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Thread: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Vilnius, Lithuania
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    Default Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    Hi there

    Two years ago I came across the Dark harbour 17 boat. I am considering to purchase one of those used boats. However, as I was doing my homework about the boat, reading what people talk on forums about it I was surprised and disappointed. Most people mention its beauty but there was one guy ho gave a very long and detailed review of the boat. Apparently he seemed to know what he was talking about and his opinion was exceptionally negative. He did admit the nice lines of the boats, yet, on the practical sailing side he emphasised a) how exceptionally slow the boat is, b) not comfortable to sail as it is very wet sailing and not pleasant handling. Something about its (non)responsiveness too. I was left wondering is there anything positive left to say about the boat. It is beautiful indeed but could anyone currently sailing this kind of boat comment about the real sailing experience, please? Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    156

    Default Re: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    For a boat of that size it has a lot of wettest surface with the large keel. Conversely I'm sure it is a stable boat and can handle a bit of weather unlike lighter hull forms. Who ever wrote the piece criticizing the boat probably sailed more modern fin keeled plastic boats.
    Last edited by navydog; 01-08-2018 at 05:06 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Hyannis, MA, USA
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    Default Re: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    I did a bit of googling but could not find the article mentioned in the OP. I'd be interested to read it.

    It is possible, I suppose, that the Dark Harbor 17 is subject to vices which no one else has noticed.

    The builder's appreciation of the DH 17's smaller sister applies here:

    "Fast and wet . . . "

    I've not sailed a Dark Harbor 17 myself but I've sailed alongside some in various conditions. "Fast and wet" applies to boisterous weather. "Fast for ghosting" is what applies in calm air.

    But but but

    That large gaff main takes some getting used to. Many sailors raised in Lasers and then contemporary keel boats, with the blade like 4:1 or even 6:1 mains and 175% Gennys, oversheet and definatly don't integrate sail trim with helm control adequately.

    A boat like the Dark Harbor will not happily, sometimes not at all, bear off under helm alone. You must be easing the main as you bear off.

    The gaff sail is incredibly adjustable. You need to get the head tension right before you hoist and then you may find yourself adjusting the luff and foot as you sail. And you for sure must learn to play the peak halyard. Think peak control as something halfway from halyard to sheet in terms of active management.

    Getting the jib correct is a wholly other experience.

    Failure to trim correctly will indeed turn an incredibly responsive boat into a slug.

    The Dark Harbor 17 activly punishes sloppy sailing. The Dark Harbor 17 takes you to heaven when you sail her correctly. And there is a very special heaven for people who ghost home to their mooring while all the tupperware terrors pollute the air with diesel fumes and noise.

    And you can learn. The Dark Harbor fleet has a pile of brilliant sailors from whom you can learn. And one day you can be that guy in the forty year old Viyella (since 1784) shirt, equally at home white ducks, and boat mocs that have been resoled thrice, that serene soul who nods tolerantly to people too busy to hear the harmonies.

    Do not get the Dark Harbor if you don't want to actually sail.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Default Re: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    It would be fun to side by side sail and compare the Wianno Senior to the Dark Harbor 17:





    Cruise a place like Artisan to really rouse your lusts. http://www.artisanboatworks.com/clas...igns/sailboats

    Edited to add - This pic from Artisan does not have the Wianno's mast raked forward as all the fleet does. I wonder if they tweeked the step and partners a little.
    Last edited by Ian McColgin; 01-08-2018 at 07:29 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Default Re: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    Both the Wianno and the Dark Harbor were built to be gentlemen's racing machines.

    I think the Wianno Senior is a bit more place-specific, really meant for strong winds and wicked chop. The pic from Artisan I posted shows reef points. I have only seen two Wiannos with reef points and one had them installed by me. The other was the one and only "cruising Wianno" with an extra strake's freeboard. This is not to say reefing's not a good idea. In my friend's keeled over (too old and weak to ever fix the centerboard trunk so a deeper keel was simply bolted on) Senior we paced a fleet racing, we reefed and they not. We did better to weather and only a little worse off the wind where, unlike the racers, we had no 'chute. I don't think the loss of a few feet sail area off the main makes much speed difference when you're wobbling around hull speed but it makes a huge handling difference. Mainly, it's just Wianno macho (and that includes some brilliant women in the fleet) that eschews reefing.

    The Senior as a bit like the early Shelby Cobra - a lot of horsepower stuffed into a sexy but not very well engineered body and requiring muscle to drive. Just looking at the different rudder profiles between Senior and Dark Harbor should tell you that.

    So long as you're not in real need of the shoal draft, the Dark Harbor is the better all around boat.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 1999
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    Default Re: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    There's a writeup about one here, FROLIC: https://maineboats.com/online/boat-f...-the-year-2008

    The previous owner was Levy Byrd, a college friend. I didn't sail with him on the boat but he did sail with me once on a Wianno Senior (as mentioned above) He thought the Senior, also 25 ' long was more comforatble to sail because it had seating in the cockpit and a footwell. The DH has no seats and you sit on the cockpit floor or on the sidedeck with the coaming under your thighs. Just a thought to offer.
    "... and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    The seating is an isssue for some. To my mind, if it's breezy enough to sit on the side decks, then not having a seat in the way of your feet is a plus. The coaming keeps you from slipping. People of tender bottoms can easily enough run a pair of long wide pockets to hold some ensolite butt and back of thigh pads. The Wianno's seats, to me, are not as comfortable as either sitting on the rail or getting well down on the sole nicely out of the wind and good view under the sails.

    But that can be an issue. The Garden Tom Cat was designed in part to add to the Beetle Cat essence seats comfortable for aging knees.

    For sleeping under a tent or under the stars, the open seatless cockpit is a dream. One of the great things about the Narrasketuck when I was a teen was dropping sail in a secluded place with a nubile crew . . .

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    1,607

    Default Re: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    Without wanting to be picky, Ian, it's hard to see how growing up sailing Lasers would cause people to bear away without easing mains - the Laser's one of the last boats I'd want to try that on.

    The DH 17 appears likely to be one of the breed that was partly developed in reaction to the many Half Rater/15 Foot Seawanhaka Rater type one designs that came out in the 1890s. Very few of those classes lasted very long and it's apparent that they caused a move back to heavier, slower and more conservative types like the DH 17.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Anything positive about the Dark Harbour 17' sailing experience?

    Glad to hear it, Chris249. You have better training than what I've see around here. Which is not to say there are not world class Laser sailors. There are. In abundance. Better racers than I'll ever be. I'm only thinking of kids just getting started. Those who don't get really good seem to carry some bad habits into later tupperware sailing. They are a local contrast to the kids who spent those years in Beetles, Cotuit Skiffs, and Cape Cod Knockabouts.

    If you watch the instructional video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C23ajoak6CM you will see the sort of sailing that will not work on a traditional boat and frankly won't win races in a Laser.

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