Precision 18

LOA –17′ 5″

Our present sailboat at dockside

LWL — 15′ 5″
BEAM — 7′ 5″
DRAFT, Board up — 1′ 6″
DRAFT, Board down — 4′ 3″
Displacement — 1100 lbs.
Ballast — 350 lbs
Sail area — 145 sq. ft.
Mast height above DWL — 27′
Designer: – Jim Taylor

Our current perfect sailboat, which we purchased brand spanking new last April, is the Precision 18 from Precision Boat Works. This craft was designed by Jim Taylor who has many awards to his credit. He has designed Precision’s entire fleet. We purchased our P-18 from Hooper’s Yachts in Afton, MN. They are very knowledgeable about the business and took care of us very well. They even took us out for a sailing lesson a few weeks later. As they also sell used boats, they handled selling our old Capri for us too. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it went.

We had decided that our next boat should provide a more relaxing sail than the Capri gave us. It would be nice to feel like you could take a sip of water once in awhile, without feeling like you might take an impromptu swim, if you know what I mean. Our other criteria was that it should be big enough to have a couple of other people on board comfortably and that we could do an occasional overnight in it, or perhaps even a whole weekend. We figured perhaps one more summer in the Capri and then get some thing else. The search began.

With our experience with the Catalina Capri 14.2, we first started considering the Catalina 250 as something we might like. The pictures showed an attractive boat, and used ones could be had in the neighborhood of $20,000. I started my research reading every thing I could find in print and on the web. Catalina offers this model with two keel designs, one a wing keel, the other a water ballasted centerboard. I didn’t like the idea of launching the wing keel model, with a draft of 3′ 5”, at standard boat launches in my area as they tend to be rather shallow, plus all the lakes are about 3 feet below normal, with no end in sight. The disadvantage to our mind of the water ballasted model on the other hand, is that one, you loose 10 inches of head room in the cabin to make room for the water tanks, and two, everything I read stated that water as ballast is not very efficient as the water is contained in the hull rather than below the hull in the keel. Then if you add in that there is a real good chance of transporting exotics from one water source to another in the ballast tanks, then our search would continue.

We also considered the O’Day 25. These are a little bit older, but then a little bit more affordable too. We saw some listed between $6000 and $12,000, so a fairly large difference from the Catalina. These have a different keel arrangement than the Catalina’s, a shoal draft with a centerboard which tucks inside the keel. The draft is a more launch friendly 2′ 3”. We thought the interiors were more to our liking as well. More wood, nicer layout, etc.. My job takes me past Lake Pepin on the Mississippi river occasionally and I sometimes stop to eat my lunch at the park by the marina. On one lunching I noticed an O’Day 25 tied up at one on the slips. To me it looked like the designer was going for more headroom in the cabin at the expense of an eye pleasing hull form. Searching for perfection is such a pain in the “you know what” sometimes.

Precision Boat Works’ line had also caught my eye as a contender for the perfect sailboat. Their shoal draft keels, with lead as the ballast material and self-contained centerboards seemed to fit our needs best. They have a spring to the shear thats attractive to our eyes. Overall appearance that we both agree is nice to look at. A sharp entry at the bow. End boom sheeting. Loads of ventilation. A roomy cockpit. All lines led aft for ease and safety. Things are looking like we have found a winner. Now, to see one in person.

In the spring, after a long and miserable winter, I know, redundant statement, we went to the annual boat show in Minneapolis. We ogled the beautiful Island Packets, we drooled over the Tartans and we went home desperately wishing the snow would melt. Hooper’s had a booth at the boat show and we were hoping they would have some Precision’s there as well, but they did not. A couple of weeks later however, I heard a short radio spot about another boat show in St. Paul this time. I called Hooper’s and they confirmed that that yes they would have some of their Precision’s at the show. I casually mentioned to my wife that this was so and would she like to go take a look. Hurray! She did!

First we looked at the P-16, their smallest and most affordable cruising sailboat. We climbed aboard and went straight for the cabin. Although we both fit in it, that was about it. Could not imagine that this would be anything more than a place to store the sails and take a quick pee. Off to the next boat, the P-18. In the cabin we went, and while not exactly palatial, there was substantially more room than the P-16. With this we could spend a night or two. Have room to sit up straight and stretch out for a nap. Room for four, according to the literature, although we have yet to find any of our friends who are willing to give that a shot. A nice large cooler acts as a step into the cabin and holds plenty of food and beverages. We also inquired about the P-185, which is an 18′ dingy sport boat. We were told straight away that if relaxation was important to us then we would not find any tranquility there. Also we intended to keep our boat on the trailer and rig it each time we went sailing. The P-18 was said to be about as big as you would want for this. Bigger and you start thinking about slips very quickly. So after sitting in it for a few more minutes, my dear, sweet, loving wife asks “should we buy it!” Well my mother didn’t raise no dummy! “Of course we should buy it,” I say! So we are now the proud new owners of a Precision Boat Works P-18, perfect boat number two. We completed our first summer of sailing this past October, with a final trip to Lake Mille Lacs with friends. We have learned a lot from her so far and we are sure to learn more next summer.