At Boot Düsseldorf Yachting Monthly editor, Theo Stocker takes a look around the new Swallow Yachts Bay Cruiser 21

Over the years, Swallow Yachts have carved out a particular niche for themselves. Built in ply or GRP and coupled with powerful sail plans and carbon masts, their hard-chined hulls are instantly recognisable and the Swallow Yachts Bay Cruiser 21 certainly fits the bill.

Combining a traditional sheerline with some touches of modernity, particularly the Bay Cruiser 26, and the their new 32-footer, the plans of which are still waiting for a customer, though more often, they are superficially fairly conservative. It’s under the surface, as well as aloft, that you find the innovation in these clever little trailer sailers.

The Swallow Yachts Bay Cruiser 21 is no different. Effectively a beefed-up version of the yard’s most popular model, the 20-foot Bay Raider Expedition, this boat is only one foot longer, but has significantly more waterline length as well as higher freeboard and more beam.

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This supports a bigger and more efficient sailplan, allows for side decks that you can walk forward on securely, a decent height cockpit coaming to lean back against, and the same, vast self-draining cockpit.

Below the cockpit sole is a water ballast tank adding 400kg to her righting moment; the boat can still be sailed without it, even in a stiff breeze if you like dinghy sailing, but from around Force 4 the ballast may be appreciated. This also makes her fully self-righting from 90º if the worst were to happen, while allowing her towing weight to be a mere 600kg – easily within the limits of most ordinary family cars.

Other neat touches include the mainsail batten cars sliding down into a ‘cassette’ that comes away from the mast when you unmount the boom, saving the faff of re-threading them all when rigging, and a track into which the boom slots for towing. The full-roached mainsail and backstayless rig mean the mast doesn’t overhang too much when it’s dropped for towing either – rigging should be possible in under 10 minutes.

The cabin offers a surprising amount of space for basic cruising. Photo: Theo Stocker

Accommodation has improved too. Step down below and the bunks are no longer ‘on the floor’ but raised up with a proper footwell, so it’s comfy enough to sit down below on a damp afternoon, and any water that does get down the companionway will pool there rather than in your sleeping bag.

There’s space for a pull-out chemical loo, a cool box, or batteries if you opt for an electric motor (there’s stowage on deck for a petrol tank for the outboard in the well), and still room for kit bags and canvas stowage pouches.

Cooking is done on deck, albeit under the shelter of the sprayhood, thanks to the inbuilt space for a camping gas hob under the cockpit seat.

The combination of all of this results in a boat that looks pretty, should be remarkably fun to sail, is dead easy to rig and tow, and yet still has enough space for a couple to have some serious mini adventures on.

Swallow Yachts Bay Cruiser 21 specifications

LOA: 6.02m / 20ft 0in
LWL: 5.67m 18ft 7in
BEAM: 2.18m / 7ft 2in
DRAUGHT: (keel up/keel down) 0.25m – 1.5m / 0ft 10in – 4ft 11in
SAIL AREA: 19m2/204 sq ft
BALLAST: Water 400kg/881 lbs
DISPLACEMENT: Empty: 600kg/1,322lbs Ballasted: 1,000kg / 2,203 lbs
PRICE: £27,000 ex VAT

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