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Old 17-12-2011, 18:27   #1
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Aquarius 23 - Possibly my first "big" boat !

I've been looking at a 1973 Aquarius 23 foot boat as my first real sail boat. I've sailed a 15 foot Mcgregor beach cat for a few years, but am ready for something that me and my wife and two little kids can learn on, as well as spend a long weekend aboard.
I personally would love something bigger, and buying the "last" boat first, but living in Minneapolis I have come to agree with many on this forum that sailing more often is what matters, and 23 foot is about the largest that can go on any of the lakes around here, especially for a midweek, after work sail. Having a trailer, and reasonably easy to get it in the water and ready to go is also of interest, so we can go for a long weekend somewhere like Lake Superior.

So, to the question... Does anyone have experience with the A23, and if so, what are some of the things I should look for? The particular one I'm looking at appears to be in good shape, but if there's anything in particular I should be looking for, I'd appreciate any input. Also, any thoughts on the going price for these?

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Old 17-12-2011, 21:49   #2
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Re: Aquarius 23 - Possibly my first "big" boat !

A belated welcome to the Forum.

No knowledge myself but there is a users group.

Rust never sleeps
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Old 18-12-2011, 18:10   #3
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Thank you for the welcome, and for the link.

The current owner is an active member of the owners group, and has contributed a number of his repairs and experiences, which is a definite positive thing about the boat. He did claim to have been out on Lake Superior in 6 foot waves and 35 mile/hr winds in the boat, and as tempting as it is to ask if this is an "ocean crossing, bluewater capable " vessel (and the ruckus that question might cause) I am interested in opinions on stability, and perhaps more important, how "safe" they are as far as tipping over, etc.

I sail a beach cat right now, and it's rare that I don't end up in the water with a grin on my face.. This boat is intended to be the family minivan / floating cabin, and safety and comfort with the kids in board is my main concern vs performance.
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Old 27-07-2014, 09:06   #4
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Re: Aquarius 23 - Possibly my first "big" boat !

I know this post is old, but I thought I'd give some input for anyone searching the forums for this question in the future. I have had my A23 about a year now, and sailed (and nearly lived aboard, coming home every couple weeks) for the last year, including all winter long in the Puget Sound.

Some things to look for when buying: check around the chain plates for water ingress, I had a leak that caulking took care of. The rudder box in the cockpit has a tendency to leak, but can be fixed easily by reglassing the seams (corners). Check where the mast is stepped on deck for cracks, and give a good bounce on the deck to look for soft spots. (it is a balsa cored deck). also, look for evidence of leaks around the forward hatch. Also, check under the sink for evidence of standing water, and bring a pocket knife/ ice pick to see if the wood at the base is soft, likewise on the other side in the head. Also, the steel centerboard has a tendency to rust in place, make sure it lowers/raises properly.

As for safety/stability, the fin/skiff keel makes her initially a bit tender, but she has great secondary stability. Because of 800 lbs of lead in what they term a "skiff keel" it is one of the few smaller centerboard boats that is self righting even with the centerboard up. Some of the original advertising literature featured a picture of a fully canvassed A23 being purposely pulled over by the mast until the sails were under water (with the centerboard up!) then let go, and self righting without getting water in the cockpit. (If you are knocked down in a blow, you WILL flood your cockpit)

I have been knocked down, and have broached when caught over canvassed, and while the knockdown flooded the cockpit, in neither case did the cabin flood. By the way, if you are going to be sailing in heavy weather, you will want to add better drainage in the cockpit. It takes forever to self bail. I finally had to pull the plug where the drop through rudder used to sit to drain it (mine has an after market transom hung swing up rudder), which is not easily done when your broaching/ being knocked down.

While I would never plan on taking it in to blue water, The designer claims in an interview that it can take any conditions you could possibly encounter, and that he has been caught out in 46knt winds. He even says to raise the centerboard, strip it to bare poles, and trail your ground tackle in a loop from the stern and you can ride out about anything. (once again, his claim, not mine). A23's have sailed from WA to Alaska, and a couple have even sailed to Hawaii.

Drawbacks: No bilge, so any water ends up on the cabin sole (not necessarily bad because you notice leaks right away. Not the best as sailing to weather (but flies down wind). No cockpit lockers

I love mine. She is easy to single hand, has a great interrior layout for an extremely roomy interior, 7 ft bunks & V birth for big guys, enclosed head, and decent standing headroom with the top popped (not enough for me, but at 6'5" nothing does), and only has a 13" draft with the centerboard up! Not a bluewater boat, but I would in no way be afraid of being caught in heavy weather if you are experienced with heavy weather sailing and the boat.
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