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Review of West Wight Potter 19

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A Potter 19
Potter 19 sailboat

© Judy Blumhorst

The West Wight Potter 19, like its smaller sister the 15, has been a popular pocket cruiser sailboat for over three decades. Inspired by an original design in the U.K., it is now built by International Marine in California. A number of improvements have been made over the years, while the boats still retain the original look and have attracted a large, dedicated group of followers. They are still shown at select major boat shows in the U.S.

The Potter 19 is popular not only because it's a tough little boat that is easy to sail but also because it's a lot of boat for its length. Its hard-chine hull offers good stability and has a high freeboard to help keep the cockpit dry, and it's a very easy and forgiving boat to sail. The cabin is big enough for a couple to "camp" in comfort for short cruises. The Potter 19 has even been sailed across the Atlantic and from California to Hawaii!

Description

  • Length overall: 18 feet 9 inches
  • Length waterline: 16 feet 4 inches
  • Beam: 7 feet 6 inches
  • Draft 6 inches (keel up), 3 feet 7 inches (keel down)
  • Displacement: 1225 lbs
  • Keel weight (ballast): 300 lbs
  • Mainsail: 89 sq. feet
  • Headsail: 53 sq. feet (jib), 93 sq. feet (genoa)
  • Mast height: 22 feet above deck, about 27 feet above waterline
  • Standard trailer weight: about 500 lbs
  • MSRP $20,995 for "select package"
  • Can be found used in good condition for about $5000 and up

Key Features

The following come standard with a new Potter 19 in the select package. Not all features were standard in previous years, so used boats may vary.

  • Galvanized keel retracts vertically with easy-to-use cockpit winch
  • Kick-up rudder allows for beaching
  • Anchor rode locker with hawspipe/air vent
  • Mahogany companionway door
  • Adjustable transom motor mount
  • Teak hand rails on cabin top
  • Stainless steel swim/boarding ladder
  • Running lights, anchor light
  • Butane-canister single-burner stove
  • 15-gallon water system with deck fill
  • Sink with hand pump
  • Marine porta-potti in built-in cabin area
  • Custom galvanized trailer
  • Stainless steel mast crutch (for trailering)

Optional features:

  • Opening ports with screens
  • Built-in 36-quart cooler
  • Jiffy reefing system
  • One-person mast-raising system
  • Colored hull and/or deck
  • Colored sails
  • CDI furler for headsail
  • Singlehanders package (lines to cockpit, etc.)
  • Genoa winches
  • Asymmetrical spinnaker
  • Bimini

Sailing a Potter 19

Because it is a small, lightweight boat, the Potter 19 is easy to trailer without a special vehicle. The deck-stepped, hinged mast can be raised by one person with the mast-raising system, or two without, making it a simple matter of less than an hour's work to do everything before launching. Since the boat draws only 6 inches with the keel raised and the rudder hinged up, it launches easily at almost all boat ramps.

Many owners have led the lines to the cockpit to enable sailing without having ever to go up on deck, assuming you have the CDI furler as most owners do. Even to raise the mainsail without the halyard routed aft, a tall sailor can stand inside the cabin on the side berths just behind the mast and easily pull up the main and cleat off the halyard. Sail slugs attached to the boltrope are advised and make this a one-handed operation that takes only seconds.

The hard chines of the hull mean that the boat is slower to heel much beyond 10 to 15 degrees than boats with a rounded or V hull, and the chines also tend to throw bow spray out to the sides instead of back toward the cockpit. The trade-off, the one disadvantage when sailing, is that the boat pounds its nearly flat hull when sailing into waves or the wakes of other boats.

On any small sailboat it is important to position crew and passenger weight to advantage (i.e., most weight on the windward side to minimize heel), but this is not a problem with a cockpit large enough for four adults to be comfortable. The relatively heavy drop keel, unlike the lighter centerboards of many trailerable sailboats, provides good, deep ballast for increased stability. Under full sail with a genoa the boat may begin to heel excessively with wind over about 12 knots, but the main is easily reefed and the jib partly furled to reduce heel. The P-19 moves well in as little as 5 knots of wind and quickly reaches its hull speed around 5.5 knots in a 10-knot breeze.

Most owners power with a 4 to 6 HP outboard. The long-throw adjustable motor mount allows using either a short- or long-shaft outboard. Unless there are significant waves or a strong headwind, the boat powers easily at 5 knots with the engine well under half power.

The Potter owners association includes many stories written by different Potter sailors about their experiences. There are very few reports of capsize or serious problems, always due to a mistake by the sailor, such as forgetting to lower the keel or cleating the sails in tight and then turning broadside to the wind. When sailed correctly, the Potter is probably safer than most sailboats of its size. A brand-new sailor, as with any sailboat, is advised to have some form of sailing instruction before venturing out the first time, but the Potter 19 is a good boat on which to learn the basics.

Go on to the next page for a photo of the interior, additional features, and links for more information.

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