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Boats and Gear/Boat Test
Author:John Kretschmer
December 2007 With traditional good looks and ease of use this new cruiser fulfills the promise of sailing I tried to act like I was working but it was a struggle. Perched in the cockpit of the elegant Morris M42, I had my notebook in my lap and was scribbling away as Tom Morris dutifully answered my questions. We were motoring out of Back Creek in Annapolis, Maryland. It was impossible not to notice the envious glares from sailors aboard other boats as we motored toward the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay. I did my best to look nonchalant. Clear of the channel, Tom put the boat on autopilot, loaded the main halyard into the electric winch and kept chatting as he effortlessly raised the LeisureFurl mainsail. When he offered me the helm, the game was up. This wasn’t work, indeed, sailing the new Morris M42 was pure pleasure and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the wheel. The Sparkman & Stephens-designed M42 was directly inspired by the surprising success of its smaller sister, the lovely M36. If the M36 is a daysailer, then call the M42 a weekender. Of course it is more than that, but what? It’s a traditional cruiser by design, infused with the technological know how of one of America’s most respected builders, and it’s drop-dead beautiful. Not a bad combination. I’m not sure what to call it but I confess, I’d love to own one and would be quite happy to spend a lot longer than a weekend aboard. We quickly fell off onto a close reach and sprinted toward deeper water. The M42 sliced through the Chesapeake chop like a finely honed blade. The hull shape, at least above the waterline, harks back to pre-fiberglass days and reminds me of some of Sparkman & Stephens classic designs from the 1930s and 1940s. I spent a lot of time sailing Magic Venture, a sistership to Stormy Weather, and the new Morris felt similar in the water. The details The M42 is narrow, low to the water, has a beguiling sheer and rakish overhangs. The short coachroof is classy, with four portlights per side and flows naturally into the cockpit coaming. Below the waterline the moderate forefoot trails into a high-performance bulbed fin keel with a standard draft of 5 feet, 8 inches. A deep keel at 6 feet, 11 inches and a shoal version at 5 feet are also available options. The high-aspect spade rudder is a carbon-epoxy composite. The hull and deck are a composite construction with vinylester resin and vacuum bagged Core-cell foam. Like all Morris boats, careful consideration is given to blending weight, or lack there of, and strength. The stringers and transverse floors are also a composite construction. A high-density core is used to reinforce high-load deck fittings. On deck The long cockpit is subtly divided into a helming/trimming station and a sitting area. With full cushions in place, the helmsman’s seat is sumptuous and allows for easy steering from both the high and low side, and for sitting directly behind the wheel. Efficient steering angles and unobstructed visibility is rarely the case with most wide-bodied modern boats. The primary winches and jammers are led to small pods just forward of the helm. The rest of the cockpit is built around a handsome teak table with plenty of room for lounging on 6-foot-plus benches. As you make your way forward, the lack of lifelines becomes apparent. It’s true lifelines would spoil the simple, elegant look but they are frightfully practical. Morris explained that the lack of lifelines can be a practical matter too, making the boat much easier to singlehand. When coming along side a dock, or picking up a mooring, there are no lifelines to interfere with lines or to scramble over and he pointed out the lock teak handrails on the coachroof. In classic Morris fashion there’s a logical solution: Order the optional, easy-to-remove stanchions with a single lifeline and deploy as necessary. While the M42 is not specifically designed for singlehanded sailing, that’s certainly part of its appeal. The M42 may be 42 feet, 3 inches LOA but it is nimble and handles like a much smaller boat. You don’t need to round up crew to go sailing. There is no reason not to pop aboard after work and enjoy an hour’s sail before dark. It’s incredibly relaxing and rewarding and an aspect of sailing that disappears with most big boats. They are too much trouble for a short, spur of the moment sail. The fractional rig features a Hall Spars carbon fiber mast and a Quick Vang, a LeisureFurl boom (optional) and Navtec hydraulic backstay adjuster. The jib is self-tacking and all control lines are led to the cockpit and are easily accessed from the helm. The mainsheet is led to fixed point, a barney post arrangement, just forward of the wheel. This frees up cockpit space and eliminates the clutter of a traveler but it also reduces mainsail control, especially leach tension. However, it does make tacking easy, just turn the wheel, slip through the wind, and trim up. A contrasting color nonskid molded deck is standard but it would be a pity not to choose the teak deck option. If you really want to dress the boat up, Morris offers a teak cladding for the coachroof sides. Down below The interior arrangement, in keeping with the M series ethos, is simple, refreshingly open and beautifully appointed. The M42 is set up for a cruising couple. The forepeak includes a large double berth with full-length shelves on each side and drawers below and alongside. The saloon includes a handsome mahogany table on the centerline with straight settees opposite. There are lockers with table tops at the end of each settee and cabinets above as well. A large butterfly hatch overhead and the eight fixed portlights allow for plenty of natural lighting. Some arrangement for cross ventilation will be necessary if the boat is sailed south of the Mason Dixon line. The galley, immediately to starboard when you drop below, is small but functional. It includes Corian countertops, a two-burner gimbaled cooker, 12-volt refrigeration and a single stainless sink. The head is opposite. The toilet is a Vacuflush model and the shower has a convenient temperature control on the wall. The finish is classic Herreshoff style with white composite bulkheads nicely accented with solid mahogany joinerwork. No matter where you may moor the boat, the interior makes you feel like you’re swinging to a mooring in Northeast Harbor, Maine. But we were on the Chesapeake Bay, and having a splendid time sailing the M42. The wind was light but steady. On a close reach we eased over 6 knots without trying. The ride was smooth, the helm balanced. The leads for the self-tacking jib allow for tight sheeting angles. Trimming up the sheets the boat was able to foot very close to the wind. The M42 is also set up for easy deployment of an asymmetrical chute with all controls led aft. We set the chute with a minimum of fuss and kept the boat moving smartly even on a deep reach. Dropping the chute, we tacked our way back toward the harbor. Sometimes when a sailplan is simplified for self-tacking, its loses its punch. That’s not the case with M42. It accelerated smartly each time we gained way on and I was impressed with its soft motion when we encountered nasty wakes spawned by impatient powerboats. Eventually we fired up the 39-horsepower Yanmar diesel fitted with a saildrive transmission. Fuel capacity is just 40 gallons but I suspect that will last most M42 owners a full season. This is a boat meant for sailing, not powering. Yet the two-bladed folding Flex-O-Fold propeller pushed the boat along at 6 knots without working up a sweat. The M42 comes loaded with standard equipment, including a VHF radio, color GPS, and complete sailing instruments. Sails and a carbon rig are also part of the package. But the decision to purchase an M42 is not going to be made over which items are standard and which are optional. Buying an M42 is about choosing an uncompromising design that is focused squarely on what’s important, sailing. With a price somewhere around $650,000 the M42 is not for everybody. The M42 is, however, an exceptionally high-quality yacht, one that reminds us that when properly executed there is nothing more beautiful, more filled with promise, than a sailboat.
Friday, 07 November 2008 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Boat Test
Author:Bob Pingel
November 2007 Clever design engineering makes for a comfortable cruiser and party platform that’s not lacking in power Hunter is a truly prolific sailboat manufacturer. It is celebrating 35 years in business, and over those 35 years it has produced 68 different models, introducing 10 in just the last five years. I recently experienced Hunter’s latest offering firsthand, the 45DS, in Saint Augustine, Florida, and also had the opportunity to visit the factory in nearby Alachua, Florida. The 45DS is an evolution of the 44DS, but also uses lots of new ideas. The goal was to take the best aspects of the successful 44DS, update the exterior cosmetics, and improve the cockpit and interior. The intended customer for the 45DS ranges from the bluewater cruiser to the person looking for a nice dockside cocktail platform. Hunter’s goal was to provide a boat with home-like comforts, but not compromise bluewater performance. To Hunter’s credit, the boat will also likely be a learning platform for new sailors—the boat needs to be easy to use, nimble and forgiving. Details The visit to Florida allowed me to really dig into the construction of the boat. While visiting the factory and the boats under construction I spoke with Hunter’s director of engineering and chief designer Glenn Henderson and several members of his staff. I was impressed to see the efficiencies at the factory and quality that goes into the boats. Many top-notch components are aboard from Harken, Lewmar, Spinlock, Selden and many others. Standard system upgrades included isolation transformers on the shore power inlets, an X-Change-R oil change system, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in every cabin. The 45DS uses the same hull as the 44DS. While there were economic efficiencies in play, the fact is the 44DS has a great hull. The hull is solid fiberglass below the waterline and balsa-cored above. Hunter adds Kevlar laminates to the collision areas for extra impact resistance. The hull is attached to the deck via an outward facing flange, the flange is chemically bonded with 3M 5200, and both screwed and through bolted. The outward flange also serves as the base for the trademark Hunter rubrail. An easily driven hull is a big part of the Hunter equation. The forward sections feature a “bow hollow.” While most sailboat profiles are completely convex, this hull has a slightly convex section just aft of the bow. The hollow eases the water around hull, and it provides a transition from the fine bow entry to the generous beam just aft. The hull has a low prismatic coefficient to maximize light air performance, and the aft underbody shape flattens the stern wave to further enhance performance. To keep the boat nimble around the dock and underway, Hunter uses a relatively large rudder and smaller keel. The keel strut is iron with a lead bulb. This design has a couple benefits. It allows for a lower center of gravity, due to the higher density lead being used in the bulb, and it also minimizes costs. You don’t typically associate lead with high cost, but the fact is that lead has tripled in price. Rather than just pass the cost on to the customer, Hunter redesigned the keel to keep the cost down and improve performance. The 45DS, as all of Hunter’s boats, has a true keel stub in the boat. This allows for a deep bilge sump and is stronger than just bolting the keel to the flat bottom of the hull. The deck is plywood cored and has solid glass in high-load areas. A plywood-cored deck, while heavier, is both stiffer and stronger than a deck cored with balsa or foam. To compensate for the heavier deck, Hunter has chosen to use a soft headliner. Aside from the weight benefits, I think the headliner gives a more luxurious look and provides good access to the underside of the deck. Hunter uses a modular “liner” technique for its interiors. The interior is housed in a separate hand-laid liner that is later bonded to the hull. During construction Hunter actually places the liner in a hull-matched carrier and installs most of the interior outside the boat. Using this method, the hull and interior work can continue in parallel to maximize efficiency. When it is time to marry the hull and interior, the interior liner is placed in a bed of Plexus adhesive, an adhesive that is stronger than the fiberglass itself. Going even further, the liner is tabbed to the hull around the bilge sump, and the bulkheads are tabbed to the hull and deck. Using this method, Hunter gains the efficiencies of modular construction while giving up few of the benefits of traditional techniques. On deck One of the major changes in the 45DS is a larger cockpit. The cockpit has a centerline table with storage and accommodations for large electronics, spacious dual helms and the classic Hunter stainless steel traveler arch. All sail controls are led aft, and our test boat had a full complement of electric winches. The double-ended mainsheet system is interesting. One end of the sheet is brought to a clutch on the starboard cabintop, while the other is belayed to a clutch at the port helm station. This setup allows the boat to be easily singlehanded but still allows a crew to work in the cockpit without crowding each other. The dual helms feature Whitlock direct-drive steering. This system provides very precise steering, and is far better than any other dual-helm system I have tested. The double-spreader spar crafted by Selden uses Hunter’s well-proven B&R design. The large main provides most of the horsepower but is still easily handled with the optional Selden in-mast furling system, vertical battens provide some roach and a good overall shape to the furling main. The jib is fractional, and at 110-percent, just barely overlaps the main. It is easily handled with Selden’s excellent Furlex furling gear. The boat is not over-canvassed; Hunter’s design theory states that a boat should not require tons of canvas to attain hull speed. The in-cockpit storage is more than ample. There are large aft lockers for larger gear, and a few smaller areas in the cockpit seats. Large sheet bins control the spaghetti at the cabintop winches. The transom and swim step is an all new design. Previously, all Hunters had a very rounded, scoop-like transom and step, while the 45DS now has squarer corners and a more vertical design. This small change provides a new cleaner look, and more interior volume. The boat has a well-designed foredeck, with a large sunning pad directly forward of the mast. The windlass and ground tackle are robust and all housed in a large anchor locker to keep things tidy. Down below The interior of the boat is truly a highlight, as all new Hunters now feature cherry-finished interiors. This new finish, coupled with the light allowed in by the deck saloon design, is truly stunning. The cabin sole is a laminate material called EverWear, promising long life and zero maintenance. The sole looks good and, thanks to Hunter’s full subfloor, is very solid and quiet underfoot. The bulkheads and flat cabinet surfaces are covered in wood-grained laminate, again delivering great looks and low maintenance. From the foot of the companionway the galley is to port and a large head to starboard. The galley features acres of Corian countertops, separate refrigeration and freezer compartments, a built-in microwave and coffeemaker, dual sinks, and a three-burner gimbaled stove. There is an innovative dish storage compartment that doubles as a drying rack, complete with a drain and exhaust fan. Storage abounds with many cabinets, drawers, and even storage beneath the sole. The aft head is spacious, with Corian countertops and a separate shower stall with a frosted glass door. There is private access from the aft cabin, and access from the saloon. The saloon is beautifully lit with lots of overhead fixed and opening glass. There is a large U-shaped dining area on port and comfy settee opposite. The boat was setup with an optional entertainment system consisting of a large flat panel monitor mounted on the port main bulkhead and a DVD player and audio system on starboard. The large nav station is to starboard just forward of the head. There is room to spread out paper charts and lots of panel space for a full complement of electronics. An optional Fischer Panda generator is housed in the nav station seat. The well-insulated noise enclosure keeps things quiet—far quieter than most water pumps. The aft cabin features an island queen-sized berth, with nightstand-style cabinets. There is a good amount of storage in the hanging lockers and drop-in bin storage along the hull. Our test boat had a washer/dryer in place of the portside hanging locker. Hunter placed the forward head in the forepeak allowing a large Pullman cabin forward with a large hanging locker and a full vanity with sink. The bunk is huge and there is storage on shelves and in drawers under the bunk. Under sail The conditions were light and sweltering as we made our way out to the Atlantic for a test sail. As we motored out, I took the opportunity to assess the boat under power. The boat was nimble, able to almost turn in its own length. It was easily driven by the standard 54-horsepower Yanmar engine, and a 75-horsepower is an available option. Interestingly, we motored right past the beach where Steve Pettengill, Hunter’s director of offshore testing, renowned round-the-world sailor and self-proclaimed crash-test dummy, repeatedly grounds each new Hunter model. We opted out of that test, but were comforted to know that every new model is required to pass it. Once clear of the ICW traffic we unfurled and were underway. Of course this was all done with ease, thanks to the Selden furling gear and electric winches. The hot west wind provided us with about 10 knots of breeze. Not much relief from the 100-degree heat, but enough to get the boat moving. We set off on a close reach and touched 6 knots. The boat was very well balanced with a silky smooth motion. The Whitlock direct drive steering gave fingertip control. Tacking was effortless with the small headsail, a brief shot of the electric winch was all that was required. We set the asymmetrical spinnaker a cracked off on a broad reach. One of the “costs” of the swept spreaders on the B&R rig is the inability to run deep downwind, but the truth is that you are typically better off to heat up a bit and jibe downwind. We saw a solid 6 knots and the boat handled well. We easily jibed several times, comforted by the fact that the traveler and boom were both safely above the robust cockpit arch. Coming back into the marina we were able to truly assess the boat under power, as we needed to back the boat into a berth between two gleaming sportfishing boats. The boat backed true and a few blasts of the bow thruster brought us smartly alongside. Keep an eye out for the 45DS at the fall and winter boat shows, but be prepared for a long wait in line, as this is a truly compelling, high-value package.
