A few of Rhodes many write ups:   May/June 05 Good Old Boats,  Sept/Oct. 05 Small Craft Advisor,  August 09 Sailing,  Trailerable Sailboats (Norton books),  Practical Sailor August 1, 97, Sailing Small, An internet survey ranked the Rhodes number one with a Beneteau 29 coming in second,  Northern Breeze, Nor’easter August 03 two page spread, “Seven days under sail on the Chesapeake”  Since our job is to get you to appreciate the Rhodes we will skip the adventure narrative and let the sailing author do the selling: “While some might consider the Rhodes 22 a bit undersized for such a trip, it really is a big 22.  Both sails have roller furling, so reefing is a breeze.  The boom can also be lowered to increase stability in heavy weather/  The inner mast main is very easy to reef, although we didn’t need to reef the main since winds didn’t exceed 20 knots during the day.  We carried way too much food, but the Rhodes has lots of storage since no sails are stored below, and there is lots of space under the cockpit seats and in the huge lazerette.

    The Rhodes has a 15 gallon water tank and a 9 gallon holding tank and is the only boat this size that I know of that has a fully enclosed head.  It also has a fully functional galley including ice box, sink, gas and electric cooking ability and above and below counter storage.  Even with the shallow draft we had a few groundings this trip, but it was an easy problem to solve.  Since there is a keel/centerboard arrangement, the centerboard also acts as a depth sounder.

    The Rhodes is unsinkable due to molded in foam and is, by all accounts, uncapsizable under sail, due in part to the flared hull. The pop top allows standing headroom, and I usually sail with the pop top up. A great place from which to sail on the Rhodes is one of the two captain’s swivel seats on the aft coaming. They really give you a big boat feeling. My little 5 hp Nissan four-stroke worked perfectly, was up to all situations we encountered, using only 4 to 5 gallons of gas during the trip.

    As testament to how easy the Rhodes is to sail, consider this tale of single-handing. Last summer I broke my right thumb in a bicycle accident. The doctor ordered no puling of any kind. So in order to get my sailing “fix”, I sailed the Rhodes with just my left hand. The mainsail pulls out of the mast easily in two seconds and the motor is on an electric lifting device that is button operational.

    Rhodes sailboats are created in Edenton, North Carolina. The company, General Boats, owned by Stan and Rose Spitzer, also offers a unique recycling program. You can purchase a used boat that is renovated, fully guaranteed and equipped to your requirements.

    I started out with a 1993 boat and after a two year trial period returned it to the company and purchased a new 2002 model , paying only the difference between the older model and the new.”  

The PRACTICAL SAILOR review was the surprise:   A commercial letter arrived one morning that caught my eye because it was hand addressed - unusual these days; even more unusual because it was from Practical Sailor.  I knew it had to be trouble.  They wanted to review our boat.  Now i have always respected PS because they are the Consumer’s Reports of the boating industry - no advertising to influence their findings.  But they are big boat guys, steeped in convention and yare and imagery - they are going to hate our suggestive motor boat flare, large water volume cockpit, floating traveler bar, a sail that goes inside the mast, a sailor sitting on seats that rotate - and I could already hear their expert inspector crying, “give me a break”.    

Inside was their request that I bring a boat to Newport so they could tear it apart and get the rest of the sailing community to laugh with them.  “I will not”, was my terse reply.  And so began a series of exchanges that ended with them saying they have never had anyone fight so hard NOT to be in Practical Sailor and that if I would not come to them they would look the Rhodes over at the Annapolis show.  They never did show and I thought the war was won.

At the Miami show we had a boat on land and another in the water for demo sails.  One day a face appeared over the gunnels in a “Kilroy was here” fashion.  I pointed, “Practical Sailor”.  “How did you know” the face responded to my pointing finger.  “It is written all over your forehead”.  But I had to agree to his gong for a demo sail or break the Fed’s anti-discriminatory rules.  It was a small craft warning day as I put the demo boat through all its paces with all its best feet forward and as the PS scrutinizer stepped back onto terra firmer he smiled and said, “Maybe I should buy one of these for myself”, and made my day.  The review was sensational and made me end up thinking, “hmm, maybe I should buy one of these for myself”.  But I knew I couldn’t - I charge too much.

