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Selected Spec Sheets from the Harpoon Handbook
Be patient, the detail is well worth waiting for.
Running Rigging Set
Main Halyard: 1/4" braid pre-streched with shackle; 52'
Jib Halyard: 1/4" braid pre-streched with shackle; 48'9½"
Mainsheet: 3/8" braid; 30'6"
Jib Sheet: 5/16" braid; 22'0"
Jiffy Reef Line: 3/16" braid; 14'1"
Outhaul: 3/16" braid; 9'9 1/2"
Cunningham: 1/4" braid; 5'9"
Downhaul: 1/4"braid; 3'4"
3 Swivel blocks
1 Spinnaker pole - 6'5" / black anodized
1 Spinnaker halyard ' 1/4" braid (blue); 44'4"
Samson eyesplice / shackle
2 Spinnaker sheets - 1/4"braid (blue) / 34"0"
1 Pole downhaul - 1/4" braid; 10'9" / Samson eyesplice / shackle
1 Pole lift - 5/16" nylon shock cord, 4'5" / shackle
Standing Rigging Set
Forestay: 1/8" (1x19), 18'1" (measured w/turnbuckle fully closed)
clevis & cotter pin, fork end
Shrouds: (port and starboard) 1/8" (1x19), 17'8 5/8",
cotter & clevis pin, fork end,
According to a 1979 Price List, the Harpoon 5.2 sold for $4,495 without sails
and for $5,195 with sails. Or course, this price did not include a trailer.
Spinnaker and related gear installed cost an additional $540. When everything
was said and done, the 1979 cost was well over $6,000. Clearly the boat was
not cheap. A year later, BW raised the prices so that the costs ran around $8,000.
A few years later, according to one report from Texas, the total price for
a new Harpoon 5.2 including most options such as the racing
gear, trailer, taxes etc ran up to $10,500.
In comparison to other dinghies, these prices were extremely high. The product quality
seems to have justified such prices but surely it made marketing more difficult.
According to the Bucnet,
the BucValue (in 2000) of a Bristol Mint Condition 1980 Harpoon 5.2 ranges between
$3,400 to $3,950. Excellent boats range between $3,150 and $3,650. Harpoons 4.6 are
shown to range between a low of $2,500 to a high of $3,150 for mint condition.
The truth is that a Top Notch boat can fetch quite a bit more, especially
if it comes with the original Handbook and without bottom paint. If the sails are in
excellent shape and if it comes with complete spinnaker racing gear and a great trailer,
a Harpoon 5.2 could easily exceed $5,000. Harpoons seem to have held on to their value
remarkably well. Boats in top shape usually sell very quickly. Potential buyers have to
be willing to act quickly.
In principle, dinghies which are still being made and which enjoy active racing fleets
will command comparatively higher prices. However, the Harpoon is a limited commodity and its
head-turning appeal on water as well as its amazing practicality ensure that there is
continuing high interest and demand.
Depending on where exactly you are located, it
is possible to acquire a Harpoon 5.2 that is in decent shape for between $2,200 to $3,200.
The actual asking price will very much vary to local supply and demand.
Obviously, boats that require some work will fetch less. On the other hand, there is not
much that a qualified boat yard could not fix on a Harpoon. Thus, bargain hunters could
make a great deal on a Harpoon which requires some TLC.
It is hard to guess how many Harpoons (of the original limited number of hulls produced)
are still in service. Originally, Harpoons were popular in the Southern Ohio area and in many parts of Texas. As a
result, used boats can still be found quite regularly in these areas.
More recently, I have also noticed used Harpoons for sale in Florida as well as New York,
New Jersey and California. I found my boat in the general
A new Yahoo Harpoon Site
has recently been set up (2006) and it does
specifically list Harpoons for sale. Since my original search it has become a lot easier
to find Harpoons available for sale.
What to look for during an Inspection
The Harpoon cannot be faulted for lack of beauty in design and workmanship. Most everything
is exactly where you'd like it to be. However, there are two items which are less than perfect:
- A relatively minor item is that the tiller is about 5 inches longer than necessary
or convenient. Anyone doing
serious sailing on a Harpoon nowadays might want to consider simply sawing off about 5 inches from
the end of the tiller and installing a new universal-joint tiller extension. I find the
telescoping style extension very conventient when hiking out.
