BOAT DESIGN AND CONTRUCTION
CRUISE-ABILITY was Watkin’s tag line on all of their advertisements. The following bulleted section is copied from the general company brochure published about 1987.
· One-piece solid hand-laid hull with internal ballast fiberglassed in place.
· Hull interior gelcoated
· No external iron or steel to rust
· Examine other’s keel-to-hull joint. You may see gaps, fillers, rust, cracks. Ours assures fairness.
· Hull and deck inner liners with access to deck hardware.
· Stronger, quieter, cooler in summer, and warmer in winter, no condensation.
· Pre-cut inspection holes for tightening deck hardware.
· Check our competition to see if they offer our easy access to deck hardware fasteners—or if you can get there at all.
· Exterior hull-to-deck joint chemically bonded and bolted with stainless bolts every five inches. No sheet metal screws or pop rivets. IT’S THE STRONGEST, MOST SECURE HULL-TO-DECK JOINT ON THE MARKET.
· Access without removing interior pieces or damaging them.
· Ask to see the hull-to-deck fasteners on any boat you are considering.
· Stanchions are through-bolted to hull-to-deck joint for strength and accessibility.
· Mast and boom are oversized, anodized.
· Internal halyards.
· Chainplates structurally backed and bolted.
· All sizing is to heavy offshore standards.
· High displacement/length ration for solid and comfortable sailing even under extreme conditions.
· High ballast/displacement ration (25’ -39%), (30’- 43%), (33’ - 49%) for stiff and comfortable sailing.
· Interiors are big, roomy and beautifully appointed with teak.
· Exceptional headroom (25’ - 5’11”), (30’ - 6’3”), (33’ - 6’5”).
· Huge, well finished storage spaces.
· Aluminum opening ports with screens and aluminum hatches give the main salon an open, bright and airy feeling.
· No “closed-in” feeling, as in some boats.
· Yanmar Diesel engines, Isomat spars, Edson steering, Barient winches and Bomar ports and hatches are the best in the industry, and are used on all Watkins yachts.
· Compare, boat for boat, dollar for dollar, and you’ll join the thousands of trouble-free, worry-free, Watkins Owners.
Boat construction and philosophy
Hull: All Watkins boats have solid hulls, with no cores. Decks after 1980 are cored with plywood blocks in a mosaic like pattern with spaces left between the blocks and the space filled with resin to stop moister intrusion from spreading. Early boats have balsa cored decks which occasionally do have deck problems due to moisture rotting the balsa causing delaminating. All the boats are heavy built with strength being more important than weight savings. The fiber glass lay up schedule called for woven glass on both inner and outer layers for strength. The center of the hull is glass mat. Sadly most new production boats no longer use this excellent method due to cost.
Deck Joint: Boats put in production beginning in 1980 (W36, W32,W25,W29,W33,W30) all have a special deck joint invented by Watkins’s internal design team. The joint is made using an outward turning hull flange with an aluminum toe rail through bolted to both deck and hull. This is the strongest hull joint ever developed. It is not prone to leak due to the bolts being exterior to the hull. This design has since been copied by Hunter and other companies.
Keel: All models are shallow draft with internal ballast except the W36 which has a lead bolt on keel. This means that the keel is molded of fiberglass as a hollow integral part of the hull mold and filled afterwards with ballast. Early models have a lead pre-form inserted into the keel cavity and surrounded by liquid resin. After 1980 the keels were made as follows: A fiberglass copy of the keel about a quarter inch thick was made from a mold for the inside of the keel. This fiberglass shell was then sat on the floor and a small amount of rich concrete mix added to the bottom. Two lifting eyes attached to long rods were then inserted all the way to the bottom and protruding up past the top of the shell. Two inch square cast iron bars of random lengths were then carefully laid in the shell as tight as possible together. Voids and spaces were filled with the concrete mix and this process was continued until the shell was filled to the top. After the concrete setup the eye bolts were used to move the keel weight into position over the hull’s keel cavity. About six inches of resin was poured into the hull’s keel cavity and the keel weight was then lowered in the hull cavity as the resin flowed up around the sides bonding the two fiberglass sections together. The eyebolts were then cut off and the keel covered over with resin and glass matt. These keels are called cruising keels because they are very fat with a blunt bottom and long as opposed to a racing keel which is a narrow fin blade. The cruising keel shape provides enough volume that lead is not required to provide adequate ballast.