Saturday, 10 November 2007 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Perry on Design
Author:Robert H. Perry
Performance cruiserr This 50-footer from Hunter Marine surprised a lot of people at the last Annapolis Boat Show. Essentially, I think people were not expecting Hunter to come out with such a specialized cruising boat. This project actually started several years ago and was connected to one of my stereo-gear heroes, Julian Vereker of NAIM Audio fame, who died recently. Working with Hunter, Julian developed a very similar boat based upon a B&R design, which he called the Windex 49. Although Julian didn't live to see his version of the boat completed, Hunter has gone on to produce the 50, which it is offering as a stock boat to cruisers looking for something a little different. Unfortunately, I am working from very scant drawings and I have nothing that shows the underbody of the hull and nothing at all that describes the current keel-shoal and deep-configurations. It's kind of like trying to appreciate a centerfold model from just a head shot. Warren Luhrs has the first boat of this series and his boat has a custom keel with a canting wing on the back end of a long bulb. The production boat will have a no-bulbed 8-foot, 6-inch draft keel or a bulbed 6-foot draft keel. Neither will have the movable wings. The Vereker version featured the mysterious B&R venturi-effect hull slots. Based upon the light-ship displacement, the D/L is 78.38. Stability will be enhanced by 2,700 pounds of water ballast on each side. This is an interesting rig. It uses the B&R-style spar with the tripod support struts at the deck level going up to the gooseneck. The boom height is fixed by a solid vang. The mainsail is loose footed and has lots of roach made possible by the absence of any backstays, standing or running. The boom is scalloped in profile to help the deep foot of the mainsail flip over in tacks. The mainsail sheets to a traveler on top of the aft radar arch. I don't understand why the clews of the jibs are so high. I like jibs to be deck sweepers. Maybe the clews are high so the clew rings don't beat up the forward rig strut during each tack. The extreme sweep of the spreaders may make chafe a problem on long offshore passage, but Hunter assures me that this has been addressed by using rounded spreaders and well-placed chafe patches. The SA/D is 25.5. The interior seems to work well. I'm not so sure you need what the brochure calls a "day head." Is the other head a "night head?" Is there a photo-sensitive lock to prevent you from using the day head at night? The galley is very well-laid-out and adjacent to a comfortable dinette that actually has some corners. Considering that the water ballast takes up a lot of room and this boat weighs only 16,000 pounds, there is quite a bit of useable interior volume. The nav station is gimbaled, allowing the navigator to stay level up to 20 degrees of boat heel. The chain locker is aft at the base of the mast where the weight of the ground tackle will do the least amount of performance damage. There is a small cuddy or covered area aft of the house to provide shelter for the on-deck crew. This is a specialized vessel from its reversed sheer to its unusual rig. It's so different that I think a two-dimensional design analysis probably does not do it justice. This is a boat you would have to live with a while to fully appreciate. Julian Vereker's NAIM stereo gear looked strange too. I own a bunch of it and you certainly would not buy it on style points alone. But it sounds fabulous. Julian was a bit of a rebel, a free-thinker, and I think this new Hunter conveys that spirit quite well.
Wednesday, 05 July 2000 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Perry on Design
Author:Robert H. Perry
This is the first Hunter I have seen in recent years that comes with a racing, or “performance” package, option. It shows how far Hunter has come and overall I’d say this is an attractive design. While the styling might be not exactly Euro it sure is beyond traditional and shows a close connection with previous recent Hunter models while being new. I thank the design and marketing crews at Hunter for providing me with such a complete package of drawings. It makes my job easier when I don’t have to guess at small details like, for instance, hull shape. This is a beamy hull with full bow and stern and an L/B of 2.87. As is expected these days the stern is very broad and overhangs are minimal. It’s all about internal volume. The half angle of entry is 24 degrees, indicating quite a full bow. This is in contrast to many modern boats we see that actually have a hollow or concave DWL forward. But, despite the wide angle of entry, photos of the e36 sailing show a nice clean bow wave with no evidence of a rooster tail climbing up the stem. I would think given the overall proportions of this design that it is quite a stiff boat. The rig comes in two geometries with the standard rig having a lot of mainsail roach but a traditional headboard. The performance option rig comes with the same basic rig dimensions but they add a fat-head main that adds 12% to the mainsail area. Using Hunter’s figures I get SA/Ds ranging from 19.9 down to 16.38. Note the B&R style rig with highly swept spreaders and diamond shrouds. The layout features an enclosed athwartships double berth aft with a large hanging locker. The galley has a two-burner stove, double sinks and a front-loading reefer. The nav station faces aft and uses the port settee for a seat. Forward there is a V-berth double. It’s kind of tight on toe space but there are two nice hanging lockers aft of the berth. This would be a very comfortable layout for two couples. I imagine that with all those windows the feel below will be very light and airy. The cockpit is big and with the mainsheet on the arch there is no interference with the wide-open space of the cockpit or the ability to sail the boat with a full bimini and dodger. The downside is that the side decks are narrow. This new Hunter has a lot of appeal and should be a very successful model. LOA 34’11”; LOD 34’6”; LWL 31’1”; Beam 12’4”; Draft 5’ (shoal), 6’5” (deep); Displacement 15,353 lbs.; Ballast 4,536 lbs.; Sail area 768 sq. ft.; SA/D 19.9; D/L 228; L/B 2.87; Auxiliary Yanmar 29-hp; Fuel 38 gals.; Water 75 gals. Hunter Marine Route 441, Alachua, FL 32615 (800) 771-5556 www.huntermarine.com Our Best Estimate of the sail-away price o.b.e. 156,990
Friday, 25 March 2011 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Boat Test
Author:John Kretschmer
Atrailersailer with get up and go under sail or power Warren Luhrs and his design team at Hunter have mastered the concept of “user-friendly.” In their relentless pursuit of making sailing more accessible to nonsailors, they have consistently introduced innovative features that make sailing easier. From stainless steel arches that remove the clutter of the traveler and mainsheet from the cockpit, to maintenance-free Flexi teak, to the company’s trademark B&R rigs that open up cockpit space and access by eliminating the backstay. With apologies to Bill Lee, Hunter’s philosophy might just be summed up as “Fun is fine.” Sailing doesn’t need to be intimidating and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be downright enjoyable.  Now Hunter has introduced the Edge, a 27-foot mini-motorsailer that sails surprisingly well and also speeds along like a runabout under power. Why would Hunter launch a boat that gobbles up fuel into this energy wary market? Because Hunter refuses to accept the idea that sailing is withering and that sailboats must be defined by traditional parameters. It’s true that sailboats represent a small fraction of the overall boating industry and new sailboat sales are lagging. So what to do about it? Recruit new sailors, draw them over from the dark side. That’s right, help powerboaters see the light. These new sailors will learn to appreciate the magic of sailing, but in the mean time they will still appreciate zipping across flat water at 18 knots. Hunter is betting that wake boarders and sailors are not mutually exclusive, that they may just represent the combined future of the sport.  And I’d never bet against Warren Luhrs. “Time is more precious than ever,” said Steve Pettengill, a vastly experience sailor with one of the best jobs, and definitely the best job description, in the industry. He’s Hunter’s director of offshore testing. We were drifting on Biscayne Bay off Miami, about to shift from motoring mode to sailing. “We still have the need to be on the water but the time we can devote to it is shrinking.  That’s the beauty of the Edge, you can motor out to where the wind is and then set sail. If the wind dies, you can turn back into a very efficient motorboat in no time at all. The kids want to waterski, you want to sail. Now you can do both in an afternoon.” The details The Edge is an integrated design that blends the beauty of sailing with the flexibility of a powerboat.Some have called it a sailing hybrid. Pettengill explained that designing the Edge proved to be one of Hunter’s most challenging projects.   “We wanted to get it right and really took our time. It incorporates a lot of features: water ballast, a lifting rudder, a kick-up centerboard, the need to be trailerable, the need to perform well.”  But it’s just the kind of project Hunter thrives on and the finished product shows that they did, indeed, get it right. We had just finished putting the Edge through its paces under power. Spinning in an ever-tightening circle I was impressed as the boat maintained speed and excellent steering control. I was reminded of our old ski boat on Higgins Lake in Northern Michigan. Straightening out, I pushed the throttle forward and we easily kicked up onto a plane. The GPS touched 17 knots before I felt guilty and throttled back. The 75-horsepower, 4-stroke Evinrude outboard offered up plenty of power and was remarkably smooth running. The standard engine is 50 horsepower.  One very nice aspect of a trailerable boat with a big outboard engine is that for maintenance and repairs you simply haul the boat and the engine to the shop on the trailer. Now it was time to sail. The transition from power to sailboat took just a few minutes. The process included raising and tilting the engine forward, lowering the rudder and centerboard and allowing the water ballast to fill.  Then we hoisted the roachy, square-head main, unfurled the jib and fell away onto a sweet reach. The quiet was nice.  So was the 6 knots of boat speed.  I confess, 6 knots under sail felt a lot better than 17 knots under power. The Edge is built with a solid hull and a cored deck joined on outward flange and through bolted.  Structural hull support is provided by a molded grid system that runs throughout the hull. With towing a central aspect of the design premise, Luhrs and his team gave careful consideration to keeping the overall weight down. This is where water ballast makes sense, it’s not permanent weight that needs to be hauled down the Interstate. The towing weight is less than 5,000 pounds and the Edge can be pulled behind a decent sized pickup or SUV. Once you get to the ramp, the flat powerboat hull shape is easy to launch.  The 33-foot air draft translates into a manageable mast section of around 28 feet.  The mast doesn’t require a crane or gin pole to be stepped, but it sure helps.   The hull shape is in many ways the key to the Edge’s versatility.  The wide, shallow V-shape forward and flat beamy aft sections promote easy planing and power and a considerable amount of initial stability under sail. It also allows for the boat to be beached. The centerboard control line leads to a jammer on deck. Board up draft is just 18 inches, ideal for shallow water exploring. Board down draft is nearly 6 feet, giving the Edge some footing when sailing upwind. A lever near the engine throttle controls the water ballast. Up to 1,600 pounds of water weight contributes to stability when under sail. A ballast tank inspection port is located at the base of the companionway steps. When you want to get back into powering mode, the ballast tank is open and the water is sucked out through a Venturi effect. On deck The cockpit is surprisingly spacious and, not surprisingly, quite comfortable. Optional transom seats are a must-have item. The walk-through transom provides unfettered access to the water. The wheel is a bit small and the helm seat takes a bit of getting used to. It houses the apparatus for lifting and securing the rudder. The cockpit is uncluttered, as the halyards are on the mast and the small jib is self-tending and controlled by a single sheet on the coachroof. The mainsheet is tacked to a light fitting on the pedestal guard; not the best arrangement.  I suspect Hunter will improve on this soon. I am sure the company’s engineers are considering something clever. Maybe a lightweight carbon fiber arch with a traveler? Either way, it’s a small complaint.    The raised deck is not terribly easy to navigate, but other than raising and lowering the main, you don’t need to spend much time there, unless you’re just lounging. The small stanchions and lifelines stop at the end of the coachroof. The rigging hardware is ingenious, and easy to set up and take down. A roller furling headsail is standard. There’s a decent-sized chain locker forward. Down below The interior of the Edge is remarkable—it’s hard to believe that you’re in a 27-foot trailerable boat. A legitimate double berth is located aft of the companionway ladder, tucked under the cockpit. The small but functional galley is to starboard and includes a stainless steel sink and icebox. A one-burner stove and pressurized water are desirable options. The head is opposite with a practical and green porta potty standard. A through-hull marine head is an option. The saloon features a centerline table that conceals the centerboard trunk housing and twin facing settees. There’s another double berth forward. There is not much built-in storage, but the boat needs to be light both for performance and trailerability.  The interior is bright, thanks to the large portlights and light-colored finish and fabrics. Under sail Back on Biscayne Bay, the wind was piping up.  My stepson Nick took the helm and Steve hauled in the sheets. We were able to sail relatively close to the wind. There was a bit of weather helm, but the tradeoff was that we were sailing relatively flat. The boat tacked easily, coming through the wind without the bow falling off, something I wondered about. Cracking off onto a beam reach we sped along at 6 knots. Running downwind, the small headsail was hard to fill, but the large main kept us moving well.  Jibing over, we headed back north and, as if on cue, the wind eased. I was in a rush to get back to the marina for another boat test appointment. No problem. We quickly furled in the jib, lifted the rudder using the control line below the helm seat and secured it with a stainless steel pin. We then lowered the engine and fired it up.  We dropped the main, easily evacuated the water ballast tank and sped back toward the marina. Steve Pettengill couldn’t conceal a grin. Yes, I conceded, there just might be a market for Hunter’s new hybrid. Sailing is believing, and so is motoring.  
