September 9, 2013
What makes a good cruising boat? Mark responds.
Mark Edwards cruises the yacht Relapse with his family- the Young design featured in the last post. He's on limited internet access cruising in Indonesia, but had some thoughts to share in response to the questions and misconceptions about the suitability of Relapse for cruising.
I’d like to address the main comments from your readers about our yacht, RELAPSE.
A little bit of history first. I built the boat on two principals: KISS (keep it simple), and KIC (keep it cheap). The boat is composite E glass with very little carbon, and engineered to NZ survey standards- about 2.5 times ABS scantlings. The boat was designed as a race boat way back in 1989 (yes, ’89, a boat well ahead of her time). But alas, she wasn't built until Jim Young sold me the plans in 2006 saying it would make a great performance cruising boat for today. Who could argue with the man’s pedigree, having helped many young NZ designers over the years including Bruce Farr and Greg Elliott on their career paths.
The main comments were about the size of the transom (directional stability in a following sea), immersing the bow, the twin rudders, seaworthiness and 9 foot draught. They are all directly related to one another.
The rudders are extremely large at 1.8 m deep and 500 fore and aft, set at an angle of approximately 22 degrees off vertical at about 1.5 metres off the centre line. As the boat heels, the rudders pick up efficiency and the leeward one is deeply buried in the water with no ventilation to stall it out. Therefore as you start to load it up it works more efficiently, not less, as would be the case with a conventional single rudder. The helm is very light so the auto pilot has very little load- we use B&G, the same one that is on the open 60s. The steering wheels and rudders are set up as independent units on each side, linked with a bar. If any part breaks you can just step across the cockpit and use the other wheel - a useful redundancy! It’s a bit more drag for a heap of control, and on a cruising boat- drag, who cares?
Note: I don’t think it would be anywhere near as good a boat with a single rudder. The boat works as a complete package.
Relapse doesn’t have a fine waterline, and the flare / volume in the bow on deck is huge. It is not an upwind boat with a narrow foredeck and waterline, it is a reaching running boat, the flare holding the bow up as it heels or is lifted by the sea. Running downwind we have never buried the bow, even at the bottom of a sea swell in 60 knots of wind. We have never broached the boat, even when running an unbalanced sail plan, with wind and sea at 135 degrees (supposedly a big assed boat’s worse point of sail) and just a triple reefed main in 45 knots.
Nine foot draught? Well you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs there are some places you can’t go, but that’s a price I’m happy to pay. In two and a half years of cruising we can count on one hand the times it has prevented us from going somewhere.
Note: put a lifting keel in, and you could draw 1.8 m - problem solved, but you have to build an interior round it.
To summarize: The boat is easy to sail, goes exceptionally well in light winds, and does high averages in the trades with the transition to planing being very smooth. With the boat not doing the traditional fast slow in the wave peaks and troughs.
A fast passage is a good passage especially to or from NZ. The crew arrives relatively fresh and has not had to weather the mandatory one or two gales a slower boat will in all likelihood encounter.
99% of the time it’s the crew that limit the seaworthiness of the boat not the design or type of boat.
from the yacht RELAPSE-
Mark, Catherine, Ash and Cameron
PS We have never had water in the cockpit.
One other point I want to call on here that mark touches on in the beginning is that this boat was built partly on the basis of KIC: Keep It Cheap. A number of comments here and on our Facebook page suggested that you had to win the lottery or have a big bank account to have a boat like this. It's just not true. Granted, we can't all have the skills that Mark does to built it yourself. But even if you don't, consider this: the hardware is almost entirely second hand- gear retired from racing boats. So are the sails, and even the mast- taken from a TP52 rig. The engine is a $1500 truck engine much as it might be easy to make the assumption- the way Mark did it, this was not a high budget boat out of reach for most cruisers.
Thoughtful comments appreciated.