The Bluewater Sailboat Dana 24, designed by the late great Bill Crealock and debuted by Pacific Seacraft in 1984, is perhaps the ultimate pocket cruiser, measuring only 24 feet on deck. The yacht combines traditional style with the kind of expert craftsmanship and sturdy construction that Pacific Seacraft is known for.
The Dana 24 is well balanced, swift for her size, and seaworthy, as are all good boats. Her small draught allows her to explore cruising grounds that larger yachts cannot, and her design, which is now over 25 years old, is well proved, having completed a number of ocean crossings. Despite her offshore capabilities, she is one of only a few who can return home on a trailer.
Although the Dana 24 was never a cheap boat to acquire, owners can console themselves with the cheaper maintenance costs of a small blue water cruiser. “It’s a superb entry level, genuine go anywhere cruising boat,” says Crealock.
It may be claimed that Pacific Seacraft had a thing for pocket cruisers back in the day. The Pacific Seacraft 25 and, later, the Orion 27, were both robust and capable offshore cruisers designed by one of the company’s co-founders, Henry Morschladt. However she is compact and capable, the Flicka 20. Pacific Seacraft purchased the Flicka 20 in 1977, and it quickly became a hit for the company. By the early 1980s, the business was planning to supplement Flicka with a larger boat in the same form.
Bill Crealock, known for his seaworthy designs, was given the commission for the new boat, and the Dana 24 was unveiled in 1984. She was warmly accepted; in fact, 222 boats were sold over the next fifteen years before a rising mid-1990s economy moved demand to larger boats.
“For a while, the preference was for larger vessels, and smaller boats were simply set aside… People’s boat sizes appear to change with the square root of the Dow Jones index.” – William Crealock
The Dana 24 was discontinued by Pacific Seacraft in 1997, but after a three-year pause, interest was revived as the economy weakened. In 2000, the company resumed limited production, but only a few units were sold.
Pacific Seacraft went into receivership in 2007 before being purchased by Stephen Brodie. Surprisingly, the Dana 24 moulds were not included in Brodie’s purchase. Instead, the moulds were given to a dealership in Seattle named Seacraft Yachts, which has made the yacht available again (hull number #351).
At least 250 boats have been built in all. In this period, little has been done to improve the small Dana 24, and the boat has remained virtually intact, a true monument to the perfection of Crealock’s original design.
The Bluewater Sailboat Dana 24 is a moderate displacement cruiser with a complete keel, a forefoot cutaway, and a keel-hung rudder beneath the waterline. Her sheerline is graceful, and she features a plumb bow with a teak bowsprit platform. Because of her size, she lacks the unique Crealock double-ended stern in favour of a large and nearly vertical transom.
The boat retains the iconic cutter rig that has become so famous among the blue water community. Some have been configured for single-handing, with sheeting and halyard lines leading back into the cockpit for safety.
The hull and deck are hand laminated fibreglass, in keeping with Pacific Seacraft tradition. Since 1989, the innermost layers have been made of polyester, while the outermost layers have been made of osmosis-resistant vinylester resin. In heavy stress zones, the deck is balsa cored with plywood core. The hull-to-deck joint is a double flange that is embedded in a high tension polyurethane adhesive compound and is through-bolted with stainless bolts. The interior module, which is similarly made of vinylester resin, is attached to the hull using fibreglass mat and woven roving.
The inside fittings are white matte beneath the counter and teak above. Ballast is made of lead and is encased with fibreglass. Solid bronze is used for all through-hull fittings. Chainplates are bolted through the hull with stainless steel bolts and full backing plates.
Since 1989, eight rectangular bronze port lights have replaced the boat’s original round bronze ports.
This Bluewater Sailboat has an open-plan interior with hand-rubbed oiled teak cabinetry and a teak-and-holly sole, giving her a wonderfully warm and inviting feel. As you descend the companionway, you’ll find a full Sailboats Galley on the port side, complete with a gimballed two-burner propane stove, a huge insulated icebox, and a 10-inch-deep sink with hand-pump. A flip-down cover over the stove, as well as another in the seating area, give additional counter space. An enclosed head area with a head, inbuilt shower pan, hanging locker, and sink with hand pump is located to starboard.
A v-berth sleeper that is 6′ 8″ long and 6′ 9″ broad, as well as two 6′ 6″ settees with neatly positioned foot room that tucks beneath the v-berth, are among the four possible berths.
There are two spacious drawers and a drop locker beneath the forward berth. The cabin shelf is equipped with removable fiddles, and the hanging locker is louvred for additional ventilation. The dining table glides out from behind the v-berth, above the two drawers, and has a hinged centre that fits around the inner metal pillar and can be fully or partially extended.
The Bluewater Sailboat Dana 24, like all Crealock designs, incorporates a high level of comfort in a well-controlled and balanced hull. She’s a seaworthy yacht with a gentle motion across the water, and its high ballast ratio (almost 40%) no doubt contributes to her overall stability. Crealock’s comfort and stability philosophy translates to less crew fatigue and faster, safer crossings.
Light air performance is not her strong suit, so don’t anticipate too much boat speed unless she’s set up very properly and carefully flown. She is, after all, a heavier displacement boat in the broad scale of things. The Dana comes to life in a breeze, she points well to windward and sails best on a reach, while downwind her keel and hull form tracks well with no squirming and less roll than most.
Her difficulty to hove-to is one of her known flaws; her high freeboard in her bow sections, along with a large forefoot cutaway on her keel, means her nose is too easily knocked away.
Expect a top speed of roughly 6.5 knots, she is well-equipped versions may reach 120 mile days during extended trips. Not bad for a vessel of this size and displacement.
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