   
Friday, 01 May 2009 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Used Boat Notebook
Author:David Liscio
A midsize racer-cruiser that is the best of both worlds Hunter Marine was launched in 1972 by Warren Luhrs, with many early cruising models designed by John Cherubini. By the 1990s, an inhouse team was responsible for most of the design work, which included the Bergstrom & Ridder rig with swept spreaders. The Hunter Legend 37 was launched just prior to the company’s move to its trademark arch for the mainsheet traveler, with a production run from 1986 to 1988. First impressions The 37 doesn’t look like a cruising boat despite its many amenities belowdecks. The sleek, uncluttered foredeck, reverse transom and a nearly 60-foot-tall mast combine to give this sloop a sleek profile. The cockpit with pedestal steering and large destroyer wheel is roomy enough for six. Naval Architect and SAILING Magazine’s Technical Editor Robert Perry noted in his review in 1986 that the 37 has the appearance of a high-performance boat, with a nod to Swan for introducing yachts with lowered coachroofs that seamlessly blend into the foredeck. Aboard the Hunter Legend 37, this attention to detail helps reduce the visual impact of its substantial freeboard.   Construction Despite comments from traditionalists that boats of the mid-1980s resemble Clorox bottles in style and strength, the Hunter Legend 37 has proved an exception. It features a solid fiberglass hull, balsa-cored deck, Bergstrom & Ridder fractional rig with swept spreaders, balanced spade rudder and two keel options: a deep fin or a shoal-draft bulb with wings. Longitudinal stringers installed in the hull midsection to each side of the keel provide additional structural support. And although there isn’t much teak or mahogany on deck, the interior is graced with a mix of exotic woods.   What to look for With a balsa-cored deck, delamination from water infiltration is always a possibility. Check for stress cracks near stanchions, chainplates and other deck fittings. Make certain cabintop handrails are through-bolted because some owners have claimed the attachment was made with screws that pulled out. Problems with the Edson steering system have been reported, so inspect the chain-to-wire setup, the pulleys and quadrant. The aluminum fuel tank has been known to corrode.   On deck Sailboats with style often sacrifice functionality, but here again the Hunter Legend 37 succeeds with a sculpted cockpit that provides room for six, albeit the space behind the helm is tight. Many owners have removed the arched bench behind the wheel. With a 59-foot, fractional rig and swept spreaders, it’s easy to see this boat could be a speedster in capable hands. The rig can carry a big main, its power kept under control in 25 knots of wind using only the backstay, cunningham and boom vang. The wide sidedecks are welcomed by sailors sent to work the foredeck.   Down below Roomy and comfortable are the key words belowdecks. The U-shaped galley to port features a two-basin stainless steel sink, top-loading refrigerator, a two- or three-burner stove with oven, adequate storage, counter space and lots of small drawers. The saloon has a drop-leaf table and a circular seating pattern that encourages socializing, with settees to each side that can be used as single berths. Headroom is 6 feet 3 inches in the saloon and the boat carries 72 gallons of freshwater. A navigator’s station to starboard has a hinged desk drawer and various storage compartments. The aft berth, located beneath the cockpit, has a pedestal queen bed that can be reached from either side through the cabin door or the head. The arrangement eliminates having to disturb the other person, but the ceiling is low. “It’s like a real bed instead of having to climb over somebody,” said David Alves, owner of the shoal-draft model Progeny in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The forward V-berth cabin sleeps two, has a hanging locker and a vanity sink with mirror. Some owners have removed the sink to increase storage. “The separate cabins are perfect for two couples,” said Alves. “There’s one shared head that also becomes a shower. The head can be accessed from the aft cabin and from the saloon. The plumbing is simple. You stick a hose on a fitting on the back of the door, then stand and shower.” The teak-and-holly sole gives the interior a warm glow while flush-mounted deck skylights allow natural light to enter the cabin.   Engine The Hunter Legend 37 is equipped with a 34-horsepower Yanmar 3HM35F diesel fitted with a two-bladed propeller. The engine is fed by a 33-gallon aluminum fuel tank installed under the aft berth where access is easy. The sides of the engine can be accessed from twin side doors or the larger front opening, but servicing the top is a bit more difficult due to tight clearance. Owners report the freshwater-cooled engine is capable of pushing the boat along at 7 knots while cranking 2,800 rpm on the tachometer. Although some pre-owned Legend 37s are advertised with 27-horsepower or 35-horsepower engines, most are factory-fitted with the 34-horsepower Yanmar.   Underway Fast is the most frequently heard word from the mouths of owners when describing the boat’s sailing characteristics. It seems generally agreed that the boat performs remarkably in light air, perhaps due to the high sail area-to-displacement ratio. “The boat has a huge main and that’s where the power is,” Alves said. “I use a 110% jib on an above-deck Harken furler that was installed by the previous owner. The original furler was flush with the deck. Changing over freed up the anchor locker.” Alves said the boat sails well up wind even though it’s a wing keel with bulb, which seemingly would lack the upwind performance of a deep fin keel and be subject to more vibration as it moves through the water. Steve Royall, who sails his Legend 37 Gone Tomorrow out of Marina del Rey, California, said the boat is fast in light air and when reefed correctly performs admirably in heavy wind. “When we have Wednesday night races, I chase people down just to show them I can,” he said. “It’s a fast boat. And it really points.” Royall recommends a 155% genoa in light air and a 135% when bigger breezes are forecast. “It sails like a dream. I can get 8.5 knots out of it, which is faster than hull speed,” he said. Conclusion   The Hunter Legend 37 is both racer and cruiser in the truest sense of that sailing hybrid, capable of winning in club competition or providing luxury and comfort on a weeklong cruise. Its racer profile will turn heads while its belowdecks accommodations are likely to encourage friends less interested in competition to stay aboard a bit longer. This boat is equally at home in both worlds.
Thursday, 03 October 2013 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Boat Test
Author:John Kretschmer
Rugged and unsinkable, this cartopper makes a great entry-level boat for new sailors. For a few days in mid-October, late summer and deep fall bounced hard against each other, and the friction produced something other than the crisp golden days of sailor’s dreams. Last fall in Annapolis, Maryland, the confluence of seasons brought hurricane remnants, sharp cold fronts, tropical downpours and a textbook coastal nor’easter. All of this occurred during one of sailing’s greatest calendar slots following the United States Sailboat Show. The details Mixed in with the sexy big boats like the Swan 45 and Hinckley 70 were the smaller, simpler boats that feed the sport’s entry level. I took in a solo session aboard the new Hunter Xcite. The Xcite, which checks in at 115 pounds and about $2,000, is an attractive entry-level boat for kids and novice sailors. It also has the simple and durable characteristics that make it appropriate for any sailor to keep as an auxiliary boat at a beach or lake house. I felt a bit on the large side for the 9-foot, 11-inch Xcite, but the cockpit was wide and uncluttered. Also making things easier was the fact that the factory rep had rigged the Xcite’s optional 54-square-foot Mylar Turbo sail. The boat comes standard with a 46-square-foot training sail. The Turbo adds a full batten at the top and the extra eight square feet of sail area concentrated in the head. On deck It must have been a sight as I folded into this little boat and carefully jibed through the Annapolis mooring field all the while ducking under the low boom to avoid the armada of shiny new powerboats as they circled and waited out their entry into their show. Despite its small size and price tag, the Xcite is not a toy. It is a real boat with standard equipment including aluminum spars, a boom vang and an adjustable outhaul. Despite carrying a full 180 pounds of sailor and another 20 pounds of personal gear, the Turbo sail loaded up nicely in the puffs and provided instant increase in boat speed as well as a nice tug on the mainsheet and on the tiller. I had been concerned about tacking the small boat with visions of wallowing in irons after attempting to come about in a light spot and not having enough juice to swing the bow and the boat’s heavy payload through the eye of the breeze. This is sometimes a problem aboard small sailboats and is often augmented by insufficient appendage forms. But I smoothly and easily tacked with only a flash of an uncomfortable moment as the boom grazed my hatted head. Later, as I gained more confidence in my ability to stay in the cockpit and avoid a plunge in the chilly Chesapeake, I began adding a bit of roll to each tack in an effort to feel for the edges of the boat’s performance potential. After a few of these hesitant maneuvers it became obvious that the Xcite’s sail and centerboard were adequate and that dramatic rolls were not necessary or in keeping with the spirit of the boat. Under sail The Xcite is the kind of tough and forgiving boat in which kids can learn, explore and, to be realistic, abuse. The hull is constructed using a patented Hunter technique called Advanced Composite Process that results in a strong and resilient hull made of thermoformed UV-protected plastic backed by a urethane foam core and lined with a mat of fiberglass. The outer finish runs deep, so scratches are easily eliminated with sanding and buffing, without the need for professional help. The flexible and tough outer plastic skin works with the foam backing to provide a package that Hunter says provides five times the impact resistance of traditional fiberglass. The plastic is designed to absorb an impact’s energy by flexing upon contact. The foam layer supports the skin and diffuses the impact. And on the innermost layer the fiberglass backing holds the structure intact. The foam layer also provides enough positive flotation to support a water-filled hull—or 200 pounds of sailor. The Xcite is “unsinkable.” This can be a mobile little boat. With its two-part mast and light weight the Xcite is easily cartopped. A kick-up centerboard and kick-up rudder are always forgiving when things go “bump” and are most appropriate for sailing off the beach. At 115 pounds, a pair of adults or a quartet of kids could easily launch and transport the boat. The Xcite does not deliver the white-knuckled performance of a Laser, which will always be the gold standard of the wet butt, marconi-rigged genre, but its DNA is a lot closer to that of a Laser than it is to that of a tubby sailing dinghy. New sailors will be challenged. Children will be encouraged to live the heady adventures of sailing kids without the fear of breaking something expensive and fragile. And more experienced sailors will re-reconnect with the uncomplicated and alluring senses of loaded mainsheet, weighted tiller, wind in the face and the sound of sailboat through water. The Xcite succeeds in making them more accessible to the masses.
Saturday, 01 November 2008 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Perry on Design
Author:Robert H. Perry
Dinghies A car-topper that's fun for the whole family and a dinghy with extra stability. Now we will look at Hunter's latest small boat, the Xcite. Hunter recently acquired controlling interest in JY Sailboats of East Lyme, Connecticut, and this is their first new project. This 10-footer is a car topper designed to keep the kids happy, or, with the choice of the "Turbo" rig, maybe even exciting enough to keep Dad happy. The Xcite weighs a mere 95 pounds. The key to this is the construction method used, which employs special plastic-injected foam and fiberglass mat, thermoformed into a very durable finished product. The ergonomics of the deck look good. You sit on the side deck and the cockpit is open at the transom. The daggerboard trunk does not protrude into the cockpit at all. Flip-up rudder and daggerboard make this an ideal boat for off the beach sailing. Both rudder and daggerboard are high aspect ratio and look very effective to my eye. There are few things worse than a dinghy with inadequate appendages. It's hard to teach someone to sail efficiently to weather if the boat is not up to the task. The Xcite looks to be well suited for performance oriented training. There are two rigs: training and turbo. The training rig has 34 square feet of sail while the turbo rig has 55 square feet. The difference in the areas of the two rigs appears to be in the amount of roach to the sail. The turbo rig has a full roach with almost a "fat head" plan form while the trainer rig has a straight leach. This simple, durable boat would be an ideal boat to teach your kids or friends the joys of dinghy sailing. Jason Rhodes dropped the newest Walker Bay model off at my beach place a couple of weeks ago so I could test it. I own two of the standard 9-footers and I was anxious to see how this new model performed. I do love the little original 9-footer. It rows, sails and tows very well. However, its performance comes at a price, and that is initial stability. You need to be aware that you are in a small boat at all times and keep your weight centered on the thwart. Apparently someone brought this to the attention of the Walker Bay family and they have responded with a new 9-foot model called the 9 RID. This model includes inflatable tubes set just beneath the gunwale. These tubes increase the overall beam by 16 inches; each tube being about 9 inches in diameter and tucking under the gunwale detail. Overall length is 9 inches longer than the original 9-footer. The tubes add weight and the RID model weighs 20 pounds more than the original, so if you are carrying your dink up and down the beach this may be a factor. Also, the original still has the advantage of being totally maintenance free. Under sail the tubes act like outriggers and will alter the entire stability profile of the boat. But they will drag as you heel the boat and this will slow the boat down. Climbing in and out of my Boston Whaler or pulling a crab pot laden with plump, juicy, sweet Dungeness crabs is effortless with the tubes. I like the looks of the tubed model. The tubes are actually tapered and accent the lovely sheer of the 9-footer nicely. They also lend a more high-tech or current look to the boat while acting as full length fenders. These are very versatile little boats and make ideal tenders, especially if you prefer to tow your dink.
