Review of West Wight Potter 19

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A Potter 19 Sailboat

Potter 19 sailboat
© Judy Blumhorst.

The West Wight Potter 19, like its smaller sister the 15, has been a popular pocket cruiser sailboat for over three decades. Inspired by an original design in the U.K., it is now built by International Marine in California. A number of improvements have been made over the years, while the boats still retain the original look and have attracted a large, dedicated group of followers. They are still shown at select major boat shows in the U.S.

The Potter 19 is popular not only because it's a tough little boat that is easy to sail but also because it's a lot of boat for its length. Its hard-chine hull offers good stability and has a high freeboard to help keep the cockpit dry, and it's a very easy and forgiving boat to sail. The cabin is big enough for a couple to "camp" in comfort for short cruises. The Potter 19 has even been sailed across the Atlantic and from California to Hawaii!


  • Length overall: 18 feet 9 inches
  • Length waterline: 16 feet 4 inches
  • Beam: 7 feet 6 inches
  • Draft 6 inches (keel up), 3 feet 7 inches (keel down)
  • Displacement: 1225 lbs
  • Keel weight (ballast): 300 lbs
  • Mainsail: 89 sq. feet
  • Headsail: 53 sq. feet (jib), 93 sq. feet (genoa)
  • Mast height: 22 feet above deck, about 27 feet above waterline
  • Standard trailer weight: about 500 lbs
  • Can be found used in good condition for about $5000 and up

Key Features

The following come standard with a new Potter 19 in the select package. Not all features were standard in previous years, so used boats may vary.

  • Galvanized keel retracts vertically with easy-to-use cockpit winch
  • Kick-up rudder allows for beaching
  • Anchor rode locker with hawspipe/air vent
  • Mahogany companionway door
  • Adjustable transom motor mount
  • Teak hand rails on cabin top
  • Stainless steel swim/boarding ladder
  • Running lights, anchor light
  • Butane-canister single-burner stove
  • 15-gallon water system with deck fill
  • Sink with hand pump
  • Marine porta-potti in built-in cabin area
  • Custom galvanized trailer
  • Stainless steel mast crutch (for trailering)

Optional features:

  • Opening ports with screens
  • Built-in 36-quart cooler
  • Jiffy reefing system
  • One-person mast-raising system
  • Colored hull and/or deck
  • Colored sails
  • CDI furler for headsail
  • Singlehanders package (lines to cockpit, etc.)
  • Genoa winches
  • Asymmetrical spinnaker
  • Bimini

Sailing a Potter 19

Because it is a small, lightweight boat, the Potter 19 is easy to trailer without a special vehicle. The deck-stepped, hinged mast can be raised by one person with the mast-raising system, or two without, making it a simple matter of less than an hour's work to do everything before launching. Since the boat draws only 6 inches with the keel raised and the rudder hinged up, it launches easily at almost all boat ramps.

Many owners have led the lines to the cockpit to enable sailing without having ever to go up on deck, assuming you have the CDI furler as most owners do. Even to raise the mainsail without the halyard routed aft, a tall sailor can stand inside the cabin on the side berths just behind the mast and easily pull up the main and cleat off the halyard. Sail slugs attached to the boltrope are advised and make this a one-handed operation that takes only seconds.

The hard chines of the hull mean that the boat is slower to heel much beyond 10 to 15 degrees than boats with a rounded or V hull, and the chines also tend to throw bow spray out to the sides instead of back toward the cockpit. The trade-off, the one disadvantage when sailing, is that the boat pounds its nearly flat hull when sailing into waves or the wakes of other boats.

On any small sailboat, it is important to position crew and passenger weight to advantage (i.e., most weight on the windward side to minimize heel), but this is not a problem with a cockpit large enough for four adults to be comfortable. The relatively heavy drop keel, unlike the lighter centerboards of many trailerable sailboats, provides good, deep ballast for increased stability. Under full sail with a genoa, the boat may begin to heel excessively with the wind over about 12 knots, but the main is easily reefed and the jib partly furled to reduce heel. The P-19 moves well in as little as 5 knots of wind and quickly reaches its hull speed around 5.5 knots in a 10-knot breeze.

Most owners power with a 4 to 6 HP outboard. The long-throw adjustable motor mount allows using either a short- or long-shaft outboard. Unless there are significant waves or a strong headwind, the boat powers easily at 5 knots with the engine well under half power.

The Potter owners association includes many stories written by different Potter sailors about their experiences. There are very few reports of capsizing or serious problems, always due to a mistake by the sailor, such as forgetting to lower the keel or cleating the sails in tight and then turning broadside to the wind. When sailed correctly, the Potter is probably safer than most sailboats of its size. A brand-new sailor, as with any sailboat, is advised to have some form of sailing instruction before venturing out the first time, but the Potter 19 is a good boat on which to learn the basics.

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The Interior of a Potter 19

Potter 19 sailboat interior
© Judy Blumhorst. Judy Blumhorst

The Potter 19 makes good use of its interior space. Although cruising on any small sailboat tends more toward camping than the luxury of walk-around space as on a larger cruising boat, the Potter 19 is more comfortable than others its size. Its four berths are all almost 6 and a half feet long, and there is good storage underneath. Still, it would be a rare foursome that would cruise more than a night or so. But there is plenty of room for two to sleep and use the other berths for gear duffels and provisions.

The single-burner butane stove works well for one-pot meals, and the sink is handy for limited use. (There is not a through-hull drain, however: you carry off or dump your "gray water" from its reservoir bag.) Many owners have been quite creative in arranging storage bins and otherwise making use of the available space. A cooler can be slid under and behind the companionway steps, for example, if your boat lacks the built-in cooler.

Bottom Line

Of the wide variety of small trailerable sailboats on the market, the Potter 19 better meets the needs of owners who want to do some cruising than almost others, which at this length are typically designed more for daysailing than overnighting.

Because Potters have been around so long, it is not difficult to find one used in many areas. But because they are also very popular within their niche, they also sell at somewhat higher prices than other trailerables even up to 22 feet or more. At present, within 100 miles of my own location, there are four P-19s for sale, two 2000 models in the range of $7,000 to $8,000, two 1995 models between $5000 and $7000. If you can afford it, it's worthwhile to stretch for Potter if you like its looks and want its space - you won't be disappointed.

If you’re thinking about a trailerable sailboat like the Potter 19, remember that one of the great advantages is the ability to take it easily to other sailing destinations, such as heading to the Florida Keys in the winter.

Reviews of Other Popular Sailboats

Mariner 19
MacGregor 26
Hunter 140
How to buy a sailboat

For more Information

Both photos © Judy Blumhorst, used with permission.

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