[ From The Practical Sailor December 1, 1981]

Tanzer 22

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 in value.
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 It is to Tanzer's credit that despite the age of the 22's design, the boat remains a popular product, albeit a bit out of date for today's styling.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 protection.
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 behind it.
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 performance-oriented buyers.
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 the companionway.
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 have seen.
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 front-opening 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.