Hartley TS21 Trailer Sailer

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After posting some comments this week, MTS has suggested I might tell the story of the restoration of my 40yo TS18. I thought I'd first catch some budding Hartley enthusiasts with the idea of restoring an old boat as an alternative to building a new one. Many of the good Hartleys we see today were built long ago and have been restored by devoted owners and maintained in pretty good order.

The advantages of building a new hull are that you can use modern materials such as epoxy resin, glass fibre reinforcement and modern paints. The advantage of restoring an old boat is that, in its cheap price, you get a lot of spars, sails, ropes and hardware and the set-up experience of previous owners. However to rejuvenate forlorn wreckage into a good strong boat you will need some enthusiasm for DIY woodworking and be unafraid to wield the chain saw as necessary. It can be done and many have done it.

Not too confident yet? Read "Wooden Boat Restoration and Repair" for inspiration and courage. Download it free from http://www.westsystem.com.au/west_system/products/publications. Check out some of the really ugly restoration starting points to be found in the link to HTS Image Gallery. Bear in mind that a beautiful TS16 in Brisbane was found on the tip.

cheers John (HMTSAQ's Class Measurer.)

By: John Milne | Date: Aug 14, 2010 |

I like seeing how you are building a Hartley sailing boat. It is very informative.
Congratulations on your project. It looks fantastic to me.
Sydney, N.S.W. Australia

By: ma422 | Date: Aug 12, 2010 |

About strength and weight.

Let's not sweat this small stuff. Hartley's designs comply with the scantling rules for these boat sizes, exactly - component parts are no bigger and no smaller than thousands of years of boat building have taught us. We now have the advantage of epoxy resins and glass which certainly help if you get caught banging up and down on the coral.

A few years ago I looked into building a TS18 hull by stitch and glue. Yes it could be done easily and yes a lighter hull would result - but so what? They still need frames to shape them correctly and they need weight or they'd jump around like a cork in any bit of a sea.

The fact is that the minimum weight for a TS21 is 907 kg (573 kg for an 18). You need this weight to bring them down to their design water level for racing and cruising. At this level you can load an awful lot of camping and fishing gear and people per inch of displacement.

Whether racing or cruising, both the TS18 and the TS21 built conventionally, need lots of ballast. As well as weight you need fore and aft balance to stop the transom from dragging in the water.

By glassing and epoxying the hull you can use the latest yacht paints which seem to need (and deserve) a more stable base than soggy old boats provide. But if you don't have the benefits of such well-sealed timbers, then cheaper house paint is the go. Just expect to apply TLC more regularly.

cheers John HMTSAQ Measurer

By: John Milne | Date: Aug 10, 2010 |

For Louise Maud.
Re trailers. Hartleys sell a set of trailer plans for the TSs. The hulls were designed to sit on a "ladder" of rollers (about 300 mm apart) which takes virtually the whole weight of the hull. Then you need only a guide to stop the hull from leaning over as you winch her up the ladder and a side support to hold her up for the journey. My support is a piece of 2x3 (with some carpet on it) which spans between the chine and the inner stringers at the hull's lowest point on each side. Some folk support the chine on a piece of carpeted wood on the trailer's reinforced mudguard. Be assured no more than this is required except tie-down straps. These boats are really strong and we can quote Richard Hartley who said you can drag them up the beach.

For MTS Peter. Congratulations on providing a first class site about your project and the Hartley TSs. I am presently rejuvenating my 40 year old TS18 and I'm a HMTSAQ member in Brisbane. The 18s and 21s are wonderfully seaworthy boats and I couldn't find a better design for inshore cruising when looking around ten years ago. It is great to see new boats joining the fleet.

By: John Milne | Date: Aug 10, 2010 |

It is going to be interesting to see what floatation material you choose and where you put it.
It would not be hard to make these boats completely unsinkable.
Great work so far, I am finding it very interesting.

By: Dom | Date: Aug 10, 2010 |


I am the proud owner of a Ross 650. She is a quick boat, we leave Castle 650's in our wake. The only time I've seen the arse end of a Castle 650 is when it is on a trailer (lol).

Moving to the point, I have a short story you guys might think appropriate for your web site.

This weekend I was a guest on a Hartley TS21. It was her maiden sail after a major recondition. I had given Mark a gee-up about spending too much good mula on such an old boat. The three of us cruised Moreton Bay all day.

I now realise what all you Hartley people are on about.

This one was rigged about as basic as I've seen but it didn't seem to matter as we hiked along without it putting a single demand on any of us.

