Thin and racy.

Title photograph : Dehler 25 (Red Rum) Essex UK.

Next in the series of posts about shallow draft/beachable boats, this time it’s the race derived boats around the quarter-ton size.

This is really just a catch-up post as we have already seen these boats in the blog before and i have even been to see one of them and am reasonably familiar with the others.  When i came up on Ebay i was initially quite enthusiastic about the little Dehler 25 in the title photograph so we made a detour during our Norfolk trip to go and see that one in Essex.  In my IOR days i had a lot of respect for Dehler’s as we were regularly spanked by a three-quarter ton DB1 and then the sporty DB2.           Willi Dehler seemed to make very well engineered boats that were quick enough by IOR standards and because i had spent so many years crewing IOR boats i thought that this might be the way to go but with a variable draft boat as opposed to a fin keeled version.

Red Rum is the actual boat that we went to see and i had a strange response to it in that my initial enthusiasm during the walkaround rapidly faded once we were on board and totally disappeared once we were inside the boat.   I think that the big problem is that the keel case and it’s supporting bulkhead take up so much space that it seems to chop a small boat into 2 even smaller spaces….the single larger space in the Liberty actually seems larger than the cabin in the Dehler even though that boat is wider.  The keel does seem to be an inordinate degree of ‘faff’ to wind up and down even though it’s well engineered….guess i have got used to sailing the Liberty with the centreboard tackle literally in hand at times.  The forepeak vee berth was quite literally un-usable for me and even diffiult for Jax.  We had a good, serious look at it but even i was struggling to maintain interest , Jax didn’t like it at all so it was an easy no-go.

Yacht market photograph ( i haven’t kept my own pictures)

For reference here is one currently on the market :


During our sailing last year we saw this boat which is quite similar….this is an Evolution 26 so just a bit larger all round than the Dehler 25 although very similar in concept. They are reckoned to be a quick little boat and the interior space could be a bit more functional but i have never got to see one inside.   Similar in concept but at a higher budget is the more cruise orientated Parker Super Seal…a Ron Holland design .  After that the Parker lifting keelers go well outside my budget.

Evolution 26

Only one i could find currently for sale :

Also for reference here is the Sailboat-data page for the boat : this is the site i refer when i include the ‘numbers’ on any boat :

This one is the most IOR-like boat of the group (in my opinion) very beamy for it’s length : 9.3 feet on a LWL of 20.5 feet.  Theoretical hull speed i make at just over 6 knots. Ballast ratio and SA/DISP ratio all indicate a quick and relatively powerful boat compared to what i have at the moment.  One surprise for a boat of this size and for Julian Everitt’s designs generally is the masthead rig.

We saw this one during our very wet ‘summer’ cruise last year but i never did get to talk to the owner about his odd cabin cover.


Inside/cabin (not my photograph) white cushions…..seriously ?


Lifting keel, not sure how this one works although there does seem to be a hydraulic pump arrangement in a stern locker.


Parker Super Seal : similar interior space problem


These 3 boats : the Dehler 25, Evolution 26 and Parker Super Seal are very similar in size and concept.  Of the 3 i think that the Evolution has marginally the best layout as the designer uses the space under the cockpit seats better for the end of the bunks and his galley solution is the one i would also chose.  Overall the Evolution just about stays on the maybe list and i might try to go-see the one on the market right now, if nothing else to just to cross it off the list.  This did seem initially like a promising way to go as i know the general type quite well but ultimately i think is a dead end.    The fundamental problem with IOR boats at this size is that the forepeak is always going to be too small for a viable vee berth for adults.  The bow on an IOR quarter tonner is just too fine and the hull depth too low to make a useable space.  Really the forepeak needs to be just stowage space for light stuff only.   Although i shy away from boats with bilge keels i would add into this group the little Sadler 25 bilge keel version as it would be very similar to the 3 boats here but without the keel box problem.

One outlier i did consider is a quite well known little boat from the time i was working just across the river from where a really naff TV series (Howards way) was being filmed….that was ‘Flying Fish’ which ultimately became a production boat the Spring 25. It was unusual in having a shallow draft Warwick-Collins keel which has a wide bottom plate : opinions differed as to whether it was safely beachable without legs.  At a similar size to the previous 3 boats it had a better layout as the sitting area was pushed forward and it had a nearly acceptable sized ‘double’ berth (cozy) at the back.  The one i saw had the least welcoming interior though being entirely based on a GRP liner…..once again like living inside a plastic fridge and i suspect prone to horrible condensation.


There are for reference also some smaller boats with lifting keels….the small but wide E Boat one design comes to mind but i couldn’t imagine trying to crawl around inside one today.   There are also a couple of French designs sort-of based on earlier mini transat designs.  Popular across the channel as day sailers there is the First 21 (Beneteau) which is like a big dinghy.  I did talk to a bloke who was cruising solo in one of these and had a look inside.  His take on the boat was ‘twitchy’ and very sensitive…..inside it had all the charm of a plastic fridge due to its internal GRP moulding.


From what i know of race derived hulls now i don’t really think that they become viable cruising boats until they get to the next class size which is half-ton (IOR rule) or around 29 feet plus and i don’t know of any IOR boats or similar at that size with lifting keels….correct me if i am wrong.   I did seriously consider a cruiser-racer half tonner and then changing the keel to a Warwick Collins type or something akin to a Scheel keel but that means finding a designer willing to take on the project and having a new keel cast….not a backyard option !

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