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In This Section:

Sailing4.wmf (3046 bytes) Return To Home Page Or click "FAQ's" for more Ensenada 20 info!
WHEEL1.JPG (903 bytes) Serendipity Designed by respected Naval Architect, Lyle Hess!
WHEEL1.JPG (903 bytes) Specifications Quick specs and original brochures you can download!
WHEEL1.JPG (903 bytes) Design Review There are pro's and con's to every aspect of boat design...
WHEEL1.JPG (903 bytes) Owners Lists Update! Split by Ensenada 20, RK20, and Balboa 20 owners!


Our 1977 Ensenada 20 (E20) was designed by Naval Architect Lyle Hess; of Viajera 16, Balboa 20 and 26, Bristol Channel Cutter 28, and Nor’Sea 27 fame.

Lyle’s accomplishments also include various custom designs, one being the Renegade 28, whose lines were followed to build "Seraffyn", the boat owned by Lin and Larry Pardey, lifetime cruisers and circumnavigators.

The Ensenada 20 uses the same hull as the Balboa 20 but with a rather unusual flush deck that increases cabin space below and foredeck space at the bow.

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We’ve had owners of 30+ footers envious of our ability to stretch out and suntan on the deck and sleep comfortably in the relatively huge V-Berth of our "Serendipity".

The Ensenada 20 was manufactured from 1972 to 1981 by Coastal Recreation Inc. in Costa Mesa, Ca. and was also built under the RK-20 name by their subsidiary RK Industries in Strasburg Virginia. There were many interior, rig, keel trunk, rudder, and interior design changes over the years, making almost every E20 on the water today a "One-Of-A-Kind".

"Serendipity", came equipped with direct to mast upper shrouds (no spreaders), fractional (vs masthead) rig, a swing keel, kick-up rudder, and bow pulpit, main with single reef points and a 100% working jib. She was purchased with a 3.9 HP longshaft Volvo Penta outboard, that though still in brand new condition, was recently replaced with a 1985 5 HP Mariner.

We purchased Serendipity from the original owners in the fall of 1996, after years of endless summers declaring that "Someday, we’ll own a sailboat".


1977 Ensenada 20 (draft and displacement varied by model year)
LOA: 20' Poptop Up: 5'6" Headroom
LWL: 17'6" Poptop Down: 4'7" Headroom
Beam: 7'1" Sail Area: 174 sq. ft
Displacement: 1600 lbs Main: 91 sq. ft
Ballast: 550lbs Jib: 83 sq. ft
Draft (keel up): 1'9" 150% Genoa: 137 sq. ft
Draft (keel down): 4' Spinnaker: 294 sq. ft
LWL Height: 27'6" PHRF (little data): 288 - 317
e20specs.gif (57241 bytes)
Click E20specs.pdf to download the original 1974 brochure.
(542 Kbytes, so she may take a while).

Click RK20specs.pdf to download the original 1977 specification sheet.
(165 Kbytes, not quite so big).

Interesting Note: The RK20 spec sheet was delivered with our 1977 Ensenada 20. Serendipity has the lower hung RK 20 keel, but the single port lights and spreaderless mast of the E20. Frequent design changes may have contributed to the demise of Coastal Recreation and RK Industries in April, 1981.


The following specifications are as maintained by...


All dimensions are in feet unless noted

I = 19.67 J = 8.5 P = 21.0 E = 8.167

ijpe.jpg (13134 bytes) Quality sails may be purchased through any reputable supplier.

Good sails will permit you to achieve hull speed in lighter airs, point higher, and maintain reasonable sail shape when reefed.

Use caution purchasing used sails.


21.0 8.16 22.0 87.0 22.13 4.0 85.48

Jib (87% LP)

20.5 9.33 16.58 7.4 0.87 14.04 75.96

Genoa (149% LP)

20.5 14.58 18.42 12.67 1.49 6.04 130.19

180% Spinnaker (Symmetrical)

21.42 15.3 15.33 279.0

Cruising Spinnaker (Asymmetrical)

20.36 14.03 17.3 ? 1.65 214.2

Storm Jib (Asymmetrical)

10.18 6.42 8.09 ? 0.60 25.96

Design Review

If you haven't guessed yet, after sailing over 3000 miles of the some of the most challenging freshwater cruising grounds in the world, we've grown very fond of the good ship "Serendipity".

