The yachts of the PSSA

Brief notes, dates and sail numbers for each class are shown below; more details of each class by clicking on the class name.

The evolution of the yachts bearing the Seal insignia

The Baker Beginning

The stage for the entry of Seal yachts was set over 30 years ago, when John Baker and his wife Pat moved into an old forge at Kenton, near Exeter, to start the building of a variety of glass fibre dinghies.

Born in India, John went to school in Australia, studied naval architecture at Glasgow University, and subsequently spent some twelve years with the British India Steamship Company, a subsidiary of P & 0, based mainly in Calcutta and Bombay. During this period, John met a boat designer, O'Brien Kennedy, from whom he picked up hints and tips about glass fibre moulding. Following his return to England, his first moulding exercise took shape in the garage of Pat's parents in Halifax. Having got the 'bug' for GRP boat moulding, John and Pat cast around for premises to start up seriously in 1962 and that's when they came upon Kenton Forge.

John initially flirted with GRP dinghy construction by building the 'Yachting World Explorer', the 'Urchin' and an assortment of rowing dinghies. Through the 'Otter' dinghy, John demonstrated his capacity for quantity production and went on to produce the 'Lark', a design by Michael Jackson, having recognised this craft as one ideally suited to fill a gap in the market. The 'Lark' subsequently became a popular club racing dinghy and was adopted by many university racing clubs.

To make the move into yacht construction John teamed up with the late Angus Primrose who designed the lifting-keel Seal 22 and in 1968, he made the plug for it at Kenton. Larger premises were required to produce this bigger boat in quantity, after being first exhibited at the 1970 London Boat Show, so he added the Starcross factory where all the 22s were built. Thus started the whole saga of a long line of lifting-keel, high performance yachts and really was the forerunner of a new concept in cruiser/ racer design. About this time, John also had the idea of starting a Seal Class owners association and encouraged some of the early Seal owners to form one in 1972.

The Parker Development

G. W. Parker & Son, established in the late 1880's and originally founded by Bill Parker's grandfather, were general builders and joiners, the family having been for several generations Master Mariner Builders and Woodworkers. It carried on trading as builders until the 1950's, when they again introduced boat building into what was at the time still a small family business.

The company commenced with the then new international '505' racing dinghy. Initially, these were cold moulded though before long they had changed to GRP construction and soon achieved their first international racing successes. Over the years, Parker built '505's have amassed an enviable list of 18 world championships as well as numerous national and European championships. Some of their customers are now household names and the list reads rather like a hall of fame in world yachting -12 metre sailors like Harold Cudmore, Edward Owen, Phil Crebbin, Chris Dickson of New Zealand,- top dinghy sailors such as Steve Benjamin, Dave Ullman of the USA, Larry Markes, Derick Farrant, Peter Colclough, Marcel Buffet, the Pajot brothers and, from the 1986 Whitbread Round the World Race, Pierre Fehlmann of Switzerland, first across the finish line.

For a number of years, the sole Parker boat was the '505', for which they had a very healthy UK and export market. However, in 1972 Parker's were appointed sole UK builders for the new Olympic class, the international '470' racing dinghy. This addition enabled them to expand their production facilities, they moved to their present site at Kirton and increased their staff. Over the years Parker's have also built, albeit in limited numbers, various yachts and dinghies such as the 'Flying Dutchman', 'Tempest' and the 'Sprinter Sports'.

In 1980, Parker's bought the building rights for the 'Lark' from John Baker, when John wanted to concentrate on the Seal range of yachts. Bill Parker having originally met both John and Pat back in 1969, during a trade mission to the USA promoting their respective dinghies, the '505' and the 'Lark'.

It was, perhaps, no surprise that in 1981, when for a complete change John and Pat were thinking of moving out of the boat building business into fruit growing, they sold the building rights of the Super Seal to Parker's. For the next ten years, the Super Seal remained in continuous production before being modified and marketed as the Parker 27. Throughout the time, Bill Parker sailed the boat regularly himself and developed a high respect for this fine, lifting-keel, high performance yacht. So much so, that he became convinced the Iifting- keel concept had an important niche in the market. Parker's therefore followed up the 27 in 1986 with the Parker 21 (derived from the MiniSeal), and in 1987 with the Parker 31 (a design originally based on the Passage Maker, but much modified). In 1990 the entirely new Parker 275 was introduced to replace the 27, and in 1993 the company launched the Parker 325, their in-house design to supersede the Parker 31 and bring their range right up to date.

However in 2009 the recession hit and orders for new boats fell to an unsustainable level so Bill Parker was forced to wind up Parker Lift-Keel Yachts and retire. 

