HartleyT.S. 16
by Dennis L. Angelisanti
Photographs by Robert Hagan
Small Boat Journal #35 March 1984

In the land down-under, where the passion for sailing fast is legend, the Hartley Trailer/Sailer 16 is the largest and most active trailer/sailer class among an abundance of T.S. classes. What makes this 20-plus year-old class of largely
home-built plywood sailboats so popular? The reasons are manifold. At the same overall length and weighing only 250 pounds more than the famous Wayfarer dinghy, the Hartley offers a large cabin for two adults to camp cruise without scrimping on cockpit space. In light airs, she can outsail the
Daysailer II, and in heavy air, her planing hull will let her slip bv the Catalina 22. This is the Hartley's strong suit, a trailerable family boat for cruising and picnicking that can provide fast and furious action for racing crews — all for a built-it-yourself price of less than $3,000!

Spray flying, a Hartley 16 sails along smartly on a fast reach.

The Hartley T.S. 16 is not likely to inspire "love-at-first-sight." It is rather "plain vanilla," a butter dish in style with chunky sections, short ends, and double-chined hull. But in the fall of 1978, I chose to build her anyway because she was cheap, trailerable, roomy in the cockpit, and spacious enough in the cabin for two adults to cruise in relative comfort. That decision commenced a relationship with a boat, a designer, and the enthusiastic sailors of a class association that, I hope, will endure through the years.

In the 1950s, New Zealander Richard Hartley designed an unusual-looking combination of centerboard dinghy and half cabin yacht based on the lines of the famous New Zealand mullet boats. Mullets were beamy fishing boats that sailed well and were often raced. When Hartley saw the possibility of adapting mullet boat principles to a smaller, family boat, the wide-beamed, performance-oriented Hartley line of trailer sailers was born.

Meanwhile, in Australia, a boat-building boom was in progress, and when amateurs wanted to build something in plywood that was bigger than a dinghy, they turned to the Hartley T.S. 16. Many nine-to-fivers built one in their garages, beginning a movement that soon created a new class boat. For a cost not much more than a good sailing dinghy, and certainly a lot less than a fiberglass cabin yacht, the T.S. 16 allowed the whole family to sail together. Indeed, by 1972, eight years after the founding of the class association, so many families had recognized the virtues of the T.S. 16 that 585 boats were on the
association register. The growth of the class declined in the late seventies as the advent of fiberglass, factory-produced trailer-sailers and the increasing affluence of Australians made people less inclined to build. However, the Hartley was a little like the old VW Bug in the way she won people's affection. She wasn't pretty, but there were so
many around that first time sailing families could buy one cheaply and have a ball learning to sail. The Hartley had a lot going for it that had been overlooked in the rush towards bigger and better, and as so often happens with new ideas, the original concept proved hard to beat. By 1982, the Australian Hartley T.S. 16 Association recorded 1,289 boats in its register, an increase of 120 percent in ten years. An exact figure for the class is hard to come by
since many boats remain unregistered. Worldwide sales of plans approach 6,000,and association members report boats in New Guinea, Fiji, England, the United States, Canada,
and of course, New Zealand.

A Racing Trailer/Sailer from the lands down-under

The T.S. 16 is raced with a crew of two, and although it doesn't carry a spinnaker, the little cruiser attracts some of Australia's best small-boat skippers. So much sail area (180 square feet] on such a lightweight craft 1800 pounds displacement) means that it is very fast and exciting sailing, especially in fresh breezes. Race-tuned Hartley 16s are mighty hard to beat, even with larger boats. In Australia, their planing ability allows them to race against boats that are 30 percent longer. Bill Culverwell, a successful T.S. 16 skipper in New South Wales, explains:

"[Planing,] this boat can reach speeds of 12 to 14 knots on reaches and runs, often out performing boats up to 24 feet. With two crew swinging their weight outboard, you should plane on a broad reach in about 15 knots of wind."

Hartley 16s have dual personalties, either as comfortable family cruisers (above) or competitive racers (below)

Planing is not this boat's only claim to fame. In light airs, she can ghost along with the best of them, and in drifting conditions, she can pass boats with yards of lightweight headsails, driving their owners to drink. In light to moderate breezes, she sails best with fuller than average sails and with the jib backwinding the main. As the wind picks up, she lays over easily and then hangs there, rock steady, until the wind exceeds 18 knots. At this wind speed, it is wise to swing crew weight outboard, keeping her lee rail about six inches from the water. This is her best sailing angle. The Hartley, like most wide-beamed boats, does not crash through the swells, but rather rides over them like a cork. However, in a steep chop, she can pound somewhat. A skeg keel and long boom combine to give responsive
but not twitchy handling characteristics.

