The Sirius 22 is a new model but not really a new design. More than 600 Sirius 21s were sailing before the builder, Vandestadt & McGruer, decided to reverse its plumb transom and create the “new” 22.
Although the Sirius is available with a fixed fin keel, we sailed the more easily trailered swing-keel version. Those intent on trailering the Sirius will appreciate having a keel that fits close to the bottom, but the trade-off is a keel trunk that forms a narrow ridge down the center of the main cabin. It reduces valuable sole space, requires close attention to footing when using the companionway in a sea, and makes entry into the dinette difficult for anyone with feet bigger than size 10. (The fin-keel version of the Sirius has a flush sole.)
The table seats two comfortably enough while at anchor, but the berth into which it converts is too short for an average adult. Two tall crewmembers could sleep peacefully in the unusually long vee-berth forward, and a six-footer could easily bed down in the port quarter berth, though it often seems that this space is used as an all-purpose storage area in most boats. The builder’s brochure states that the Sirius “accommodates five adults.” We don’t agree, but then we don’t know any 22-foot trailerable sailboat that does house five with any degree of civility.
Interior trim is mostly of the “screw-in-place” variety now the norm in boats of this level. It’s effectively executed and gives a clean appearance. The cabin sole is covered with synthetic carpet. It fits neatly and “shows well,” but we think wood soles live more comfortably in the real world of sand and saltwater. The poptop companionway hatch cover is well worked out and provides a place below to stand upright. With the optional “windowed” cover, the boat tents in nicely on rainy days.
Sirius’ cockpit is filled with friendly angles and well-rounded corners. The backrests are sufficiently deep to provide some support. This is a self-bailing cockpit you sit in, not on, but we found that its limit for comfortable sailing is three crew. Additional seating can be found on deck. The tall house also provides a good perch away from the crowd and holds the teak grab rails at a usable height. Going forward, you’ll find narrow sidedecks but several good handholds help make the trip easier. We were pleased to see a substantial vinyl rubrail protecting the perimeter of the hull, and an anchor locker for the foredeck. Steinmetz would have preferred larger mooring cleats than the four 6-inch aluminum cleats, the size found on most of the Sea Trials boats.
The Sirius’ hull laminate consists of chopped strand, mat, and 18/10 stitch mat (a fabric made of woven roving sewn to mat). Additional layers are added to the bottom and still more are placed near the keel trunk. There is plenty of glass here — this is a strong hull. For the deck, the same 18/10 fabric is used along with chop and Coremat. In lieu of the usual plywood backing plates, additional roving is placed under deck hardware. According to the manufacturer, this is a stronger system, in which dry rot or delamination won’t be a worry. Even in areas not visible to the casual observer, the fiberglass work is handled with care.
Given the careful glasswork, we were surprised to see some cheap-looking fittings on the interior. For instance, the forward hatch is secured with a narrow gauge bolt and wing nut. Not only could the wing nut come off the bolt, but the sharp-ended bolt itself hangs down like a treacherous stalactite from the cabin ceiling.
To Vandestadt & McGruer’s credit, 30 cubic feet of polyurethane foam are poured between the liner and the hull bottom and under the berths and seats. We believe that all boats of this type should be equipped with positive flotation. Because their displacements are modest, not much foam is needed; and as they’re seldom called upon for extended cruising, the lost locker space is tolerable. Steinmetz was concerned that the foam’s location low in the boat could cause sta- bility problems when the boat is flooded. Sirius’ manufacturer assured him that the little cruiser should remain upright provided the keel is locked in its down position, but he admitted that the boat had never been swamped for test purposes.
The Sirius is a spirited sailer and responded well to its light helm. All the standard sail control hardware — winches, boom yang, genoa tracks and cars — allowed us to bring the boat up to speed, but the ambience of the moment was spoiled by a loud and persistent hum from the keel cable. The annoying noise defied the best efforts of a factory representative to effect a cure. During his furious grindings on the keel winch, located in the cabin below the companionway, he explained that singing keel cables are not a problem common to these boats. We are glad to report nothing broke. At least this experience demonstrated the easy operation of the system. Still, manipulating the heavy keel is a slow process — you have to pay something for all that mechanical advantage. As you might expect, the little Sirius shows the effect of 525 pounds of cast iron being winched up into its truck by becoming noticeably less stable. In most conditions, the boat should be sailed with the keel down and locked.
Cruising Comforts. While the dinette and galley dominate the Sirius’ cabin, the vee-berth is big enough for two full-sized adults (bottom left). There’s weatherproof standup headroom under the tented-in,pop-up hatchcover (top right). The self-bailing cockpit is a cozy fit for three (bottom right).