messing about in boats

Studland Bay Seahorses

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on March 12, 2010

I guess anybody remotely involved with Studland Bay or the YBW forums will have noticed the fierce debate currently raging between the Seahorse Trust, boaters and local residents. I can’t say I’m involved, but I am keeping a close eye on it. There have even been speculations of corruption and misappropriation of grant money – all very exciting, like a bizarre marine soap opera. There’s a fairly good roundup of arguments on the Studland Bay Preservation Association blog if you care to read it, but the jist is that the Seahorse Trust are adamant that boats mooring in the bay are putting the seahorses at risk and many local residents and boaters are disputing the claims and opposing any kind of ban on anchoring in the bay. Crown Estates are currently undertaking a survey to find out what’s-what and the results will be available in 2012.

Studland was infact responsible for my love of cruising in larger boats. I remember being on holiday with my family at a fairly young age, carrying my little inflatable dinghy down the dirt track to the beach, which in itself was amazing – a beach without a horrid esplanade and amusement park behind it! The water was always dead calm and safe to play in provided you kept an eye out for the wash from the ferries which would surface as if from nowhere as it approached the beach and one time capsized a kayaker as it rose up right beside him. So I rowed my little boat around looking at the moored yachts for hours on end.

Then one day for a bit of a treat (as I’d recently taken up dinghy sailing) a friend of the family said he would take us kids for a trip on his yacht. She was only a little bilge keeler, but a boat was a boat and I remember jumping at the chance. We were dropped off at the boatyard in Poole and set sail for Studland in glorious sunshine with a gentle breeze with just the genoa up pulling us along nicely. Soon we were in the bay, set her up on the beach and let the tide go out. I still get that strange feeling when arriving somewhere on a boat. It’s different than the feeling after a long car journey; somehow a lot more special.

As I said above, I’m keeping out of the debate at the moment. I guess my support tends to lie with the local residents views that the moorings prevent much more damaging trawling by fishing boats. I visit Studland (as a land lubber) once a year if I’m lucky. South beach is a beautiful spot and I hope it remains so for everyone involved; including the land animals, birds and marine life.

A New Addition To The Fleet

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on February 19, 2010

I’ve been a bit rash this week and bought another boat! Nervous Tension is an Extension, which is pr0bably pretty meaningless to most people but I’ve got a folder full of bumph with her including old magazine articles which I’ll try to get scanned in. Essentially, she’s a 24′ flush decked quarter tonner from 1975, designed by Jac de Ridder and built in cold-molded mahogany. Currently in dire need of some repairs after coming off her mooring a few weeks ago. Still, I love a challenge and am looking forward to some great summer’s sailing.

Nervous Tension at anchor in Langstone Harbour

Nervous Tension on her mooring in Langstone Harbour

Navigation Lights For Small Yachts

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on February 1, 2010

Just seen this useful diagram showing correct navigation light configuration for yachts under 12m long.

Navigation lights for yachts 7m - 12m long

Navigation lights for yachts under 12m long

Originally posted by VicS on this ybw.com thread. It’s worth a read, just ignore the arguing…

Baby Steps To The Ocean

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on January 28, 2010

I’ve been following helixkimara’s YouTube videos the past couple of days – he’s uploading a series of short movies from the Jester Azores Challenge 2008 on board his Twister class yacht, Helix.

The journey starts here…

Beaching Legs, Tides & Bilge Keel Yachts

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on January 16, 2010

I was reading an interesting thread last night, I think it was on the cruiser’s forum, which was started by a chap asking if people ever intentionally ran aground or beached their boats. It struck me that many of the American posters on the thread had never so much as seen some beaching legs, let alone bilge keels. It seems they just didn’t get the tides or need the space to ever let a boat dry out on the beach. Not like the British coast where large tides and little space mean we squeeze little boats onto every available inch of harbour mud between tides.

I’m not really going anywhere with this, it just struck me how alien some concepts which we take for granted could be to people and made me wonder what we might be unaware of just because it’s not a necessity over here?

Achilles 24 For Sale

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on January 15, 2010

A friend of mine is selling an Achilles 24 for a very reasonable £2500. Take a look on ebay here.

Achilles 24 "Elver"

Achilles 24 "Elver"

They’re supposed to be very competent little cruising yachts. Unfortunately I’ve never had the pleasure of sailing her, but I’ve sailed with her owner a few times and he knows what he’s doing so she’s probably quite a sorted boat.

Thoughts About Thinking About Small Multihulls

Posted in General Boating Stuff, Sailing by Joseph Moore on October 25, 2009

Or in other words – stuff to consider when doing things differently.

I’ve become a bit of a multihull convert this year. They’d always seemed a bit superfluous before now – after all, a boat will float just as well with one hull as it will with two or three. Yet after one ride on a catamaran I was utterly hooked. It was fast, stable, easy to handle and very comfortable.

It’s not always easy to get a sensible answer about boats though. Everybody has their own ideas about what constitutes a good boat and the internet forum battles will probably rage on until the end of the universe debating whether keelboats sink more often than multihulls capsize.

As a dinghy sailor with somewhat nonexistent cashflow and a desire to get afloat in something with a little more space, primarily to cruise with friends and have a few adventures, I’ve been doing an awful lot of “umming and arring” about the right path to take.