Her ability to face and conquer the challenges we meet never ceases to amaze me. Combined with reasonable seamanship skills and a healthy respect for the potential power of the wind and fury of the seas, we trust our Ensenada 20 to treat us to adventurous journey's and safely deliver us to our intended destinations.

The Ensenada 20 is a great sailboat for family day sailing and extended cruising for two (preferably shorter people) in protected inland lakes and larger coastal waters.

As mentioned in a previous passage, there are advantages and disadvantages to every aspect of boat design, and every boat constitutes a compromise of preferred design characteristics. To assist those who may be considering acquiring an E20, I've compiled the following lists of pro's and con's.


Cabin Space: Enormous for a 20 footer. We've set ours up as a compact cruiser and my wife and I have enjoyed 2 week excursions with our 14 year old son on board. Pop top is great but catches jib sheets when up while under way (also hurts visibility). We leave it up (underway) only when we're in big water, on long tacks, and where there's little traffic.

Swing Keel: Significant (4') draft for stability and minimum leeway while beating, yet minimal drag (retracts for 21" draft) when running, convenient for gunkholing shallows, yet since significant keel is still exposed below the hull when fully retracted, it provides good stability in light winds and reduces swing when at anchor (always retract at anchor or you'll think you're a bronc buster). Swing keel winch available from cockpit (many boats you have to go into the cabin).

Kickup Rudder: If you like gunkholing it's a blessing. Some were manufactured with fixed rudders (I wouldn't have one). The only trick is to tension the pivot bolt to just prevent it from kicking up from water drag at hull speed. If your E20 isn't equipped with a kick up rudder, you may wish to consider building one during the off-season. Click this image for a larger drawing. rudder.gif (37837 bytes)

Main Sheet System: Transom (basically) mounted main sheet system doesn't present the companion way hazard as do most boats. The starboard mounted cam cleat is an inconvenience on a starboard tack. If there's a chance I'll have to spill the main, I run the free sheet end around the stern rail (modification) on the port side.

Heavy Duty Mast: (heavier construction than many 26 footers). This eliminates the need for spreaders (some confuse with light construction 'till they heft the mast), and makes mast stepping much easier (lack of spreaders, not weight). The heavy tabernacle and shroud placement eliminates side swing during mast raising.

Large Foredeck: There are few boats you can stretch full out on regardless of size (up to 40 feet). The E20 has an unbeatable foredeck.

Heavy Sea Handling: Beating at 10 degrees heal or better provides a smooth ride in anything. The sloping foredeck and high cockpit coamings provide a dry cockpit (we've ploughed through 6 foot curling waves and never had water more than half way up the deck). Also the slight stern overhang responds well to following seas (very limited roll on a broad reach or running) while not limiting LWL excessively.


Jib Sheet Winches: Too small! They should be replaced with larger ones that take a handle to assist sheet adjustment under load, and make mast raising a single person job.

Swing Keel Lock Down: While some Ensenada 20's weren't so equipped,  I believe this to be an essential safety requirement of any swing keel boat (to prevent retraction in the event of a hurricane force knock down). However, under light winds you risk trunk damage in the event of a grounding (experience talking).

If you don't lock down, waves forced into the trunk come through the lockdown stud hole, and wet the floor.

This drawing details the modifications we made to  prevent wet floors and the possibility of trunk damage due to grounding. (Click  for larger image).

When the keel is retracted, a 3/4" expanding scupper plugs the hole. When underway (and the lock down stud is through the hole) we push on a separate scupper plug that has been drilled out to friction fit on the stud and plug the hole. (If there's no chance of a grounding we put the lock down wing nut on).

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Main Roller Reefing:

Some roller reefing systems are good. This one isn't. It's very cumbersome to pull back the boom against the spring tension while rolling the boom, and keeping the topping lift butterfly from catching on the boom end. Forget about trying to maintain sail shape! We tried it once and then set up a simply jiffy reef line.

