Thank you Tom and Roger for this. I think it definitely has to go on our short list of boats to go and see - and at least it is made in the same area as the Tideway, cutting down on the mile a bit! Judith
Clearly this is a topic that there are different views about! Perhaps it is horses for courses - or boats for users, depending on the blend of things that matter most to the particular owners. Our sailing ability is not going to put us in the same bracket of fine sailors as those who used them as working boats so maybe we would lose a bit, but for us the open cockpit would be worth quite a bit of trade off - our joints aren't stiff yet, but we want this boat to last well into old age and I can image that the person who sits forrard (usually me) is going to find life an awful lot easier not simultaneously going over the centreboard case and under the boom. We have ahead of us the miserable task of going to try them out!
We are so grateful for being able to draw on all this experience.
Judith, someone has already suggested a Cormorant and has posted a picture of the older version with the single gaff sail. I recently bought the newer version with the balanced lug.
It comes with a choice of single balanced lug sail and an unstayed mast, or (for £1,000 more) as a gunter sloop with a bowsprit and a stayed mast.
The GRP hull is attractive with a reassuringly traditional look to it and some decorative wood finish. The unstayed mast and the boom and yard stow in/on the boat for trailing. When the sail is well hoisted, the boom is comfortably overhead for me (5' 8") and for my wife who is shorter. There is a thwart just aft of the centreboard case so you can slide or pivot on that rather than clambering over the case when tacking.
The lugsail version is 12' 3" and fits in a conventional garage while still on its combi trailer. Getting the trolley back onto the road trailer is a bit of a knack and requires balance and weight at the right point, rather than brute force. The boat is a little heavy to pull up a steep slipway solo. It is quite stable and feels more like a boat than a sit down windsurfer. IT is the sort of boat you sit in rather than on, but if you do need to hike out a bit the side decks are wide enough to be comfortable.