Some would say the Skipper 17 is ugly - snub nosed, blunt bowed, plasticky, having a bulbous cabin with prison bars on its front hatch. Owners would say (defiantly) that these features are endearing, and what may be lost in looks is more than compensated by the boat’s great character - easy and fun to sail, safe, and plenty fast enough.
The popularity of the design speaks for itself: counting all models produced over four decades of production, more than 1000 boats were built. This production run may be the longest of any commercial cruiser.
So what are the best aspects of the design? It’s easy to trail, launch and recover, and is only a foot longer than a Wayfarer so doesn’t take up much room on the drive. The boat has a huge cockpit (wide and long) and is dry to sail, thanks to the generous cockpit coamings. She is fast enough to provide excitement and is reputed to be self-righting, even with the plates up.
Worst points? It isn’t easy to clamber over or around the cabin to get to the foredeck, for instance when you want to anchor - and there isn’t a proper anchor locker when you get there. The cabin is rather small - but hey, this is only a 17-footer!
“Caprera” (1973 single-plate Mariner) motor-sailing at Lymington.
Picture taken by Jill Harwood in 1979.
TRAILER-SAILING AND CRUISING
Trailer-sailing gives you options – you can hitch up and head off to pastures new as the whim takes you. If a tabernacle and mast lifting gear are fitted, the Skipper 17 can realistically be rigged and launched at a new slipway in less than 2 hours. Launching is easy with a draft of 15 inches - with a breakback trailer you don’t even get your feet wet. When hauling-out, she is light enough to be manhandled when trying to line up with the trailer in a crosswind or cross-current.
If you prefer, you can moor for the season, but you won’t have to pay for lifting out and storage when the winter comes, as you can keep the boat on its trailer on the drive.