Penned by the late great Bill Crealock and introduced by Pacific Seacraft in 1984, the Dana, at only 24 feet on deck, is perhaps the consummate pocket cruiser. The boat combines traditional styling with the kind of keen craftsmanship and solid construction upon which Pacific Seacraft built its reputation.
Like all good boats, the Dana 24 is well balanced, fast for her size and seakindly. Her shallow draft allows for exploration in cruising grounds larger yachts cannot, and her design, now over 25 years old, is well proven with a number of ocean crossings to her credit. Yet for all her offshore capabilities she is one of a select few that can go home on a trailer.
Although the Dana 24 has never been a cheap boat to buy, owners can console themselves with the lower maintenance bills from a blue water cruiser of diminutive size. Perhaps Crealock best sums it up, “It’s a wonderful entry level, genuine go anywhere cruising boat”.
It could be said that the Pacific Seacraft of yesteryear had an affinity for pocket cruisers. Right from the get go, the company introduced the Pacific Seacraft 25 and later the Orion 27, both strong and capable offshore cruisers designed by one of the co-founders himself, Henry Morschladt. However it’s the Flicka 20 that we remember most when we think of small and capable. Pacific Seacraft acquired the Flicka 20 around 1977 and became a hit for the company. By the early-1980s the company was looking to augment Flicka with a larger boat of similar style.
It was Bill Crealock, well respected for his seaworthy designs, who got the commission for the new boat and by 1984 the Dana 24 was introduced. She was fairly well received, in fact a respectable 222 boats were sold in the subsequent fifteen years before a booming mid-1990s economy shifted interest to bigger boats.
“The taste went to bigger boats for a while and smaller boats just got put aside… The size of boats people get seems to vary with the square root of the Dow Jones average” – Bill Crealock
Pacific Seacraft ceased production of the Dana 24 in 1997, but after a three year hiatus interest was reignited as the economy slowed. The company recommenced limited production in 2000 however only a few were sold.
In 2007, Pacific Seacraft entered receivership before changing hands to its new owner, Stephen Brodie. Interestingly, the Dana 24 molds were not part of Brodie’s acquisition. Instead the molds passed to a dealership in Seattle called Seacraft Yachts who have made the boat available once again (starting with hull number #351).
In total at least 250 boats have been built. In this time there’s been little to improve upon the little Dana 24, the boat remains almost unchanged, a true testament to the quality of Crealock’s original design.
The Dana 24 is a moderate displacement cruiser, below the waterline you’ll find a full keel with a forefoot cutaway and a keel-hung rudder. Her sheerline is elegant and she has a memorably plumb bow with a teak bowsprit platform. Compromise on her size means that she is lacking the distinctive Crealock double-ended stern in favor of a wide and almost vertical transom.
The boat retains the signature cutter rig, that’s so popular among the blue water fraternity. Some have optionally been setup for single handing with sheeting and halyard lines led back into the safety of the cockpit.
The cockpit provides good protection from the elements and there are two generously sized cockpit drains. The two cockpit seats are long enough to sleep on at 6′ 3″ in length, and have large lockers are below. There’s a watertight hatch on the cockpit sole to provide access to the engine.
Down below you’ll find of 6′ 1″ of headroom and it’s apparent that 8′ 7″ of beam has been plenty for Crealock to play with. The interior layout demonstrates excellent functionality and clever use of space. Her interior space is around 50% larger than other boats of similar length, making her feel like a much bigger boat.
She has an open plan interior with hand rubbed oiled teak cabinetry, and a teak-and-holly sole that gives her a beautifully warm and inviting feel. As you descend the companionway, on the port side is a full galley with a gimballed two-burner propane stove, a large insulated icebox and a 10-inch-deep sink with hand-pump. A flip down cover over the stove provides extra counter space to work with, as does another in the seating area. To starboard there is an enclosed head are with head, integral shower pan, hanging locker and sink with hand pump.
The four available berths are generous and comfortable a v-berth berth that is 6′ 8″ long and 6′ 9″ wide, as well as two 6′ 6″ settees with cleverly placed foot room that tucks beneath the v-berth.
Beneath the forward berth are two large drawers and a drop locker. The cabin shelving has removable fiddles and the hanging locker is louvered for extra ventilation. The dining table slides out from underneath the v-berth, above the two drawers, and is a particularly clever feature, having a hinged center which fits around the interior metal post and can be fully or partially extended.
True to Pacific Seacraft tradition, the hull and deck are solidly constructed from hand laminated fiberglass. The innermost layers are polyester and the outermost layers have utilized osmosis resisting vinylester resin since 1989. The deck is balsa cored with plywood core in high load zones. The hull to deck joint is a double flange bedded in high tensile polyurethane adhesive compound and through-bolted with stainless bolts. The interior module is also of vinylester resin and is bonded to the hull with fiberglass mat and woven roving.
The interior fittings are white matte below counter height and teak above. Lead is used as ballast and is encapsulated in fiberglass. All through-hull fittings are solid bronze. Chainplates are through-fastened to the hull with stainless steel bolts and full backing plates.
Since 1989 the boat has had eight rectangular bronze port lights in place of the original round bronze ports.
Like all Crealock designs, the Dana 24 integrates a good deal of comfort in a well controlled and balanced hull. She’s seakindly boat with a mellow motion through the water and her high ballast ratio (nearly 40%) no doubt helps her ultimate stability. The Crealock philosophy being comfort and stability translates to lower crew fatigue and faster, safer passages.
Light air performance is not her strength, unless set up particularly well and skillfully sailed, don’t expect too much boat speed, she is after all a heaver displacement boat on the grand scheme of things. In a breeze the Dana comes to life, she points well to windward and sails her best on a reach, while downwind her keel and hull form tracks well without a hint of squirming and with less roll than most.
One acknowledged weakness is her inability to hove-to, her high freeboard in her bow sections coupled with a big forefoot cutaway on her keel means her nose is too easily knocked away.
Expect a top speed around 6.5 knots, and we’ve heard reports that well set up examples can top 120 mile days under during long passages. Not bad for a boat her size and displacement.
The Dana 24 is a well proven boat and to date no significant weaknesses in her construction have been found. For further research, it’s recommended buyers consult the active community of Dana 24 owners who have an email list running at Yahoo Groups (see below for a link).
In the used boat market the Dana 24 has enjoyed popularity and prices reflect this. As at 2010 the asking price for a used Dana 24 is in the range of $40k-90k USD. A new Dana will set you back in the region of $150k USD for the basic model without any of the large range optional and extras.
» Dana owners group on Yahoo
» An owner’s in-depth review of the Dana by Benjy
» Article on the Dana by Heather Frickmann
» Review of the Dana from 48 degrees North by Richard Hazelton
» Dana 24 video review by Lattitudes and Attitudes, Seafaring Magazine
» Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere by John Vigor, (Ch11, p65-70) an in depth look at the Dana 24. ISBN:978-0939837328