The Snark Sailboat is a historic household name among sailboats, being everyone’s first sailboat during the 1970s until the 1990s. Originally manufactured during the 1950s, the Snark Sailboat has gone through many variations, but retained its identity of a lightweight, two-person sailboat marketed to be “unsinkable.”
Despite its past popularity, the Snark Sailboat was not the greatest sailboat ever made, nor was it a good one in the first place. Thanks to many advertising campaigns, however, the Snark solidly became the first sailboat for many generations, even until today.
Snark Sailboat Models
The Snark Sailboat has gone through changes, differing only in name and hull construction. However, irrelevant of its model, the Snark Sailboats are all two-person sailboats rigged with a lateen, with a length overall (LOA) of 11 feet and a bold “unsinkable” claim.
The early version of the Snark was called the Sea Snark. These Sea Snarks were made of one-piece injection-molded EPS/styrofoam, weighing around 30 lbs.
The succeeding version of the Snark, called Super Sea Snark or Super Snark, boasted a new technology called Corelite, now under the trademarked name Armorclad. This technology involved adding a vacuumed layer of ABS over the EPS hull, increasing the weight of the sailboat to 50 lbs.
Later on, a larger version of the Snark was released, called the Sunflower. A bit wider than the older Snarks, it also had a bigger sail and a prominently yellow hull.
Super Sea Snark Sailboat
The Super Sea Snark Sailboat, despite going through better technology, is still not a great sailboat, often called a “beer cooler” by many sailing enthusiasts due to the fact that the boat itself is basically just styrofoam, similar to many basic drink coolers. However, it does sport the basic requirements for a sailboat.
A daggerboard hull made of styrofoam rigged with a 45-square-feet nylon lateen sail, the Super Sea Snark has a maximum weight capacity of 310 lbs. The monohull body of the sailboat extends for 11 feet, which is enough room for two people to fit in it. The lateen sail, which supports a variety of designs depending on the brand the boat was marketed with, is supported by aluminum mast, spar, and boom.
Because of its styrofoam construction, the Snark barely goes over 50 lbs, making it easy to lug around, as its claim of being “car-toppable.” Assembling the Snark also only takes about an hour, so the Snark doesn’t really require much from the owner. With an “unsinkable” title, the Snark was reliable enough for many people to start sailing with it.
That was the pride of the Snark Sailboat, that it was everyone’s foray into sailing. However, everyone’s first sailing experience was exhilarating but in a not so good way. Some inexperienced sailors would capsize and/or break the styrofoam daggerboard. On the other hand, sailors who knew their way around couldn’t get their way around, as the boat sailed too slow to go far enough away from the beach.
The ABS-covered boats, usually the later versions, can withstand more repairs and modifications compared to the original boats, but both still suffer from the fragility of the hull. The saving grace of the Snark Sailboat is its claim of unsinkability. The boat will capsize, break, sail slow, sail stubbornly, but it will almost never sink.
The Snark Sailboat, despite not being in circulation anymore, is also still very serviceable after many years. Snarks of the younger generation are often boats given to them by their relatives who have grown out of the newbie sailing vibe or boats sold by the same people. Most Snarks in possession of secondhand owners are around 30-40 years old, which is a pretty darn good age for a boat that’s worth $100 in its time.
Another factor to the Snark’s rise to fame is its advertising campaign with other brands. The most prominent of these brands, Kool cigarettes, offered the Snark for only $88 and a box end of Kool cigarettes.
This proved to be phenomenal, as 18,000 orders were supposedly cashed out from that campaign alone. Other brands, like Pepsi, followed suit and experienced a similar popularity.
Are Snark Sailboats Still Made
As of March 2021, the only known retailers of the Super Snark Sailboat, SailboatsToGo and CastleCraft, both list the boat to be unavailable. There seems to be no plans to manufacture new boats, so it’s unlikely to see a brand new Snark today.
However, if you are insistent on getting one, many old owners are selling their Snarks, often without accessories. You can find some listings on Craigslist and other secondhand shops. You can also ask around sailing forums; chances are someone would be willing to sell off their sailboat to you.
Is Snark Sailboat Worth It
If you are serious about sailing, the Snark Sailboat is not even a choice. Its construction, despite being unsinkable, is too flimsy for sailing in the middle of a great land of water, and navigating the sailboat is too slow to even make for a proper sailing experience.
However, the Snark Sailboat was a household name for many families, introducing even well-known sailors today to the art of sailing. The history in a Snark Sailboat is enough to make it a collector’s item, and if you are planning to introduce sailing to the general populace, it is serviceable. However, the running joke of Snarks being a beer cooler does prove that they are better off with beverages inside them than humans in the midst of water.