Boats & Gear

NEEL 45: Living Large on a Trimaran

Neel 45 under sail

Theoretically, I was to spend all day Monday testing boats after the "multi-cocks" show in Lorient, but the weather was so foul everyone cancelled on me. Instead I managed to cram in a couple of short tests during the last day of the show, including one on the new Neel 45, an intriguing trimaran that tries to fit cat-sized cruising accommodations into a three-hulled format.

This is not a new concept. Early cruising tris, those slab-sided beasts built of plywood back in the 1960s, tried to pull off this trick by pushing sleeping spaces into the bridgedecks connecting the main hull to the amas. These boats proved to be a bit too heavy and unwieldy to sail as well as a trimaran should and were also fragile. You might recall the disintegration of Nigel Tetley's Piver-designed Victress during the Golden Globe Race in 1969, or the less-well-publicized fracturing of a plywood tri sailed by cruisers Val and Ernest Haigh some years later.

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BAMBA 50: Catamaran Motorsailer

Bamba 50 under sail

Yo peeps. I'm tapping this out in the wind-blown town of Lorient, France, where I spent all day yesterday browsing through a small, but very interesting boat show, Les Salons du Multicoque. This is a special presentation of multihulls, containing some very cutting-edge boats, that flops back and forth between Brittany and the Med. Ironically, one of the boats I found most interesting was this new Bamba 50, a catamaran motorsailing trawler built right near here in La Rochelle. It serves as a trenchant reminder that the "edge" in boat design can cut more ways than one.

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FIBERGLASS BOATBUILDING: Deck Hardware

Sailboat deck

This is an area of fiberglass sailboat construction that many owners ultimately become interested in, either because deck hardware installations on their boat start leaking, or because they decide to replace and upgrade hardware. Unfortunately, it is also an area where some builders often try to streamline their methods to save time and money, particularly when it comes to installing hardware such as winches, cleats, genoa tracks, travelers, stanchion bases, and the like.

As we've discussed earlier in this series, almost all fiberglass decks are cored these days, which presents two problems any time a deck is penetrated to receive a hardware fastener. First, the core must not be crushed; second, it must not be exposed to any moisture. Given the enormous number of fasteners needed to secure deck hardware and the enormous loads some hardware carries, it should come as no surprise that hardware installation is both critical and troublesome.

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NONSUCH 30: A Modern-Day Catboat With a Wishbone Rig

Nonsuch 30 under sail

The Nonsuch 30 was the first and most successful of the Nonsuch line of una-rigged cruising catboats built by Hinterhoeller Yachts of Ontario, Canada, from 1978 to 1994. Designed by Mark Ellis at the instigation of Gordon Fisher, a famous Canadian racing sailor who wanted a fast, easy-to-handle cruising boat for his retirement, this boat in particular and its four siblings (the Nonsuch 22, 26, 33, and 36) are among the most popular alternative-rigged production boats ever built. In all a total of 975 Nonsuchs were launched over the years; of these 522 were 30-footers. The Nonsuch remains a popular cult boat and its very active owners' organization, the International Nonsuch Association (INA), has over 700 current Nonsuch owners enrolled on its lists.

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LANGSKIP 55: A Viking Longship Yacht

Langskip 55

Wanna-be Viking voyagers (e.g., Jarle Andhoey) who are daunted at the prospect of having to plunder and pillage in open boats can heave a sigh of relief. At last someone has had the vision to both design and build a modern-day Norse longship with comfortable interior accommodations and contemporary amenities. The visionary in question is Sigurjon Jonsson of the Skipavik shipyard in Stykkisholmur, Iceland, which has been building fishing boats since 1928. This beautiful and extremely unusual Langskip 55, the first yacht ever built at Skipavik, was conceived by Sigurjon as a versatile world-class cruising boat that can both cross oceans and wander up shallow rivers and inland waterways with impunity. Cruisers with a sense of history take note: these are the very same attributes that allowed Norse sailors to make such a nuisance of themselves during the Middle Ages.

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ALLIED PRINCESS 36: A Robust Cruising Ketch

Allied Princess

The Princess 36, built by the long defunct Allied Boat Company up the Hudson River in Catskill, New York, is a robust character ketch that does not pretend to be anything other than a simple, comfortable cruising boat. In truth, it is a boat only a cruiser could love. Designed by Arthur Edmunds and first introduced in 1972, the Princess enjoyed a 10-year production run during which about 140 hulls were built, which likely makes it the most successful boat produced by Allied during its 22 years of existence (1962-84).

Of all the boats Allied built--including the Luders 33, sailed by the famous boy-circumnavigator Robin Lee Graham; the Seawind 30, first fiberglass boat to circumnavigate; and the Seabreeze 35, a very handy CCA cruiser-racer--the Princess is the one that still commands the most loyal following among modern cruising sailors.

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BLUEWATER SAILING ON A BUDGET: Selecting and Preparing a Boat

Pearson Alberg 35

Much has been written on the subject of preparing a boat to go offshore. It seems most of this literature is now focused on affluent types who aspire to live as profligately afloat as they do ashore, but it's important to remember you can in fact explore the watery parts of our planet in a boat of your own without spending huge sums of money. As an illustration of what's possible, I thought I might tell the sordid tale of how I bought and equipped my first bluewater sailboat.

I purchased Crazy Horse in Connecticut in the fall of 1994 expressly for the purpose of taking her offshore on a North Atlantic circle cruise to West Africa and back. She was a 1964 Pearson Alberg 35, built in Bristol, Rhode Island, and cost me all of $28,500.

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ETAP YACHTS: Surviving the 2012 Apocalypse (and Bankruptcy?)

World destruction and ETAP Yachts

What if the Mayans were right? What if the world as we know it really does come to an end on December 21, 2012? If it's true, one of the only ways you'll be able to survive is aboard an unsinkable sailboat from Belgian boatbuilder ETAP. This according to doomsday prophet Patrick Geryl.

You remember ETAP, right? They were marketing their unique, rather innovative cruising sailboats here in the U.S. until the economy fell off a cliff in 2008. The big selling point on these boats was their double-skinned foam-filled hulls, which made it impossible for them to sink, even when filled with water.

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MORGAN OUT ISLAND 41: The Original Charter Barge

Morgan Out Island 41

The legendary designer/builder Charley Morgan allegedly conceived this boat in a fit of pique when the IOR supplanted the old CCA rule as the racing rating rule du jour back in 1970. If so, it was an auspicious tantrum, as the Out Island 41 turned out to be an extremely successful boat and ultimately helped transform the business of fiberglass sailboat production. The OI 41 was not only one of the first designs targeted at the emerging bareboat charter industry, it was also one of the first center-cockpit boats and one of the first to blatantly discount sailing performance in favor of maximum accommodation space.

As such, the OI 41 is a boat many serious sailors love to hate--for its bulky plastic appearance, for its less than mediocre performance, and for the profound change it wrought in mass-production priorities. It is also, however, still much loved and prized among more pragmatic cruisers who value comfort, space, and nice low purchase prices.

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