Gas Tank Provision: We have a 3 gallon tank (7.5 hours continuous operation for our 5HP Mariner) on the cockpit sole at the transom, and while potentially dangerous, we carry a 2 gallon jerry can in the locker (open to the cabin interior) on extended cruises, though we do plan to build a cockpit locker some day.

Topping Lift: The stock topping lift (nicopressed pigtail off the back stay) is a pain and dangerous. It's a pain because you have to reconnect it ever time you lower or reef the main. It's dangerous because when reefed you can't spill the main. To correct this I attached a 3/16" SS clip at the masthead (there's enough room beside the backstay terminal) and ran 5/16" braided nylon to a bronze clip (similar to original) for boom end butterfly connection. We leave it connected all the time, so it's just slack when the main is up full (it won't touch the roach so there's no fear of chafe). We can release the main halyard, or let the sheets fly at anytime if we're in trouble (fortunately we haven't had to and probably never will, but I like the opportunity being available).

Owners Lists (updated October 10, 2001)

Ensenada 20

Year Name Owners Location Contact
1976 Serendipity Rod & Ondine Brandon Peterborough, ON
(705) 741-2430
1974 Gumpucky Bruce & Susan Bingham Gulfport, FL brucebingham@ij.net
1979 Arielle Richard & Ellen Black St. Louis, MO TRIPLETT@prodigy.net
former owner Bob Cassel Northern, CA bcassel@metro.net
Pete Ohara London, ON
1972 Chloe camera.gif (149 bytes) camera.gif (149 bytes) Dan & Jennie Meyer San Diego, CA E-mail changed?
former owner Bob Wessel Swabo71@webtv.net
1972 (anonymous) Greg Orcutt
1973 Otherwise Engaged Ari L. Bayme abayme@zanett.com
1974 (anonymous) Dee ? South Central, PA MiniRitz@aol.com
Michael McGee
Dale Beachwood
Russel Watford wertigers@aol.com
1975 Dream Rime Villy Madsen Beaumont, Alberta villymadsen@home.com
1972 Express Desire Ed & Perrian
Hughesville, MD E-mail changed?
1974 Blue Angel Gene Epstein Brooklyn, NY artfolks@mindspring.com
1974 Bilbo Steve & Dianne Hullet Buckeye Lake, OH shulett@alltel.net
1979 Sea Jay Curt & Sheryl
Lake Fenton, MI cswanson@sun.science.wayne.edu
1974 Chrissy Marie Donald Murphy Central, PA Don@cdlinc.com
1973 Good Luffin Wyatt & Shannon
Greenville, SC Luffalot@aol.com
1981 Didi Mao Tom Rose Malo, WA E-mail changed?
1976 The Doghouse Jason Rademakers St. Petersburg, FL jrademaker@aol.com
1974 M&N camera.gif (149 bytes) Bill & Donna Carpenter Westerville OH otisedgr@prodigy.net
1973 Anungoday camera.gif (149 bytes) Noemi Ybarra Lafayette, IN nybarra@dcwi.com
1972 (anonymous) Mark Lustig Stamford, CT MLustig@PRTM.com
1972 Seventy Sense Mark & Diane Tetrault Pembroke NH E-mail changed?
1973 Eli's Coming camera.gif (149 bytes) Phillip & Linda Ennis Lake Monroe IN lindaennis@att.net (former owners)
1974 Twilite Willoughby Robert & Susan Bruecken Pittsburgh, PA rbruecken@aol.com
? (anonymous) Andrew Harding Santa Cruz, CA andrew@pixo.com
1973 Sun Pacific Marc & Carolyn Gallegos Grand Junction, CO margal@coloradomtn.edu
1974 Sweet Escape Dan & Nisi Myers North-east PA dwmyers@v35.com
1973 La Maria Angelina Geoff & Lori Hartt Portland, OR E-mail changed?
1973 Maikai camera.gif (149 bytes) camera.gif (149 bytes) Sherry Barnhart
Bill Christensen
Port Orchard, WA diamondgirl@silverlink.net
1973 Scalawag John Gierthy
& Kathy
East Greenbush, NY gierthy@wadsworth.org
1975 Wavedancer Paul Del Rio Banner Elk, NC E-mail changed?
1973 Mrs. X Carl & Sharon Aber Barnegat Bay, NJ caber12@home.com
1973 Wind Quest Harvey and Cecile Smith, Hampden, Ma. Harvx@aol.com
1973 Geez-O-Peet Richard Craig Southern CA rcraig@performancecomposites.com   
E209 Elissa Ann Ralph & Joann Western, PA E-mail changed?
1973 Wavelength Tim McHale Boston, MA bostonminstrel@aol.com
1974 Believer Harley & Kirstin Hill Woodstock, CT guava@neca.com
1974 Cozy Stuart Kiehl Santa Rosa, CA stuart@vineyardvideo.com
1976 Espirit Woodie & Liz Wood unknown llwood81@hotmail.com
? Retired To Sail Lindsey  English Scottsdale, AZ lenglish@keepsailing.com
1974 (anonymous) Kenneth Kreuser unknown kerokr@yahoo.com
1974 (anonymous) Bill Lippincott Cape Cod, MA Lippin55@aol.com
? Sail Away Bob Barr Ohio? barrr@eagle4.stark.k12.oh.us
1974 The Flying Shoe David, Susan & Heidi Kuehn Stockton Lake, MO dkuehn@pittstate.edu
Solo Scott & Ashley McArthur Valsourdog@aol.com
1974 Naptime Vickie McGonigle Muncie, Indiana victoria_mcgonigle@bankone.com
1973 Hummer camera.gif (149 bytes) Jeff  Frank Puget Sound jdf16@juno.com
# 54 (anonymous) Brent K. Olesen Ogden, Utah brentolesen@hotmail.com
1974 (anonymous) Tyler Diehl & Kristen Hurley Monkton, MD kmhurley@mindspring.com
1974 Second Wind Bill and Barb Chesapeake Bay finsright@citlink.net
? (anonymous) Marty Dutcher Kensington, MD mdutcher@starpower.net
1973 (anonymous) Daniel Messer ? daniel.messer@ebf.com
# 145
(anonymous) Kyle & Margaret Friauf  Cedar Rapids, Iowa Kdf04@aol.com
1976 Esprit George&Suzanne Hilliker Elkmont, AL hilliker@ardmore.net
1972 Moonshadow Lois Shiley Annapolis, MD lshiley@juno.com
1973 Altijd Henriette den Ouden Washington, DC denouden@earthlink.net


