Review by Richard Hazelton
Roller furling main and jib, bowsprit with CQR type anchor and electric windlass, forced air heat, autopilot. Sounds like a big boat that’s ready to go cruising. But instead of a 38-42-footer, we’re talking about a 24-footer, the Dana 24.
Granted, owner Bob Lackman has really loaded this little boat up, but as he says, “It’s set up for comfort and safety.” Bob has owned a San Juan 24, a San Juan 30 and Passport 40, and after a nine year hiatus ashore he’s ready to get back out on the water. He plans on going out three or four days a week and, even though it’s set up for easy singlehanding, hasn’t got any long range trips planned, just “maybe sail over to Port Madison and do some reading”.
The Dana 24, built by Pacific Seacraft, is making a comeback after being out of production for a few years.
“The taste went to bigger boats for a while and smaller boats just got put aside,” says designer
W. I. B. (Bill) Crealock. “The size of boats people get seems to vary with the square root of the Dow Jones average,” he laughs. So, with the change in the economy and by applying new techniques in building, the Dana 24 was reintroduced.
“It’s a wonderful entry level, genuine go anywhere cruising boat,” says Crealock.
With owner Bob and Seacraft Yacht Sales’ Tom Cooper, we headed out on Lake Union for a test sail. The winds were light but the sun shone on a crisp February day as we motored for some zephyrs.
The in-mast furling system was by Selden, who also supplies the boom and vang. The profile of the mast was surprisingly thin, not much larger than any mast you’d see on a sturdy 24-foot boat. Of course, when you do in-mast furling you loose some sail area on the leech, but we’ll get into that later.
Just as we got the sails unfurled the wind picked up and off we went on a beat. Not surprisingly, the boat felt very solid. This was the first time “out of the box” so there’s still some adjusting to do to optimize performance, but she pointed well, nothing spectacular but good for a cruising boat. Boat speed was better than expected, especially when you consider the anchor, windlass and chain probably add a couple hundred pounds in the bow. And there’s that aforementioned loss of mainsail area.
The boat glided nicely off the wind as well, much to the consternation of another, much larger cruising boat on the lake.
To handle the sailing chores there are Harken 16ST winches on the cabin top, with Harken 32ST primaries. At first I thought them rather small, but then reminded myself that this was a 24-foot boat with only 358 square feet of sail area. The winches were easily up to the task.
The 6’3″ cockpit seats are comfortable for four, with no obstructions other than the tiller. The 4:1 mainsheet is angled back to a small traveler on the transom. The one thing I didn’t like was the throttle lever mounted on the seat next to your feet. A practical location for motoring but a real sheet grabber while sailing.
Going down below I was struck with how much was done with the space available. The 6’1″ headroom gives the illusion of a lot more space.
Gone are the round ports that were a trademark of the old Danas. They have been replaced with eight rectangular bronze ports which let in more light and still maintain that nautical look.
The hand-rubbed oiled teak interior surrounds you, featuring attractive teak joinery and cabinets, with a teak and holly sole throughout the cabin area.
There is a full galley to port, with refrigerator, sink and two burner propane stove. A cover over the stove provides extra counter space, along with a flip down counter top in the seating area.
For dining, the table slide out from under the v-berth, to be used fully or partially extended.
Across from the galley is a walk-in bathroom for privacy, with head, integral shower pan, and hanging locker for wet gear. Construction: The hull and deck are hand laminated. The deck to hull connection is a double flange bedded in high tensile polyurethane adhesive compound, then fastened with stainless steel bolts. The deck is balsa cored, with plywood core in hardward mount areas.
The interior module is bonded into the hull with fiberglass mat and woven roving.
Chainplates are 1/4″ thick, 1-1/2″ wide and thru-fastened to the hull with stainless steel bolts and full backing plates. All thru-hull fittings are are solid bronzewith U.L. approved marine sea-cocks.
The new Dana 24 carries on the tradition of its predecessor. It’s a sturdy little boat which is, as it’s designer says, “a go anywhere cruising boat.” Built for comfort, not for speed, it moves unexpectly well, especially with the smaller mainsail area. Down below was delightful, not just for the comfy-cozy feel, but also for the way available space was used to put a big boat into a small space.
I have no doubt Bob will enjoy his new boat and wouldn’t be surprised to see him venturing much farther afield than Port Madison.
Our thanks to Max Heller and Tom Cooper of Seacraft Yacht Sales in Seattle, and especially to Bob Lackman for letting us share the first raising of the sails
on the Dana 24.