Years Class Designer / Builder Notes Sail numbers
1970-71 Seal 22 Mk 1 Angus Primrose / John Baker Seal 22 4 berth 'weekender' with open plan cabin partly overlapped by the coach roof combined with large cockpit and separate, self-draining helmsman's cockpit; Bermudan rig with easy spinnaker. Outboard on transom. 0 - 59
1972-75 Seal 22 Mk II Angus Primrose with JB modifications Seal 22 The addition of cabin security boards and revised cabin layout was the first move towards a small offshore cruiser; large forepeak housing heads and ample storage for sails and inflatable. 60-76
1975-80 Seal 22 Mk III Angus Primrose with JB modifications   This third development added an outboard well and lid, optional forward bunks (6 in all), an improved forehatch and revised galley layout. Hull, lifting keel and rig remained the same throughout the three marks. 77 - 384 (ex. Sinbads)
1974-79 Seal Sinbad Angus Primrose with JB modifications Sinbad The final development boasted a masthead rig, extended cabin top, cabin hatchway, higher coamings and made the 22 into a full cruiser with more cabin space. 281-9, 294, 300, 315
321-2, 324-9, 339,
353-4, 369, 375
1976-82 Seal 28 Angus Primrose Seal 28 Originally announced as the Seal 27, this is a substantial cruising yacht with masthead rig, lifting ballasted keels; 6 berths with 2 of them in separate aft cabin and a 20 hp diesel, making it also a convincing motor sailer. 1- 89 (ex. 850s)
1978-81 Seal 850 Angus Primrose with JB mods Seal 850 With the same hull and rig as the 28 but with a larger saloon and cockpit instead of the aft cabin; 5 berths; reshaped cabin top and transom hung rudder gave the 850 a sleeker look and better performance. 73, 76-7, 81-3,
86-8, 90
1978-82 Super Seal 26 Ron Holland / John Baker SS26 An entirely different concept with 7/8 rig and fully retractable keel with internal ballast enabling it to take the ground on its shallow bottomed hull; 5 berths, with the ability to convert one to a double; a very fast cruising and racing yacht. Available with 8 hp diesel or outboard in aft well. 1-96
1983-84 Super Seal 26 Ron Holland / G W Parker   Builder changed from Baker to Parker 97 -112
1984-87 Super Seal 27 series II       113 -131
1987-90 Parker 27 Ron Holland with Parker mods P27 This later model has increased headroom and other internal modifications, all aimed at even greater comfort below; small revisions to rig and keel ballast further improved its handling 132 -160
1990-2000 Parker 275 G W Parker P275 Complete new hull and deck design giving more internal space with 6' headroom. Enlarged heads compartment, chart table
and double sized quarter berth. Ballast further concentrated in the lifting keel to lower the centre of gravity, improve stability and enhance still further windward performance.
1 -
1980,81 MiniSeal Ron Holland with JB mod's   Ron Holland originally designed the MiniSeal as a 23' cruiser/racer for John Baker for the Mini Ton Cup. Baker then developed, from it, the Mini cruiser as a family trailer/sailer. 1-6
1986-89 Parker 21 Ron Holland with Parker mods P21 By redesigning the deck, interior and rig the MiniSeal was modified extensively by Parker's to become a high performance trailer/sailer with impressive stability and a spacious cabin layout incorporating 4 berths, cooking and washing facilities and toilet. 7 - 24
1989-2000 Parker 21     Further development covering hull, modified interior, GRP modules and new galley layout. 25 on
1987-93 Parker 31 Tony Castro / G W Parker P31 In 1981, Tony Castro designed the 30' Passage Maker 30 for John Baker as a high performance, lifting-keel racer/cruiser, capable of winning events such as The Three Peaks Race. When Parker's took over the J.B. assets, the design was modified to become the Parker 31. With 3 cabins, one en suite, to house 2 double and 2 single berths, the design offers a combination of refinement and agility not previously achieved in a 31' yacht. Whilst the 31's fractional rig and high aspect lifting wing keel continues the Seal philosophy of high performance, lifting-keel yachts. 1-30
1993-2000 Parker 325 G W Parker P325 The 325 is a foot longer and 6 inches wider than than the 31 which it replaced, as well as being fuller in the ends. The result is an even more practical cruising accommodation, whilst the electro-hydraulically operated wing keel is very high aspect and the combination makes for a stiffer more stable yacht when driven hard. The 325 is wheel steered. Below, the fore-peak V-berths are enormous. The well designed heads are accessible from both fore'd and saloon and the aftercabin features a huge double berth athwartships. 10 on
2001- Parker 235 G W Parker P235 Successor to the Parker 21 offering more space but still having the ability to trailer-sail 1 on
2001- Parker 285 G W Parker P285 Upgrade of the popular Parker 275 with electric keel winch and the name 285 reflecting its actual length of 28 feet 5 inches 62 on
2001- Parker 335 G W Parker P335 Upgrade of the popular Parker 325 with the name reflecting its actual length of 33 feet 5 inches 40 on