Boat Review: Marlin Heritage 23
The concept of seakindliness has largely been lost to modern sailors—with the possible exception of the bluewater cruising community. The basic idea is that a boat’s motion through the water—its “feel,” so to speak—should be as comfortable as it is seaworthy. A seakindly boat is also one that can take care of itself in a puff, so the crew needn’t be constantly looking over its shoulders for fear of a knock-down. Pure boat speed may be fun in the short term, but it can also be a lot of work, not to mention scary, especially if you’re new to sailing. When it comes to big sail areas and light displacement, don’t always believe the hype.
Which is not to say seakindliness can’t be fun: on the contrary, take the case of the new Marlin Heritage 23, from the venerable Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co.
A modernized version of the same Marlin that Capt. Nat Herreshoff designed nearly a century ago, the Marlin Heritage 23 showed a good turn of speed and then some during a boisterous early spring daysail on Buzzards Bay—making short work of both the chop and a brisk headwind as Cape Cod Shipbuilding president Wendy Goodwin and I short-tacked our way down the Wareham River.
The boat did so without giving even the slightest cause for alarm, thanks to her fine, spoon bow and easy forefoot, which both sliced through the waves and kept the crew dry with a minimum of effort; plenty of waterline beam amidships to provide enough form stability to stand up to a press of sail; and a good 1,400lb of lead at the bottom of the boat’s gently curving full keel.
The Marlin Heritage’s keel-hung rudder did an equally fine job of keeping a grip on the water sailing to windward, even when we dunked the leeward gunwale in the 18-20 knot gusts—no surprise given the creator of the boat’s lines.
Changes to the original Marlin include a slightly taller single-spreader aluminum mast by Zephyr Spars for more horsepower, a self-tacking jib, and a larger cabintrunk to provide a little more belowdecks space for getting out of the weather—the 7ft settees in the saloon are great for stretching out on while relaxing on a mooring at the end of a long afternoon sail. The cockpit, of necessity, has also been shortened a bit, but the 8ft bench seats are still plenty big enough for a crowd.
Control lines are all within reach of the helm. Deck hardware includes Spinlock clutches, Lewmar cabintrunk winches, and Harken Carbo Air Blocks and an ESP headsailer furler. The Yanmar 2YM15 diesel engine is accessed via a hatch in the cockpit sole and turns a two-blade feathering Max-Prop propeller.
Overall workmanship is excellent, from the high-gloss mahogany coamings and toerails to the molded gelcoat bootstripe, varnished ash tiller, and the teak and holly floorboards belowdecks. Of particular interest is the nifty “reverse sheer” (for want of a better term) leading edge on the cabintrunk, which is reminiscent of the 20-foot Herreshoff Fish.
The hull is solid hand-laid fiberglass, as is the deck. There’s room for a 2.6 gallon Porta Potti just forward of the mast, a 36-quart cooler doubles as a companionway step, and the boat’s dual-purpose dinette table can be set up either below or in the cockpit, depending on the weather. In short, this salty little sloop has all you could ever want or need for a fine adventure afloat. I think Capt. Nat would have approved.
LOA 23ft LWL 16ft 11in
BEAM 7ft 7in
DRAFT 3ft 8in
SAIL AREA 270ft2 ENGINE Yanmar 2YM15 Electrical 100AH
BALLAST RATIO 36 SA/D RATIO 17 D/L RATIO 356
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
DESIGNER Nathanael G. Herreshoff
BUILDER Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co., Wareham, MA,
Photo courtesy of Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co.; illustration by Pip Hurn