She was a lot smoother through the water than I was expecting too, no doubt due to her weight and hull design. It was an abnormally comfortable and effortless sail for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and let me tell you I've been on my fair share of dead duck trailer sailers.

The point being you only need to sail on a Hartley 21 to see why they have stood the test of time. They are likely to be around for a lot longer yet.

Time, effort and mula very well spent Mark.



By: David | Date: Aug 8, 2010 |

Hi there my trailer sailer,
Nice idea about building the 50th year Hartley 21 boat. I can see you are doing a fine job.
I have been thrashing around with the thought of building myself ever since I can remember.
What I think would be helpful is if you published your costs.
Call me old fashion but I really like the way the Hartleys look and weirdly their beamy sterns seem to be the latest trend amongst performance yachts now. Richard Hartley must have had a crystal ball hidden away in his workshop.
Thank you

By: jamie | Date: Aug 8, 2010 |

I second Sam's suggestion to document (movies would be good) how she really sails.
See if you can organise other trailer sailers to sail along side on different runs. I for one would be interested in how your TS21 performs.
In your photos it looks as though the below waterline shape would give her good performance potential, even with that big keel fin aft. She must point like she's on rails.
Anyway, the final proof will be on the water.

By: 4222 | Date: Aug 7, 2010 |


I am surprised at how your 21 is looking. From your photos it seems more streamlined leading up to the bow compared to the typical "bull nose" shape of Hartley t/s's. It could be just the camera angle.

She sure is looking clean lined though. I hope you will continue to produce your movies to show her sailing against other t/s's. That would be real interesting.


By: Sam | Date: Aug 7, 2010 |

Keep ya socks on there Brett.
I was merely agreeing with the point Hartley trailer boats are designed strong. One of the reasons for this is their older 'egg crate' type internal structure. I was not saying what they are doing is wrong.
But extra strength can not instantly be achieved via just making one part thicker/bigger/better. Everything is in relation to all other components within the whole structure.
From what they have documented so far I agree with you, a lot of their "strengthening" is common sense and is well thought out. You have no argument from me.
But Hartley trailer boats ARE designed stronger straight off the plan compared to almost any other trailer sailer. This is a fact.
Thanx again

By: T74 | Date: Aug 5, 2010 |

About this discussion on strength.
I don't think there is anything wrong with building a stronger boat. They are not making it stupidly stronger. Just some measured moves here and there by the looks of it. Read what they say about using s/s bolts instead of screws for the keel. To me this is just basic common sense.
The weight gain is next to nothing so I can only see big positives with their choices.
I say good on them. I would prefer a stronger boat any day. I mean who wouldn't?

By: Brett | Date: Aug 5, 2010 |

I concur with Mark. These boats are solid little buggers off the plan. There is no weakness in them. When you use epoxy throughout you introduce increase strengthening properties that were not taken into account when these boats were designed anyway.
Your bit about using peel ply is interesting. This is new to me.
I am enjoying viewing your progress. Well done so far.

By: T74 | Date: Aug 5, 2010 |

I have one question. Just what are you planning on hitting? An oil tanker? If so I pity the oil tanker ;)

Hartley sailing boats are designed strong and this was before epoxy turned up on the scene. I would not have bothered going to the trouble and extra cost you have to make it "stronger". The extra strength is unnecessary.

But giving credit where due the quality of your construction looks very good.

I also like the way you are publishing your progress with photos, commentary and movies. It is a polished effort all round and I am enjoying watching it being completed.

Brisbane, Australia.

By: Mark | Date: Aug 4, 2010 |

Hello mytrailersailer.com,

I agree with Rodney. This is also about celebrating 50 years of the 'trailer sailer' scene in Australia. It is common knowledge within the sailing community the Hartley trailer sailers were the little easily home built wooden boats that really kicked everything off in the country, some 50 years ago.

By building the 50th anniversary Hartley trailer sailer you are also celebrating the beginning of Australia's 'trailer sailers'.

Get a gigantic "50th Anniversary Trailer Sailer" printed on your spinnaker ;)

Great job and an excellent initiative.


By: Ralph | Date: Jul 27, 2010 |

I'm enjoying your websight very much, and learning much as well. I'd never heard of a brush-roller, nor seen peel ply being used. I hope you'll keep up the good work.

I'll be particularly interested to see how you frame in a self-bailing cockpit and how big the scuppers are. I'll also be looking for how the internal ballast is stowed. If you put the paint on by hand, it will be interesting to know if you have to "tip it off" with a second person following the roller man with a brush.

Good luck to you.


