Stone Horse 23: Red Sails in the Twilight Years
The Stone Horse 23, a classic cutter-rigged pocket cruiser, can take you safely far afield.
Sam Crocker designed the Stone Horse 23 in 1931 in the tradition of the small working vessels that evolved along the New England coast during the days of sail. In 1968, Edey & Duff adapted it to fiberglass but retained both the performance and beauty of the original. My husband, octogenarian retiree Dick Walters, is completely captivated by the boat's classic lines, generous nature, and quick response to a light touch-he has his dream daysailer. Our Impetuous, hull number 44, was built in 1974. The last Stone Horse, number 150, was built in 1995.
Technically a sloop with two headsails, the Stone Horse, with its large mainsail, moves in the merest whisper of a breeze while the long keel holds it on course and facilitates self-steering. The boat is safe, kicky, and a sheer delight even in high-wind conditions that leave other boats at their moorings. The 8-foot cockpit welcomes guests and stays dry.
The mahogany-trimmed cabin has sitting headroom and enough space for an afternoon nap, or even for several days of cruising. Accommodations include two molded "easy chairs," a roomy V-berth, a portapotty, an icebox, a butane stove, a sink, and a wood-burning stove with a Charlie Noble.
We replaced the original 5-horsepower Westerbeke with a new Yanmar 10-horsepower diesel. (Some boats were fitted with BMW diesels, for which parts are harder to find.) We carry a jug of diesel fuel to supplement the 3-gallon tank fitted in the cockpit.
Initially, the running rigging takes some getting used to. There are no winches; various blocks and purchases provide the mechanical advantage. A copy of the original rigging instructions, as well as other assistance, can be obtained from the Stone Horse owners group (www.groups.yahoo.com/group/stonehorsesloop).
The single design improvement we made was to fit a Hoyt Jib Boom to the staysail, replacing the club, which had a tendency to rise and twist when sailing off the wind. When the sheet is eased, the Hoyt boom, obtained from Forespar (949-858-8820, www.forespar. com), maintains precise control of the staysail leech, improving dramatically both the sail's trim and the boat's performance. We're confident that the late Sam Crocker would approve of this arrangement. Asking prices for Stone Horses run from about $20,000 to $35,000. A recently established bonus of Stone Horse ownership is the lively Yahoo group through which owners exchange ideas and offer information. A reunion every summer at Edey & Duff's shop in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, provides an opportunity to meet these Internet friends in person.
In the last 30 years, we've explored much of North America's eastern and western coasts and most major lakes in between. These days, our Stone Horse allows us to relax while poking around the islands and bays on our mountain-girdled home waters of Lake Champlain, where her classic lines, wooden spars, bowsprit, and boomkin are fittingly eye-catching.
Ginny Walters is a longtime CW contributor.
LOA 23' 4" (7.11 m.)
LWL 18' 4" (5.59 m.)
Beam 7' 1" (2.16 m.)
Draft 3' 6" (1.07 m.)
Sail Area 339 sq. ft. (31.5 sq. m.)
Ballast 2,000 lb. (907 kg.)
Displacement 4,490 lb. (2,037 kg.)
Water 11 gal. (42 l.)
Fuel 3 gal. (11 l.)
Engine Westerbeke 7-hp.
Designer S. S. Crocker