_(SOLD) Primrose


Primrose ~ Ryder # 663, 1979, Sea Sprite 23 Weekender ~ $10,500. She is in commission on Martha’s Vineyard. Tony Higgins ~ (508) 693-2355 ~ a_higgins@verizon.netP1000525

Notes for the Sea Sprite Forum{An up-dated version that I had posted previously on the Sea Sprite web site}

I thought I’d share some improvements that I’ve done on my boat, Primrose [Ryder # 663, built in 1979]. She had been well maintained when I bought her 7 years ago; came with a nearly new set of Doyle sails; main and working jib, both of heavy sail cloth, and had just had the bottom stripped of years of old paint [a big plus]. I haven’t had to do any major work on her, allowing me to concentrate on improvements, refinements and cosmetics.

-The rig and deck: I made a removable door piece for the sail slide notch on the mast [no more screw-in plug!], and hacked 8” off of the top of the gooseneck track as I’ve never seen fit to raise the boom beyond the lower couple of holes. [Access to the companionway is facilitated by a short lanyard attached to the port forward side of the after rail to secure the boom off center.]

These changes have vastly improved reefing: now, I simply lower to the cringle, hook it onto the reefing hook, haul down the clewline and tie in the reef.

-The mainsheet when sailing off the wind dragged over my new lifelines, chafing both sheet and lifelines. I fixed that with pelican snap hooks on the lifelines, and bolt-on eye straps on the fwd. sides of the after rail stanchions, 4”or so above the deck to lower them to. It works very well; don’t know why someone hadn’t done it years ago.

-Installed a top of the line Shaeffer jib roller furler. Being able to set, reef and furl from the cockpit is simply great, especially as I do a lot of single handing.

– Put 100# of lead in the bilge just aft of the ballast keel, which has the advantage of both adding stiffness and bringing her down closer to her lines aft. We get plenty of wind out here [Martha’s Vineyard], and I appreciate the additional stiffness when sailing alone.

-Mounted a bow roller for my new Bruce anchor. Found one with a low enough profile to fit under the jib roller. I let it into the breast hook so that it is at deck level. I also fitted a capped hawsepipe just aft of the breast hook leading down to the anchor rode bin in the bow.

-Replaced the plastic exterior port light frames with 1/8 brass. With new plexiglass they’re tight and look quite well.

-Mounted the mast-step fitting on a 6”square by 1/4” thick pad of stainless steel to distribute the mast load. I felt that the footprint of the mast heel needed a larger bearing surface on the deck.

-I got rid of all of the fibreglass hatches and made wooden ones out of various tropical hardwoods. Also made removable wooden panels for the fuel tank alcove and for the gap between the motor mount and the after hatch, thus converting the motor space into an enclosed lazarette. I rarely use the motor, a 4 hp Johnson 2 stroke which is light and easy to handle, has a remote fuel tank, and pushes her along at nearly 5kn. In a calm, and stows nicely beneath the cockpit.

-I’ve varnished all of the new and existing woodwork with Epifanes, the best varnish that I’ve ever used.

-Made a grating for the cockpit sole [fair bit of work] of mahogany and West System epoxy. It looks great and is nice to stand on.

-Below: I’ve had the bunk cushions covered in moss green sunbrella. I have also made new tan sunbrella covered closed-cell foam cockpit cushions, and a new, well fitting sail cover.

-I replaced the galley sink pump and the line to the water tank, and re-plumbed the sink drain.

-Finished all of the teak woodwork and trim with matte finish varnish. The interior liner on the Ryder boats is very nicely done – there is no rough fiberglass visible anywhere, and as this boat has been well cared for, is in nearly perfect condition.

-There were some dings in the gelcoat on the after side of the strong back that supports the mast, so I milled down a piece of mahogany and fitted it to the curve to cover them. It really looks grand, and of course, provides yet another surface to finish bright.

– Re-made the cabin sole with 1/4” x 4” glued-up tropical hardwood, epoxied on.

– 1 1/2” Fiddle rails at the top of the steps under the bridge deck; they fence in an area just the size of a chart book.

-A bookshelf on the stbd. after house bulkhead next to the companionway, 14” wide and sized to fit the Eldridge, binocs, etc.

-A cutting board to fit over the sink, fitted to the counter fiddles [fits on the port counter as well].

