img3211Trailer sailing seemed to go out of style during the excesses of the '80s when bigger was better. Now, in the lean and mean 1990s, many well built, trailerable boats have high demand on the second-hand market.

Not limited to local waters, a trailer sailor can be afloat on his or her own boat away from the city in a few hours after leaving home waters. A trip that would take a larger vessel days, even weeks, can often be a simple Friday night cottage-like run on the highway. Canadian-built trailer sailboats include the CS 22, Tanzer 22, as well as various models from C&C, Paceship, Abbott, Grampian, Viking, Mirage and Northstar.
Vandestadt and McGruer Ltd.

One gem is the Sirius 21/22 built by Vandestadt and McGruer Ltd. of Owen Sound, Ont. a company which had a strong 25-year history before finally closing its doors in 1987. Designed at Vandestadt, the Sirius 21/22 was an innovative boat and indeed is said to be the first North American production-built, ballasted cruising boat with positive flotation. In a more expensive procedure, closed-cell foam was injected into some compartments, then into the gap between the inner and outer hull the full length and up to the deck level. The foam stiffened the hull, provided sound and head insulation as well as buoyancy. Of course, with foam-injection construction, there is some loss of space in the interior as well as in stowage lockers.


Ray Leadbetter, owner of the prototype hull No. 1, had the buoyancy tested on his boat when she was holed at the waterline while fast to her mooring buoy.

"The harbourmaster called me to say my boat was low in the water," said Leadbetter. "I dashed out to the boat to find several inches of the topsides above water, but she had sunk as much as the buoyancy would allow her. She was floating parallel to her waterline and was stable enough in that condition to be towed to a dock to be pumped out."

Though never a company employee, Leadbetter acted as a sales agent for Vandestadt and McGruer at boat shows for 18 years. In January 1977, the first completed Sirius 21 was open for public viewing. In the early 1980s, the hull was modified to include a reverse sheer transom at which point the boat was renamed the Sirius 22. "Owners tended to put 10-hp outboards on the transoms?larger than the designers had intended. The builders lengthen the waterline by 10 in. to add buoyancy to the stern," said Leadbetter. "The rest of the boat stayed the same."

Fixed-keel version

There was a fixed-keel version of the Sirius 22, which, according to Leadbetter, handled like a dream. But Vandestadt folded soon after this design?and few fixed versions were built. In all, more than 600 21/22s came out of the shop in Owen Sound. Leadbetter is listed by the Ontario Sailing Association as the contact for the owners' association.
Like many trailerables, the 21/22 has convinced a lot of dinghy sailors to move up in length. "We?ve been sailing Mirror dinghies for 20 years," said Hank Copis, who is the current owner of hull number one. "I began to have arthritis problems and my son, Paul, wanted to sail the Mirror. We bought the Sirius as I wanted an easily handled boat that I could sail on Georgian Bay for family holidays and also keep on a mooring in Hamilton for weekend and evening sailing."

Test Sail

I went for a sail on Sirius no. 129, Cantabile, owned by Mark Richardson and family of Hamilton, Ont. During their first winter of ownership, Richardson removed every piece of wood paneling on the interior, used it as a template to cut a new piece, and installed that in its place. He also removed all the deck fittings and hardware, including the stanchions, and rebedded the lot to stop leaks. The old delaminating companionway hatch boards were replaced with smoked acrylic cut to shape. New cushions, covers and curtains were ordered. The hull was cleaned and waxed. To the bane of all new boat owners, Cantabile, looks almost new.

"We keep her on a mooring at the Hamilton Harbour Commission and enjoy evening sailing," said Richardson. "In our two summers of ownership we?ve had three weeks of holidays on her each year with the four of us aboard, travelling about 250 miles each time." "In our first year, we launched in company with another Mirror sailing family with a trailerable, the van Beusekoms, with an O'Day 25. In 1993, we were a fleet of three trailerables in company, with the Copis family joining us with their Sirius. One day we saw five other 21/22s in the small boat channel on the east side of Georgian Bay!" "I like being independent of marinas and cranes and cost isn?t the deciding factor -- it's the freedom and mobility that I enjoy."

Full standing headroom

The Richardsons said they aren't moving up in size as they are content with the handiness of the boat and the uncomplicated lifestyle of trailerable ownership. The Sirius 21/22 has a roomy cockpit, full standing headroom under a pop-top, reasonable work space in the galley and a place to slide a cooler under the cockpit. Her 525 lbs. lifting keel pivots into a slot in the hull incorporated in the dinette area of the interior. When the keel is fully raised, about three inches of the casting protrudes below the fibreglass, protecting the hull from grounding.

LOA21' 2"6.45 m
LWL18' 9"5.71 m
Beam7' 11"2.41 m
Draft16" to 5' 0"1.52 m
Displacement2000 lbs.907 kg.
Ballast525 lbs.238 kg.
Sail area203 sq. ft.18.86 m2