RK 20

Year Name Owners Location Contact
? Sassafras T Tom Wilson Alpharetta, GA E-mail changed?
La Vie Dansante Wolfram Gotfried Deltaville, VA wolfman@shellbox.com
1979 Arielle Richard & Ellen Black St. Louis, MO TRIPLETT@prodigy.net
1977 Herin Mike Turdo Bethlehem, PA captainlugrig@yahoo.com
1977 Figaro David & Sharon Hunt Marietta, GA dhunt@edda.ws
? (anonymous) Mike Meyers Knoxville, TN mmeyers@chartertn.net
1978 Whimsy II Nate & Lynette Bryan Lupton, MI whimsy213@hotmail.com
1978 Keel Over camera.gif (149 bytes) Rick Moran Cedar Run, NJ RMORAN7306@AOL.COM


Balboa 20

Year Name Owners Location Contact
1972 Breaking Wind Spicer, Donald C Alpharetta, GA SpicerDC@corning.com
1969 Psalty Tune Cliff & Sarah Unruh Reedley, CA CliffUnruh@aol.com  
  Honalee Storm Connors   stormc@iname.com http://albums.photopoint.com/j/AlbumIndex?u=1328257&a=100072197
# 418 Miracle Steven Davis Texas sdavisrt@tyler.net
  (anonymous) Carey Koleda    
1969 EXODUS Spencer & Mary Oland Port Kelly, WA Bruddamon@usa.net
1972 Southwind Stanley Horsley Lexington, Ky shorsley@bluegrassairport.com
1973 Jonathan John & Peg Watson Gainesville, GA rni@mindspring.com
# 531 Airhead Paul Brogger Tenino, WA  broggerp@oclc.org
1967 Genesis* James Wright Bainbridge Island, WA jameswright@seattle-pi.com

*Genesis, was previously owned by Lyle Hess himself until 1984.

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