[ From The Practical Sailor December 1, 1981]
The boat and the builder
Like the O'Day 22 and the Catalina 22, the Tanzer 22 is a longtime
member in her builder's line of boats. Designed by Johann Tanzer, the Tanzer
22 was originally built exclusively in Canada but now the line is built
also in North Carolina and Washington, giving the boat wide-spread geographical
distribution as well as saving on duty for US buyers.
Dating from 1970, the 22 has been a staple in the Tanzer line as the
number of 22s approaches 2000 boats. Helping that growth has been a strong
Tanzer 22 Class Association that boasts 700 members in the US and Canada.
The association sponsors both racing and cruising and is purportedly independent
of the builder. Such an organization has much to recommend it, both to
the builder in his marketing efforts and to owners for the camaraderie
and the ready resale market it affords. Best of all, for both sides there
is a source of feedback on weaknesses, changes and policies. Especially
in areas where the organization is strong, Tanzer 22s have appreciated
One drawback to promotion as a one-design boat is that the design has
to remain essentially static to protect older boats. Even desirable changes
may not be possible. This means that the initial design has to be successful.
It is to Tanzer's credit that despite the age of the 22's design, the boat
remains a popular product, albeit a bit out of date for today's styling.
The Tanzer 22 seems to be basically well built, perhaps better than
the average small boat. There is no evidence of flexing or gelcoat crazing,
two common symptoms of the under-built or poorly engineered hull and deck
structure. The hull-to-deck joint is now a combination of semi-rigid
adhesive and 3/16" machine screws on 6" centers holding together an exterior
flange, a construction method PS approves in a boat of this size. The resulting
flange is one which would be difficult to repair in event of damage. However,
it is covered with a vinyl molding that does afford better than average
As is typical of boats of this size, the interior is a molded fiberglass
head liner and hull liner. The hull liner incorporates all the basic components
of the layout-- berths, cabinets, cabin, sole, etc. In a small boat it
is a most practical interior. The disadvantage of such a liner is the difficulty
of attaching add-on deck hardware and repairing damage to the hull laminate
Certain details of the Tanzer 22 are bothersome. For instance, the rudder
is a two-part molded piece with a flange around the edge. While strong,
it is needlessly crude in this day of well faired rudders. For another
instance, a foredeck well which is now standard (and a good feature on
a small boat) carries a solid, heavy fiberglass cover, loose and held in
place only by flimsy wood toggles. However, these are correctable details.
The Tanzer 22, particularly the full keel version, is a peppy little
boat, among the best performing boats of her size, weight, price and purpose.
She rates and sails with boats 2' longer, years more modern, and touted
for their performance. What she might do to windward with an up-to-date
keel shape rather than the less efficient swept back fin makes for interesting
conjecture. The same goes for her rudder blade shape.
Fairing of the cast iron keel is only adequate and of the flanged rudder,
poor. If performance in light air is a priority, owners will want to work
at getting smoother surfaces.
Performance upwind with the keel-centerboard combination shoal draft
version is less snappy, but with the board raised, downwind speed -- already
the envy of sailors on other boats up to about 26' -- should be even better.
This point may be a moot one, though, as only a small fraction of the Tanzers
sold are the shoal draft model. Apparently the Tanzer appeals to more
As with most boats of her size on the market, the mainsail and working
jib are standard. A larger jib is a highly desirable option at a cost from
the builder of about $450. With that sail should be included a genoa track
and blocks. As sheet winches are all optional, buyers should order the
larger two-speed ones when selecting options. Similarly with the spinnaker
and gear: Opt for pairs of coaming-mounted winches. We also recommend taking
the option for cockpit-led halyards. Tanzer 22 owners responding to the
PS owners' questionnaire also mention jiffy reefing, traveler, cunningham,
and vang as highly desirable options, again a reflection of their interest
in sail handling and performance.
However, while the Tanzer 22 is a relatively smart performer and with
the add-on gear can be made more so, do not mistake her potential for that
of the hot light-displacement dinghy types such as the J/24 and its ilk.
