Boats & Gear

SAILBOAT PROPELLERS: Damned If They're There; Damned If They're Not

Boat hauled

Though they seem like very simple devices, propellers are in fact quite complicated. More often than you’d expect, problems with a boat’s performance under power can be traced to poor propeller selection. To drive a boat well a prop must be properly matched to whatever engine and transmission is turning it, and numerous variables--the engine’s horsepower, its operating and maximum potential rpm and shaft speed, the boat’s speed potential, and the dimensions and specifications of the prop itself--must be balanced against each other to achieve good performance over the broadest range of circumstances.

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BOREAL 44/47: A Bulletproof Aluminum Centerboard Cruiser for High and Low Latitudes

Boreal sailing

It says something of the nature of these boats that my initial correspondence with Jean-François Eeman (see photo up top), managing director of Boréal Yachts, regarding a visit to their yard, was interrupted for a month while he and his family took off on a cruise to Antarctica. On a Boréal, of course. Indeed, Eeman’s boat was the first Boréal 44 ever built, the ultimate product of a chance encounter on a dock in Ushuaia, Argentina, between Eeman and another Jean-François, surname Delvoye, a designer and builder with many bluewater miles under his belt who had long been nursing an idea for an ideal cruising vessel.

The basic concept here is not at all unusual. Aluminum bluewater centerboard boats, though not often found in North America, have long been a staple of the French cruising scene. Major French builders Garcia and Alubat have focused primarily on boats like this for decades, and several smaller builders have followed in their wake. Boréal, barely ten years old, is the rising star on the scene, thanks to a focus on build quality that rivals that of the early Garcias and also to some unique design features that take the concept to a new level.

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MAINE CAT 41: A Fast But Sensible Open-Bridgedeck Cruising Cat

MC 41

This mid-size cruising catamaran inhabits the middle ground between truly high-performance open-bridgedeck cats with very limited accommodations and little or no on-deck shelter and bulkier, more unwieldy cats with enclosed bridgedeck saloons and palatial accommodations. Its most distinctive feature is a permanently mounted hardtop roof supported by aluminum posts that shelters all of the otherwise open bridgedeck area abaft the mast. If desired the bridgedeck can be fully enclosed by deploying flexible transparent acrylic side-curtains.

This concept was first introduced by designer/builder Dick Vermeulen when he launched his first boat, the smaller Maine Cat 30, back in 1996. The 30-footer has proven quite successful, but is a bit too small and cramped for extended cruising. The 41, first introduced in 2004, redresses this deficiency and has also been successful.

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MODERN TWIN-HEADSAIL RIGS: Simbo Sailing and the Dutchmar Zoom Boom

Simbo Rig

The concept of the twin-headsail rig, where two jibs are set flying side by side, was first propagated back in the 1950s by bluewater sailors who wanted an easy-to-manage rig for sailing deep downwind angles on tradewind passages. The idea has been revived of late, first by an acquaintance of mine, Iain Simpson, who updated the concept for modern roller-furling systems and employs it on his Najad 570 Song of the Ocean. He is quite keen on it and has been proselytizing on the subject for a few years now on his website.

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BENETEAU FIRST 38: An Early Modern Euro Cruiser

First 38 under sail

The French firm Beneteau was formed in 1884 as a builder of wooden fishing boats and switched to building fiberglass recreational vessels in 1964. They first started building sailboats in 1972 and today claim to be the largest boatbuilder in the world. Beneteau’s First series of performance cruising sailboats was introduced in 1979 and quickly blossomed to include this boat, which was branded as the First 38 because it measures 38 feet on deck, though in fact it is 40 feet long overall.

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SUPER GOOFY SAILBOATS: Foggy, Sailing Yacht A, Surfari 44

Foggy

‘Tis the season to hand out boat awards in the sailing industry. We’ve already seen SAIL’s Best Boats picks and are eagerly awaiting the opinionations of Cruising World and Sailing World re their Boats of the Year. But these competitions are for the most part restricted to common production boats, and the truly interesting (i.e., totally wacky) new sailboats, usually built for over-the-top rich people with more money than sense, never get considered. So I thought we here at WaveTrain should conduct our own survey of the scene.

Our first nominee, Foggy (see photo up top), designed by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry (the boat’s name derives from his initials) in collaboration with German Frers, is a one-off custom boat that got a lot of attention when it was launched at Brooklin Boatyard earlier this year. Gehry has always been an avid sailor and normally sails a Beneteau First 44.7 out of Marina del Rey, so he does have some idea of how a sailboat is supposed to function.

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CRUISING SAILBOAT GROUND TACKLE: Chain Versus Rope Rode

Anchoring

Many cruisers believe an all-chain anchor rode is always superior to rope rode. Chain is stronger and much more chafe resistant than rope, but you can still do some serious anchoring on rope alone. With rope you do need to be more security conscious and must always check for chafe. If there is coral on the bottom, this means diving on the rode on a regular basis. You should also be much quicker to set a second anchor, not only as insurance when conditions get strong, but also to keep your boat from swinging around too much.

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2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Jeanneau 64 and Gran Soleil 43

Jeanneau 64 cockpit

My first outing on day two of this year’s test-sailing binge after the Annapolis show found me on the new Jeanneau 64, which is effectively a mini-superyacht built on a mass-production basis. That photo you see up top shows a portion of the group I sailed with enjoying the big lounging cockpit while noshing on donuts and coffee proffered by Jeanneau’s Paul Fenn (he’s the one gesticulating closest to the companionway). Both those cockpit tables can be set at variable heights, or can be lowered all the way to form plush cockpit berths.

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2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Dragonfly 25 and Oyster 475

Jens Quorning

Pardon me a moment while I step into the Not So Wayback Machine and dial into the middle of last month, post boat show in Annapolis, when I was doing my routine round sampling new boats under sail. Subject number one this year was the new Dragonfly 25 trimaran, which I sailed with Jens Quorning (see photo up top) of Quorning Boats in a typically light 6-10 knot breeze on Chesapeake Bay.

You think of course a trimaran should be fast, but speed is a relative concept. It seems bottom line on this little hot rod is that in light-to-very-moderate conditions like we had you’ll usually be sailing at wind speed, which is pretty damn good for a boat just 25 feet long. Problem is it doesn’t seem so fast when you know the boat is capable of so much more. In this case, Jens informs me the top speed they’ve seen on this little 25 is a skosh over 20 knots in very strong conditions. Fifteen knots is common in moderate-to-strong wind.

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