Production: Production can be roughly divided into Three time periods. The 1975 thru 1979 period where the Watkins brothers sold over 800 hulls in five years of the W17, W23 and W27 models. The second period: just after the Brothers left, (1980-1985) when the product line was upgraded and enhanced with new boats and the old boats discontinued and finally the last period after McLaughlin purchased the company when the emphasis turned to power boat production. After 1979 the times had changed, interest rates were running over 10%, government excise taxes on boats and many other factors conspired so that over the next ten years only about 400 total hulls were built and sold. No model 29 feet or larger reached a total of 100 hulls and the majority reached less than 50 hulls over the entire production run. Some hull numbers are larger than 50 but this is due to Watkins sharing hull numbers sequences with multiple models. See Watkins history for more details on number of boats built. Watkins boats were semi-custom made to order. This means that each boat was built to order for an owner or dealer and not mass produced for future sale. Owners added or deleted options at will and no two are exactly alike. Engines, steering systems, heads, magazine racks, lights, mirrors, etc were added, changed or deleted at the will of the future boat owner. As an example the W25’s came with tiller or wheel, inboard or outboard, Porta-Potty or marine head, bow platform or no, With/without pin rails, wood strips on cabin interior and w/wo door on anchor rode locker to name just a few options. Note: order forms with options and price lists are available for several models in the “Downloads” section. Masts, ports and hatches also changed models and manufacturers some time during the production run as the boats were upgraded to compete with other brands. In the case of the W25, early boats had 4 small ports and later models had 4 small and 2 large. After 1986 when power boats were introduced, sail boat production dwindled and a crew of the best four men assembled all of the sailboats. It required about a months time from beginning to end to produce a sail boat in the later years.
Rigging: All Watkins boats have mast, boom and standing rigging one size larger than required. This makes for a very strong, safe boat. The added weight aloft does however make the boats a little more tender and requires reefing earlier and more often than on lighter rigged boats. The sail plan is slightly smaller than on a typical boat to balance the shoal draft.
Sailing performance: Watkins boats are cruisers, not racers. The heavy hull construction, shoal draft and small sail plan make their performance less than stellar. As the sailors used to say they are “gentlemanly boats” and “gentleman do not go to windward”. The shoal draft makes the windward performance also less than ideal.
With all that said, they are very comfortable, safe, sea kindly boats that make great family boats for day sailing, gunk holing, and living aboard on the larger boats. The boat is ideal for shoaling waters like Florida, the Bahamas or the Intercoastal waterway. All boats have good headroom and interior volume for their size.
Interior: Watkins yachts have features like hand rubbed teak bulkheads, cabinets and solid teak trim on the interior, all opening ports with screens, and a teak and holly sole which are features found more commonly on custom boats.
Known Problems: The most common complaint about the boats is with leaks through the deck. The two main culprits are the ports and cabin top rails and hardware. Other leak areas are common to most boats such as the chain plates, mast step bolts (on W25&W27) and where mast wiring enters the cabin top. Blisters seem no more prevalent than with other boats of this era. Deck soft spots, due to leaking is more common on early models than with later models. This may be a function of age or the coring method used. The later models use a butcher block arrangement of plywood squares to reinforce the deck, combings and cabin top. The butcher block design limits the spread of water and dry rot to one small square. Many production boat builders of the era used solid plywood as a reinforcement. This lets water and dry rot spread over large areas. Watkins changed to the butcher block design around 1980 when management changed and several design and production changes occurred.
Last updated 12-21-2005