For cruising or less intense racing, the boat easily handles four adults in it's roomy cockpit. On more than one occasion, our T.S. 16 has sailed with six aboard, although it is a tad close. With three or four in the cockpit, or when loaded for cruising with two, she sails with a light stern squat and a very neutral helm. Loaded this way, she is not a racer, but a stable, predictable family-oriented cruiser. For racing, crew weight, as well as all gear, is kept well forward in the cockpit or cabin, helping get the wide stern out of the water. The helm is neutral for the most part, or in lighter airs slightly lee. As wind speed increases or as she comes off the wind, the weather helm becomes noticeable, but never extreme. As might be expected of such a race oriented class, Hartley owners have found a number of ways to extract the greatest amount of speed from the wind. The 125-square-foot mainsail is set on a non-bendy rig where it packs a real punch, and race-hardened T.S. 16 sailers know how to work this powerful mainsail to get past newer designs with reduced versions of big yacht rigs.

Simplicity is the key to Hartley's trailer/sailer. Down below, the 16 features low bunks for sitting headroom and lots of windows for enjoying the view

The main can be reefed, and in winds above 20 knots, this is recommended. In addition, most owners install jib furling for smoother sail handling while cruising. A maximum of five mainsail battens are allowed, including two full or through battens at the head. Four small battens are allowed on the headsail. For controlling sail shape, the class association permits a mainsheet traveller, a cunningham eye on the main, a foot outhaul, powerful vangs, adjustable jib luff wire, and barber hauls.

A vang is absolutely essential to control the shape of the big main. By keeping the main's leech tight when the mainsheet is eased to spill off excess wind, the vang prevents the mainsail from flogging like a flag, increasing drag, and inducing too much heel. The vang also pulls the boom into the mast, stopping the mast from bending backward and eliminating too full a sail when the wind pipes up. The forces in play also spring the boom down about three inches, further flattening the sail.

The flat decks and wide cockpit help crew weight keep the boat upright.

In fresh breezes, one of the first things you realize is that the main cannot be depowered by a bendy mast. The straight aluminum section, its size strictly governed by class rules, is stepped on the cabin top and is rigged with fairly stiff diamond spreaders so it won't go over the side. Because the mast does not bend, you sail her racing skiff style, easing the main in gusts and hauling it in during the lulls. Really heavy crews naturally love strong winds because they can power sail along while the light crews struggle to keep the boat on its feet.

Crewed heavy or light, T.S. 16s get a bad case of the slows upwind if you do not work the mainsheet all the time. A fit body and good speed to windward are the rewards for all the hard work.

Downwind, the 55-square-foot headsail is poled out at the clew and eased off at the tack, which is cunningly sheeted a foot or so in from the bow, becoming a jury-rigged spinnaker of sorts. The Hartley really scoots in this mode, and in anything over 11 knots of wind, this point of sail makes for an exciting sleigh ride as the boat surfs down the swells. Although the Hartley T.S. 16 is not a development class, occasional changes are made to the strict one-design rules. Fiberglass hulls and decks became legal only recently, and only after the rules committee studied the issue for several years and was sure neither the wood nor glass versions would have a competitive edge. A fiberglass version has yet to win the nationals, however.

The Hartleys boxy shape, designed for easy home building with plywood, disguises a slick hull that sails fast

Even small changes, such as allowing aluminum rudder cheeks, are debated at length, and only when compatibility with original specifications is assured are changes approved. The goal of the association is to prevent any Hartley from becoming obsolete, and it is quite possible for early model boats built in the sixties still to be very competitive.

The cockpit floor on a "16" is flat and level with no obstructions, and the wide decks serve as seats. A low coaming, its minimum height governed by class rules, helps keep out water. These side decks have openings beneath for storage and cruising gear. One need not step gingerly onto a T.S. 16 because the broad beam allows one to stand outboard on her side decks without heeling her significantly. The wide side decks continue to the foredeck so one doesn't need to be acrobatic to go forward for setting anchor or handling the headsail. While the cockpit layout is determined by the individual builder, all boats must have an outboard well and standard seat heights and flooring. The wide decks/seats prevent water from filling the cockpit in the unlikely event of a knockdown. With only 150 pounds of her displacement in her steel centerboard, the T.S. 16 is not immune to capsize, but she has enough built-in buoyancy to float, and she's small enough to be righted by the crew.

