Balboa 20 vs ensenada 20 ??


Sep 11, 2015
Merit 22- Oregon lakes
In my quest for our perfect trailer sailer I just missed being able to purchase a Balboa 20, which got me taking a closer look at them, and realizing that it was just about built to order for us. I doubt I'll see another one any time soon, in our local area, but I did come across it's flush deck sister, the Ensenada 20, that may be available. when I look at the two data sheets I see some discrepancy between the to that I'm not sure I believe, so I'm looking for insight here.
(1) The Balboa lists the swing keel as being 450lb but the Ensenada shows 550lb. I understood these were the same hull, so why the difference? or which weight is actually correct?
(2) I hear the cockpit in the Ensenada is somewhat shorter than the Balboa, but I don't know by how much. any help here? how about cabin headroom (seated)?
(3) any preference on performance or other issues I should know about, between the two versions?

May 24, 2004
CC 30 South Florida
I would say that the San Juan 21, the Balboa 20 and the Ensenada 20 are old boats which may have more in common with a sailing dinghy than a small cruiser. I had a San Juan 21 many years ago and the boat was a wet ride, it lacked a proper bilge so water coming in through the keel trunk accumulated in the cabin sole. The swing keel was heavy and required a winch to operate and in upset waters you could feel some excessive keel play at the pivot point. Had a full set of sails jib, genoa and 2 mains but they were original and mostly blown. Head room in the cabin was non existent and had no clearance for a bimini top and we used to carry an umbrella. Not withstanding the boat sailed very well and was easy to trailer. It was a better than good daysailer but a horrible overnighter. We now keep as a 2nd boat a Starwind 223 which we trailer to distant sailing venues for 10-15 day trips at a time. The 22' boat is dry, has a fixed keel and centerboard combo, a small galley, lifting hatch to allow standing room in the cabin, and room to store a cooler and a porta potty. It is a little heavier to trailer and rig up but not much more. My point is there are 22' ft sailers out there that are probably selling for similar prices and that could offer much more. Do not be afraid of the jump in size as a 22' is probably a more stable and forgiving boat. Do not also be afraid to look out of your area. It may likely be worthwhile to trailer a few hundred miles if you find a better deal some place else.
Jul 14, 2015
Catalina 30 Stillhouse Hollow Marina
Sirius 21 is an outstanding boat for what you are looking for. Has much better manners than a Catalina 22. My personal experience has it a little better built than a Catalina. However, I have had a Catalina 25 and loved it as well, but not really trailer able.
In answer to your keel weight, it is not uncommon for the varying weight. Mast could be taller, or the heavier keeled boat can carry more sail.


Jun 7, 2004
Hunter 25_73-83 Lake Lanier, GA
Wish I still had my Balboa 20. I now sail a Hunter 25 Cherubini (which I love!) but the old Balboa was a great introduction to crusing for my wife and myself. She had a great cockpit and we overnight-ed in her very comfortably while we had her. When at anchor we rigged a small tarp over the boom with a tent pole at each end to keep the tarp spread out. Many fond memories and she sailed great!
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Aug 30, 2016
Balboa 20 Melbourne
I have a Balboa 20 and I think it is the best sailboat in the world. I love it. I think you could find one online and drive and get it.
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