Sunday, 05 January 2003 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Perry on Design
Author:Robert H. Perry
June 2008 Expedition boat Here is a great design from Rodger Martin. This 30-foot, sharpie-rigged open boat was designed for the Outward Bound program, and, like the NorseBoat, is intended as a sailing and rowing vessel. Outward Bound has used 30-foot double-enders designed by Cyrus Hamlin for years for the program that teaches seamanship and self-reliance. Rodger’s design is not quite as salty as the Hamlin design but it should perform much better. The hull form is almost Whitehall rowing skiff-like in its lines. Call it a modified gig. That sounds good. The entry is fine and there is minimal overhang aft with an almost vertical transom. The sectional shape at the transom shows a hint of hollow near the centerline with very slack bilges to preserve a good shape for rowing. I notice in the photos of the boat sailing that there is quite a bit of turbulence aft but that is probably a function of the lack of overhang aft. The sectional shape of the boat shows low wetted surface and a pretty flare to the topsides forward. It’s an attractive and shapely hull form. There is internal ballast and the boat is designed to be self-bailing in the event of a knockdown, with the cockpit sole above the DWL and scuppers cut into the topsides. I do not think this boat is self-righting, although there is some ballast in the bilge in the way of the centerboard trunk. The centerboard is large and the rudder is the kick-up style for easy beaching. Eight rowers on 13-foot oars will provide the power when the wind dies. I wouldn’t say this boat has “accommodations,” but there is sleeping space in the forward and aft cockpit areas. You will have to rig a boom tent from the wishbones in the event it rains. There is a cuddy cabin forward for the head. There is a “galley” aft sunken into the port side seat so that when you lift a lid the two-burner stove is sheltered from the wind. There is a bin in the galley thwart to stow cooking utensils. Each crewmember has a watertight compartment built into the thwart to stow their gear. There are more watertight bins built into the cockpit sole for food and supplies. One of the aft thwarts holds two propane bottles and the other thwart doubles as a removable ice chest. Rodger has thought of everything. The rig features free-standing carbon fiber masts that can be stowed on the port side of the cockpit where there is a slot between the thwarts and the centerboard trunk. This slot also makes it easier for the crew to move around in the boat. The entire rig can be stepped and unstepped while underway. The rig is the ultimate in simplicity. Both masts and sails are identical. You can fly a small staysail off the aft mast and you can also use an oar as a sprit to fly a jib in light air. I think the old Hamlin boats were sufficient to get their Outward Bound crews to their destinations, eventually. I think the new Martin boats, with their enhanced performance, will make the adventure a lot more fun. Rodger’s drawings are beautiful and I have really enjoyed studying this design.
Thursday, 05 June 2008 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Launchings
Author:Staff
Two sailors, both titans in the sport, were selected from a group of the best sailors in the United States over the past year to be named US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year. Terry Hutchinson, the world champion of one of the world’s most competitive fleets, and Laser Radial Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe received the honor. Hutchinson served as tactician aboard Emirates Team New Zealand in the 32nd America’s Cup before stepping behind the helm in the Transpac 52 class. There he continued to rack up victories aboard Quantum Racing, crowning his season with a win at the TP52 World Championship. “This award is obviously an acknowledgement of a great year on the water,” said Hutchinson.  “But I would be incredibly remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that it is a privilege to represent the bigger picture—the people I sail with and the teams on which I compete.  I feel so strongly about the support they gave me; this wasn’t just my achievement, it was the Barking Mad, Samba Pa Ti and Quantum Racing teams’ too.  Every morning I get up and go to work doing something that I love.  Being recognized is just icing on the cake.” Hutchinson was chosen from a short list of nine male sailors for the Yachtsman of the Year award. Also on the list was Nick Scandone, who died January 2 of ALS, months after winning a gold medal at the Paralympic Games. “How could you not be moved by Nick’s story?” said Hutchinson.  “When you compare what any of the nominees did this year to the struggle that Nick had in order to achieve the same kind of accomplishments.  To win a gold medal while going through the battle he had . . . there are no words that describe Nick’s effort and determination.” Born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, Hutchinson, a 40-year-old father of three, learned to sail at age 3 in a Dyer Dhow that was attached by a line to his parent’s Concordia yawl.  Going back and forth on the end of that line set him on a course to be a college star at Old Dominion University where he earned Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) All-American honors four times and was twice recognized as the College Sailor of the Year. Tunnicliffe was the unanimous choice of the selection panel made up of sailing journalists. The lone American to win sailing gold at the Olympic Games in China, Tunnicliffe went into the Games ranked No. 1 in the Laser Radial.  “Winning the Olympic medal was a dream, and branching out to other boats and expanding myself as a sailor is one of my goals,” she said. “I want to win another gold medal for the U.S.A., but I think it will take more than just Laser sailing.” Since the Olympics, Tunnicliffe, 26, has competed in a triathlon, won two match-racing events, and won the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Australia.
Sunday, 01 March 2009 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Used Boat Notebook
Author:John Kretschmer
This center-cockpit classic is set up for world cruising An Australian friend asked for my opinion on the Hylas 44. He and his wife are looking for a capable bluewater cruiser and the center-cockpit 44 is high on their list. Although he hadn’t actually seen one, he had done a lot of research. He was concerned about a couple of items, including inferior stainless steel, a tendency to be squirrelly sailing downwind and when pounding sailing upwind. I was taken aback and asked him where he found this information. Online, he told me, mostly in forums because there were not many owner reviews available.  His concerns made me stop and think about boat reviews in general. I have written hundreds of them, and while I usually have at least some personal experience with the boats I write about, occasionally I rely on published information and conversations with owners. And sometimes, I glean insights from online forums. The Internet is a fabulous resource for information about boats. I love the sailing forums and the interaction that takes place. However, my friend’s worries made me realize again that you must be diligent in your research: One opinion does not a fact make. You see, the 44 is a boat I know very well. As the former head delivery skipper for Hylas, I have logged thousands of miles aboard the 44 in a variety of conditions, including sailing through the eye of Hurricane Bob. Believe me, I’ve learned much about how the 44 handles downwind sailing, and it isn’t squirrelly. The truth is that none of his worries were justified. Like all boats, the 44 has quirks, just not the ones he was fretting about. The Hylas 44 is designed by German Frers. According to the timeline on the Hylas Yachts Owner’s Association Web site, the 44 was first available in the U.S. market in 1985 and was in production until 1993 when the addition of a swim step transom turned the same 44 hull into the Hylas 45.5. In 1996 the Hylas 46, a fresh design, officially replaced the 44 and 45.5.  Built by Queen Long Marine Ltd., in Taiwan, the Hylas 44 and its bigger sister, the 47, were the core boats of the Caribbean Yacht Charter fleet in the late 1980s and 1990s. The charter connection was a mixed blessing for the Hylas brand. It was a clever way to sell boats, but charter boats have always carried a stigma. Today Hylas builds top-quality world cruisers from 46 to 70 feet and is no longer associated with any particular charter company. First impressions The Hylas 44 is not a clumsy, high-freeboard cruising boat. It represented a departure from many of the bulky center-cockpit designs of the day, with a comparably low-slung deck line and subtle sheer. The cabintrunk is a bit boxy. The hull shape features a clean entry with a deep forefoot without the flattened sections that make the newer Hylas 46 much more spacious up forward. The fin keel is on the long side and the rudder is skeg hung. It is definitely not a hull shape that will pound in a seaway. Many sailors are surprised when they see the 44’s specs. Although the published numbers are all over the place, most sources list the displacement at just over 22,000 pounds, much lighter than comparable boats and more in line with the Bavaria 44 and Beneteau First 44.7. The ballast is more than 11,000 pounds, translating into a nearly 50-percent ballast-to-displacement ratio. The simple sloop rig has an air draft of 60 feet and a total working sail area of 866 square feet. Construction The 44 is a solidly built boat that has proven itself at sea. Several 44s have completed circumnavigations, including one known passage around Cape Horn. That’s not your average charter boat. The hull is heavily laid up fiberglass and is supported with full-length foam longitudinal stringers that also encapsulate the bulkheads. I have encountered severe weather in many different 44s and have never felt the hull flex or heard it groan. The deck is cored with either Airex or balsa; apparently Queen Long went back and forth on this material. The hull-and-deck joint is the standard inward flange with through-bolts and chemical bonding. The bolts, on 6-inch centers, also tie down the aluminum toerail. The bulkheads and furniture facings are securely tabbed to the hull, there’s not a molded liner in sight. The interior woodwork is impressive. Dick Jachney, the United States importer of Hylas, told me that in the old days each hull would be assigned its own team of shipwrights who would then fashion bulkheads, veneers and trim pieces by hand.  “There was incredible pride of workmanship, the crews competed with each other. The ballast is lead and is mounted as a shoe on the keel stub, a great way to include the advantages of both an internal keel with those of external ballast.” What to look for My friend was concerned about the stainless steel and the boat-handling characteristics. He should have been more interested in the steering cables and annoying leaks that are more common problems. The push-pull steering cables that are easier to install in center-cockpit boats are prone to corrosion. If they have not been changed before, or show signs of corrosion, or if the steering is stiff, replace them. Also, looks for signs of leaks. The overhead hatches and portlights are notorious for sprouting leaks; not a serious problem, just an irritation. Many owners have replaced hatches at this point and that’s a good thing. Examine the hull-and-deck joint in the forward cabin and look for signs of leaks. Finally, the early boats had the venerable Perkins 4108 diesel while later models preferred four-cylinder Yanmars. Engine access is not very good so the less time needed in the engine room the better. Keep this in mind when comparing boats. On deck The cockpit is probably the 44’s least desirable feature. I remember writing the same thing about the Hylas 47 in an earlier review. I can say this without guilt because I admire both boats immensely and wouldn’t hesitate to take either across an ocean. The 44’s cockpit is small, you have to climb in and out of it and the seat coamings hit you right in the small of the back.  The bridgedeck is also rather small—just a lip really­—and it requires a good spray dodger and the need to keep the washboards handy in rough weather to keep water out. That’s another compromise of a center-cockpit boat, they are wetter than aft cockpits simply because they are farther forward and closer to the arc of the wave as it crashes over the bow. The cockpit does have some positives. The visibility from the helm is superb—one benefit to a center cockpit is there isn’t much boat in front of you when it comes to maneuvering in close quarters. Of course, you have to remember to glance behind from time to time. The winches are well placed and easy to handle from the helm. The mainsheet traveler is aft of the helm, providing quick access and the efficiency of end-boom sheeting. With most sail controls led aft, the 44 is not a chore to singlehand, and for couples who cruise, singlehanding is part of the daily equation as somebody is often below in a bunk.  Although there is not much stowage in the cockpit, there is a huge lazarette astern. Moving around the wide side decks is a pleasure, although the molded nonskid can be slick when wet. Well-placed teak handrails are mounted on the trunkhouse. The deck hardware is beefy—Hylas didn’t skimp when it fitted out the boat. Naturally, be sure to have the standing rigging inspected. If the original swage fittings are still on the boat, it is definitely time for a re-rig job. Also, check the chainplates. Riggers and surveyors are increasingly concerned about crevice corrosion and the internal chainplates on the 44 are vulnerable. The mast is keel stepped and solid, and most boats are  set up without runners. The partners are a potential leak source; consider securing the area with SparTite. The stainless steel stemhead fitting and double anchor rollers are ready for serious ground tackle. The chain locker is accessible from below, a mixed blessing. Down below The interior plan is original and functional. The joinerwork is excellent and the boat is beautifully appointed. People prefer center cockpits despite their sailing limitations because of the interior with its separate aft cabin with a genuine double berth. Frers was one of the first designers to use a double walkthrough arrangement, meaning that the aft cabin can be entered from either side.  This really opens up the boat. The aft cabin can be reached either through the galley or the aft head. After dropping below, the galley is to starboard and situated in the walkthrough. The double sinks are placed under the cockpit, on a console that also covers the engine. This is a clever use of space and allows for huge refrigeration and freezer compartments opposite and lots of counter space. The navigation station is opposite the galley and features a good-sized chart table, room for repeaters and a comfortable seat. The electrical panel is impressive, and hopefully the wiring hasn’t been tampered with too much by the previous owners. Just behind is the aft head with two doors and access to the aft cabin.  The aft cabin is a wonderful stateroom with an abundance of drawers, lockers and hanging space. Hylas did a nice job of blending teak and mica, the boat has a warm wood feeling but it is not a cave. Ventilation is also excellent with hatches and opening portlights. The saloon features an L-shaped settee to port and a straight settee opposite. The saloon is not huge, and there isn’t much storage because water or fuel tanks are located under the settees. Continuing forward, there’s another head to port. Neither head has a dedicated shower stall. The forward cabin came with either an offset double or a V-berth. The Hylas 44 charter background produced some useful features for cruising. The boat is loaded with redundancy, including double alternators on the engine, extra plumbed pumps for the freshwater system and the ability to access the important electrical fittings from a cockpit panel. The manifolds for the water and fuel tanks are robust, easily reached and bulletproof. Engine The original engine was a Perkins 4108 50-horsepower. A few boats had Westerbeke 62s, but most, fortunately, came with the Yanmar 4JH-TE, 55-horsepower diesel. It is interesting to note that most of the boats for sale have very high engine hours. This is likely for two reasons. The first is that the 4JH-TE is a very good engine that will run a long time. The second reason is that because of the location of the engine it is a big job to repower the 44. Look for a boat with a low-hour engine if possible. Access is below the sinks and although it is not as handy as many center-cockpit engine rooms, you can reach it from every side. The 44 carries 110 gallons of fuel in two stainless steel tanks providing a realistic motoring range of over 500 miles. The 44 handles well under power and the efficient hull shape speeds along at 6 plus knots without the need to push the engine much over 2,000 rpm. Underway I have made at least 10 passages from Fort Lauderdale to the Virgin Islands in Hylas 44s, several passages between Newport, Rhode Island, and the Caribbean, and one passage from Trinidad to New York. That’s about 20,000 bluewater miles. What have I learned about the way the boat sails? It is simple: The boat handles very well at sea. It is close-winded for a cruising boat and tracks well. The passage to the islands was invariably a hard beat. It doesn’t pound upwind, even in sloppy seas, and most importantly, doesn’t make excessive leeway. It can be wet upwind, however. It handles large following seas with ease. I remember running before the distant swells caused by Hurricane Grace and surfing along at double-digit speeds. It is stiff, although it does heel a bit, and in heavy weather it heaves-to efficiently.  Conclusion The Hylas 44 is a terrific value for couples or families looking for a strong, capable, roomy cruising boat that still sails well. The well-respected Hylas brand and the solid Frers pedigree will ensure the boat’s resale value as well. Prices range from around $150,000 to just over $200,000. In these uncertain times, an investment in fiberglass just may be the commodity of choice.