Multihulls vs. monohulls

I think this debate actually predates boats themselves, or at least it might as well do – it’s that boring. Both have their merits and it really depends what you want to get from your sailing. I’ve been fortunate enough to sail a fair few dinghies and yachts over the years from a Topper to a Rebel 41 and every single one has their place.

Monohulls sink? Sure, if you buy a badly built boat and don’t maintain it.

Multihulls capsize? Sure, if you push too hard and don’t put a reef in when the wind picks up.

My decision will largely be governed by my wallet and the empty cavern that lies within, but where there’s a will to go boating, there’s a way.

Start with the obvious

It’s usually advisable to start with the easy option before diving into the unknown, so I’ve been looking at small monohull keelboats. There are literally countless different models to consider here, but you can split them into roughly two categories easily enough:

Trailer Sailers are typically under 23 feet, often with bilge keels to allow drying out on the mud and berthing at cheaper marinas which is definitely a plus point. The trailerable aspect is great if you’ve got a suitable vehicle – you can bring it home for the winter or take it somewhere different for a change of scenery. The engine is usually an outboard as well, which can be a real plus point. New engines can be expensive if they go wrong, but small outboards are readily available and can be bolted on nice and quickly.

Popular choices include the Corribee and Pandora, both of which are very pretty boats, although something like a Hurley Silhouette is probably one of the cheapest ways to get afloat.

Small ‘Proper’ Yachts are exactly what the name implies. Usually too large or heavy to be easily trailerable, with a fin keel restricting them to deeper water and marina berthing. You start getting a lot more crammed into a boat as soon as you reach 24′ – separate heads, a proper dining table – real luxury.

There’s a huge choice in this section of the market, but you’re looking at about twice the price of a trailer sailer to buy, plus the inevitable increase in mooring fees. I quite like the look of the Eygthene 24 and Ecume De Mer but the list really could go on and on.

So, the verdict on that lot? Realistically I’d go for a Corribee. They’re pretty little boats with their long overhangs and underhung rudder. A proven, seaworthy boat which can be picked up easily for under £2000 in need of a tidy up. But is it the ideal solution?

The multihull alternative

For the price range I’ve got in mind, buying a multihull is never going to happen. They’re simply too rare, relatively speaking, to lose that much value. Building a boat is an option though. I’d never bother with a monohull – there are plenty available for little money second hand – but it could be the only way to make a multi a viable alternative.

For the length we’re talking about, trimarans are really the only viable option. Small catamarans are usually no more than a shed plonked on the bridgedeck which looks awful and gives a lot of unwanted windage. A tri’s cabin may be small, but at least it’s fairly aerodynamic which is important in a boat that should be doing 15kts routinely. Couple that with the ability to dissemble or fold the akas to trailer the boat it all seems a bit of a winner.

I think despite being an old design, the Buccaneer 24 is a superb boat offering a good mix of simple cheap construction, space and boat speed.

Pros and cons

So it really comes down to a small bilge keel monohull or a small trimaran suitable for shed building on a budget.

In favour of the monohull: Cheap to buy, no lengthy build process, more cabin space, narrow beam means easy to berth.

In favour of the multihull: Much faster boat speed increases cruising grounds, more space for sunbathing (I’ve been assured this is very important), shallow draft.

Both obviously have their merits, but personally I’m leaning towards the multihull – it all depends on the cost and practicality for berthing a 20′ wide boat in the average harbour. I guess at least she’d be happy on the mud and need very little water to go sailing. Given the fact that most of my boating will be weekend jaunts and inshore racing, if there’s serious offshore sailing to be done I’ll be enjoying the comfort of a much larger yacht.

I’m sure there will be more things that cross my mind over the coming weeks, but I’ll publish this now, else it’ll never get finished…

Another Buccaneer 24 Video

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on October 17, 2009

This is a really good video for anyone interested in the Buccaneer 24 Trimaran designed by Lock Crowther (What a cool name! Sounds like a pirate… actually I believe he’s an aircraft engineer). I’ve become a little obsessed with these simple little cruising trimarans lately, but haven’t got a hope in hell of seeing one in the flesh as I don’t know of any here in the UK.

Study plans and photos can only tell you so much and this video really fills in the gaps about how everything goes together, how big it is, how it sails, where useful places to keep stuff are etc.

I’m warning you now though, if you’re not curious about any of that, you’ll be bored to tears.

Got a real itch to build one now – I guess I have since I saw a couple of small trimarans anchored in the shallows off the south beach at Studland Bay earlier this summer. It just seemed a much more preferable way of arriving than the big yachts and motor cruisers way out in the bay, all struggling to get their tenders out to come ashore. The guy simply took his shoes and socks off, hopped off the back and paddled onto the beach to get an ice cream from the hut.

Arguably I could spend probably a lot less money and buy something that needs a refit, but nothing I can afford will have much space or speed. The Westerly 22 for sale not far from me is a prime example – it’s in reasonable nick, decent sized cabin, fairly seaworthy and strong little yacht – the sensible choice, but it just doesn’t excite me. Ok, speed isn’t everything, but it is useful to extend your cruising grounds and scare your friends.

The Lure of a Small Yacht

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on October 13, 2009

I’ve been watching a lot of Dylan’s Keep Turning Left videos and following Nathan On Kudu lately. If I had a little more money to spare I’d be trawling the boatyards now for a trailerable small yacht to have some adventures of my own on. There are a couple of little boats in need of a refit on sale for under a grand right now. The temptation is killing me…