Wanting to be even handed, the headlines on the cover of the magazine came out reading:   “The Rhodes 22, called by some the ultimate family trailer-sailor, we find much to like though some of its clever ideas are occasionally troublesome.”  In a frame of mind that could not rest with “occasionally troublesome”, we read and re-read PS’s otherwise super flattering review and could not find any references to anything troublesome.  Well yes, we did find one balancing negative comment, “the boat did not have a boom vang”.  While we are not supposed to reprint the entire article, we hope that letting you in on some of the reviewer’s favorable lines won’t get PS too upset with us:  

“we invited comments on design, construction, quality, performance and customer service and received a greater response and more uniformly enthusiastic response than any we have had in recent years - particularly impressive” (since so few have been built compared to the big name competitive brands).  “When we got an opportunity to take one out and put it through its paces, we gained some insight into just what prompted all this loyalty.”  “the Rhodes 22 is a trailerable cruiser for a couple that wants the amenities of a larger boat without putting up with the hassles and expenses of a larger boat.”  “it is not a shoehorn special”  (with its 7-4” long cockpit, 6’-4” high cabin pop top and 6’-6” dinette/double bunk)  “with a history of detail improvements and some innovative thinking, it meets that purpose quite well.”

“(the 20 foot waterline) is clearly the first step towards cramming a lot of cruising convenience into what is, after all, a small boat. The most readily noticeable feature of its hull is its pronounced flare...found on 505 or similar racing dinghies...the flare provides notable advantages:  The compound curvature stiffens the hull, provides a hiking seat to reduce heeling, helps deflect spray and provides some extra buoyancy when the boat is heeled over, helping to prevent capsize..”

“Unlike most trailerable sailboats sold today, the Rhodes 22 uses neither a swing keel nor water ballast.  Instead, there’s a shoal keel with a centerboard built into it.  Compared to a swing keel, this arrangement may lose a bit of stiffness because the keel’s weight is carried higher, but it has the advantages of eliminating the swing keel’s highly stressed pivot pin as well as the necessity for a winch and cable to haul up the keel, which may hum annoyingly when you’re underway.  Compared to water ballast of the same weight, the shoal keel/centerboard arrangement carries its weight lower making the boat stiffer.  The board is designed to kick up if it strikes an obstruction.”

“The 100 sq. ft mainsail rolls up into a 26’ mast and a 175% 200 sq. foot genoa is roller furling...not the most efficient sail shape...but it is hard to argue with the convenience of this rig.   A less obvious advantage is that you don’t have to deal with the problem of finding a place to store bulky sail bags belowdecks.”  Editor’s note:  Since the publication of this review there have been two technological changes that would influence this earlier efficiency conclusion:  The furling systems, as well as the furling sail designs of sailmakers such as Doyle, are markedly improved.   Loose footed mains allow for the greater efficiency of greater draft in light air sailing and are now almost universally found on all racing sailboats.  The Rhodes IMF mainsail is loose footed and, in combination with the booms topping lift and new outhaul slider, provide for an extreme range of sail draft control. The Rhode’s new main vertical aft batten carries this new efficiency to all reefed employments of the IMF main.

“The hinged mast is well-supported by a forestay, a pair of back says, upper shrouds, forward and aft lowers.  Each of these has its own chain plate.  One nice thing about having all this standing rigging is that the loss of any one stay shouldn’t bring the mast crashing down.”  “(chain plate) location provides a ‘corridor’ between the upper and lower shrouds that facilitates movement fore and aft on deck.”

“Construction”  Editor’s note:  This web site covers construction in painful detail on the Construction Page so here are just a few of PS’s review remarks:  “The Rhodes construction is best described as conventional, with good attention to detail....Twenty five different molds provide finished surfaces where otherwise non would exist.  The lazaret hatch,  for example, has a finished liner instead of a rough fiberglass surface, and coaming compartments have finished, built-in storage shelves.  The Rhodes has two molded foam sections glassed into the hull; one under the forward bunk and one under the cockpit sole....features not found in most small cruisers.  The keel is a molded-in integral part of the hull, eliminating problems of keel bolts as well as reinforcing the boats’s bottom.  Inside, there is a separately molded centerboard trunk.  The centerboard’s pivot is inside the boat and can’t leak.  The 70-lb. centerboard requires no hold-down line while sailing but is still light enough to be raised by a braided pennant and secured with a (cam) cleat.  It’s made of molded fiberglass with some ballast inside.  Hardware is good quality throughout....handrails, including unique ones at the aft ends of the cabin trunk, are stainless steel, though teak is available.  Winches are made by Lewmar.”

