Some Information, Details and Thoughts about the M17

The Montgomery 17 is the ‘big sister’ of the M15.  When the boats are together one sees their close relations.  The 17 was designed by Lyle Hess.  The 15 by Jerry Montgomery (with LOTS of inspiration from the 17).  From a distance one is challenged to tell a 17 from a 15.  Beside length here are the big differences:

  • M17 is a sloop.  The M15 is a fractional sloop.  If you are looking at an M-boat with sails up: if the headsail reaches the masthead the craft is a 17.
  •  The M17 has spreaders and the stays attach to the cabin sides.  The M15 has no spreaders; the stays attach to the mast at the same location as the fore-stay (about two-thirds up the mast); and the stays attach at the hull-deck joint amid-ship.
  • The M17 has a rear-stay.  No rear-stay on the M15.
  •  The M17 has winches for sheeting the jib/genoa.  The M15s headsail is so small winches are not necessary.

M17’s Steel Ballast, Cast Iron Centerboard

and the Transition to Lead

 I quote below an email dated November 9, 2008, by Randy Graves, posted to the MSOG email listserver –

Here is as summary of the history of the M17, best I know.

The early M17’s (from the mid-70’s through about 1983) have a cast iron centerboard and used the original deck mold which has a different non-skid pattern, recessed forward hatch, lower cabin top, and single drain in the rear-floor of the cockpit which exits below the waterline. These boats also have a very nice aluminum toe rail, but no Genoa track. These early M17’s used a transom cutout for the outboard motor.

In 1983 a newer deck was introduced (same deck mold as is being used today, except for the cockpit drain configuration). The new deck incorporated a different cockpit locker configuration of port – starboard – and transom wet locker, two cockpit drains (these feed first into the wet locker and then exit below the waterline, + 2 drains above waterline in the transom). I believe in 1983 there was a fiberglass pan added to the bow section of the inside of the hull to create several flat surfaces for storage. The aluminum toe rail was replaced with a teak toe rail. Also, the windows were changed to frameless smoked fiberglass, in lieu of earlier framed glass(?) windows. Many of this vintage also came with a fixed fiberglass motor mount.

In 1988 (roughly at hull #400) the centerboard was changed from 220 lbs cast iron to the same centerboard as is used in the M15, weighing 40 lbs. The M15 is comprised of a fiberglass-lead-fiberglass sandwich and does not require a winch to raise and lower. Also, the ballast was increased to compensate for the change in centerboard weight, and the ballast was changed from steel punching to lead. These changes took places over several boats. For example; our 1988 M17 #410 has the fiberglass centerboard but steel punching ballast. This run continued until Jerry quit building boats in roughly 1994.

Randy G.

The Three Interior Types of the M17

In the same email as quoted above Randy provided an excellent summary of the interior layouts that have been available for the M17.  Again, this quote comes from an email dated November 9, 2008, by Randy Graves, posted to the MSOG email listserver –

In the Jerry built boats three interiors were available; 3-berth galley model, 4-berth model, and 3-1/2 berth model. On the galley and 3-1/2 berth models the port cockpit locker opens to the interior of the boat. On the 4-berth model none of the lockers open into the interior of the boat.

Since the year 2000 Bob has been building new M17’s. To my knowledge these use the same deck and hull molds as the 1983 and newer boats. From the new M17’s I’ve seen I have noted these changes. The below waterline cockpit drains were eliminated and replaced with through the transom above waterline drains, the old style mast-section compression post was replaced with a stainless steel tube, the forestay is moved back slightly off the bow to allow room for a nav light, gelcoat boot and sheer stripes were replaced with vinyl decal stripes, and the spreaders are now fixed instead of folding. The outboard bracket was upgraded to a 4cycle ready adjustable mount. And the forward vberth cushion is 1 piece instead of the 2 used on earlier boats. I’ve seen pictures of new M17’s being built with oval/round opening cabin windows, nice touch!

Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages, but all are great boats!

Bill’s photo site has great pictures of all the variations , and [1/12/2021 note: this site is no longer available] has some detailed pictures of the rebuild of our 1988 4-berth model. 

Randy G.

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