-Gear hammocks, [4] over all bunks.

-Installed a 12 volt receptacle wired to the battery on the stbd. side of the “engine box” next to the light switches, which is quite useful for charging-up the radio and various other devices].

-A removable, fitted, plywood panel over the bilge under the steps to cover the bilge and to provide a floor for the stowage for many things [motor, fenders, tool box, gash bag, etc.]. Above this I built a shelf for dock line stowage.

-Mounted a 4” ship’s bell clock, on a round, angled, wooden base so as to be vertical, centered on the fwd. house bulkhead over the new strong back trim piece, and visible from the cockpit.

-A Garmin GPS Map 400 plotter mounted on a Ram bracket on the inboard end of the bookshelf. When in use it swivels up into position in the stbd. lower corner of the companionway. Its stowed position is curled up out of the way underneath the bookshelf.

-A small solar charger keeps my battery up very well, providing power for the 5 lights [fit with led bulbs] and the plotter. It fits handily on the house top between the companionway slide and the grab rail on the stbd. side.

-I’ve adapted a pair of oarlocks to fit into the winch sockets which are in exactly the right place for rowing while sitting on the bridge deck. This could be quite helpful when 100 yds. from the mooring, and the wind completely drops. It does however, entail the stowing of 10′ oars on deck lashed to the chain plates. [I’m still looking for the 10′ oars to go with the oarlocks]

I’m at the point now where I can’t think of anything much more to do to improve her [not a bad place to be]. I admit to having a fondness for wooden boats, and have attempted to reproduce some of the feel of a wooden boat – in the way she’s set up; the hatches; the grating; the brightwork. She has become for me, a handy, aesthetically pleasing small cruising boat, well set up for easy single or double handed sailing.


Gear :[some mentioned above]~ Recent Doyle working sails; new Shaeffer roller-furler; new backstay, halyards, and topping lift; new canvas work [see above]; 4hp Johnson, ’98, very low hours, with 3gal. Fuel tank; 2 anchors – 17# Bruce and 12# Danforth with 2–150′ x 1/2” rodes with 8′ x 3/8” chain leaders; 300# mushroom mooring anchor, 24′ of 5/8” mooring chain, 20′ of 5/16” top chain, mooring ball, 2-5/8” mooring pennants, pick-up buoy; 2 dinghys, one an 8′ Pilot, and the other a smaller, single handing boat; 2 sets 6′ oars & oarlocks; 2 sets of cockpit cushions – 1 set plastic covered, and the other, new, closed-cell foam, tan sunbrella covered; custom made cradle with welded-on screw-jack bilge supports [boat is easily loaded onto a low-boy flatbed trailer for transport]; port-a-potty; single burner stainless propane canister stove; ice chest; dishes; pots, pans & cutlury; 9 gal integral watertank; sink with pump; fire extinguisher; 4 pfd’s; docking lines & fenders; pulpit and stern rail with new lifelines; new bilge pump; masthead wind vane; new 12 volt battery with solar charger; hand-held VHF radio; Garmin GPS Map 400 Plotter; pillows, blankets and gear hammocks; an old, lighter weight main and genoa.



P1000449 P1000525 P1000530 P1000537 P1000555 P1000558


3 thoughts on “_(SOLD) Primrose

  1. Patty Apperson

    working on my New Sea Sprite….where did you have the port lights made in Brass . Also did you do your own cockpit grate

  2. Tony Higgins

    Hi Sam ~
    Primrose is in commission in Vineyard Haven. The 23’s are great little sea boats; they’ll keep you dry in the cockpit when bashing to weather in 15 – 20kn. I have put 100 lbs. of lead in the bilge, as I do a lot of single handing, and appreciate the additional stiffness. She has a relatively new set [main and working jib] of heavy duty Doyle sails which should be good for many more years of use. She is well set up as a cruising boat, but if you wanted to race her you might need additional sails. I’d be happy to take you out for a sail.
    ~ Tony

  3. Sam Butterfield


    Is your boat still available, and is it in the water on the Vineyard? We have a Sea Sprite 34 and are considering downsizing to a day sailer. I’ve never sailed a 23. Are they good in heavy conditions on the Sound? How are the sails, and do you know what new sails cost from Doyle? Would a test sail be possible someday?


    Sam Butterfield


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