“Cockpit.  Working on the theory that most cruisers spend much of their time in the cockpit, the Rhodes 22 was designed with a huge cockpit that is 7’-4” long and nearly 8’ wide.  It’s self-bailing with a full-length bench seat on each side.  The benches have open fronts which makes for comfortable seating (closed-front benches force you to keep your legs extended), are independently self-bailing and there’s room underneath for plastic storage bins.  Aft, there’s a transverse bench covering a lazarette, which opens to a 6’ wide area that provides access to transom-mounted hardware as well as a great deal of storage space.”....”The flared gunwales are comfortable for hiking out. And there’s a socket in the sole so that a table can be moved from below-decks to the cockpit.  The stern rail is mounted on the side decks, outside of the coaming, to make sitting on the coaming tops more comfortable....a pair of swivel seats--complete with backrest and padded arm rests on the rails...mount on the coaming.  The cabin door is hinged horizontally halfway up...this can be folded out to make a chart table or card table depending on our inclinations” (Editor’s note: Or serving bar or provide additional galley counter work space.) “you can fold the top section down to let you see what the kids are doing in the cabin.  Or, you can remove the door completely and stow it inside the gunwale.  All the controls are cockpit-mounted and fall readily to hand.  The roller furling control line for the genoa is cleated on the cabin top.  The mainsail roller furling is controlled by the out haul and a control line that passes through the boom- with boom mounted cam cleat.  The boom can be raised via a topping lift to clear the pop top, or lowered to reduce heeling.  There is no vang, which is unfortunate.”  “jib sheets ....can be handled conveniently by the helmsman for single handing.  The traveler is vey unique....(no) intruding into the cockpit space and provides a bit of shock absorption.  We tried it and it works.”  The tiller swings up for stand-up sailing or for easier maneuvering around the cockpit.  A hiking sick lets one sail the boat from just about any where in the cockpit, or up on the coamings, and...the tiller (can be locked) in any position in which it is set.  The rudder kicks up if it strikes a obstruction, and can be adjusted to provide as heavy or as light a helm as you prefer.”  

“Down Below  The cabin top features a pop-top with 6’-4” headroom when down, there’s about 50” of sitting headroom.  The boat can be sailed with the top in either position.  Like so many other pieces of equipment on the Rhodes 22, the pop top is a unique design.” Editor’s note: Much of the construction details in this review are found in this site’s  “Construction” page, so not duplicated here. “The cabin layout of the Rhodes 22 is roomy and remarkably livable.”.....”Access to plumbing and electrical connections is good.  Spitzer (who has a weakness for puns) describes the Rhodes 22’s head as The Swell Head.  When we compared it to the primitive accommodations on most small cruisers, we must agree.  It’s fully enclosed, with a lever multi-paneled door that opens up to provide a large non-claustrophobic space or closes to occupy a minimum of floor space when it’s not in use.  Inside, there’s a marine toilet, with seacock-controlled water intake, holding tank and fittings for dockside pump-out or macerated discharge.... there is a mirror, cosmetic shelf, toilet paper holder, towel rack, magazine rack, (dual LED) lighting and 110-volt outlet for a hair-dryer or electric shaver.....you can open the hatch (over the head) and let your upper body emerge-presumably with a relieved smile-while you use the head in relative privacy.”

“Miscellaneous  The Rhodes 22 has so many gadgets that it’s hard to list them all.  One particularly nice one is its adjustable motor mount...”   Editor’s note:  Many of the “gadgets” the reviewer got a kick out of are covered on other pages of this site.   Contrary to the reviewer’s even handed cover story sub headline, “Called by some the ultimate family trailer-sailer, we find much to like, though  some of its clever ideas are occasionally troublesome.” we find no mention of troublesome features in his report.  His review goes on:

“Performance    We took the Rhodes 22 out on a breezy day --18-20 knots, with a 1’ - 3’ chop.  Getting under way was as easy as advertised....the boat is initially tender but stiffens up quickly as it heels. The flared gunwales make hiking-out easy (and not particularly demanding athletically)  We    suspect that if we’d been single-handing the boat, we would have reduced sail just to help keep her on her lines....we found the Rhodes 22to be a lively-feeling boat that’s fun to sail....Controls are very well laid out for sailing from just a bout anywhere in the cockpit...”

“Conclusions  It’s nice to see a boat that does what it’s intended to so as well as the Rhodes 22 does....as a cruiser for two it is hard to beat...The reports we’ve received from readers are almost universally enthusiastic.

Thanks PS.   Now our review of the PS review:

        The Practical Sailor review of the Rhodes starts with the headline on the magazine cover:  “Called by some the ultimate family trailer-sailer, we find much to like, though some of its clever ideas are occasionally troublesome.”  In the actual written review the Practical Sailer test pilot and  excellent author, finds nothing troublesome.  

        The Practical Sailor review ends, as do all PS reviews, with a box of pros and cons.  We won’t argue with their pros list but we do want to take intellectual and scientific issue with their smaller 4 cons list which was not generated by the test sailor but culled from the overwhelming “enthusiastic” owners letters that poured in at PS’s request.  In their effort to find at least a little negative balance, PS had to go back to Rhodes 22 owners who had old boats that were not built by us but by early contractors for us. No cons came from boat owners who purchased new or recycled Rhodes directly from our Edenton, NC factory in the past 15 or 20 years.  Even so, the cons are at best, misleading and at worst, owners’ misunderstandings.  Taking the 4 weak cons one at a time:

“Absence of a boom vang”  This one reminds us of an owner reviewer telling a prospect that, “yes, the boat was everything the guy at the show said it was but I did get a flat on my trailer once”.

