Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hitia 17 and Tiki 21

This photo shows the size difference between my Tiki 21 Element, and my Hitia 17 Segundo Vez. The perspective with Segundo Vez farther away makes it look even smaller, but there is a significant difference in four feet of length. The Tiki range from the Hitia 17 to the Tiki 30 increases in four-foot increments. Each size, however, is almost twice the volume of the next size smaller, hence a Tiki 21 cost about twice as much and requires about twice the time to build as the Hitia 17. This ratio is roughly the same going from a Tiki 21 to a Tiki 26, and from a Tiki 26 to a Tiki 30. In boats volume definately increases at a ratio exponential to overall length.

Each of these four sizes of the Tiki range has its own advantages and disadvantages, making each more suitable for some purposes than others. The Hitia 17 is for sure easier to deal with, with each hull weighing in at only about 90lbs. It can be easily trailered and set up quickly for sailing. What it lacks is any accomodation in the hulls when the weather turns nasty. The Tiki 21 is barely better, but does at least offer much more storage and a dry bunk in each hull, if not room to actually sit up inside with the hatches closed. The Tiki 21 is sort of an in-between size in my view, a little too big and difficult to set-up for easy trailering, at least the kind of trailering where you keep the boat at home and drive to the ramp for a few hours of day sailing. I'll be keeping mine in the water, which means paying for a dock space, which will make sailing much more convenient, but the boat is still too small for living aboard or comfortably hanging around on in a marina setting. It is a boat that will truly be in it's element out there sailing, and should be great for camp cruising and gunkholing around barrier islands and estuaries, while offering the ability to go offshore safely.

Moving up to the Tiki 26 and Tiki 30, one gets into a class of catamarans that are easily capable of long distance bluewater sailing, and both have been well-proven in this regard. The Tiki 26 offers sitting headroom in each hull, as well as two bunks in each and room for a basic galley, a portable toilet and storage for everything needed for one or two people to make an ocean crossing. At just 1500 pounds of boat weight, it still can be trailered, but will be more of a job than the Tiki 21 to assemble/disassemble. The Tiki 30, with it's deeper hulls and more volume inside offers room for a double bunk in each hull, more of a dedicated galley, toilet area, and even more storage. It's a lot more to build in many ways than the Tiki 26, based on my careful study of the plans for each, simply because of the increased size of the scantlings for stringers and other solid parts, the addition of mini-keels in the V-hulls and the complexity of the cockpit, mast, and other details. But it undoubtedly offers more comfort than any of the other small Tikis and the longer waterline length would make for more comfort and speed offshore in rough conditions.

The bottom line is that all boats are compromises, and you must give up one quality to gain another. Having built and sailed the Hitia 17, I'm looking forward to experiencing the capabilities of the Tiki 21. I'll also have one each of the Tiki 26 and Tiki 30, in a perfect world. But seriously, I am going to build another, not only in a quest to get the boat most appropriately sized for my needs, but to control the process from beginning to end so that every part of the boat will be of the best materials and best workmanship I can put into it. More will follow on this, but first there will be more details about the refit of Element, and soon, the sailing and cruising that will follow her launching.


Anonymous said...

Hi Scott, You've done a good job and she's a fine looking boat. I'm contemplating a Tiki 21, but was also thinking about the 17 or 26. I'm still a little undecided(!) but your latest entry does reinforce a few things (ie size vs cost for one!). So leaning towards the 21, for weekend or week long sailing trips, beach camping and possible jaunts up through the islands on the Barrier Reef. Temperatures here (Brisbane, Australia) are sub-tropical so beach/deck camping should be OK. I've had an add on Wharram's web site for unused plans (I'm a student on a budget!), but had no luck, so will have to purchase them new in the new year. Also, if you don't mind me asking, do you have an idea how much a set of sails for a 21 cost? There is a second set on Wharram's web site in the UK, but they seem a little expensive. Anyway, I hope your first trip in Element goes smoothly! Cheers, Marc

Scott B. Williams said...


Thanks for the compliment on the boat. As far as size goes, so much depends on your needs. If you like camping and don't anticipate longer offshore voyages where sitting headroom inside the boat might be welcome, then the Tiki 21 may be all the boat you need. The Hitia 17 is a good beachcruiser as well, and I used mine for quite a few multi-day excursions to barrier islands, camping both on deck and ashore. Since you're a student on a budget, one of these two smaller designs might be best, then if you find yourself really into sailing and cruising you can always build or buy a bigger Wharram later.

I'm not sure about current prices, but my Tiki 21 sails are new, unused sails by Jeckells, the premier sailmaker for Wharram designs. I got them for $1200 U.S.,(main and jib) since the owner decided not to build. This was a couple hundred less than what he paid, including shipping from the U.K. I sold my old set which was still in good condition for $600 U.S., so you can sometimes find a good deal. There are other sailmakers who can make the Wharram wingsail as well, and I was pleased with my Hitia 17 sails from a small firm in Florida.

Good luck with your choice!