As a trailer boat sailor – one of life’s guilty pleasures is casting off from the dock early in the season, against the backdrop of the busy boatyard – heading out to sail while those left on land await the arrival of the crane – “a couple of weeks from now”.
So while the boat yard in Port Dover Ontario bustled with the pre-season rituals of washing, waxing, sanding, painting and resealing – we set off to test sail the Precision 23, a friendly uncomplicated and seaworthy performer.
The Precision 23 is easy to rig – so easy in fact – that you can raise the mast while on the trailer, and be gliding down the ramp shortly thereafter. The trailer that is custom designed for this boat isn’t just a great partner on the road – it’s also designed in a clever way – to act as your partner in raising the mast.
Our test boat was equipped with a generously powerful 8hp Tohatsu 4 stroke outboard motor. You could get by with a lesser motor – but this motor came with the package – and as part of the overall value of this package – you just can’t go wrong.
Once underway – we quickly had to set aside any doubts as to the sailing performance of the P23. Sailing on Lake Erie – in very light winds of 8 knots or so – we glided along silently – at a more-than respectable 4.6 knot average.
Easily single handed or double handed, this boat makes life easy with the inclusion of a roller-furling system that allows you to literally just “unwind” the headsail, or wind it back up. You can do this all from the comfort of the large cockpit – typically a “big-boat” convenience.
Featuring top-of the line hardware by Harken and Spinlock (winches, cleats, blocks etc.) – the Precision 23 offers quality that again is typically reserved for larger boats. It’s only a very experienced design team that can make sailing this boat look so easy – by delivering such an uncomplicated rigging system.
Back in the huge uncluttered cockpit, we marvel at how there is no mainsheet traveler system to bang your shins on! The mainsheet simply attaches to the backstay system, and it’s easily accessed from the helm. It only took a little bit of getting used to this unconventional design, not while sailing, but while motoring. For optimal motoring, you’ll want to lower the boom, and set it off to one side. While at anchor, or in a boat slip, you’ll also want to tie off the tiller into a centered position, so as to avoid any chafing of the tiller itself.
While at the helm, we also notice and admire the incredibly wide companionway – the opening that leads to the cabin down below. Having sailed many boats over the years, it’s very few that offer that sort of width at the entrance to the cabin.
The cabin below is well laid-out and will accommodate a family of four for weekend cruising in comfort. The configuration of berths has two long berths, one on either side of the boat and one very comfortable V-Berth in the bow – complete with a forward opening hatch. With some very well planned design work, the V-berth area is not “cut off” from the rest of the boat – giving the whole cabin an airy and spacious feeling.
The kitchen/galley area is smartly designed and offers all that you’ll need for a fun weekend away. The cooler doubles as the step down into the cabin. There is cabinetry, a stove, a sink and storage – all within easy access from the cockpit. Closer to the V-berth – there is a space for a portable head – not installed on our test boat.
Back above board, the decks themselves are extremely attractive, done in grey on our boat, and feature some pleasing design touches like an angled/molded edge of the deck that replaces the need for a conventional toe-rail. Aside from letting you be sure-footed on deck, the absence of a rail also means no leaks in the future!
The sail plan is perfect for the boat, and delivers power even in light winds. The headsail is a fractional design, in that it doesn’t quite go all the way up to the top of the mast head, making sail handling a breeze. An optional spinnaker is available for those days when you want to sail with the wind at your back.
The stability inherent in this model – comes from a very efficient shoal keel/centerboard design that provides you the balance you need. It also gives you the ability to nestle into a favorite cove or beach area, and get much closer to the action than you could otherwise with any fixed keel type of sailboat. Unlike some other boats in this category, there is no intrusion by the centerboard into the cabin. You simply don’t know it’s even there. The fiberglass centerboard section of the keel/centerboard – is raised and lowered by a single Dacron line that’s very easy to use.
Another treat for anyone who has been down below on a warm day, or while at anchor – is that there are three opening window/portholes on either side of the cabin, that afford lots of light and cross ventilation. And yes – they also feature screens. There is a stow-able table for use in the cabin – for lunches, dinners or even playing games. The table is easily removed and packed away when you’re done with it.
Our test sail revealed that the Precision 23 handles very easily; performs very well when sailing upwind and when reaching. For extended downwind sailing we’d spend the extra few dollars to order the optional spinnaker – and then lift that centerboard up a bit and take off!
This is a great boat to sail – for trailer boat fans and sailing purists alike. It’s a clean, refreshing and satisfying boat for today. In an era of fluctuating water levels, and for the “explorer” it’s also nice to know that you have a lifting centerboard and rudder as well.
The Precision 23 is a well thought out, meticulously detailed and carefully constructed trailerable cruiser whose interior and lively performance will give you and your family one of the best sailing boats available in this size range.
One of the great joys of trailer boat sailing is the ability to extend your season of sailing by several weeks – since you are not tied to any schedule imposed by anyone other than yourself. It’s easy to keep a boat like this at home, allowing you to get ready and get sailing sooner, and also later into the season. More time on the water – is “Precisely” what you’ll get with the Precision 23.
By Tom Kjaersgaard and Kathleen Mackay