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Boat Reviews By Owners

1972 -- 18' 2" MARSHALL

Model: Sanderling

Cockpit: A big boat for its length, the Sanderling is 8'6" wide. The cockpit will seat 4-6 comfortably. Visibility from the helm (typically a tiller, but occasionally a wheel) is good. There's more than enough room to fish, picnic or just lounge around.

Cabin: Big enough for two for a weekend, but it can get cramped if you are not organized. There is ample room for storage under the cockpit seats, however much of it is exposed as they are usually open benches. Best to pack light.

Construction: Construction is fiberglass, with plywood bulkheads, transom and cockpit floor (fiberglass coated). As with any plywood/fiberglass laminate construction, rot is not uncommon. Common trouble spots include the lower half of the bulkhead and the cockpit floor. Repairing the rot is not difficult and many an owner has done it on their own. Otherwise, the Sanderling is very well built and will last for decades even when neglected. It should be noted that these are not production-line boats; each one is custom made by Marshall to fill a specific order (and has been for 40 years).

Handling: Weather helm is the traditional complaint about catboats, but those who complain about it simply don't know how to sail a cat. Reefing or adjusting the centerboard can almost always cure a heavy weather helm. The single sail makes it easy to learn. With just two halyards to get the sail up and one self-tending sheet to handle, there is little to get confused about. In spite of the large cockpit, these are very seaworthy boats. They are not meant for the open ocean, but today's fiberglass catboats are descended from yesterday's fishing cats, which often had to endure rough conditions and difficult passages. Catboats are also exceptionally fast for their size. Sanderlings in particular are known as fast sailers and will leave other, larger boat types behind. In fact, catboats have been banned from some sailboat races because of their speed (although we are often told that it is because they are not self-righting). On that subject, Sanderlings are like most catboats in that they have a centerboard instead of a keel. They are not self-righting, and with the big cockpit they will take on water fast. However, because of their wide beam, these boats are hard to tip. In fact, they sail better and faster "on their feet"; that is, upright (less than 10 degrees of heel) as opposed to leaning over as most keelboats do.

Engine Room: Most Sanderlings are outboard powered and will have anything from 4-10 hp. 5-6hp is about right, and will push the cat along at hull speed with plenty of power to spare. Make sure you have a power prop (lower pitch). Some Sanderlings have an inboard, although this option will make for a slower boat.

General Comments: Catboats - Sanderlings in particular - are great family boats. Their shallow draft (19") allows you to drive them right up onto a beach or sneak onto shallow, quiet spots (gunkholing) where other, deeper-draft craft cannot hope to go. The shallow draft and 8'6" beam allows for trailering, and many Sanderlings are equiped with a hinged mast for just that purpose. Good for daysailing and gunkholing, capable of short overnights with a pedigree to handle rough passages near shore, easily trailered, and supported by the manufactuer and a strong owners' association, the Sanderling may just be the best of all possible worlds.

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Date Submitted: 2005-09-15

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