Halcyon 23 - Yachts and Yachting Review

Reprinted from "YACHTS AND YACHTING", 13th March, 1970


  1. Hull and construction
  2. Decks and cockpit
  3. Rigging
  4. Accommodation
  5. Engine
  6. Performance
  7. Conclusions

The Halcyon 23, designed by Alan Buchanan, is a small yacht of conventional appearance which started life under the name of Crystal and with a different accommodation plan. Under the new name she is now marketed by Offshore Yachts Limited of Royston. Herts and is offered with either fin or bilge keels or in part completed form for home construction. The boat provided for test was the fin keel version.

 Hull and construction

The hull comprises two mouldings only, there being no separate glass fibre lining for the coachroof which is covered internally with plywood giving some degree of insulation and protection against excessive condensation. Unlike some more modern designs, considerable use is made of timber both above and below decks.

She has a very firm bilge and a marked degree of rocker. The narrow fin keel is of cast iron, sheathed in epoxy resin and carrying the greater part of its weight of 900 lb in the form of a bulb at its foot. The propeller shaft is supported by a minimal skeg and the rudder is hung on the transom with no support beneath the stock itself.

The mouldings were to a satisfactory standard of finish but the bolts which fasten the deck moulding to the hull are all visible and their heads make a rather unsightly line around the deck edge. Unfortunately the form of the mouldings at this point are such that there is no way to overcome this feature other than by individually stopping each bolt head.

Decks and cockpit

Movement on deck is reasonably easy, the side decks being about 10 in wide and uncluttered by track for the headsail lead blocks, The coachroof is carried well forward of the mast in the interests of accommodation below deck and if a good size anchor is stowed permanently on the foredeck, this area is somewhat restricted. An excellent, high pulpit and good height all round lifelines provide adequate security.

The foredeck carries a stemhead fitting incorporating a chain roller and a sturdy galvanised mooring cleat and chain stopper combined. Chain is led to a locker beneath the fo'c's'le berths via a centrally placed deck fitting leading to a length of plastic tube below deck. There is an adequately deep timber toerail which carries the track for the headsail sheets.

The timber forehatch is firmly bedded on to a rubber seal by means of an internal cross bar and clamp.

The cockpit is fitted with all round timber coamings and the locker tops and cockpit sole are of' the same material. In the absence of quarter berths, cavernous lockers are installed under both side benches and there is a further large locker under, the stern bench the former extending back to the transom under the after deck. This carries a pair of mooring cleats and one pair of fairleads. The well is drained by a single large drain installed in a moulded scupper at the after end and carried through the hull.

The overall size of the cockpit is sufficient for the full crew of four but one extra would make a crowd. A pair of Barton Tufnol sheet winches are mounted on timber turrets outside the coamings. The double lifelines are anchored at their after end to a raised mainsheet horse, thus fully enclosing the cockpit. This is an unusual standard fitting on a small production yacht and, whilst it tends to make rather an acute angle for the lead of the mainsheet from the boom, will undoubtedly have much appeal to the family man with young children to take care of.

All working surfaces have an easily cleaned moulded non-slip finish.

To sum up, the general layout both on deck and in the cockpit is clean and uncluttered.


The boat has a masthead rig with single forestay and single backstay anchored rather off the centerline so as to permit a transom hung rudder, Standing rigging is of Norseman Seaproof sheathed galvanised plough wire 1 x 19 x 1.5 in. Downhauls are provided for main and jib and Barton roller reeling is standard. Mast and boom are of aluminium alloy which can be supplied anodised as an extra.


The accommodation plan is on the lines of a conventional larger yacht with a separate fo'c's'le but with no separate WC and hanging cupboard separating it from the saloon. Whilst some more modern designs manage to provide the facility of a separate toilet compartment in the same overall length, this is normally done by extending the settee berths aft under the cockpit seats at the expense of stowage space. To the more practical minded, therefore it may well be that the sacrifice of this currently fashionable amenity may well be worthwhile for the additional stowage that it provides, as well as enabling the galley to be sited in the optimum position at the after end of the saloon. On the other hand, the fact that the WC is mounted under one of the fo'c's'le berths will certainly prove inconvenient if it is required for use at night with a full crew of four on board. The ,arrangement does however make possible an unusually spacious saloon and one which is quite large enough for four to occupy in comfort.

The two fo'c's'le berths are full length with the WC installed beneath to starboard. This is the Waterloo or equivalent type with the proper seacocks on both outlet and inlet. There is sitting headroom on the berths but the only ventilation is via the forehatch, The yacht's sides are lined with plywood and there is a locker forward and a single electric light fitted on the bulkhead. Whilst there is no door provided to shut the area off from the saloon, a curtain rail is fitted as standard,

The raised portion of the coachroof gives rather better headroom in the saloon which is well fitted out. A two burner gas stove is provided on a shelf inside the main bulkhead to port with another full width shelf beneath for stowage and a closed locker under the bridgedeck. To starboard is a good size sink with its own fresh water supply which can be covered when not in use to provide further working space. The engine casing serves as a seat for the cook.

The settee berths extend aft under the galley and sink thus providing stowage for bedding and at their forward end are two shelves with cupboards beneath. The port cupboard is fitted with two shelves and a fold down table extension and the starboard (rather higher) one is arranged as a hanging cupboard. Under the side decks are full length open fiddled shelves and there is open stowage under the berths,

The general finish is attractive in oiled teak faced ply and afrormosia with plywood lining to the yacht's sides and the remaining glass fibre surfaces finished in anti-condensation speckle paint. A single fluorescent light is fitted on the forward bulkhead, The general standard of comfort in the saloon can be said to be above average.


The Halcyon is offered with a choice of engines but the basic price includes a hand start inboard engine of around 5hp. The boat tested was fitted with a 5hp Albin with electric start. This proved smooth in use and gave a speed of around 5 knots plus in calm water and should be adequate for all normal purposes. Steering was positive both ahead and astern. The installation fits neatly under the bridge deck with a slight projection into the cabin and plugs and petrol filter are readily available for maintenance. However, no provision appeared to have been made for hand starting in an emergency. Electrical circuits are fused and the minor controls situated on the inside of the bridge deck with the gear lever projecting through the forward end of the cockpit well.


The boat tested was the fin keel version and the weather favoured us with a pleasant breeze around Force 3. Under main and working jib, Halcyon proved pleasant to handle on all points of sailing with a small degree of weather helm which increased when hard pressed in the gusts. However, the boat did not give the impression that she would become unmanageable and, with the handy mainsheet jam block, it would be simple enough to start the main in the gusts in irregular winds whilst maintaining reasonable overall safe area. At about three knots, a slight vibration developed on the helm for which the cause was not apparent. This may have been due to a lack of fairing on the leading edge of the rudder blade.

She proved to be very quick in stays with no need to back the jib and close winded enough to satisfy the majority of cruiser owners.


The Halcyon is a sturdy and comfortable little yacht which, although lacking some of the refinements of more modern designs, may well still have considerable appeal to those who do not believe in cramming the maximum number of separate compartments and berths into the minimum overall length. Not only is she offered with a very reasonable inventory but the general standard of fitting out, particularly below deck, is well above average standards in relation to the very modest price at which she is offered. The yacht is also offered in various stages of completion and many owners have taken advantage of this facility to complete the boat either in standard form or to meet their own ideas. At an on the water price of around £1,750 (1970) including necessary extra items and the inboard engine, we cannot, but feel that she offers unusually good value in a period when cash for a new boat is none to easy to come by.


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