Of course the Rhodes comes with a vang - if you want one.

“Poor pointing ability”  All Rhodes leave the factory with large genoas.  Used Rhodes buyers often do not have the instruction booklet passed on to them in a private used boat sale.   A new- to-sailing used buyer (sans instructions) usually does not realize that when using the genoa, trimming is limited by the mast spreaders - that to point closer the sail is shortened to a working jib size with its sheets led inside the upper shroud for much improved pointing ability.  An owner of an old Rhodes walked into our shop the other day for a small part and was telling us how fantastically  well he was doing in his local racing. (Older Rhodes are lighter built and quite fast) and we happened to ask him if he was using the second set of jib sheets leads (the set for leading the jib sheets inside the upper shrouds - the Rhodes has three sets of jib sheets leads).  He responded that he did not know about that feature and became excited about now getting back into the races with an even more competitive boat than he thought he already had.  Over the years we have bumped into many owners who told us how much better their boat points once they were told about sheeting inside the shrouds.  In keeping with our honesty policy we have to tell you that pointing is a relative term and that a deep fixed keel boat is going to point closer than a trailerable boat.  But simply reading the instructions makes the Rhodes an excellent pointing contender in its category.

“175% genoa is too large for some conditions”  This con is really a con.  If your sail area is too much for a particular wind condition, simply make it smaller.  The reefing genoa and the IMF variable size mainsail are two of the Rhodes beautiful “gimmicks”, all controlled from the cockpit in a flash.   Or, if you do not want the light air advantages of potentially greater sail area, simply order your boat to come with a smaller sail.   Saying a genoa is too much sail for some conditions is like saying a spinnaker is too much sail for some conditions; a strain on the search for “cons” beyond common sensibilities.  

The fourth (final) con was “Tender”.  Compared to what?  Compared to a Sun Fish the Rhodes is a rock of Gibraltar.  Compared to a Rhodes Bounty the Rhodes 22 is tender.  But everyone realizes that.  It is the unscientific logic that has unbalanced us.  Who has not sat on a play yard sea-saw and discovered what effects they could manage by moving in or out from the fulcrum.  Stepping from the dock onto the cockpit coaming demonstrates the effectiveness of the Rhodes built-in hiking seat by providing crew further distance from the fulcrum - not the misplaced notion of “Tender”.  Sail area is the other misplaced cause for the “Tender” con.  The Rhodes comes with more sail area than other boats in its class; great for light air days.  And everyone realizes that, given the same wind, the boat with more sail area will heel more - and those with common instinct  realize that all one need do is reduce sail area to heel less. 

The Rhodes tenderness is in line with other similar sized trailerable sailboats - plus its unique flared hull makes it safer by far. . . Take the Rhodes challenge:  Try and turn a Rhodes over under sail in the worst weather you can find and, if you succeed - and survive, we give you the boat free.   Of course in keeping with our even handed policy of balance and fairness, if you find that you can not turn the Rhodes over, you have to buy it.  So far there have been no free boats earned under this challenge. 

We do plead guilty to the pros and rest our case for the cons with some e-mail tapped evidence from some Rhodes owners to prospect Bill.  But sail a Rhodes for yourself and become a member of the Rhodes 22 sailing jury:

“Bill, Welcome - I am a mid west sailing school instructor (www.OdysseySailing.com) and the capsize question comes up the first day of every class.  I can assure you that the boat will not capsize under sail.  I have had more than 200 complete rookies at the helm in all kinds of winds.  If Ruba could have been tipped,they would have managed it.  We have had her so far on her ear that water came into the cockpit but then she would pop right back up.  After a butt soaking, I would assure everyone that, “that is as far as she will go” which usually puts everyone at ease enough that they try to do it again.”

“Hi Bill.  I can attest that even when making rookie mistakes you can scare the crew but not capsize the boat.  You will hear from others.  The best way I found with my daughter was to give her the tiller.”

The following e-mail to Bill is an owner’s introduction to his single handed learning adventure, beautifully written with counsel and good humor - you can read it all in this site’s “Learning Adventures” page:

“Bill, welcome to you and your family.  Once you can convince your son that the boat won’t capsize, the best thing to do is try to make it capsize.  Tell your son that it’s like a tame amusement park ride.  Don’t know if you want to share the following story with your kids but in it the boat did not capsize and the gusts were over 50 mph.”


this page continues to be under construction . . . . .

books and magazines write

        Editor’s Note:  When a commercial publication tells us they are

        planing a story about the Rhodes 22 we tell them that we do not

        advertise and featuring the Rhodes could be considered unfair by

        their advertising boat builders.     Invariably their response is:

        “Our readers have a right to know”.

                         OVER  THE  YEARS  THE  RHODES  HAS   BECOME AN

                                    AGELESS  COVER  BOAT  SUPER  MODEL