Sunday, 01 March 2009 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Boat Test
Author:John Kretschmer
A swift and capable passagemaker with luxurious and well-thought-out accommodations The new Hylas 54 RS Sapphire cut an impressive swath through the afternoon chop off Ft. Lauderdale Beach, Florida. Push-button sheeting tweaked the cruising spinnaker. We squeezed up to a tight reach and, despite an apparent wind of less than 10 knots, watched the speedo flirt with 7. The helm was light and the ride was silky smooth; this kind of relaxed sailing was kid's stuff for the powerful German Frers design. The Hylas 54 is a success on the water and in the marketplace. In just over three years of production more than 30 boats have been delivered, with no slowdown in sight. If you order a boat today be prepared to wait 12 to 14 months for delivery. What makes the Hylas 54 so appealing? Value. The 54 delivers the quality of a premier custom-built boat at close to production boat prices. Hylas Yachts of Marblehead, Massachusetts, has come a long way from being an outfit that primarily sold boats into its own charter fleet. (The company is no longer associated with Caribbean Yacht Charters.) Hylas, a fixture at all the major boat shows, targets sailors looking for a capable passagemaker with luxury accommodations. "I originally thought I wanted an Oyster 53 until I discovered the Hylas 54 RS," Sapphire's owner Bill Regan said. "The fact that it was about half the price was icing on the cake." Regan, who has set up his boat for shorthanded sailing, shuttles between Cape Cod and the Caribbean. "We consistently rack up 200-mile days on ocean passages." The details Hylas Yachts, which specializes in center-cockpit cruisers, also builds a Sparkman & Stephens designed 49 and a new Frers-designed 66 is scheduled for delivery next year. The 54, however, traces its pedigree to the Hylas 46, which was introduced in 1995. In many ways the 54 is a scaled-up version of this popular Frers design. Like the 46, the 54 has stretched the waterline by cutting away the overhangs, resulting in an LWL of 45 feet, 9 inches. The sheer is subtle, and the cabintrunk, even on the raised saloon model, blends naturally into the deck line. A seasoned eye will recognize the deft Frers' touch. Speaking of the raised saloon model, it outsells the standard deck layout by three to one according to Hylas Yachts President, Dick Jachney. "People just can't resist all that light below," he said with a laugh. The powerful fin keel has a standard draft of 7 feet, although a hydraulic centerboard is an option, albeit an expensive one, for those who demand shoal draft. The rudder is a partially balance spade with a small skeg. The 54 is no lightweight-the design displacement is 47,184 pounds, and the external lead ballast is a fraction over 20,000 pounds, which makes for a ballast-to-displacement ratio of 43. The displacement-to-length ratio of 220 and sail area-to-displacement ratio of 17.6 clearly demonstrate the performance capabilities of this seagoing design. The air draft is a whopping 77 feet, which means that you won't be wasting sailing time motoring for long stretches along the Intracoastal Waterway, with its bridge clearance of 65 feet. The Hylas 54 is built by Queen Long, a 25-year-old Taiwan boatbuilding company and one of the island nation's best-run yards. Queen Long was the original builder of the Peterson 44 and has turned out the Hylas 44 and 47 among others. The 54's hull is built with Twaron, a carbon aramid fiber incorporated into the solid fiberglass hull. According to Jachney, the hull is literally bulletproof and is in some ways nearly as strong as a metal hull. Vinylester resin is used throughout the molding process. Isophthalic gelcoat and two epoxy barrier coats provide even more protection against osmosis. The deck is cored except in high-load areas, where it is solid fiberglass. A step-down sail locker is part of a watertight collision forward bulkhead. The hull and deck are joined on a wide flange, bonded with 3M 5200 and through-bolted on 4-inch centers. Interior bulkheads are tabbed on all sides. Massive floors create a rigid hull with plenty of athwartship support. The fin keel is solid lead and bolted to the hull with 35mm stainless steel bolts, which in turn are supported by an 8mm stainless steel backing plate. As a delivery skipper I've logged nearly 40,000 miles aboard different Hylas models, enduring bouts with Hurricanes Bob, Grace and Mitch, and I can attest to their solid construction and seaworthiness. On deck The Hylas 54 cockpit is not huge for a boat of this size, but it's comfortable, well-thought-out and secure in a blow. The seats are scooped out to allow access around the Whitlock pedestal and wheel. The primary winches and the mainsheet winch are within easy reach of the helm, which is not usually the case in a big boat. All sail controls are routed aft to the deck areas just behind the coaming on either side of the companionway. Despite the raised saloon, the visibility from the wheel is unobstructed. I would prefer a bit more leg room at the helm, and as is the case with most center-cockpit designs, there are no deep lockers in the cockpit. Of course, the large lazarettes astern and sail locker forward offer more than enough deck storage. The side decks are wide, and although teak decks are a $22,300 option, they sure look nice and offer good footing, especially when wet. The molded nonskid is not aggressive, which is terrific when sailing barefoot but can be a bit slick when wet. The 32-inch stanchions and double lifelines are standard. The Hylas 54 features extraordinary stainless work, from an optional extended stern pushpit (a great safety feature) to massive and shimmering cleats and chocks, to stout stainless handrails on the coachroof. The stainless steel stemhead fitting with double anchor rollers is not only robust and functional, it's a work of art. Overall the deck hardware is of the highest quality. Hylas has always included a lot of standard equipment in the basic price, a legacy from the company's time spent equipping charter boats. For example, the 54 comes standard with a Nillson 2200 vertical windlass, a 60-pound CQR main anchor, a 55-pound Barnacle secondary anchor and 300 feet of 3/8-inch galvanized chain. Standard winches include Lewmar 66 CST primaries, CST 54 secondaries and CST 48s for the mainsheet and halyard winches. Many owners, including Regan, opt for electric winches and the Seldon electric in-mast furling mainsail system. A boat of this size and weight generates huge loads and powered-up winches make shorthanded sailing a reality, especially for a couple on the other side of middle aged. Like furling systems and GPS, electric winches have become common, especially on boats longer than 40 feet, and why not, as long they have manual overrides? The standard spars are by Seldon and the discontinuous stainless steel standing rigging is Hasselford. Furlex System 400 is the standard roller furling headsail system. A quick-release inner forestay, a staysail and running gear are also popular options and provide an excellent alternative to the roller-furling headsail in heavy weather. Down below Despite the 54's nicely sculpted lines, efficient sail controls and excellent overall performance, I suspect most people consider breaking out the checkbook after they have dropped below. The interior is lovely and vast. Jachney is right. The cabin is flooded with light through large ports, including two to port and starboard and three facing forward. The headroom is more than 7 feet, creating a sense of spaciousness, although it also makes overhead handrails inaccessible to short sailors. Queen Long's teak joinerwork is superb and nicely balanced with the use of practical white laminated headliners, which can be removed without major surgery. Teak veneered bulkheads and solid trim pieces and doors are well crafted and beautifully varnished. The cabin sole shimmers (which means it will be slippery when wet) and all pieces can be secured keeping them in place in the unlikely event of knockdown. Most owners put down carpet runners when under way. All cabinets and lockers are finished on the inside and have secure latches. Numerous stainless steel rimmed Mainship deck hatches and opening portlights combine to create excellent ventilation throughout the interior. Hylas offers custom interior plans at very little, if any additional cost-a prime attraction for many buyers. However, the 54's layout for both the standard and RS model, is quite appealing and most owners end up just adding small personal touches instead of opting for wholesale changes. The three-cabin plan includes a double forward with a centerline queen bunk and port and starboard hanging lockers. The port-side cabin can be fitted with a double bunk, upper and lower singles, a workbench or as office area with a desk. The forward head includes a stall shower, mirrored lockers and a civilized amount of elbowroom. The saloon features a solid teak table to port that can be cleverly expanded, with a wraparound settee and free-standing seat with storage inside. The table drops down to form a double bunk, although it is hard to imagine the need for more sleeping space. The starboard settee can be extended to form a decent sea berth. The nav station is my favorite aspect of the interior design. Tucked away to port, the large L-shaped desk has an adjustable swivel chair. There is a dedicated computer desk with a slide-out shelf and plenty of room for electronics and instrument repeaters. The electrical panel, meters and battery switches are located on an aft-facing, hinged panel that can be readily opened. An inspection of the neat and clearly labeled wiring is impressive. The galley is to starboard and consumes the outboard section of the walkthrough to the aft cabin. This arrangement works well at sea as the cook can find a secure position on either tack. More than 7 feet long, the galley has more counter space than most home kitchens, and the Wahlee Stone counter tops are very attractive. Two double stainless sinks are located to port beneath the cockpit well on the centerline for good drainage on either tack. Top-and-side loading 12-volt Grunert refrigerator and freezer are standard, as is a Force 10 stove and oven. There is a slide-out trash compactor, dedicated microwave locker and saltwater and freshwater foot pumps, just in case the pressure water system fails. The aft stateroom is huge, accented with rich teak panels and trim, and is incredibly comfortable. The island queen berth has a split mattress with a centerline lee cloth, making the berth usable at sea, a terrific idea. There are port and starboard hanging lockers, a vanity and fold-up mirror to port, cabinets above the berths and drawers below. There is even a linen locker that is designed to accommodate a washer and dryer. The aft head also features a separate stall shower. The shipboard systems on the Hylas 54 are well engineered, redundant where necessary and contribute to the user-friendly nature of the boat. Tankage, which is located beneath the saloon sole, can be any combination of fuel and water up to 550 gallons. The manifold systems for both fuel and water are excellent. There is plenty of power to keep all the systems up and running with three 700-amp-hour 8 D house batteries standard. Dual alternators on the Yanmar 125-horsepower four-cylinder diesel provide a pre-wired backup should one fail. The engine, mounted below the galley sinks and cockpit well, has adequate access, although it becomes limited if a generator is added. Most owners opt for 200 to 250 gallons of diesel, which provides a powering range of more than 1,000 miles. The standard sails, a main and 135-percent roller furled genoa, are by Doyle. Under Sail Back aboard Sapphire we scooped up the spinnaker, unrolled the genoa and brought the boat hard on the wind. Unfortunately, the breeze was getting lighter, but I was still impressed how close the Hylas 54 could sail without pinching. We maintained 6 knots at 40 degrees apparent in very light going. We executed several tacks, bringing the boat through wind quickly and accelerating faster than you'd expect a 50,000-pound boat to in light air. Cracking off onto a close reach, we adjusted the sheet leads and kept moving smartly. I begged off the helm and planted myself on one of the optional teak stern seats, which offered a perfect, big-picture view of the Hylas 54 under way. We eventually ran out of wind. It wasn't fair. We fired up the Yanmar diesel, and with the optional Max prop doing the work, we charged back toward Port Everglades at 7.5 knots, although it was hard to actually hear the engine running from the cockpit. The Hylas 54 is a complete package. Spacious, comfortable, capable and fast, the boat delivers on its promise as a luxurious world cruiser. A well-equipped Hylas 54 sells for a little less than $700,000, however, when compared to other boats in its class, the value is clear.
