Friday, September 04, 2015

Messing About with ‘Pike’ – Part 4

An owner of a sailing boat can have a considerable amount of fun tinkering with her, and the usual reasons for doing so are to improve her or make her more suitable for the owner’s use. He may want to improve her performance, her condition, or her interior, etc.. Sadly, some owners think they can improve their boat, whereas by straying from the original design, they unknowingly do the opposite.

‘Pike’ is such a boat. A previous owner added a boom and a tiller extension, both of which I have removed. The boom made reefing the sail difficult and the extension was totally unnecessary. Someone has also changed her rudder into a semi-lifting one. In my opinion none of these changes improved the original boat. With regard to the rudder, it has a number of strings for raising and lowering the bottom half of the blade. There are pieces of metal attached either side for aligning and locking parts together. These additions interfere with the flow of water, causing drag. The only advantage of this arrangement is being able to reduce the rudder’s draught for sailing in shallow water; at the same time the daggerboard has to be raised.

I’ve added an anchor, but it does not adversely affect the performance, or interfere with the functioning of the boat, and it is not fixed to the hull.

Recently I exchanged like for like: The stern buoyancy bag had a slow leak; therefore I replaced it with a new one.

As far as I can tell, ‘Pike’ is ready for her next sail; except the nearside wheel of her road trailer does not run freely. I shall have to investigate the cause and put the matter right.


Crewsaver Buoyancy Bag

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Messing About with ‘Pike’ – Part 3

The weather hasn’t been brilliant lately, and there’s hardly been a day when it hasn’t rained, but that hasn’t stopped me messing about with ‘Pike’.

In anticipation of eventually having a sun-filled day when the tide is right and I have time to spare, I’m preparing ‘Pike’ for a second sail. During the first sail I was conscious that I did not have a suitable anchor. The one I had was far too small. The Dinghy Cruising Association recommends equipping a cruising dinghy with an anchor weighing no less than 5 kilos, irrespective of type, along with at least 2 metres of chain between it and 30 metres of 8 millimetre, non-floating cable. (Safety Recommendations 3.3)* That is a good rule of thumb.

It’s all very well having such an anchor with its chain and cable, but all the bits and pieces must be secured in a way that the anchor can be deployed at a moment’s notice. If the dinghy were to capsize, the anchor must not become a hazard in the recovery process. Being able to deploy it at a moment’s notice could be crucial for keeping out of trouble. I recollect such an occasion when the tide was taking my Torbay Class 11 Racer towards the swing bridge at Teignmouth and there wasn’t enough room for the mast to pass under without hitting it. The anchor proved its worth, and all was well.

Another factor regarding anchor stowage is to make sure it does not damage the boat. Anchors are awkward things, because they have pointed bits and protuberances that are capable of inflicting injury; therefore it is best to stow them where they present the least hazard.

Bearing in mind these requirements I have made provision for ‘Pike’s’ anchor and tackle to be kept in a sturdy plastic bowl. The whole lot is retained by a rope that passes through fittings screwed to the hull. To deploy the anchor, all I have to do is undo the rope from a cleat and lower the anchor over the bow.

I feel happier about sailing ‘Pike’, now that she is equipped with a 5 kilogram Bruce anchor, with 2 metres of 8mm chain and 30 metres of 10mm nylon rope.

*DCA Safety Recommendations:


Messing About with ‘Pike’ – Part 2

Messing About with ‘Pike’ – Part 1

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Boats Seen at Burnham – Part 4 – Sunset 27

Sunset 27

MG Spring

Until seeing this less than enchanting twin keel yacht I had never heard of a Sunset 27. (‘Less than enchanting’ is from the point of view of aesthetics, which is always subjective.)  On looking up her pedigree I was surprised to find that she was designed by Tony Castro, who also was the author of the MG Spring that was launched in 1986. She was an immediate success, being sporty, and at the same time, very practical for typical club racing and for a spot of cruising.

