Filed Under (Boat Reviews) by Debbie on 15-10-2008

In another post JT asked some questions about the Helms 25 sailboat.  It seems an opportunity has fallen in his lap and may gift him with a free sailboat.  He asked a series of questions about the Helms 25 and this post will attempt to give him some answers.

The Helms 25 has a fiberglass hull, balsa cored deck, a centerboard (keel), (generally) a pop-top for standing head room at anchor, a large cockpit and sometimes a trailer and outboard motor.  A quick search of those for sale show an asking price of between $1,500-$4,000.

The first question asked was, “Is a 25 too big to be a good beginner boat?”  The short answer for me is – no.  You will however, learn much more in a small dingy as you sail about.  Although as you’re planning on taking lessons in a 10-12 footer, I don’t see why you couldn’t apply those lessons to a larger boat in a small amount of wind.  We all make mistakes and do stupid stuff in our boats and looking through the archives here you’ll find some of ours.

The current owner states, “It needs some work.”  That could mean anything from just a bit of elbow grease to a complete over haul.  Part of what you’ll need to think about is how much you can currently do, what you think you can learn to do and how much spare cash do you have for what you’d need to hire out.  So here’s what I’d be looking at.

The hull is fiberglass and some of these boats have blister problems.  I’d give the bottom of the boat a good looking over.  Blisters can be repaired, our current sailboat had some but the yard did a good job during the haul-out.  I’d guess if there are blisters, you’d need to have that professionally fixed.  Although, you could find out how to do it yourself if you’re inclined.

The deck is balsa cored.  If you’ve access to a moisture meter, I’d run it over the deck.  A wet deck is expensive to fix and you might be better off just buying something in better shape.

Standing rigging.  This is the wire stuff that holds up the mast.  Take an old wash cloth with you and wipe up and down on all the standing rigging.  If you have small pieces of the cloth stick to the rigging then I’d think ‘meat hooks’ and you’ll most likely need to replace that rigging.  This too can be expensive and best replaced by a professional.  Although the swagging tool can be rented and you can carefully measure and replace like with like.

Sails.  Have they been neatly folded, bagged and stored in the cabin or green, slimy and ripped apart?  There are places you can pick up used sails from but again more money out of pocket.  While you’re looking at the sails check out the sheets (the lines of rope you adjust them with).  Are they in good shape or frayed and grimy?

Mast.  Is it dented and damaged?  What about raising it?  Our MacGregor trailer sailor had a mast raising system that made it much easier than brute strenght.  Then too you’ll want to look at the halyards.  Are they rope or rope to wire and what kind of shape are they in?  Also, check out the wiring and all connectors as well as the plate you’ll step the mast on.

Check the winches, how many are there?  One on each side of the cockpit for the sheets and hopefully one on the mast for the halyards.  Are there any winch handles?  Do the winches work?  Also take a look at the traveler for the boom.  Does it come with a trailer?  If so you might want to check out my trailer maintenance post.

Are there life vests, fenders, cockpit cushions, b-b-q, radio, outboard motor, gas cans, water cans, dock lines?  The list could be endless here.

There is just so much more I could add but I think you get the idea.  It would really be great to have a surveyor look the boat over.  Although I realize you might feel as if you’d be looking a gift horse in the mouth.   As far as how much money it’ll cost and how much time it would take…that’s anybody’s guess.

Our trailer-sailor was mostly just cleaning up, a new sail, a bit of wiring and a few new safety items.  I’d definitely say go look!  If you can, get the current owner to take it to the water and the two of you go out.  That will tell you a bunch!

The Helms 25 sailboats are great for day sailing and a couple’s weekend.  You’d have fun learning and it’s not so big that, set up right, you couldn’t single hand her.  With the centerboard keel you’ll be able to come in closer to shore (no sails up!)  So, JT I hope this helps answer some of your questions and gives you food for thought.  Remember ‘Murphy’s Law’…see below if you don’t yet know Murhpy.  If you found this helpful, please remember I have a real estate license and if you’re going to buy or sell I’d love to refer a local agent for an interview.  It costs you nothing and if you use them, they pay me a percentage which helps me keep this blog on the web.  Let me know if you take this little Helms 25 sailboat.

31 Comments posted on "Helms 25 Sailboat"
JT on October 15th, 2008 at 8:58 pm #

Wow Debbie,

Thanks for the great information and super fast reply! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my post! I will keep the things you have mentioned in mind when I go look at it this weekend. As I understand it, it is currently in its slip so I don’t know how much I will be able to tell about the bottom. Thanks again!