Monday, 07 October 2002 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Boat Test
Author:John Kretschmer
Luxury cruiserr This Frers-designed cruiser features an interesting layout. Hylas yachts are built at the Queen Long yard in Taiwan. I like that yard. Years ago on a cold morning I stopped by Queen Long for a visit and they gave me some strange, grayish drink to warm me up. I like the way Queen Long build their boats. They were one of the first Taiwan builders to adopt a more stark, Euro-style of joinerwork. Hylas yachts are designed by the German Frers office in Buenos Aires. These are handsome boats with lots of freeboard and top hamper, but it's all carried off well by the careful interplay of lines and curves. You really can't judge the looks of this type of boat by comparing it to a low freeboard, aft-cockpit boat. Just the use of a center cockpit is going to force up the height of the cabintrunk so you can walk from one end of the boat to the other with headroom. Now add the vertical pressure of a raised saloon. Compound this by the need to raise the cockpit so you can see over the raised saloon. All this is driven by interior requirements. The hull form is conventional with shortened ends and a moderately broad stern. The L/B is 3.69 indicating the 66 is on the slightly narrow side of medium, but as LOA increases L/B also typically increases. The D/L from the Hylas "preliminary, light" numbers is 173. Draft is 9 feet, 2 inches unless you want to spend an additional $31,000 to get a hydraulically raised centerboard that will give you a board-up draft of 6 feet, 10 inches. At first glance you assume this is a raised-saloon type layout. But it's not. The saloon is down where it would be on a normal, non-raised saloon design. There is a "mezzanine" level to this layout just aft of the saloon. There is 6 feet, 2 and a half inches of headroom on this mezzanine level and 9 feet, 2 inches of headroom in the saloon. The mezzanine level includes a generously sized forward-facing nav station with a worktop extending aft from the chart table. This worktop provides the headroom for the accommodations directly below the mezzanine level. On the port side there is a settee that is pulled inboard with a pilot berth outboard and up at the top of the seatback level. This pilot berth provides the headroom for the galley, which is on the saloon level. Are you still with me? Raising the mezzanine sole provides room below it for the engine, which can be accessed from the stateroom on the port side. It's not a walk-in engine room but it would certainly be an ample crouch-in engine room. I like the galley. It's roomy and has plenty of counter space. Headroom in the galley is 6 feet, 3 inches. That means that, depending upon just how high I pile my Roy Orbison pompadour, my hair will hit the overhead. I'd rather stoop than have my hair rub. If you are shorter than 6 feet, 3 inches you'll be fine. I'm not criticizing as much as I am trying to point out the Chinese puzzle aspect of this type of layout. Sleeping accommodations are aft in a stateroom with an almost centerline queen-sized berth and forward in two staterooms. There is also the smaller upper and lower berth stateroom adjacent to the galley. Each stateroom has its own head. The forward heads share a shower and the aft most forward head is accessed from the passageway. The saloon is very spacious and has a large dinette to port with chairs inboard. I think you will be quite comfy aboard this 66-footer. I suspect Hylas will be as successful with this model as they have been with the rest of their line.
Thursday, 06 November 2008 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Perry on Design
Author:Robert H. Perry
Racer-cruiserr My office has had fun with the challenge of preparing this custom cruising sled design for Seattle sailors Dick and Bonnie Robbins. Dick and Bonnie’s current boat is the beautiful S&S veteran heavyweight 50-footer Charisma. Icon will be a very comfortable cruising yacht that will be competitive with the best of the grand prix racers. This design features a lifting keel that varies the draft from 8 feet, 6 inches with the keel up, to 13 feet, 8 inches with the keel down. The engineering for this lifting keel was done by my right- and left-hand man Tim Kernan in conjunction with Efficient Machinery’s Peter Hammerschlag. This is a complex mechanism that is driven by an electric winch-motor and lifts the keel on recirculating ball nuts riding on two 1.75-inch worm screws running down inside the fin. The fin itself is 17-4 Ph stainless steel forged by Jorgenson Forge in Seattle. Tim and I watched the forging process wide eyed. The ballast bulb is lead. Icon’s D/L is 68. Icon’s personality is split between racing and cruising. I think we have achieved a balance in features that makes this boat a truly refined hybrid vessel. Note the interior is laid out for a couple with room for a second couple and perhaps a grandchild or two. The interior shows a big galley with counter space on either side of the molded-in carbon fiber sinks. There is also counter space on either side of the range. Copious locker space will make this galley a cook’s dream. The 76-hp Yanmar engine is located in a box within a box on the centerline portion of the forward galley counter. The aft cabin features a full queen-size double and large lockers. Note that one of the drawings is computer drawn while the others are hand drawn. I feel very strongly that the hand-drawn drawings are far more interesting, even if they are more cluttered and difficult to read. Hand drawings convey the creative style of the designer. I’d be interested in your comments on this. The saloon has a big dinette to starboard with a minidinette to port. This minidinette will convert to sea berths for offshore racing. Forward of the keel trunk is the owner’s stateroom with head and shower stall. There will be fold-up crew berths in the fo’c’sle. We will use carbon fiber throughout the interior to reduce weight and add glossy black styling accents. The step at the aft end of the forward double is part of the anchor chain stowage system, which keeps weight aft. The rig is huge and uses a carbon fiber mast and boom. The SA/D is 33.25 and the spreaders are swept 19 degrees. No overlapping headsails will be carried. Doug Christie of Seattle’s Halsey-Lidgard sail loft has been very instrumental in helping us design this rig. A Leisure Furl boom will be fitted for cruising. The deck plan shows wide side decks, a large sliding foredeck hatch, a buried anchor chain pipe and a recessed windlass well adjacent to the mast. The cockpit is big with high cockpit coamings forward and seats long enough for sleeping. There are two coffee grinders. The forward one will be removed while cruising to be replaced by a cockpit table. The aft grinder powers the mainsheet winch. Primary and secondary winches will be electric. All cockpit winches will be recessed into the deck. Halyards can be led to winches adjacent to the mast for racing or led aft for cruising. Icon will be built by Marten Marine in Auckland, New Zealand, and the launch date is spring 2001. The project manager is Jim Roser of Seattle. Construction details have been engineered by Tim Kernan of my office working with High Modulus of New Zealand. The boat will be built from pre-preg carbon over a Nomex core and oven cured. Further information can be seen on the project Web site www.iconsailing.com. Performance cruising remains a moving target and my office is taking a good lead on that target with Icon.
Friday, 05 May 2000 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Perry on Design
Author:Robert H. Perry
Family cruiserr It's interesting that a magazine published in a small town in Wisconsin has such a wide readership. Four years ago I received drawings from a student of yacht design in Montenegro, Yugoslavia. In Ivan Erdevicki's own words, "I was surrounded by unusual circumstances for one yacht designer." We reviewed that design, the IKO 38. Fortunately for Ivan, he got a job with a yacht builder in the United States. He now lives in North Carolina and works for Paragon Design, where he is involved in big powerboat design work. In his free time, he follows his passion and draws sailing yachts. Ivan has developed a very distinct style. His designs are marked by exquisite drafting and attention to detail. There is still evidence of student-level touches that I could whip out of him in a couple of days in my office. If Ivan's learning curve follows its current slope, however, that won't be necessary. In Ivan's case, we can see the maturation of a young designer on a rhumbline course for success as a professional. It may take a bit of a leap of faith to get behind all of Ivan's styling tricks, but I am sure you would stop dead in your tracks and take a long look at this boat if you found it tied up at your local marina. The hull is a synthesis of gentle, low-wetted-surface, race-boat-type shapes. There is a marked hollow in the bow sections. The forefoot is a softened U-shape. The sheerline rolls off gradually aft to become one with the transom edge. It's a very sexy shape. The keel is a bulb-tipped fin with foil sections that don't appear to be any foil family I can recognize. Ivan, get a copy of The Theory of Wing Sections by Abbott and Von Doenoff. Turn to page 356 and study the leading edge shape of NACA foil 64A010. This is a very good, all-purpose keel foil. Note the coefficient for leading edge radius. Also get a copy of The Pope's Rhinoceros by Lawrence Norfolk. It's a wonderful novel. The D/L of this design is 171. The interior is masterfully laid out. I'm not wild about the nav station being so far forward, but at least it faces aft. The galley will work well with its centerline island, which also covers the engine space. Unfortunately, you will come down the companionway ladder and run right into this island. Note the over-the-counter refrigerator with freezer below. Both heads have showers and the forward shower stall is actually a shower/tub. This would be a wonderful layout for a family with two children. The aft staterooms have enough room for each kid to bring a friend. You have to study this deck plan for a while to get the feel for how the multiple surfaces interact with each other. I don't know how I would feel steering from the helmsman's perch aft. The deck sweeping up aft almost has the look, in profile at least, of fins. This feature would be a severe challenge for the builder. Ivan's use of cat's-eye windows provides a very strong styling image. The boat has no opening ports. Opening ports are not very stylish but they sure work well. I suspect we'll be seeing more of Ivan's work. I'm sure he would like to find a builder for this interesting design.
Sunday, 05 July 1998 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Perry on Design
Author:Robert H. Perry
Racer-cruiserr From Niels Jeppesen and the crew at X-Yachts in Denmark comes this new design, a larger version of the highly successful IMX-40. A whopping 80 IMX-40s were built in the first 12 months of production with boats coming off two production lines. At first glance it seems that the IMX-45 is very close to the Swan 45 in intent. Let's see if we can find some substantial differences. The two boats weigh about the same and have similar DWLs. The IMX is 9 inches beamier than the Swan. The Swan has less bow overhang and a more vertical transom. Draft is about the same, although the IMX team is reserving this figure for final resolution at a later date. Both keels are a shaped fin and bulb, although the IMX has some rake to the leading edge and a flattened tip to the bulb rather than the Swan's torpedo-type bulb. Looking at the IMX in plan view, we can see that max beam appears to be slightly farther aft than it is in the Swan, although this could just be a function of the IMX's additional beam. The forefoot knuckle of the IMX is right at the DWL while the Swan's is higher. Just for fun I measured the angle of the counter and the DWL at the stern to see which boat had the flatter run. The IMX measured 15 degrees while the Swan measured 11 degrees. The rudder of the IMX breaks the waterplane aft while the Swan's rudder is pushed forward. Perhaps the greatest similarities in these two boats can be seen in their deck plans. The IMX has the same broad side decks that the Swan has and the same basic cockpit geometry and proportions. The cockpit bench seats of the IMX extend farther aft and the mainsheet traveler is on top of the seats. This makes the mainsheet traveler a bigger obstacle when you are going forward, but if you can't step over a traveler you should probably be playing croquet and not sailing. While both boats have anchor wells forward, the IMX has room in the well to bury the roller furling drum. The beauty of this is that it gets the tack of the furling jib right down on the deck where it would be without the furling drum. I hate those high-tacked jibs. The IMX rig shows several small differences compared to the Swan's rig. There is less mainsail roach overlap on the backstay with the IMX, and the headstay is pulled slightly aft, probably in order to get the roller furling drum buried. Measuring sweep angles of the shrouds I get 15 degrees for the IMX and 24 degrees for the Swan. The SA/D of this design is 22.49, slightly lower than the Swan's. Layoutwise we again see similarities in the two designs, although I prefer the interior of the IMX in part because of the galley. The little rounded "leg" on the counter does not offer much additional counter space but it gives room to put things next to the sink. The reefer is again outboard and of minimal size. The twin aft cabins have lower double berths with upper berths. There is plenty of hanging locker space in this design although the wet gear locker adjacent to the companionway looks inadequate to my eye. Note that the accommodations of the IMX extend farther into the bow than they do on the Swan. Clearly, given the pedigree of the design, this will be a very good boat. It will compete with everything short of grand prix boats, and it offers good accommodations. To my eye it offers a more conventional approach than does the Swan. The balance between speed and comfort has been tilted more toward comfort in the IMX compared to the Swan. The overall look of the boat is pleasant but not especially exciting to me. I like the aggressive, on-the-edge look of the Swan better. It would be very instructive to be able to watch these two new designs compete against each other.
Wednesday, 05 September 2001 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Perry on Design
Author:Robert H. Perry
We are going to compare three cruising 40-footers this month. Two are similar but the Indikon is a catamaran so by virtue of its two hulls it’s not similar.  The design is by Morrelli and Melvin. The company is at the top of its game when it comes to cat design, and its boats have proven their effectiveness and performance many times over. The design combines the quest for speed under sail with comfort and speed under power. With twin 180-horsepower diesels to push it along, speed in light air will never be an issue. Unless you run out of fuel. Length overall is 43 feet 2 inches and pretty much all of that is waterline. There are no overhangs at all. In fact the transoms are sunk below the DWL to increase prismatic coefficient and help with the speed under power. I see also that there is a hook in the run that also helps pull volume aft and hopefully  prevents the stern from squatting at speed. The L/B of this cat is 2.3. The hulls have a spray knocker molded in that runs full length. By my estimate the height of the bridgedeck—I guess that’s what it’s called on a cat which sounds better then “slam pan”—is 28 inches above the DWL. This is not a light cat. The D/L is 110 so it is definitely lighter for its length than the two monohulls this month. Obviously for upwind speed daggerboards are the best way to go on a cat but they interfere with the accommodations and they have their own specific maintenance issues and vulnerabilities.  But at least these fixed keels have some aspect ratio to them and draft is still a modest 3 feet 7 inches. With a square-topped mainsail we need to use all of that area for the total sail area figure. Using P and E won’t cut it on a rig like this. So, using the area of the working jib I get a SA/D of 21.63. That’s a pretty high number for a cruising boat. I think this will be one cruising cat that can get out of its own way. There are several interior layout options. I’ll focus on one version for this review. With the combination of powerboat features to this design there is an inside helm on the centerline forward of the saloon area. The helm is flanked by large storage bins with enough countertop to them to use for laying out charts, if anyone does that anymore. Aft of this area there is a dinette to port and a large galley stretching down the port side. The dinette is also a pull-out berth. I tend to think the cockpit should be included in the accommodations because a lot of living will go on in this very spacious cockpit. If you raft up your Indikon with some monohull cruising buddies you can bet the party will be on your boat. There are staterooms in both hulls and I suspect that the berths are all double berths. There is one head and it’s forward in the starboard hull and has a walk in shower stall. One stateroom is aft in the starboard hull and there are two in the port hull. Fuel capacity is 260 gallons, so those two big diesels will have plenty to drink as you motor along, steering from that elevated and covered steering station over the cockpit. This is another one of those hybrid power and sail ideas that make this design very interesting.