By: James | Date: Jul 26, 2010 |

Hello MTS,
I am enjoying how you are documenting your construction progress.
Your workmanship looks first rate. It will be a beautifully built TS21.
Keep up the good work.
All the best,

By: Bruce | Date: Jul 26, 2010 |

Hi there,

Yours is a super project and I'm really enjoying watching your progress.

We will be building one soon too but not the 21, I think we have more or less settled on the 18.

I reckon your web site is great.


By: TW322 | Date: Jul 22, 2010 |

I cut my teeth on a Hartley trailer sailer before moving on to purpose designed performance trailer yachts. This is where it all began for me and for a great many in the sailing community here in Australia.

There would not be a single person involved in sailing in Australia that wouldn't know what a Hartley trailer sailer is. They have a unique place in Australia's recent sailing history.

Twelve Australian Trailer Yacht Championships later I still consider the Hartley trailer sailers the best of the bunch when it comes to small easily sailed trailer yachts for the home builder.

It would be a fitting tribute to where it all began for the trailer yacht community here in Australia if your "Grampsie II" was to escort our Blazer fleet into the start of our National Finals. I have emailed you some information if you are interested. I will put the idea to the committee if you like the sound of it.

Great project, congratulations.


By: Rodney | Date: Jul 22, 2010 |

hi there.
The trailer we have for our Hartley TS16 was not bought with the boat and doesn't support the boat correctly. We'd like to modify it if possible and wonder if there are any designs around that show the correct position for supports and also, the most appropriate type of support for the hull.
Any info would be greatly appreciated.

By: Louise Maud | Date: Jul 13, 2010 |

Boat is looking amazing!!! What a great idea Daddy

By: Stacey | Date: Jul 11, 2010 |

Marking the 50 year anniversary with building one is a great idea. She is looking as though she is coming along great.
I sold mine a while ago but now I've reached a certain point in my life where I long to go back to owning one.
Building my own is not out of the question but second hand Hartleys are not usually expensive. The problem is finding a good 21 is next to impossible. The ones I've seen over the last six months have been neglected to a point of almost no return.
Building my own is looking more on the cards.
I like your web site, it is very motivating.
Thank you

By: max | Date: Jul 11, 2010 |

How good are these boats. I went for a sail on a 16' one last weekend and it was barrels of fun.

We got very close to another one and we spent most of the afternoon racing them around the place.

To cut a long story short the owner of the one I was on is now joining up with a Hartely club and we will be racing for keeps in proper races soon.

I luv this stuff now, it is phuken unreal.


By: Tony | Date: Jul 7, 2010 |

Di said: ".... Can you tell us if the 21 is basically the same as the 16 in terms of sailing skills required?"

Yes. These are small yachts that have been designed with simplicity in mind. But having said that the 21 is considerably larger than the 16, you will notice a difference as it is a heavier vessel and thus will not be as responsive or as nimble as your TS16. On the flip side you travel through the water a little more smoothly.

But fear not, if you can sail the 16 easily (which obviously you can) then you'll quickly adjust to the 21.

You are more than welcome to include some images in future messages of your father's construction process. It is great to hear there is another 21 about to be built and I'm sure those visiting this site would welcome images of other trailer sailer builds.

Best regards


By: Peter | Date: Jul 6, 2010 | MyTrailerSailer.com

We have an old Hartley 16 that is ready for the scrap heap. Dad did a patch up job about 5 years ago but it is too full of rot. He believes it was originally built in the late 60's.
Dad wants to build one and we like the look of the larger 21. He is very eager to build it himself but only after mum gets her new kitchen so I don't know who is going to win there.
Can you tell us if the 21 is basically the same as the 16 in terms of sailing skills required? We are after something just as simple to sail as our 16. We are not experts but we love sailing and camping out.
My finesse and I sailed throughout the Hawkesbury River camping out for three nights in various small coves and inlets on our 16. Going to the toilet was a nightmare but it was an unbelievably enjoyable break away from the rat race. We regularily do overnights on the weekend but the boat is now too unsafe. The 21 is going to be fantastic for this and Dad gets to live his dream of building a boat himself.
You have a wonderful web site too by the way, very interesting.
Thank you

By: Dianne | Date: Jul 3, 2010 |


I am very interested to see what sailmaker and outboard motor you end up choosing and/or recommend. It is almost impossible to get any unbiased advice on anything these days.

My own project, a Hartley 21 restoration, is getting close to completion. The cabin, interior and final finishing pait job still ahead so I am about a month away from ordering sails and outboard motor. The mast and boom are still in a usable fair to good condition.

I bought it for a song about a year ago. I will attach an image when I have it finished as she's looking a little messy at the moment.

Sydney, AU.

By: Andrea | Date: Jul 2, 2010 |

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