This particular Sunset 27 was built in the year 2000 - fourteen years after the MG Spring, but you can see similarities, in that both yachts have almost identical interior layouts and their external streamlined profiles resemble one another. However, in terms of appearance to my mind, the Sunset 27 lacks character. She has nothing that significantly proclaims, “I’ve got it, and "I’ll flaunt it!” There’s nothing you can latch onto that says, “She’s the boat for me.” At least, that’s the way I feel about her, but a cold, pure analysis of what she offers paints a different picture:

Feelings apart, from a practical point of view the Sunset 27 has useful attributes, especially for the sailor who wants a yacht for a drying mooring. Her twin keels make her admirably suited to this.  I like her transom platform that gives easy access for those getting in and out of a tender. She also has a boarding ladder that doubles as a pushpit gate. She has high, sensible guardrails, and her side decks are wide enough for people to walk on without being restricted. Hand rails along the cabin top are a helpful in this respect, especially if one has to move along a lee deck when the boat is heeling.  Her high boom reduces the chances of being hit on the head by it, and a high boom means a high sail which does not restrict ones vision, as can be the case with some yachts.

Her open-plan layout is functional by having things sensibly located; for example, the cooker is almost in the centre of the boat where there is least movement. Likewise, the navigation station is on the opposite side – both of them are by the companionway where there is light and fresh air. A double bunk under her cockpit floor gives privacy, and there’s an excellent layout for the saloon with wrap-around seating and an offset folding table. Almost 6’ headroom adds to the sense of space.  Plenty of light enters the cabin through the side windows and forward hatch; even the separate heads has its own port. A 9hp Yanmar diesel engine located aft of the companionway can propel the yacht at 5 knots , and in this day and age an engine is essential for getting in and out of marinas.


Sunset 27 for Sale £19,750

MG Spring – designed by Tony Castro in 1986

MG Spring Cruiser Racer Yacht

Some boats designed by Tony Castro

Tony Castro

Tony Castro

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Boats Seen at Burnham – Part 3 – Beneteau First 211


This is a highly attractive ‘pocket rocket’, a term used by Yachtsnet in their data section. (See first link below.) If one is looking for a boat with exciting performance and at the same time the ability to coastal cruise, this little job may be the answer.

A lot of thought has gone into making her a practical yacht in terms of ergonomics, i.e., her efficient functional properties.  She has slab reefing for the mainsail and a furling, non-overlapping jib for easy tacking and control of sail area. With a fantastic ballast ratio and a deep keel providing lateral and directional stability, she should make to windward better than many yachts of her size. She has the added advantage of being able to dry out level on her raised keel and dual rudders. Dual transom hung rudders allow for the placing of an outboard motor on the centreline where it is most efficient and it can be used on both tacks when motor-sailing - though I doubt this situation will be required, except under special circumstances.

She is a highly practical small yacht for a crew of two, each of whom can sleep in the main cabin on berths either side, that extend into the quarters. There’s room for two children up forward in a double ‘v’ berth. Not everyone will like the chemical toilet under the companionway step, but there it is easily accessed, unlike many small yachts that have their chemical loos tucked away under the forward ‘v’ berth. The self-draining cockpit has sensible seating with good back support and lockers underneath for warps, fenders, etc.


Beneteau First 211 Yachtsnet Archive Details (Excellent Photos)

First 211

Beneteau First 21 Solent Class

First 211 Owners Manual

Beneteau First 211 for Sale £13,995

2001 Beneteau First 211 for Sale £12,150

Monday, August 31, 2015

Boats Seen at Burnham – Part 2 – Cape Cutter 19

I’ve already looked at this Cape Cutter 19,* but that was in September, 2011. Here she is again in the same spot at Burnham Yacht Harbour. She still looks good, as can be seen from the photographs.


