For all practical purposes, the Merit is a raised-deck boat like the
Tanzer, with the benefits associated with this configuration. Indeed, it's
possible to sit comfortably below in spite of the boat's limited headroom.
There is considerable well-proportioned open space in the 22's cabin, but
(customizers, take note) it's as plain as can be. Asked to evaluate the
joiner work, one sailor said simply, "There isn't any." There is one
chunk of wood in the Merit -- a treacherous little table of questionable
design. Resting one's hand on its inner corner causes the table top to
flip from its mount like a giant tiddlywink.
On deck, the Merit proved the easiest of all the boats to work. Everything
is flat -- nothing is in the way. Perforated toe rails line the sheer of
the boat, serving as a useful anchor for all sheet blocks and fenders.
However, we'd like to see goodsized chocks bow and stern. The sharp rail
ends on the boat we sailed will surely slice through anchor line,
otherwise. Bigger mooring cleats and an additional cleat at the bow would
also be appreciated.
What this boat lacks in finish, she makes up in personality.
Despite a rig that was as out of tune as a damp guitar -- she had been
sitting in the yard of a powerboat dealer for a year -- the 22 demonstrated
an eagerness to sail. She's easily the quickest boat of the trials. Like a
thoroughbred racer, she comes through the eye of the wind in a twinkling;
when the skipper says "helm's a lee," you had better be ready. Though
perhaps not a good boat for the timid beginner, she'll reward the skipper
who dotes on twitchy helms.
As befits her high performance, the Merit is a light boat. Hull and deck
are cored with ½-inch balsa, sandwiched on either side with layers of
hand-laid 1.5-ounce mat and Knytex knitted roving. We can't attest to the
longevity of her construction, but she did survive a "rapid lowering" of
her 600-pound retractable lead keel (OK, we dropped it). She heaved and
panted as if alive, but there was no damage.
Hidden Merit. Speed is Merit's priority, so cabin furnishings
are minimal. |
The armrest at center houses the lifting keel, shown here
without its lifting mechanism.
Which Boat for You?
Under sail, these boats are more alike than different. Still, some
characteristics stand out — the quick and spirited performance of the
Merit, the good manners and well-designed accommodations of the Starwind,
the big interior and latent performance potential of the SanJuan, the big
cockpit and steady feel of the Tanzer, the versatile accommodations and
solid construction of the Sirius.
The winner? It's the boat best suited to your needs.
|1986 SBJ Sailboat Sea Trials
||San Juan 23
|Draft (board/keel up)
|Draft (board/keel down)
||210 sq. ft.
||234 sq. ft.
||222 sq. ft.
||203 sq. ft.
||225 sq. ft.
||Vandestadt & McGruer
||$12,235 w/ sail
||$12,495 w/ sails
||$10,500 w/ sails
||$10,995 w/ sails & trailer
||Starwind, Div. of
1220 Tallevast Rd.
Tallevast, FL 33588
|San Juan Mfg.
3102 B Street NW
Auburn, WA 98001
PO Box 67
Canada J7V 5V8
|Vandestadt & McGruer Ltd.
Owen Sound, Ontario
Canada N4K 5P1
|Merit Marine, Inc.
13541 Desmond St.
Pacolma, CA 91331