Hartleys have two, six-foot three inch bunks of substantial width, with full sitting headroom for anyone under six feet tall. Again, the interior layout is up to each builder. All boats must have two bunks, and the companionway opening is restricted to a maximum width of thirty inches for safety reasons. There is plenty of room below for a portable head, although use of it requires someone with few inhibitions. The six large windows cutting into the cabin sides make for cheerful lighting. Windscreen windows are optional. In order to expand accommodations, many owners install boom tents over the six-foot-long, level cockpit sole, which allows for two sleeping bags along with their contents.

click to enlargeOnce the racing and cruising are over, one of the nicest aspects of the Hartley 16 is how easily it can be trailered. The gear is so light that one person can rig or unrig the boat. My Hartley is set up so most control lines and rigging stay attached to the boat, and my wife and I can rig and launch the boat in twenty minutes.

The only "disadvantage" of a Hartley 16 is that in order to own one you'll probably have to build it. You can start your Hartley 16 for as little as $300, including the cost of plans, full-size patterns, and a frame kit, and have some money left for epoxy, screws, and lumber for the building stock.

Mailmen, airline pilots, farmers, engineers, and career bureaucrats have all built Hartleys. There is nothing with which the average handyman, using only hand tools, a power drill, circular saw, and jig saw, cannot cope. My boat was completed in two years of strictly part-time work. A builder in New Jersey completed his boat in one intensive building session over the winter. Most boats can be completed in a period sometime between these two extremes.

The T.S. 16 hull is built inverted by setting up five sawn, built-up frames and a transom on a building stock. Double chines and many bottom stringers insure a strong, stiff hull. Quarter-inch, solid-core plywood sheathes the framework. Although quarter-inch plywood may sound inadequate, the design has withstood the test of time, and personal experience shows that increasing the plywood thickness would be overbuilding. Most owners do cover the hull in epoxy-saturated fiberglass cloth to protect the plywood when beaching the boat.

After completing the hull, have a picnic and invite some strong-backed friends to turn it over. Finishing the cockpit, decks, and cabin are straight forward and can be accomplished on a trailer or on a garage floor, using old tires to support the hull. A steel centerboard which weighs approximately 150 pounds may cause some stressful moments, both in finding a shop to fabricate it and maneuvering it into its slot in the case.

All other construction, including rigging, is relatively easy. When she slides off the trailer and settles onto the water, you'll probably forget any bad moments right away.

Although some 90-odd classes of trailer/sailers exist in Australia, the wooden T.S. 16 is still the most popular, with new constructions starting by the dozen. T.S. 16 owners have the backing of the largest class association in Australia with divisions in all states. All have full programs of racing and cruising events, social outings, and assistance to new builders. Monthly newsletters help keep the membership "in touch" and share "trade secrets" that increase competition among fleets. Cruising activities and family outings are announced and reported, sharing the spotlight equally with racing news.

When two Hartleys meet, a race is inevitable.

Each state runs an annual state championship, and representatives from all states and New Zealand compete in the Nationals each year. Probably the biggest endorsement for this design as a racer/cruiser is its fine showing each year at an event called the Marley Point overnight race. Australians describe it as "Marley Madness", because of the more than 500 boats that race across the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, a distance of nearly 35 miles. Boats must be at least five meters in length and have overnight accommodations. The Hartley T.S. 16 is the smallest competitor. More than 90 enthusiastic association members showed up in 1981; 68 crossed the finish line. Overall, the Hartley does very well in the standings and even without a handicap, finishes ahead of many larger yachts.

The Hartley T.S. 16 is now looking for its sea legs in the United States. Sail numbers 5001 through 6000 have been reserved for a fledgling American fleet, and 12 boats have registered so far. In view of today's costly fiberglass boats, the Hartley may be the easiest way for a family to begin cruising local waters. And when one Hartley owner spots another, can they resist a race? Thousands of Australians can't.

Plans and information on the Hartley Trailer/Sailer 16 are available through the Hartley T.S. 16 American Association, 10 Pinewood Dr., Douglasville, PA 19518. Clark Craft Boat Company, l6-B Aqualane,Tonawanda, NY 14150, (Phone: (713) 873-2640), also handles plans and frame sets, in addition to sails, fittings, spars ana rigging kits, and screw and nail kits.