Debbie on October 15th, 2008 at 9:14 pm #


You’re welcome I hope there was something useful for you. A couple additional thoughts since she’s in a slip.

See if the seller has a record of the last time the bottom was painted. And see if there’s a trailer to haul out with. It would really be best to see the bottom if at all possible.

Again a survey would really be good. Best of luck!

JT on October 20th, 2008 at 10:31 am #

Well it looks like I have a restoration project on my hands now.

I went to look at the boat yesterday with the owner and ask several of the questions that Debbbie and others said I should ask. Overall the boat seems to be in very good shape considering its age and how its been neglected. Following are further details and a link to pictures.

Here are some pictures.
According to the HIN (JAH002500773) she is a 1973 Helms. Is the 00250 the hull number?
The registration card and sail bags all confirm Helms 25.

Interestingly, the NADA and several insurance company websites I have looked at list the earliest Helms boats not being made until 1975.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

No known leaks, no water in the cabin, no smell of mold or mildew

No trailer

This model at least is not a pop-top.

Cabin top where mast is stepped seems in good condition, foredeck seems to have a few soft spots

No standing water in the bilges, no automatic bilge, manual pump only, so any water leaking in would be visible, and there is none as far as I have seen yet

No record of last bottom job in the past 20 years at least.

Standing rigging looks to be in good condition. may need adjustment, I don’t know.

Two winches – has Barlow 16 Australia stamped on top, both turned only one direction well

Jib and genoa seem to be in good shape as far as I can tell. Stored in bags in the v-berth, dry, and crispy feeling. The main is reefed and covered on the boom and may have some dry rot as well as mold and mildew. The previous owner said he attempted to make a spinnaker… scary He has it at the house a lot with the porta-potty.

5-6hp Evinrude Fisherman – looks original, doesn’t run, don’t know if fixable yet. The outboard does turn over when starting cable is pulled. The throttle needs some lube bad, barely turns. Maybe just needs some new gas, sparkplug (dunno if one or two), and maybe some carb cleaner sprayed in it…

No battery on board to test Running, Steaming, or Anchor Lights

As boat is in its slip and there is no trailer I haven’t inspected the rudder or centerboard yet. But the centerboard crank seems to work and I was able to run it all the way up and down.

Thanks again for the help and comments or suggestions are appreciated.


Debbie on October 20th, 2008 at 1:27 pm #

Hi JT,

Congrats on your new to you boat! I’m sure it’ll be an interesting learning experience.

Please take a moment to sign up for your free boating blog by clicking on the button above. I, as well as others, will love to read about your new adventure. You’ll be able to have photo’s and chat about all your projects and cruises.

Welcome to sailing!

Waxing on October 21st, 2008 at 4:09 am #

This awesome sailing yacht provides fast and smooth sailing.

Debbie on October 21st, 2008 at 9:57 pm #

Hi Waxing,

I’ve heard they are nice little boats. Thanks for visiting.

Ray Margeson on November 13th, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

In August I purchased a Helms 25 and its hull number is JAH004280275 – based on that, it seems that Helms 25s must have been made prior to 1975 since my hull 25 made made in February 1975.

I am looking forward to working on mine before sailing season next year.

Good luck and “fair winds and following seas”

Debbie on November 13th, 2008 at 10:42 pm #

Hi Ray,

Good luck with your Helms 25! It’s a lot of fun and sometimes frustration to fix up a boat. Why is it that the screw, nut or bolt you need is never the one you’ve got? It seems we always have to spend more time than we first think on any repair as there generally extra trips to the marine store. 😉 Best of luck on your boat!

David Applegate on November 21st, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

I currently sail a Helms 25 1975 #504
in the Gulf of Mex. I have had, well she has had me for over 10 years. There are some changes made to the 25. (to make it more family friendly IMO)the later models drained the (pleasing long) cockpit aft where earlier models drained from below the companionway hatch. I have found the boat to be satisfactory but envy the 24ft’er’s standing headroom, well really every other model Jack Helms produced was full standing. I like the trailer ability with memories of Katrina & Gustav in my rear view mirror. Please let me know if I can be of help with your Helms.

Debbie on November 21st, 2008 at 1:34 pm #

Hi David,

I agree with you about the trailer especially given your location, it’s really wonderful to high tail it out of the path.

I appreciate eveyone who’s left comments for JT. It just go to show how helpful the boating community as a whole is.

Thanks so much for visiting!

Ray Margeson on December 5th, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

The trailer for my Helms 25 is serial number 418 (hull number 428)- so obviously Jack Helms made fewer trailers and boats – guess he made them as a pair if they were ordered with a trailer. We don’t need a trailer to hightail it out of anywhere in upstate New York – but we can’t keep them in the water all year.