Friday, 01 February 2013 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Used Boat Notebook
Author:John Kretschmer
The boat that started the big boat deck-saloon revolution The Irwin 52 was a trend-setting boat. It was a deck-saloon cruiser before there were deck-saloon cruisers. What’s more, the Irwin 52, with more than 250 hulls launched, may be the most popular big boat, 50-foot-plus, ever built. These beamy ketch-rigged cruisers offered no apologies for their motoryacht-like interior accommodations, spacious cockpit, wide side decks and raised bulwarks. It boasts of good performance under power as well as sail. Hmm, come to think of it those features sound awfully familiar? When you take a look at many of today’s larger cruising boats, it seems that Ted Irwin was a visionary. Ironically, the Irwin 52 has a better reputation today, 30 years after it was first introduced, than it did when new. Ted Irwin was an enigma in the industry. He was a designer, builder and world-class sailor, and during the early 1980s, his company was the largest privately owned sailboat firm in the country. He sold a lot of boats, especially big boats. Irwin claims to have built more sailboats longer than 50 feet than anyone in the world. Still, despite his consistently innovative designs, his company garnered a reputation for producing cheap boats. Ask sailors who came of age in the 1970s and 1980s what they think of Irwins and they’ll likely scowl. However, time has shown that some complaints about Irwin’s quality have turned out to be spurious. Older Irwins, especially the larger models, are in high demand on the used market. “If you can find a Series II 52 for a good price, even after totally refitting the boat, you’ll make money,” said Gene Gammons. Gammons knows of what he speaks. These days he is a yacht broker but previously he was the project manager for the Irwin 52 and his Web site, www.irwinyachts.com, provides a wealth of information about all Irwin models. He worked side-by-side with Irwin for years. Launched in 1976, the Irwin 52 caught the sailing world off guard, suddenly it was possible to own your own small ship. While many 52s were employed as crewed charter boats there is no denying that privately owned models started the shift toward larger cruising boats. First impressions The Irwin 52 has plenty of freeboard and a moderate sheer accentuated by a rakish bowsprit. The raised aft deck irked purists, who still existed in the 1970s, but provided plenty of headroom for the luxurious aft cabin, and along with the wide cove stripe, became something of a 52 trademark. It does take some getting used to when navigating the big step on deck, especially in the dark with lumpy seas. The cabintrunk includes large side and forward facing ports that flood the interior with light. I remember the dire warnings we experts issued about taking “big windows” offshore. Today most sailors can’t get enough of the deck-saloon concept. Although Irwin knew that he had to build cruising boats if he wanted to stay in business, his heart was always in performance boats. The 52 sports a generous rig with more than 1,350 square feet of working sailing area. The underbody is refined with a cutaway long keel and a partially balanced rudder. The 52 moves under sail. Indeed, with its long 44-foot waterline it reaches along at 8 knots steadily. I have logged a lot of miles delivering 52s and I am always impressed with how well they sail. Although it is not particularly close winded, the Irwin 52 is a much better performer than other big cruising designs of the period, including the clipper bow designs of Bill Garden and blunt bowed Out Island series by Charlie Morgan. Most 52s were centerboards with a board-up draft of 5 feet, 6 inches. The original air draft of 67 feet made the Intracoastal a no-fly zone, although you may well find the boat you’re considering has had the rig shortened to less than 65 feet. Construction The bugaboo with Irwin Yachts is just how well built were they? While some of the smaller models have not held up well over the years, the bigger boats, built to heavier scantlings, have endured the ravishes of ocean and ownership pretty well. The construction of the 52 evolved over the years. Early boats had solid glass hulls while later boats, after the Series II was introduced in 1982, had Klegecell coring from the waterline up. All models featured plywood cored decks. And while plywood is not the best material for this purpose because it is heavy and prone to rot, Irwin mitigated the latter issue at least by using four-inch squares saturated with resin. The box joint of the hull and deck includes the wide bulwark and a handsome teak caprail. Early models were classic production boats using three massive interior pans. These molded units were tabbed to the hull. As with any large secondary bonding, there is the potential for problems, and it limits access to the hull. Also, these pans restricted the interior options—the layout was the layout and you either took it or left it. The Series II boats featured all wood interior construction with bulkheads and facings fiberglassed directly to the hull, which allowed customized plans. What to look for The key to making a smart purchase of an Irwin 52 is to know just what model you’re looking at. Series II boats, which were substantially upgraded and are easier to retrofit, were introduced in 1982. This is not always reflected in the price of used 52s. It seems as if owners and brokers just look at other boats on the market and price theirs accordingly. This can work to the advantage of the savvy shopper. Also, don’t confuse the 52 with the 54, which is quite easy to do because they are basically the same boat. The 54 replaced the 52 in 1988 and typically costs significantly more. In addition to typical age-related issues, one problem common to most 52s was the iron maststep. It was down low, in the bilge, and over the years it corroded. This is a well-known problem and may have been addressed by previous owners. Also be wary of delaminated floors around the mast, which were glassed-over wood. These members were often used to mount new gear, from watermakers to air conditioning compressors, and if the holes drilled for fasteners were not well sealed they were prone to delamination. Other problems may include leaking chainplates, spars in need of repainting, and spider cracks and delamination on deck. Also, 52s were manufactured during the pox period, and most boats will have had a blister repair job or two somewhere in their past. On deck The Irwin 52 cockpit transformed center-cockpit design. Unlike most center cockpits of the time, it was large, comfortable and not just squeezed into the space above the engine room or distorted to allow for headroom in the pass-through to the aft cabin. You can sleep comfortably on either side. Sitting at the wheel it seems like you are looking downhill at the bow, the visibility is terrific but you do feel a bit exposed—you can really feel the freeboard. Early boats came with Barlow or Barient winches. The midboom mainsheet included a triangular arrangement on deck designed to displace the mainsail loads in lieu of a traveler but it was not wildly efficient. On a boat I delivered we ripped two of the mainsheet blocks out of the deck. Sail controls may or may not be led aft, and most boats on the used market have conventional spars with slab reefing. The wide side decks and substantial bulwarks are great features of the Irwin 52. The stanchions are tall but only adequately supported. Early boats had the pulpits screwed to the teak caprail, later boats had them through-bolted. Handrails on the trunkhouse are the perfect height to be useful. The aft deck features huge lazerettes. “This is the place for bikes, sails, awnings and other gear that cruisers need but have no place to store,” Gammons said. Forward, the bowsprit houses double anchor rollers and there is a large chain locker forward. Hawsepipes through the bulwark enclose mooring lines, although on early models in particular, the deck hardware was a bit undersized, especially for a 44,000-pound boat. Down below Interiors sell boats. It was just as true in the 1970s and 1980s as it is today. And few boats have more inviting interiors than the Irwin 52. Whether or not you want to head offshore in this interior is another question but for coastal cruising and living aboard it is hard to beat. A friendly Australian family recently purchased one of the last Irwin 52s built and moored it behind my house to prepare it for the long crossing home to Sydney. “The three-cabin layout is perfect for the kids,” Donna said. “I like all the room to work on and add new systems,” Brett told me, adding with a laugh, “Of course all that room means you can spend a lot of money too.” As mentioned earlier, models prior to 1982 all featured the same plan. This includes a drop-down galley to starboard, a large nav station to port and a palatial saloon. The aft cabin has an athwartship double and private head and shower. Forward, there is a large V-berth, a quarter cabin with upper and under berths and a second large head. There is no shortage of elbowroom. Series II models often used the same basic plan, however changes included island berths in both fore and aft cabins and different uses of the quarter cabin. Decadent features like a stand-up fridge and freezer, ample counter space in the galley, including a breakfast bar with built-in stools, air conditioning, generator, hanging lockers that are sized like closets, and a full shower with enough tankage to make long, hot showers possible, make the 52 a good choice for those having a hard time downsizing from the land life to boat life. Engine Most 52s came standard with the Perkins 4-236 85-horsepower diesel. These workhorse engines are well respected by industry pros. They are reliable, relatively easy to work on, and although they’ve been long out of production, parts are still widely available. The engine is located beneath the saloon cabin sole, and access is terrific. This position also makes repowering an easier proposition. Most center-cockpit models have the engine squirreled away under the cockpit. You need to take a hard look at the mechanical systems in any 52 you are considering. Items like a 7.5 KW Onan generator, LectraSan macerator system and old watermakers seem alluring but in reality they add little value and much aggravation maintaining, repairing or replacing. Irwin 52s have extensive 12- and 110-volt electrical systems, and if they are original, they will need to be updated. Don’t underestimate this job, replacing wiring is time consuming and frustrating, some of the runs are incredibly long. Remember, on pre-1982 boats, access is not very good. Underway Although most cruisers buy an Irwin 52 for the size, they are often pleasantly surprised by the sailing qualities. Under full canvas the 52 moves smartly in light to moderate airs and truly comes alive in the trades. Brett and Donna have averaged 165 miles a day so far while crossing the Pacific. They are currently in Tonga and although they’ve had some mechanical issues with the boat they are pleased with its performance. They are also pleased with its heavy weather capability. “We had to beat to safe harbor in Cuba to avoid Hurricane Ivan,” Brett wrote in e-mail, “and it was rugged. Force 9 gusting higher, the boat did well with a deeply reefed main, mizzen and staysail.” The versatile sailplan makes Irwin 52 balanced and it adapts well to autopilots. The mizzen can be used to trim the helm, making the autopilot’s task easier. Brett and Donna don’t hesitate to fly their cruising chute off the wind, although in typical tradewind conditions they find the 130-percent genoa poled out pulls them along at close to 9 knots without any stress. The 52 handles extremely well under power and with a feathering prop it backs true. I know, not long ago I had to back a 52 out of a long canal for a sea trail, and once I gained momentum it was a piece of cake. Conclusion If you are interested in an Irwin 52, don’t apologize. The boat has design features that can only be found in new boats costing many times more. The 52 represents a unique blend of living space and underway performance. It may not be the ideal ocean crossing machine but it sure makes living aboard a lot less painful. With prices ranging from $125,000 to just over $200,000 it is a lot of boat for the buck.
