Reprinted from "YACHTS and YACHTING" October 25th, 1968

The Robert Tucker designed Ballerina has been on the market for a number of years and the fact that it continues to sell steadily against newer designs indicates that it has much to offer to potential owners of small cruisers. The builders are Penryn Boat Building and Engineering Company Limited of Ponsharden, Penryn, Cornwall. The original boat was intended for construction in marine plywood but the Mark II model is moulded in glass-fibre construction. This has undoubtedly resulted in a return to the round bilge form of hull in the majority of boats designed for construction in this medium. The hard chine form can still offer advantages in a small cruiser in terms of space below decks, and a rather higher degree of initial stability for any given ballast ratio and draft. In the case of the Ballerina, 800 lbs of iron ballast in the form of a stub keel and mild steel bilge keels combined with a modest draft of 2ft 3in provide a satisfying performance under sail, whilst at the same time enabling the total displacement to be kept down to one ton for ease of trailing, launching and recovery, as well as reducing the cost of a trailer to a minimum.

The hull is constructed of the usual two mouldings, which are bonded and bolted together, and an external centre ballast keel and two mild steel bilge keels. The mouldings are by Honnor Marine Limited of Totnes and are to a good production standard of finish with integral non-slip finish provided where necessary. The coachroof and cockpit extend nearly the whole width of the hull with only vestigial side decks so that access forward will normally be via the coachroof itself. As well be later seen, this arrangements provides a considerable bonus in space below and has few disadvantages in practice.

The greater part of the foredeck is taken up with an unusually large hatch cover which in practice may well be preferable to a hatch of smaller dimensions in that one is less likely to trip over its edges. The stainless steel pulpit encloses almost all of the area of the foredeck, but we felt that it could be higher at its after end with advantage without unduly fouling the foot of the foresail, which is cut rather high. Deck fittings are limited to a combined stem head fitting which incorporates a nylon roller, a single substantial mooring cleat and a chain pipe, all in marine bronze. The forehatch itself is hinged aft and is sealed with rubber strip and secured by a pair of toggles.

The wide coachroof is uncluttered except for a pair of mahogany handrails, which in practice are more likely to function as toe rails in the absence of side decks, and a pair of bulls-eye fairleads and jam cleats for the jib sheets.

The cockpit is large enough to set four people in comfort, with side coamings high enough to give some protection from spray and provide a degree of back support. The well is drained forward through two one-inch drains and a timber grating is fitted in the well. A hatch at the after end gives access to a false transom for mounting an outboard engine; the well having a removable moulded cover. Stowage for the outboard is provided beneath the cockpit sole with access from the cabin. There is a large stern locker beneath the after deck, again with a moulded hatch cover, and this locker extends either side beneath the after ends of the side benches. A small removable hatch cover is proved in the starboard side of the well to take the fuel pipe where a separate tank is used with the outboard engine.

Deck fittings include a pair of fairleads mounted on either quarter, and a single pair of cleats inside the after end of the cockpit coaming which double both for the mainsheet and for mooring cleats. An additional pair of cleats at this end of the boat would not be out of place.

Usually the rudder, which is hung on the transom, has a lifting rudder blade as its depth exceeds the normal draft of the boat in working trim. The tiller is not hinged and is sufficiently high to clear the head of the outboard motor when in use.

An all round mahogany toe rail is fitted for suitable gaps for drainage and the whole deck layout is clear and attractively finished.

Ballerina is rigged as a conventional masthead sloop with a single divided backstay and one pair of lower shrouds from the hounds. Standing rigging is of stainless steel secured to stainless steel rigging screws. Spars are of aluminium alloy and the mast mounted in a mild steel tabernacle and with Barton roller reefing and a kicking strap as standard. However no downhauls are provided for the tacks of main and jib. Snubbing winches can be fitted on the coachroof for the jib sheets as an extra if required. Sheeting arrangements for the mainsail are somewhat basic by modern standards, the double ended four part main sheet having its lower block shackled on to a length of 1 1/2 inch Terylene rope secured to two eye plates on the after deck. As will be seen later, this arrangement does not provide the degree of control for the mainsail which is commonly demanded today. A fixed horse with stops to limit the movement of the traveller would undoubtedly be an improvement. There would however be no difficulty in fitting this as an extra if required.

