Spacesailer 18
By Gary Dick

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    Spacesailer 18
    by Gary Dick

    Not many know what they would be getting in a Missoula, MT-built Spacesailer 18. The following is, to the best of my ability, a current and reasonable summary of this Spacesailer 18, Akasha Wind, and her comparative Australian sisters. All but one boat listed for sale on the internet are in Australian/Tasmanian/New Zealand waters. Please review the following descriptions from various references. Henceforth, all references to Spacesailer 18 is abbreviated S18 -- not to be confused by the S2-branded line of sailboats. (Undated)

    An undated advertisement of an Australian S18 at New South Wales sold at an advertised price of $3500 AU. The ad states that the S18 is very responsive and easy to sail single-handed. It further states she is fast in light winds, and is inexpensive and easy to maintain. I can personally vouch for the opinion of the S18 being responsive and fast in light winds. She is set up well for sailing single-handed. The only other recent ad I saw for an S18 was an ad for an Australian boat moored in Tasmania.

    The specifications for Missoula-built S18s are 1100-lb draft with 400-lb. cast iron fin keel and 7-ft beam. For Australian-Built S18s, the specifications listed are: 1650-lb draft, 6-ft. 10-in. beam. The difference could be that the Australian boats may have had a heavier keel.

    NADA Guides (Unspecified Date and options listed not reflective of any stock Spacesailer 18)

    The S18 is listed in NADA Guides (no date given in website) as being worth between $2050 low retail and $5995 SLP.

    See: NADA Guide
    I will not sell Akasha wind for the low retail price--she is a much-better boat than that. If a buyer (payment already verified) wants the keel scaled and painted, I would consider doing it for the cost of materials on top of the selling price. I have a lift facility available. NADA specifies no weight or beam information is available. The data is available in SCA article which I have referenced in this description.

    Small Craft Advisor, Sep/Oct 2013, No 83, pp. 58-64.

    Joshua Colvin & Craig Wagner, with notable effort, were able to contact the designer, Kim Swarbrick, of Swarbrick Brothers Yachts, Perth, AU, and the Missoula, MT, builder, Laurie Simms. In Australia, the mast height was limited by local bridges that crossed the mouths of local rivers and the sail area was reduced to deal with the windiness of Perth, AU, purported to be the 3rd-windiest capital city in the world. The Missoula, MT-built S18s were built with 2-ft. taller masts and substantially-greater sail area for use under general inland lake conditions. Both mast designs were masthead designs. All but a few S18s were built with a fixed fin keel. Because E-Z Loader Trailers designed an S18-specific trailer, the Missoula company did not vary keel design. Colvin & Wagner note, from conversations with Kim Swarbrick, that S18s were intentionally "overbuilt" with 5/32 wire rope rigging to cope with the constant winds of Perth.

    S18s are noted for their high pointing ability due to the fin keel and sail plan. In my opinion, S18s are very nimble and, more surprisingly, are very maneuverable in reverse. When my friend, Jeff Eisner, skippered this S18, “Akasha Wind” in an informal long-distance race, he placed 24th in a field of over 100 boats of all makes and models. It was the first time he and his crew had ever set sail in an S18. My wife, Linda Lappin, during her first-ever time at the helm, and under mainsail only, was coached into the 7th tier of slips at the Lake Havasu Marina by Joshua and Jeff. I was able to teach my non-sailing-but-outdoor-oriented niece to sail Akasha Wind single-handed in a day and a half, at which point she nearly out-sailed me shadowing her in my MacGregor 25.

    S18s were not built with positive flotation. For Akasha Wind, as a temporary remedy for this, I calculated and then added what I believe is adequate, removable flotation that tucked well into the bow and bilge below the cockpit sole. The foredeck has very adequate non-skid and provides a good working platform for hanking on the jib. Akasha Wind is equipped with a jib downhaul but I have not sailed in conditions that would need the downhaul capability. All sheets and other controls are reachable from the cockpit and Akasha Wind is very easily single-handed.

    In my opinion the S18 is a very adequate day sailer and would be amenable to a couple of nights on board. I would limit this to no more than 2 adults and a small child.

    In my opinion, there was some deck hardware that was bedded without adequate backing. I have upgraded the backing on some, but not all, of the deck hardware. Colvin & Wagner’s SCA article noted this. I did add a 4-bolt, forged aluminum bow cleat because I deemed the stock bow cleat to be inadequate. Photos of Australian S18s show what looks to be some variation of what some

    call a "Crosby" rig. My Missoula-built boat has a mid-boom mainsheet traveler attached to a transverse cockpit traveler. Whether the boat was built this way or modified, I like the arrangement.

    In summary, the Spacesailer is a very well-designed and stout daysailer that is little-known due the the limited production of only 75 boats at Misssoula, MT. I would be confident in sailing her in very rough conditions with the added flotation. She would be ideal for a club racer, a starter boat for a young family, an occasional overnighter, or for an aging couple looking to downsize and still feel comfortable on the water. She may be a truly great boat for addition to a sailing club’s youth sailing program.

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