messing about in boats

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.

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Being In The Middle Of Nowhere On A Nautiner 30

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on November 2, 2009

I was just reminiscing of a weekend I spent on a Nautiner 30 last summer. I was crewing on a demo boat for Adrian who imports them (they’re Polish built), racing in some RORC offshore channel race. I can’t remember exactly which one, but it did involve us beating against the tide from Cowes to Lymingon, then running back against the tide down to Selsey (I’d been elected to sheet the huge assymetric spinnaker with the cheese-wire sheets – ouch) before heading out across the channel almost to Cherbourg.

Nautiner 30

Nautiner 30 photo nicked from Adrian's website

I’ve never been out in the middle of the channel before. I’ve done a few cruises across large bays before now. In fact, I do remember sailing a Westerly Conway across Lyme Bay in thick fog which was quite surreal. Anyway, back to the weekend on the Nautiner. We were doing 2hr shifts if I remember rightly and as the sun had just set we could still see the Isle of Wight behind us and I went below to get my head down. 2hrs later I clambered into my foul weather gear and out on deck to be greeted by Ben at the wheel who just smiled and said “look up”. It was a crystal clear night with a good breeze and millions of stars in the sky. I get so used to not seeing that many stars where I live, relatively close to the orange glow of London, but we’d come far enough in the few hours I’d been kipping to leave the glow of Portsmouth far behind. It was just us, stars and the navigation lights of the ships making their way up and down the channel.

I’ve got to say as well, I love being in the pulpit at night. During the day it’s all too easy to see the crashing waves below you as the boat surges through the water, but at night it all seems less scary. Clipped on of course, it’s just you and your little red head torch being bounced around while you hank on the bigger jib as the winds die.

Dawn was a fairly peaceful affair. I elected to get my head down for a while as broken sleep does me no favours whatsoever. I get grumpy and in the worst case, nauseous, which given the gentle sea at the time, was a bit ridiculous. When I emerged back on deck at breakfast time it was something else. The sun was beating down with real ferocity and the wind had completely died. Here we were, slap bang in the middle of the channel and there wasn’t so much as a ripple. Not even enough to make any noise against the side of the boat. Add to that, no land in sight, not even any ships in sight. It was utterly, utterly brilliant.

Boat Database

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on October 30, 2009

Well, it’s mostly in French, so it’s actually a catalogue des voiliers, but I’ve been having a look around the Nautical Trek boat catalogue today and there are a lot of boats listed with some good photos and basic information for all of them, grouped by type and length. There is a button to read the site in English, but it only really extends to the overview page not to the boat pages themselves. Still, good effort guys – handy tool.

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…

Hibernating Yacht

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on October 22, 2009
Mystery Yacht

Mystery Yacht

I had to park my Land Rover in a nearby industrial estate last night as there was no space in the little cul-de-sac where the flat is. Wandered in there this morning, half expecting to see she’d been clamped or something, but got a nice surprise. No clamp, just a gorgeous yacht parked up on a trailer.

At first glance I thought she was an Ecume De Mer, but there’s not enough overhang at the transom. Whatever she is, those are some very pretty lines. She’s only just turned up so I guess she’s there for the winter.

If she’s yours, please please please take me sailing next summer!

Mystery Yacht Stern

Mystery Yacht Stern

Mystery Yacht Bow

Mystery Yacht Bow

The People’s Boat

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on October 14, 2009

I stumbled across The People’s Boat this morning – it’s a neat concept, similar to the Million Dollar Homepage idea. People or companies can buy a 25sqcm ‘pixel’ on the boat (a class 40) which will compete in the Portimao Global Ocean Race 2011-2012. Once the race is over, skipper Alex Alley will auction the boat off for charity. Don’t know which charity – that’s still to be decided – but I guess it’s early days yet. If money gets raised for charity and Alex gets to go sailing for a year, then that’s all good by me. Get involved if you can!

The People's Boat - Sailing For Charity

The People's Boat - Sailing For Charity

Solent Sailing – August Bank Holiday

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on September 25, 2009

A friend of mine has a Van De Stadt Rebel 41 moored down in Southampton and plans were laid to take her across to the Channel Islands for a couple of days over the bank holiday weekend.

Thursday night saw forecasts of strong winds so discrection being the better part of valour we opted to stay put and stuff our faces with pizza. Friday dawned to some pretty serious southwesterly gales and big waves making their way all the way up the solent with no sign of letting up: looked like going to sea wasn’t the best idea. Cue a weekend of cruising around the solent just enjoying being on the water, taking photos and getting a bit salty.

Sailing to the Needles

Sailing to the Needles

Sailing in the Solent - rough weather

Sailing in the Solent - rough weather

Moored in Lymington

Moored in Lymington