In keeping with our belief that the cockpit is the most critical
area for comfort in a boat of this size, we have reservations about the
cockpit of the Tanzer 22. It is large, wider than average, which is a virtue
and a fault. On the one hand, there is plenty of space to stretch out;
six adults can sit down inside the coamings that offer both protection
and support. The distance between the seats allows for bracing with the
feet and the short tiller leaves most of the cockpit free of its swing.
On the negative side, though, this width coupled with the 22's low freeboard
invites water aboard in the event of a severe knockdown. And it is a big
cockpit which can hold much water. Those sitting on the leeward side in
a breeze are going to be on intimate terms with the water, although the
raised deck does afford protection not found on boats with trunk cabin
configurations. There is no bridgedeck, merely a low (too low) sill in
Unfortunately the cockpit is complicated by the mainsheet that is fixed
to the center of the cockpit floor just forward of the tiller. It is handy
to the helmsman and safer than a sheet with traveler mounted on a bridgedeck
at the forward end of the cockpit, but it does effectively divide the cockpit
and reduce its spaciousness. A traveler is optional equipment but does
nothing to alleviate the fault with location.
Do not be put off by the fact that the cabin house extends to the sheer,
a rather old fashioned feature. While it does make going forward a bit
more awkward, the deck space it provides is welcome. Best of all is the
interior space that is obtained in a boat that, with her low sheer, would
otherwise be hopelessly cramped below.
The Tanzer 22, like the Catalina 22, is a victim of the time when she
was designed. In the late 1960s the boat-buying public became infatuated
with dinettes. Boat builders obliged. The fad expired when owners tried
to eat at the table and sleep on the so-called double berth converted from
the dinette. In the five-year interval a lot of boats were built with that
feature, including the Tanzer 22.
The dinette leaves the Tanzer 22 with but one proper berth, a good quarterberth,
plus a pair of vee berths forward. The vee berths suffer from vee-berth
syndrome-- stacked feet. This, coupled with the head (optional Potpourri)
located under them makes the Tanzer 22, like so many boats of this size
with similar arrangements, one of the less appealing accommodations we
As if this were not enough, the icebox (standard) more properly belongs
on a powerboat than a sailboat. It is one of those infernal built-in
types; open the door with the boat heeled on starboard tack and be buried
by the contents. Moreover, front-opening boxes such as this lose their
cold with every opening (or what is left of the cold; insulation is only
1" of styrofoam).
In an attempt to provide some sunny weather headroom, Tanzer now offers
a "convertible hatch" whereby the sliding companionway hatch assembly is
hinged and can be raised to boom height. It is a $400 option that can also
be retrofitted by owners on older 22s. According to a spokesman for the
builder, 90% of the 22s now being sold come fitted with the device. As
with the pop-top option on other boats, we'd plan to stay stooped and spend
the money on more practical options.
In sum, the Tanzer 22 is a moderately well built boat with mediocre
accommodations and better than average performance. Buyers into fleets
of Tanzer 22s will benefit from an active family racing and cruising program.
As with almost all boats of this size, we think the deep keel version is
better than the shoal draft version as the boat is apt to be too much for
most sailors to trailer.
The deck and the cockpit of the Tanzer should appeal to a family sailor
looking for daysailing room. The interior will have much less appeal and
we recommend any prospective buyers do some shopping around to see what
layouts are most suitable for the type of sailing they plan to do before
settling on the boat.
At the bottom line the Tanzer 22 is a moderately expensive boat with
a list base price for the fin keel version at $10,500. Add to that most
of the amenities for both comfort and performance and a well outfitted
Tanzer 22 will run at least $12,500. Properly maintained, the Tanzer 22
should at least retain her value for resale, especially in those areas
where the boat is known.
One final note: Tanzer owners we have heard from give high marks to
the builder and Tanzer dealers. By contrast, in doing this evaluation,
we anonymously discussed the boat with a Tanzer dealer. We could have been
serious buyers. That dealer could tell us nothing about the boat he was
selling; he had never sailed one, nor had he apparently ever looked to
see how the boat is built. The questions we asked were neither formidable
nor esoteric, yet given the competitiveness of the market for this size
and price boat, his diffidence is hard to fathom.