- The bigger concern is the centerboard pulley system. This set-up is a greater
problem when sailing single-handed. But even with crew, the pulley system is less than ideal.
This biggest draw back is that you cannot examine the condition of the ropes which lead
into the CB trunk at the point where it matters most, i.e.
where they attach to the center board. So, examining for
rope rot etc is not easily done.
Since this setup is so primitive, it is important that
the ropes are attached properly and in perfect shape. A prospective buyer is well advised
to examine the centerboard controls thoroughly. You certainly would not want to have
one of the knots in the centerboard blade become undone whilst at sea.
Furthermore, if you get the two control ropes confused, you might be lowering
the board rather then raising it or visa versa.
NOTE 1: Mark each rope so that they cannot
be confused. Color coding is an easy method. If you have to replace the ropes
it might be a good idea to get two contrasting colors, i.e. green and red to
distinguish the uphaul and downhaul rope.
Finally, when rounding the leeward mark, it is not easy to get the blade
NOTE 2: Make sure that you minimize the load on the blade before attempting to lower
Lowering the blade under even a light load (such as on a broad reach)
takes some serious muscle power.
You might consider installing a type of purchase system similar to the one
I have devised on my Harpoon.
My solution was the result of my desire
to install a purchase system with minimal invasive action.
Before you install anything new, try to work with the original setup.
It is possible to learn to work around this flaw.
Beware that the centerboard is made of fiber glass and therefore wants to pop-up when the
downhaul pulley rope is not cleated. On many dinghies this works the other way around because
frequently the center board is weighted.
- (1) Check condition of wood. Be sure to look at the underside of the benches as well as the anchor
locker. Pay particular attention to the wood around the screws. Do you notice wood rot?
- (2) The original screws were bronze except stainless screws and finishing washers which were used
for the upright components attached to the hull. Are screws and threads in good shape?
- (3) Check all attached fittings, cleats blocks etc.
- (4) Check standing rigging for corrosion. If the boat has seen service in salt water
it is VERY important to be particularly mindful of this item.
- (5) Running rigging is relatively inexpensive to replace. Still, you should check all sheets,
halyards, boom vang etc for wear and tear.
- (6) Inspect the rudder and its fittings at the transom. It is critical that there is no rot in
this area. One Harpoon owner reported that the fittings broke off (due to rot) while sailing.
- (7) Similarly, it is important as - mentioned above - to check the pully system of the
center board. Here again, I heard from another owner that he lost control of his center board when
one of the ropes came loose while sailing.
- (8) Look the hull over for repairs and patches. Due to the type of sandwich construction, it
is critical that the structural integrity of each layer be sound. Minor scratches and gouges in the
gel coat particularly
in the keel area are usually inconsequential and can be repaired easily with MarineTex.
- (9) Check that the bailers work properly. The flaps must swing freely.
- (10) Take a good look at the trailer. The weight of the boat should be resting primarily
on its keel such as on rollers. My trailer has two long bunks that run along the entire length of
the boat close to the keel on either side. That works pretty well. However, the best type of trailer
would be the "break trailer" as recommended in the Handbood. Getting the correct trailer for the
Harpoon 5.2 would not be that easy or cheap. So, if you
buy a used Harpoon, be sure the trailer will work properly, especially if you are planning to haul
the boat around quite a bit. Things to look for are the winch, the wheel bearings, (does the trailer
have bearing buddies?) etc.
- (11) The final inspection point should be the condition of the sails. Since the sails are
likely to be old you should not expect to see pristine white. Check for the condition of
the batten pockets, the bolt rope, the grommets, the jib hanks and the over all wear of the Dracon.
Sails can be repaired and re-resined at a fraction of the cost of new sails. If the sails have been
exposed to extreme conditions or many years of hard racing, they may have lost their shape
and be beyond repair. In any event, you should
know what you might want to spend on improvement & repair costs before making an offer on a