Sailing Big on a Small Sailboat

Excerpt from “Sailing Big on a Small Sailboat” by Jerry Cardwell and Dieter Loibner

The Schock history is typical for the California of the post-war years. Barely in his teens W.D. “Bill” Schock built a boat in the garage of this family’s home. After World War II, he moved into a small beach house in Newport Beach and did odd boat-building jobs while working on a cold-molded International 14 for himself. But before he could finish it, someone made him an offer and his decision to sell put W.D. Schock Corp. on the map. The timing was perfect because the fiberglass boat-building revolution was about to roll over Southern California, following that state’s boom-and-bust principle. But Schock survived and today Sabots, Lido 14s, Harbor 20s, Schock 35s and the revolutionary Schock 40 with canting keel are in production. Over the years, the company has built more than 13,000 boats from 70 different designs.

In 1965, Bill’s oldest son, Tom, met budding designer Gary Mull. Together they developed the Santana 22, a trailerable pocket racer/cruiser. With durability, good sailing qualities—especially in a breeze—basic accommodations for couple or a small family this boat helped lure a whole generation into the sport. It was Mull’s first big success and it helped establish Schock in the market of trailerable sailboats. The Santana 22 quickly became popular on the San Francisco Bay and other windy venues such as Monterey, Oklahoma, the Columbia River, Houston, Dallas, and Lake Dillion, Colorado. A total of 747 boats were built in the first production run, and many of them still sail today.

Motivated by an order for six boats in 2001, Schock decided to revitalize the Santana 22 with the input from existing owners. The vessel was brought up to 21st-century expectations and still complies to the one-design rules of the existing Santana 22 class. Nostalgia certainly plated a role in this—the remake of the Santana 22 remained faithful to its original design principles. Besides cosmetics and trim, the upgrades include better deck hardware (e.g. stainless-steal chainplates instead of aluminum and a Harken traveler), a molded-in-toe rail on the foredeck, a stronger hull/deck joint and internal components, a larger stern cutout for modern 4-stroke outboards, a sturdier boom and halyards led inside the mast. According to the company, all these additions still don’t make the new boat heavier than the old ones, which is a credit to modern building technology.

One-design or PHRF racing and spirited daysailing are the strengths of this vessel, but there are also plenty of cruising yarns, such as this one: “I rebuilt a Santana 22, including broken rudder and mast on Guam and sailed it thousands of miles in the Northern Marianas and Guam waters. I had more adventures on that small boat than I did on a host of larger boats I have sailed all over the Western Pacific. I went through a typhoon at sea with her and numerous rough-water events. I even used her to carry cargo to inhabitants of Alamagan and Agrighan after the converted fishing boat that serviced them was lost at sea. We loaded until water started coming in the cockpit drains and then set sail from Saipan. On our return runs, I carried betel nut, dried fish and glass balls. She drove like an old Toyota truck and could take much more than I could stand…”

While this never was the intended use of a Santana 22, the boat’s handling and its ability to take a beating have helped this sailor come through his adventures alive. Mull’s hull design has a fine entry, which helps windward performance and beam that’s carried aft, which increases stability. Other keys to the boat’s success are the large, self-bailing cockpit and the masthead rig that accommodates a variety of sail configurations.

The hull construction on the Santana 22 is hand-laid fiberglass with reinforcements in high-stress areas. The 1,230-pound cast-iron keel is fixed, which increases stability with a low center of gravity and opens up the interior because no trunk or lifting mechanism are required. Unlike most other boats the Santana has a spade rudder that is attached to the underside of the hull. It is made of laminated fiberglass with stainless-steel shaft and a wooden tiller.

Schock found decent compromise with the deck so it doesn’t completely sacrifice cabin space while it fits well with the proportions of the boat. The deck is made of sandwich laminate with end-grain balsa core and critical areas are reinforced with additional fiberglass or plywood. The molded cockpit coaming integrates with the deck. The walking areas are non-skidded and the 8-foot long cockpit offers enough space for four to six adults. Large seat hatches open access to the storage lockers underneath.

The overlapping headsail is trimmed with cabin-top winches and the jib leads are adjustable. An optional bracket can be installed to put the sail control lines within reach of the crew. The main sheet is trimmed with a ratchet block/cam cleat combination that’s mounted on a Barney post while a Harken traveler takes care of fine-tuning the mainsail. At the launch ramp, the hinged mast can be quickly stepped and unstopped.

The accommodations are inviting, thanks to the use of teak. The V-berth (for the kids), the saloon berths (for two adults) and the cabin sole are all part of one structure that’s bonded to the hull to add stiffness and strength. The main bulkhead is fastened to the interior structure and bonded to hull and deck. The backrests also act as fiddles for loose stuff like bags, crockery and other cabin flotsam. A portable toilet can be fitted in the forward cabin and a ice chest doubles as companionway step.

Compared to the other boats discussed here, the Santana 22 is perhaps the “raciest one” (the original rule was called Midget Ocean Racing Class or MORC) and has spawned a very active class organization. Seeing these boats battle big winds and choppy seas in an ebb on the south shore of Angel Island, in San Francisco Bay, makes it clear why they still have their fans.

Reference: Cardwell, J. D., and Dieter Loibner. 2007. Sailing Big on a Small Sailboat. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House. 55-59.