Sanibel 18 & Com-Pac 19/2
Recently, we had the chance to go down to Florida and spend some time aboard two appealing shoal-draft sloops: the Sanibel 18 and the Com-Pac 19/2. Both these "compact cruisers" vary a fair amount in size and weight, but each has its own design concept and intended market. Trailer-sailors will appreciate the centerboard-equipped Sanibel's shallow-draft, simple three-stay rig, and light weight, while the dedicated cruiser looking for shoal-keeled stability, big-boat solidity, and a yacht like interior should find the shippy Corn-Pac worth considering.
We first visited Captiva Yachts, builders of the Sanibel 18. Named for one of the islands on Florida's Gulf Coast, the Sanibel was designed by Charles Ludwig to be a gunkholer's delight. The boat draws only 12 inches with the centerboard and the rudder pulled up. You can see bottom before you hit it in a boat like this.
A Sanibel was in the final stages of completion when we showed up. The hull liner was just being fitted, allowing us a firsthand view of its special design. Ludwig and Jerre Austin, the boat's original creators, wanted to combine the handiness of the centerboarder with the unobstructed cabin of a keel boat. Their solution was to mount the centerboard off center about 6 inches to port and hide the trunk inside the port quarterberth, which was widened to 3 feet to accommodate this arrangement. We used it as a snug double. The starboard quarterberth, 2 feet across, is adequate for all but a very broad-shouldered adult.
Between the bunks is an unobstructed footwell. Four hundred pounds of concrete ballast fills the space between the floorboards and the bottom of the hull. Walter Scott, design consultant for Captiva, looked at the hull and beamed. "Ludwig did everything right on this; broad powerful quarters, nice entry at the bow.... She's a good sailing boat."
That's what we were anxious to find out. For just the two of us, it was easiest to load our gear onto the broad vee-berth and move it into the boat's generous storage lockers later. Climbing in and out of the boat, we got used to the initial 6- to 9-inch dip the hull made as it took our weight on the rail. After the first few easy degrees though, the boat would stiffen up. Under sail, the boat felt the same way: easy for a few degrees, then stiff after that. We sailed out of the slip on Tampa Bay and headed for the Gulf of Mexico.
Compact Concepts. The 2,000-pound, shoal-keel Com-Pac 19/2 offers reassuring stability (top), while the 1,300 pound Sanibel 18 (bottom) has a retractable centerboard that makes trailering easy Both boats offer a lot of boating use and pleasure for the dollar.