Bristol 22

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A Bristol 22, or Caravel.

The Bristol 22 won a bit of notoriety when an American named Bill Wolfram bought a 1969 model in the early 2000s for $2,500 and ended up sailing We-Tu from Port Townsend, Wa., to Australia and back.

“I never thought it was too small for ocean crossings. It sails well, very seaworthy and strong,” he was quoted as saying by a fellow sailor named Lauri G. who wrote a long blog post about him that has publicized his story to the world.


The 22’s galley in a dinette version.

More than 300 B22s were built between 1969 and 1978. They were also known as the Caravel and came in double-settee and dinette models.

You might be surprised to know that Bristol claimed that five people could sleep in comfort in the dinette model — and that two more might consider sleeping in the cockpit!

The 22s came in centerboard and fin keel models. At 2,850 pounds with 1,150 pounds of ballast, the Caravel is strongly built.

There really would be no comparison between it and, say, a Catalina 22, which was designed for lakes and bays rather than the ocean.

Designer Halsey Herreshoff tried to cram a lot of features into this 22-foot boat, including an enclosed head, normally not seen in a boat this size. But everything is necessarily pint-sized compared to a larger sailboat.


The dinette on a 22.

Remember, too, that while the 22 can handle rougher seas, you won’t be cruising in ease and comfort. The motion comfort ratio is a mere 14.12; compare that to 27.07 for a Bristol 30 and 33.3 for a Bristol 35.

Despite Wolfram’s achievement, the Caravel should really be considered a safe and capable daysailer and coastal cruiser for short overnight trips for two people.

As with all older sailboats, have it checked out thoroughly if you are considering a purchase.

Conditions vary widely because some owners didn’t do required maintenance, and even small vessels can require thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades if they were neglected.


Hull type: Fin keel
LOA: 22 feet
LWL: 19.5 feet
Beam: 7.75 feet
Draft: 3 feet, 6 inches (keel) and 2 feet, 6 inches (centerboard)
Displacement: 2,850 pounds
Designer: Halsey Herreshoff
PHRF New England: 294
Motion comfort ratio: 14.12

What the Bristol brochure said

Pleasure cruiser:

“You can’t beat Halsey Herreshoff’s Caravel for cruising accommodations. She sleeps four in the standard model, five in the dinette version comfortably in her spacious interior … two more in her roomy, self-bailing cockpit. Dinette converts to double berth or a recreation area for children or adults. And the Caravel has an enclosed head (something usually found only on big boats). Hanging locker for clothes Large storage area; underneath berths, lazarette, lockers, bins. self draining icebox. Stainless steel sink.

“Built for Speed:

“The Caravel has trim, graceful lines. She’s a sure handling family boat, a fine class racer that gives you maintenance-free performance. Fin keel. Spade rudder. High aspect rig. 100 percent fore triangle. Low wetted surface. Quality control includes tank testing.

Hull and Deck:

“Single unit molded fiberglass hull. Fiberglass deck and deckhouse, with non-skid surface. Foam flotation. Antifouling bottom paint.

Deck hardware:

“High-tensile strength aluminum alloy deck fittings…all quality items. Options include running lights.

Spars and rigging:

“Anodized aluminum, with roller reefing as standard equipment.”


To Australia on a Bristol 22

Line drawing and more specs on the 22