*Cape Cutter 19

Cape Cutter 19

Cape Cutter 19 Association

Cape Cutter 19

Yachting Monthly Test Review – Cape Cutter

Cape Cutter 19 - ‘Halcion’

Cape Cutter 19 Forum

Rigging a Cape Cutter (Video)

Adventures of a Cape Cutter in Stockholm (Video)

Cape Cutter 19 at Kielder Water (Video)

Cape Cutter 19 does France 2011 (Video)

Cape Cutter 19s – Mylor 2014

Cape Cutter 19 for Sale £22,000

Cape Cutter 19 for Sale - Euros 15,000

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Boats Seen at Burnham – Part 1 – Freedom 21

I should have gone for a sail today. Instead, after taking my wife to a garden centre, I went to Burnham for a walk by the river to see activities associated with Burnham Week. This always starts on August Bank Holiday Saturday.

As usual, when visiting Burnham, I took a look at boats for sale at Clark and Carter. However, this fin keel Freedom 21 doesn’t look as if she is for sale, as I didn’t see a notice to that effect attached to her hull, and I couldn’t find her on the C & C ‘Yachts for Sale’ list.
Freedom 21 sailboats were first built in the US in 1982. Designed by Garry Hoyt, they were rigged with an un-stayed flexible mast and a fully battened mainsail; plus a unique spinnaker system invented by Garry. He calls it the Hoyt Gun Mount. It consists of a spinnaker pole that passes through a tube mounted on a spindle attached to the pulpit. The pole can be shunted to and fro when changing tack. The spinnaker is easily hoisted and taken in by a solo sailor. He can hoist it with a halyard and lower it into a ‘sock’ by means of a downhaul. (See Freedom 21 Demo Video: This cat rig has the advantage of ease of reefing as with a junk rig, but with the windward efficiency of a Bermudan rig. All control lines are led to the cockpit for speedy and safe handling without the crew having to go on deck.

The boat featured here has a fin keel, but others have been built in the UK with retractable bilge keels. A few had Warwick Collins Tandem Wing Keels. Here’s a good PDF article by Wilfred Bishop with information about Freedom 21 keel types:  .


LOA                                        6.61m
LWL                                        5.39m
Beam                                      2.44m
Draught                                   1.14 (Max)
Displacement                            816 kg


Burnham Week

Garry Hoyt

Freedom 21 Info
Freedom 21 –

Freedom 21 Interior Video

Freedom 21 Video

Freedom 21 Video

Freedom 21 Photos

Warwick Collins

Friday, August 28, 2015

Messing About with ‘Pike’ – Part 2

On and off, I am still messing about with Pike, and as Rich_D said in his comment to Part 1, such activity ashore and afloat can bring ‘simple pleasures’. This is true.

Yesterday I spent time making a copper fastening for retaining a section of rope fender that had come loose on the port side of the boat. One of the old fittings had snapped, and it required replacing.

I’m not keen on rope fenders. Pike’s look untidy, but they do the job of protecting her topsides.  Just above where I did the repair - on the gunnel - the paint has been damaged by a pad made from adhesive carpet tape for preventing the trailer strop from biting into the gunnel. I’ve found a way of avoiding further damage by dispensing with the pad and placing the strop in the rowlocks.

When I took Pike for a sail, and I came to row her, I noticed that pieces of plastic piping clipped to the sleeves to act as wear plates, rotated. To prevent this happening, I’ve fixed them to the sleeves with brass screws.

Another thing that bothered me was the untidy ends of Polypropylene ropes used for securing Pike’s cover; therefore I cut and sealed their ends by exposing them to flames from a gas ring on the hob of a cooker in the kitchen. 

My wife was very restrained when I suggested I should use ‘her’ kitchen for such a smelly job. With windows open and the door wide open, I carefully went about the job so as to leave no trace behind of what had taken place. I recalled times when I had laminated spars and various parts of boats in the kitchen, the lounge and the hall, even the bedroom – always when my wife was absent. She would return, never knowing what had taken place.


Messing About with ‘Pike’ – Part 1

Polypropylene Ropes