Unlike the majority of small cruisers of its size, Ballerina is laid out below with three berths only and --- most unusually --- an enclosed toilet compartment. This latter feature, made possible by the wide coachroof, is situated immediately forward of the main bulkhead on the starboard side. Its size is reasonable but, naturally, the headroom is restricted. In addition to its proper function, the compartment is large enough to provide a useful amount of storage space for wet oilies and, as it also projects well aft under the side bench, this space is also available from the cabin for same purpose.

There are two full length berths forward which project under the foredeck and these are separated from the chain locker by a bulkhead with a removable hatch, which also carries two useful size cupboards.

The quarter berth to port is separated from the saloon berth bay a sideboard with a hinged top over the space provided for a cooker; this shelf being large enough to accept a two burner gas or other unit. Beneath the cooker is a good size locker for cooking utensils and there are two small lockers mounted into the after bulkhead.

The layout is open and simple as befits a small yacht and it is finished off with patterned vinyl covering for the yacht's sides with the coachroof painted with anti-condensation paint. Timberwork is varnished and the sideboard is Formica covered as is the additional hinged working surface fitted on its forward side which serves to provide working surface when the cooker is in use. Altogether the layout is simple and practical with sufficient stowage space provided to take care of the normal gear of its three occupants. As usual, ventilation is poorly provided for in our opinion, and with only two small butterfly vents fitted in the main bulkhead.

Trials carried out in a wind of about Force 2 and 3 in Carris Roads under main and working jib indicated a standard of performance which will satisfy the majority of owners of a yacht of this size. The heavy weather helm when deeply heeled which is usually associated with small hard schine bilge kelers was most noticeable by its absence and, even in the occasional gust which all but put the lee gunwall under, no undue effort on the helm was necessary to maintain a steady course. To windward, the maximum speed appeared to be about four knots and the heading altered by a little over 90 degrees between tacks. With eased sheets, a maximum of some five knots was achieved on a reach in the gusts and down wind steering was easy with no undue tendency to yaw. The impression gained of the ability to carry sail was that working sail could be retained in winds up to about the bottom of Force 4, after which a reduction would be desirable.

The rather primitive mainsheet arrangements made it difficult to obtain the maximum drive from the mainsail when close hauled and some back winding from the jib was evident. Modification of this arrangement to suit owner's own ideas would however present little difficulty. All in all, Ballerina was a pleasure to sail and her general feel was of a small yacht well able to stand up to quite severe conditions should occasion arise.

An outboard motor was not available for trials, but a 5hp engine installed in the well should give a speed of about 5 1/2 knots, a long shaft being required. A selection of inboard engines can also be fitted including the 5hp Stuate Turner or 6hp Vire.

Ballerina is a sensibly thought out small yacht in which, in its standard form, the sacrifice of one berth has permitted an accommodation plan which provides full privacy in a region which many consider to be essential and which provides reasonable accommodation for three in a modest overall length and comparatively light displacement. The builders stress that they prefer to deal direct with their customers rather than through agents as this permits them to discuss and make minor modifications in fitting out to suit owners' own ideas. Ballerina's performance is adequate and vice free, and she should be capable of quite extended cruises in safety and reasonable comfort. In terms of cost, the basic price of 1,150 pounds includes main and jib, cushions, 15 lb plow anchor and 15 fathoms 1/4in chain, portable bilge pump and bucket toilet. Additional equipment to maximum cruising standards for this size of boat would raise the figure by a further 92 pounds, making 1,242 pounds in all ... less engine. By current standards, this represents good value for money for a versatile little yacht which is easily trailed, sturdily constructed and of good seagoing performance.


LINKS of interest relating to the BALLERINA II:

Ballerina Home Page compiled by Thomas Lee, Librarian

PENRYN, Ballerina Sail Number 217, owned by Margaret Carr Lee, Ontonagon, Michigan.
BALLERINA Sail Number 220, owned by Dave Corkum, New Brunswick, Canada.
DANCING GIRL a Ballerina II being restored by Jon Palmer, Liskeard, Cornwall, England.
ALINGA, a Caprice design by Robert Tucker. Owned by Alan Deely, Sidney, Australia.
TWIN-KEELER: A Quarterly (newsletter) for Owners and Admirers of Twin Keel Sailing Craft.
SEA DART home page.
SHRIMPY a 18 foot Robert Tucker designed bilge keel boat that sailed around the world.
TUCKER DESIGNS, 15 Wrenfied, Boxmoor, Hamel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England
BALLERINA a Yachts and Yachting Test. Reprinted from Yachts and Yachting October 25, 1968.
PENRYN Boatbuilding & Engineering Co. Ponsharden, Penryn, Cornwall. England
ROBERT TUCKER British yacht designer