebox and plenty of stowage for food, dishes and equipment. We judged the sink to be a bit shallow for cooking offshore-an oversight easily remedied since there is room for a deeper sink.
We also noticed that, although the icebox itself is well-insulated, there is no insulation under the countertop above it. While this is a common failing, it can lead to condensation problems. Generally the stowage space on the Mirage 25 is comfortably adequate for a cruising couple, with shelves along the sides of the V berth and behind the settees in the main cabin and open lockers under each of the berths. An optional fifth pullout berth is available to turn the port settee into a double, but we consider sleeping five aboard the Mirage 25 to be overly crowded.
However, the extra berth would allow the starboard settee to be shortened to make room for a larger stove and still permit sleeping accommodation for four adults. The appeal of the appointments on the Mirage 25 has made it widely popular since its introduction in 1982; more than 130 boats have been sold, principally in Canada and the United States. Along with the other yachts in the Mirage line, the 25 was drawn by veteran designer Bob Perry of Seattle, Washington, well known for many of his larger cruising yachts.
In spite of the demand for interior volume to provide living accommodation in the 25, Perry remained committed to the principle that good cru1smg boats don’t have to be slow. Thus, his design incorporates elements to provide above average sailing performance as well as comfort. In order to achieve volume, it has a wide beam carried aft and a fairly high cabin-top.
The overall displacement is moderate, but a relatively low proportion of the weight (36 per cent) is contained in the lead keel. While this would normally tend to make the boat heel easily, its hull shape and buoyancy lead it to stabilize at a moderate angle and avoid being excessively tender. The masthead rig has a moderate sail-plan with sufficient sail area to keep the boat moving even in light air, but not so much as to knock it over on its ear.
Dick Stefan emphasizes that the Mirage 25 was created to provide cruising comfort in a boat with respectable sailing performance. Even so, in both informal and formal competition, the Mirage 25 has proved gratifyingly fast, even against other boats of considerable racing pedigree. We sailed the Mirage 25 on a heavily overcast day with a sullen slop from an earlier blow.
Motoring out the narrow entrance of the harbor we were greeted by faint breaths of southerly air-certainly less than ideal sailing conditions. Nevertheless perseverance paid off and the wind gradually freshened to about 10 knots. With our number-one genoa and full mainsail, we were well-powered for the conditions. We found the Mirage 25 comfortable to steer and suitably responsive.
The cockpit has lots of space for three or four adults, and the seats and backrests are specially contoured for greater comfort. There are two huge lockers under the cockpit seats with more than enough room for sails, fenders, lines and such. However, we were concerned that the two small strap hinges on the locker covers might be vulnerable; a piano-style hinge would be an improvement.
Sail trim was straightforward and easily managed. Since the boom does not extend far back into the cockpit, double sheeting of the mainsail to either side of the cabin-top is practical and keeps the mainsheet clear of the companionway. Both main and jib halyards lead aft to a winch on the cabin top just forward of the cockpit.
Two people could handle the sails from the cockpit without difficulty, and Peter Watkins, on whose month-old Mirage 25 we sailed, pointed out that he bought his boat with an eye to comfortable single handing. He is very satisfied with his boat’s performance in a variety of weather conditions, and claims that the only situation in which racing boats pass him is dead downwind in light air.
The deck-stepped rig, fittings and deck hardware are up to industry standards and pulpits and stanchions are all strong. The base price includes both bow and stern pulpits, but only one set of lifelines. The swim ladder is also an optional extra. The boom is set up with two internal reef lines and an internal outhaul, all with stoppers.
We were impressed with the Mirage 25’s high-quality construction. Fiberglass work and finishing details appear to be carefully executed and quality materials have been used throughout. The special “guaranteed leak-proof’ hull-deck joint is constructed so the deck overhangs a little, with an extruded alloy external toe-rail preventing the hull surface from rubbing against a dock or pilings.
The chain-plate arrangement is well-anchored and the mast support rests on a sturdy structural floor. The mast is also properly grounded through to the keel. The 25 comes with a single battery and a six-function fuse panel, adequate for this size of boat without an inboard engine. In our view, the success and popularity of the Mirage 25 are no accident. It represents one of the most attractive and innovative designs available in the under-27- foot range.
The thoughtfulness of the design is complemented by the obvious care taken in manufacturing and finishing this boat. Mirage takes evident pride in its commitment to produce a quality product and is constantly making improvements. Dick Stefan voiced a particular willingness to make custom modifications to suit the wishes of individual owners. While the Mirage 25 is not inexpensive with a base price of $24,500, it represents excellent value in an unusually well-rounded yacht.
Carol Nickle is an independent financial consultant. Bryan Gooderham is the owner of Bryan Gooderham Yacht Services and a member of the crew of the Sorc and Admiral’s Cup Amazing Grace.
Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s January 1985 issue.
Photo Captions: The starboard setee Extends underneath the L-shaped galley’s counters. The spacious interior and unusual layout are its most striking characteristics. Its design permits an exceptional amount of interior volume. Perry remains committed to the principle that cruising boats don’t have to be slow. The cockpit has lots of space for three or four adults and the seats backrests are contoured for greater comfort.
Fin Keel……….4ft 4in
Shoal Keel…….3ft 11in
Berths……………4 or 5
Water………….. 10 Gal
Critical Sail Measurements:
(Main & 100%)…….283ft2