Monday, 10 November 2008 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Retrofits
Author:Bob Pingel
This comfortable, moderate-sized cruiser is just the ticket for an Abacos-bound retrofit Your house is worth half what it was two years ago and your 401K is in a freefall with no bottom in sight. Is it time to buy gold and rations for when the lights go out? No way, it’s time to go sailing!  Looking at our balance sheet, a bit of the boat fund is still intact. The round-the-world cruiser is out of the question, but we can handle a smaller boat and a season in the Abacos. We have about $80,000 to spend—we need a comfortable boat, shallow draft, maybe 30 to 35 feet LOA. Our tastes have always been on the traditional side, but we want a modern design and definitely one made of fiberglass. After a lot of probing around, we target the Island Packet 31. The IP31 was introduced in 1983 and remained in production until 1989. The boat was very successful with more than 250 boats built, propelling Island Packet through the very shaky financial times of its day. The 31 has traditional lines, with a long sprit, full keel and a springy sheer. The hull design is a bit unconventional­—like all IPs it is beamy but the maximum beam is forward of amidships. The 31 is not the fastest boat on the water, but let’s be honest, no one buys an Island Packet, especially a smaller one, to win races. The boat delivers incredible interior volume and comfort, and even more important a smooth, soft motion in a seaway. We’ll spend more time making our passages but we will not get beat up underway. We looked at boats all over the southeast—a tired boat on the Gulf Coast of Florida, a decent boat in Oriental, North Carolina, and we finally found our gem on the Chesapeake Bay. The boat we finally chose, a 1989 (the final model year), was in great condition. The boat was the most expensive one we saw but in the best shape. Like the real estate mantra “location, location, location,” with boats it is “condition, condition, condition.” Being the newest boat of this design, the boat was in better condition. Island Packet tweaks the boats from model year to model year, and one of the differences we really appreciated were the stainless steel ports. With the soft financial world, we had some room to negotiate and settled at $63,500. Our immediate goal is to sail off to the Abacos, so draft is a concern. The IP31 was available with a 4-foot draft shoal keel or with a centerboard that gets the draft down to 3 feet. We opted for a keel boat; 4 feet is skinny enough for us and life is a little simpler without a centerboard. Our first order of business was to make sure our sails were up to snuff. To assess their condition we ran them over to our trusted sailmaker, Peter Grimm at Doyle Fort Lauderdale. To our eye the main seemed a little soft and the UV cover on the headsail was tattered. Peter explained that he could repair the sails, but that it was really time for a new suit of sails. He took a lot of time to understand our plans and to make sure that the sails will support those goals. Grimm explained that the condition of our mainsail was due to UV damage and flogging, constant enemies on a cruising boat. The prior owner was not always careful to cover the main, and we all know that flogging is a frequent condition on the Chesapeake. Grimm had just the solution to these problems: He suggested a full-batten mainsail and a Doyle Cradle Cover to act as an automatic sail cover. The full battens offer better support of the main, helping to reduce the flogging, and as a bonus make the sail easier to flake on the boom. Grimm built the mainsail with eight-ounce low-aspect fabric from Dimension-Polyant. He explained that the heavier weight would last longer and that the low-aspect construction of the fabric was designed for a short, wide mainsail like ours. The Cradle Cover is essentially a sail cover integrated with lazy jacks. The lazy jacks and cover, in concert with the battens, gather up the sail as it is dropped. The cover also holds the mainsail when we are reefed—no more reef ties! The cover is a little bulky, and I get some gentle jabbing about it being my “third reef,” but it has made life a lot better. I was concerned that the extra weight of the fabric and full battens would make the main difficult to hoist. The old one was pretty hard to deal with, and this new one would be heavier. Grimm suggested the Tides Marine Strong Track system, a mainsail track that is easy to retrofit, relatively inexpensive and reduces friction almost equal to a ball bearing track system. Tides Marine custom machines the one-piece polyethylene track to fit your spar and then you just slide it in. The sail attaches with low-friction stainless steel slides and standard batten car fittings. The system makes the main very easy to hoist, and, just as important, when we free the halyard the sail just drops right onto the boom into the Cradle Cover. Grimm specified a 120-percent genoa for our boat. I did not think this was large enough until he explained that our J measurement (the distance from the stem to the mast) was 15 feet, meaning our genoa is almost 18 feet along the foot—plenty big for a 31-foot boat. The genoa is constructed of seven-ounce cloth, light enough to fly nicely in light air but strong enough to hold its shape when we reef it down. In most cases we won’t need to reef the genoa since we have a handy little staysail right behind it. Grimm made our staysail out of the same material as the genoa. We can use it to add some horsepower when reaching but with the heavy cloth it will also be a bulletproof storm sail. Between reefing the genoa and unrolling the staysail we should have all the “gears” we need for cruising. We spent a lot of money with Doyle but now have a very solid set of sails. We spent $2,375 on the main, $2,510 on the genoa, $980 on the staysail and roughly $1,000 each for the Cradle Cover and Tides Marine track system. Almost $8,000 of our refit budget, but a sailboat is not much good without good sails and handling gear. Our boat is almost 20 years old and still had the original halyards. They were a little stiff and worn, and rope technology has changed a lot in 20 years, so we chose to replace all the halyards with new ones made of 3/8-inch New England Ropes VPC. VPC is a very cool rope—the cover is a tough Dacron twill and the core is blend of Vectran and polyolefin. The Vectran is there is to give strength and limit elasticity, and the polyolefin just bulks things up for handling. Polyolefin and Dacron are low-cost materials so this rope is fairly priced. In addition to looking good and handling well, the halyards are very inelastic. This allows our new sails to keep their shape, even in the puffs. We needed 275 feet of rope and decided to replace the hardware, too. This cost $360 for the rope, $120 for the shackles, and $60 for the splicing labor, for a total of $540. When we were sea trialing the boat we noticed that the wind indicator did not work, we got a bit of money back for this flaw but our thought was to replace all the sailing instruments. We decided to go with the tried and true Raymarine ST60 speed/depth/wind package. The gear itself was $1,200 from Defender Marine and we installed it ourselves—most of the wiring was already in place from the old gear. The diesel ran well but we wanted to have things looked over by a mechanic before we left on our cruise. Our mechanic checked everything and replaced all the maintenance items (filters, impeller, oil and coolant) for just $450; a great deal. We could have done this work ourselves but outsourcing it gave us higher confidence and more time to go sailing. We intend to spend a lot of time anchored out in the Abacos, and we really like our creature comforts—lights, refrigeration and a movie now and again. These expectations can’t be met with a standard electrical charging system. The boat has a good house bank and 100-amp Balmar alternator, but we don’t want to run the engine to charge. Our solution was to harness the ever-present tropical sunshine with a pair of solar panels. We chose to mount two 50-watt Kyocera panels on top of our bimini. We looked to eMarine Systems in Fort Lauderdale to help us out. The company sells a full line of panels and regulators and have packaged a lot of flexible mounting systems. The entire system, consisting of the panels, mounts, charge regulator and wiring, cost us $1,630. The system puts out enough power to keep up with our refrigeration needs, and it allows us to keep the engine idle for two days at a time if we are careful with our other electrical loads. Island Packet has great owner support and we couldn’t help ourselves when we visited the factory Web site, we just had to pick up some IP logo items. We bought a couple of very nice caps, a set of cocktail glasses and burgee to show off our loyalty. This little splurge cost $100, but it was fun and made us feel like we were buying a brand new boat. A solid investment in fiberglass and stainless steel is just the answer for these uncertain times. A good boat will hold its value and you will be paid back handsomely in sunsets and memories.
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail
Boats and Gear/Boat Test
Author:John Kretschmer
Refined 320 offers better seakeeping and living I was skeptical when our boat test of Island Packet's latest cruising cutter, the 320, called for a 9 a.m. departure. While fall usually offers the best sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, the winds are invariably light early and build later in the day. And, while there is no disputing that Island Packet builds stout, handsome, bluewater boats, light-air performance is not usually a design priority. Fortunately, like many of my preconceived notions, both of these proved wrong. The morning winds were fresh and, not surprisingly, the 320 gamboled across the bay on a close reach, touching 7 knots a few times. By midmorning, the breeze began to wane but the performance of the 320 refused to follow suit. Just when you think you have a handle on designer/builder Bob Johnson and his popular line of cruising boats, he surprises you. While the new 320 includes Island Packet's trademark blend of traditional lines, state-of-the-art construction techniques and spacious interiors, this new design also incorporates a few wrinkles that add up to better performance than you would expect from a small, heavy-displacement cutter. The bow sections are slightly finer than earlier Packets for better windward work and a stern step offers the additional benefit of a longer sailing waterline. The full, foil-keel underbody has evolved over the years and the new 320 has fewer hull line distortions. Johnson also gives credit for the 320Õs lively performance to the Garry Hoyt-inspired, self-vanging, self tacking staysail boom that makes the staysail more efficient. The 320, which has an LOA of 33 feet, 3 inches and a displacement of 13,500 pounds, replaces the IP 29 and is now Island Packet's entry-level boat. This is new territory for a company that was once a major player in the under-30-foot market. The 320, which sells well-equipped for around $150,000, reflects the changing focus of Island Packet Yachts. Johnson and marketing director Bill Bolin see their customers as cruising couples and families who desire a high-quality boat that is both comfortable for coastal cruising and capable of crossing oceans with confidence-and boats like this are larger and more expensive than they used to be. State of the art The 320 has a one-piece, hand-laid, solid fiberglass hull with an encapsulated full keel that stretches just 4 feet, 3 inches below the waterline. Island Packet has developed its own gelcoat protection system, PolyClad, and offers a limited 10-year warranty against osmotic blisters. Speaking of gelcoat, even well-used, older Packets seem to retain the luster in their decks and topsides. The company uses another trademarked product, Durashield, which helps the gelcoat retain its gloss and also keeps it from fading. The deck is married to the hull on an internal flange that is part of the bul-wark and is both through-bolted (incorporating the caprail and genoa track) and chemically bonded with a urethane adhesive sealer. The deck is cored with Island Pac-ketÕs exclusive material Poly-core, a microsphere and resin matrix that to my mind is su-perior to balsa, and comes with an unmatched, 10-year warranty against rot and delamination. The 320 has a molded interior grid support and cabin sole. Island Packet has always made extensive use of interior liners and moldings, both as an efficient manufacturing process and for structural integrity. My main complaint with linings is that they usually limit access to the hull, but this is not a problem with the 320. Refined design On deck, it is hard to believe that the 320 has an LOA of just 33 feet, 3 inches, since it feels like a much larger boat. Although the 320's entry is a bit finer than the old 29, the generous beam of 11 feet, 9 inches is carried well forward, creating wide side decks, although the staysail boom does crowd the foredeck. The molded bulwarks, double lifelines and full-length stainless grabrails on the cabintrunk make moving about the deck safe and secure. I am not a fan of bowsprits, at least not from an engineering standpoint, but I do admit that they are pretty and have a few practical applications. The 320 has a well-supported integral sprit and two stainless steel anchor rollers with chocks and hinged deck pipes to the forepeak. From the self-tailing Lewmar 40 sheet winches and the Harken jib furling system to the oversized 10-inch cleats, meaty chocks and stainless chafe guards, the standard deck hardware is robust and high quality. The main spar is keel-stepped. A self-furling main, a factory-direct option that more and more owners are choosing, is available for an additional $2,295. Standard running gear includes a boom vang, a dual single-line main reefing system led aft through Lewmar stoppers and a mainsheet traveler with a four-part purchase and midboom sheeting. Bob Johnson is committed to the cutter rig and with each new design he adds a refinement. Because the cutter needs an extended base for the sail plan, the bowsprit is vital. Johnson tackled some of the thorny structural problems of sprits in earlier models by making the support appendage integral to the hull. Now he has incorporated Hoyt's concept of a free-standing, self-vanging boom. With a conventional, club-footed boom, it is difficult to keep the sail from riding up off the wind and hard to keep any shape upwind. The pivoting Hoyt boom simplifies control and allows the staysail to maintain good shape on any point of sail. Console-mounted, rack-and-pinion steering, an Island Packet trademark, is the heart of the cockpit. The Whitlock steering system has a surprisingly nice feel-if you didnÕt know better you'd think it was cable-and it's virtually bulletproof. The visibility from the wheel is good, since the helmsman's perch is slightly elevated, and the sheet winches are within easy reach. The cockpit seats are long enough to sleep on and are contoured for comfortable seating. The cockpit has several innovative features, including a sleek line locker hidden in the coaming, a built-in cooler, a shower that stretches to the stern step and molded seats on the stern rail. With the addition of the stern step, or swim platform, Island Packet's competitors will have one less feature to sell against. And, since Johnson has always kept safety as a priority in his designs, the 320's cockpit includes dedicated pad eyes for harnesses, pin-locking drop boards, good-sized scuppers and, most importantly, a stout bridgedeck. Good living While I'm sure that the traditional lines, innovative manufacturing techniques and high resale values have a lot to do with why so many people purchase Island Packets, I suspect that what really closes the deal are the spacious, thoughtful interiors. There are few boats with an LOD of 30 feet with interiors that make you want to move aboard and take off for points south. The 320 is such a boat. There are two legitimate staterooms, each with a Pullman-style double bunk. The forward, or owner's, cabin has the bunk to port with a cedar-lined hanging locker and storage bins to starboard. The aft stateroom features an athwartships bunk tucked under the cockpit sole, a hanging locker and good storage. This cabin, which also houses the navigation table, converts to a private cabin by flipping and pinning the nav table into the vertical position and closing a clever bifold door. The U-shaped seagoing galley features a double sink, two-burner propane stove with oven and a good-sized (but not so deep that you canÕt reach the bottom) icebox compartment. A clever roll-away trash bin, decent-sized fiddle edges to keep a plate or bowl in place during a pitch or roll, and a handy fold-up counter extension make this an uncommonly functional galley for a boat of this size. The main saloon has a bulkhead table that drops into place when needed and otherwise folds neatly away. There are settees to port and starboard with adequate storage behind, and the 6-foot, 4-inch headroom lends a feeling of spaciousness. The cabin sole is varnished teak and holly; it could be dangerously slippery when wet and the interior could also use a few more access hatches. Ventilation is excellent with nine opening portlights and six overhead hatches. Value added A Yanmar 27-horsepower diesel, the popular 3GM30 three-cylinder model, is the standard power plant. Access to both the engine and stuffing box is excellent and the engine compartment is well-insulated. These little Yanmars not only run quietly but offer terrific fuel economy as well. The 45 gallons of fuel stored in a welded aluminum fuel tank give the 320 a realistic range under power of at least 300 miles. The mechanical systems throughout the boat are the high-quality type usually found on larger boats. From the pretinned wire and big-boat electrical panel to special odor-resistant plumbing and a solid-state bilge pump sensor, the interior systems of the Island Packet 320 have been well thought out. Smooth sailing Back on the bay, the 320 maintained nearly 6 knots on a broad reach with fluky winds. We then brought the boat hard on the wind and managed to keep good speed at 40 degrees apparent. The boat came through the wind without too much trouble, and the ease of handling the staysail was readily apparent. Island Packet now uses Sobstad Sails and includes a 130-percent roller-furling genoa with the double-reef main and staysail. I think a conventional high-cut yankee would probably be a better sail to complement the cutter rig when sailing upwind. I was accompanied on my test-sail by Jack Heffner of Gratitude Yachting Center and Ron and Nancy Glendening, who were considering a new 320. The Glendenings sail an older Island Packet 31 on Lake Erie and were attracted to the 320 by the improved accommodations. "We like this size of boat; it is easy to handle," Nancy said, "and we love this new interior." The Glendenings, who spend a lot of time aboard every summer, looked at the exciting performance of the new 320 as simply a nice bonus, just another reason to consider an Island Packet 320.
Saturday, 07 February 1998 | Print | PDF |  Write e-mail

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