Debbie on December 5th, 2008 at 8:19 pm #

Hi Ray,

Interesting observation. I didn’t give it a thought but it sure makes sense, not everyone would want a trailer. Thanks for the update!

Sean Reid on March 8th, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

I have a 72 Helms 25. Hull number 22 So I can tell you the Blue book folks don’t know what they think they do.

Debbie on March 9th, 2009 at 9:48 am #

Hey Sean,

Thanks for visiting! Did you recently buy or have you had yours for a while?

Erik on May 13th, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

I just acquired a 76 Jack Helms 25 with trailor..minus all sails except main. anyone know how to acquire a used 110 jib for 25 Helms? -excited again bout sailing

Debbie on May 14th, 2009 at 9:53 am #

Hi Erik,

Congrats on the new to you boat! I’m sure you’ll have great fun with her. I know there are lots of consignment shops around our area that carry all sorts of stuff including sails. You might look around your area.

There’s a place on the Internet that carries new/used sails so you might want to try them…link is here.

Also, you can get new sail kits that you sew yourself or have them finish here…they do show Helms 25 so that’d be another place plus any local shops.

Best of luck

Justin on July 2nd, 2009 at 7:12 pm #

Can anyone tell me how to remove and replace a Helms 25 centerboard? Is the pin accessible; is it stainless, galvanized, or just plain steel? Does anyone sell them or know how to get one made? Thanks for any help you can give.

Ray on July 13th, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

Juatin – All I know is that the centerboard weighs in at about 300 lbs. The pin is accessible from the companionway across from the sink right above the sole. There is also an access from within the storage area under the forward dinette seat. As for the composition of the pin, no idea. Good luck and let us know how you make out. My centerboard is a slab of rust and when it comes out of the water this fall I will be getting it sandblasted, but probably as it hangs.

Jim Keeven on October 9th, 2009 at 8:32 am #

We have just acquired a 1973 25′, in great shape! $1000.00, hopes are to sail across Lake Michigan. One question, has no water line at this point but would like to add one, any measurements to help for location, thanks, Jim.

Debbie on October 12th, 2009 at 8:36 pm #

Hi Jim,

Well congrats on your new to you boat! I’m thinking I might have an email from someone about an owners manual, although it could be a different boat…I’ll dig through my emails.

Don’t hold your breath I’ve hundreds so it’ll take me a bit. I’ll do my best to find an answer for you. In the mean time….

How about it? Any of you guys/gals out there have an answer for Jim?

Ray on November 3rd, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

Jim – I have never been able to find a manual for the Helms 25 – but I did see in “This Old Boat” the method for marking the waterline – manually!

Debbie on November 5th, 2009 at 11:29 am #

Hi Jim,

Well the email I have doesn’t give any info about water line. However, a buddy suggests having the boat in the water and sprinkling baby powder around the boat. It should stick to the hull so you can mark it. Although I think that’s probably not really great for the water and the fish. So, just relaying that thought.

So…anyone else with info on how to paint a boot stripe on a boat?

Gary Jewett on November 5th, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

I need a trailer for a Helms 25.
I will rent or buy.

Anthony Coppola on March 4th, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

I also am looking for a trailer for a Helms 25. Would prefer to buy it.

Ed on June 26th, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

I have Helms #378. anyone know the weight of the 25. Preparing boat lift and need boat weight.

Debbie on July 7th, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

Hi Ed,

Well, here’s what I could find. I don’t know if this is accurate so get out your salt shaker.

Total displacement is 3,950 lbs. Ballast is 1,650 lbs. including 300 lbs. for the centerboard.

This was what my research showed but I wasn’t able to verify.

nate on April 12th, 2013 at 7:55 am #

do you have any pics that show the standing rigging set up?

Debbie on April 12th, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

Sorry Nate, I do not have any pictures of the standing rigging. How about it? Any of you Helms skippers have some to share?

David Applegate on November 27th, 2013 at 9:56 am #

I have pix of the standing rigging on my Helms and comparative pix from other Helms 25. I just replaced all standing rigging. Send to you or Nate?

Debbie on December 17th, 2013 at 9:22 am #

Hi David,

If you could send to me I’ll post it up! Debbie at Pacificnorthwestboating dot com It will be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

Rudy Runnels on July 14th, 2020 at 5:51 pm #

All these posts seem old. Does anyone have a helms 25 for sale. I owned one 25 years ago. The best boat I ever had. Most utilitarian and fun sailing on Mississippi sound.