Every now and again I get a question a few times from friends or blog readers, and when I get them often enough I like to turn my responses into blog articles to let others weigh in. Here’s one I get a lot and one I’ve seen on the Hylas Facebook page:
Question: how should we run the staysail sheets? We can’t seem to get it to trim correctly.
I just finished winterizing Rover after she was re-hauled after a successful sea trial. Both we and the prospective buyers are awaiting the written survey results but we got no reports of any major blockers over the two days of survey, which means that barring any left-field events that cause the buyers to change their mind, Rover is very likely to move on to her new owners. That in turn means that apart from cleaning up the mess I made today winterizing and putting all of her hatch and handrail covers back on this coming Saturday, I may have completed my last Rover projects.
How will she do without me as Chief Engineer?
How will I learn to accept that she doesn’t need me anymore?
Rover is back in the water this weekend for a sea trail tomorrow for a buyer candidate! Each evening this week I have been aboard while she has been on land on the jack stands, winterizing various system in advance of very cold weather expected later this coming week (some of these systems have been un-winterized for the sea trial. Ugh!). It’s been a great bonding experience to be aboard showing her love and care – just us two, bonding one-on-one. It really has been a privilege to serve as Chief Engineer on this special boat, and as much as I might have complained at times when we had more problems than were convenient, if I am honest deep down I really enjoyed the responsibility of taking care of Rover and her array of sophisticated systems. Just look at the images I snapped over the last two days – look at the sheer beauty and the artistry of this design. She represents a totally lost art in yacht design outside of just one or two models left in production that come anywhere near her standard of style and workmanship.
We are through the sluggish summer season for boat sales, and the fall boat show season is almost upon us! So the time is right for us to double down on getting as much attention as possible on Rover with the help of our brokers, David Walters Yachts. Rover is the best Hylas 54 currently on the market and arguably one of the best 54s Hylas ever built. Look for a stream of new media to be coming out from David Walters on Rover as we get closer to the United States Sailboat Show here in Annapolis next month! For now, enjoy this terrific walk through of Rover by Erik Haaland, our broker with David Walters. If you haven’t been aboard Rover you will feel like you have been after watching this one! Erik does a terrific job of describing what makes Rover such a unique example of this legendary German Frers design.
We have been sailing on the Chesapeake for the last 26 years, but only in the last seven or so have we been broadening our horizons by sailing for considerable periods in other venues such as New England, Florida and the Caribbean. Those other venues give us direct access and exposure to the open ocean, which means much larger waves – especially when it’s windy. In all of the prior years on the Bay, I don’t think we fully appreciated the privilege of the Bay’s protected waters.
The Hylas 54 / 56 did not come with an owner’s manual, so over several seasons of operating both models we decided to write our own! The first checklist items in this runbook are intended for new owners who are unfamiliar with the boat and just want reminders of what to do at that moment when you first arrive at the boat and would like to get underway. After a little while much of this will be second nature but as a new owner this checklist will help you get you a jump start on operating your Hylas. The latter portions of the document includes various tips that will help you get up to speed as your Hylas’ new Chief Engineer!
An important caveat to this runbook: our experiences are based on roughly 7,000 passage making miles as owners of Hylas 54 #43 and roughly 3,000 miles as racing crew aboard Hylas 56 #19. Both boats were commissioned in relatively standard fashion when built and neither had extensive modifications to their electrical or mechanical systems. As such owners of yachts with significant modifications will need to modify the runbook accordingly.
Yes, you read that right! A very lucky buyer is about to get one special boat! This news may come as a surprise to followers of this blog but you can believe us when we say this is good news and all four of us are really excited about it.
We have been based in St. Martin for the 2022 winter season since early January, and holy cow, does the Hylas 54 shine bright here. Unlike our New England summers, for the first half of the season we have been primarily living at a slip on Simpson Bay in St. Martin, having taken two one-week cruises to see St. Barts and St. Kitts / Nevis, respectively. For the second half we will be traveling much more consistently and will mostly be at anchor or on moorings. But our cruising so far has shown me that a winter in the Caribbean is literally the perfect environment for these big Hylas boats. With a “town water” hookup and three air conditioning zones, life at the slip is easy and divine. But down here these boats really shine when you leave the dock!
Like the “vacation week” I tried to take during our cruise last year, last week was a “character builder” for me when it comes to the live-aboard lifestyle. We continue to wait for the part needed to get our main engine operational again, which could take three weeks to arrive from Japan – although the actual delivery time is a total unknown since the mechanic sent the pump to a rebuilding shop, who ordered the part from a distributor, who ordered the part from Yanmar. So chock up the arrival time on that part – and the continuation of our cruise – to “?????.” Note to Yanmar: you suck for not offering this pump for sale anymore. There are tons of us out here with this engine!
In the meantime we have been on the mooring and taking advantage of Newport, but last week things took a turn downhill on the mechanical side. Unless we want to be towed to a VERY expensive Newport slip, we are 100% dependent on the generator for power. And with water running low early in the week, I planned to commission the water maker, which also relies 100% on the generator and will dramatically increase it’s scheduled runtimes. On Monday the generator started to stall during the evening charge. By Tuesday morning it was becoming so unreliable that I shut it down to investigate the problem – easily ruling out clogged fuel filters since I had recently replaced both. I traced the issue to a dead fuel lift pump – a part that, luckily, I found was in stock at the local NAPA, which meant a shore crew could be sent in to fetch it and I was able to install it after work. Problem solved, but not without some stress and very good luck that this pump was in stock because it is also used on old carbureted cars. Since they had two in stock, we bought both to have a spare onboard.
There are two fascinating difference between our prior boat, the Sabre 42 (and most similar coastal cruisers) and our current Hylas 54 from the standpoint of automatic bilge pumps. The first big difference: on our Sabre, a variety of sources would cause the (single) automatic bilge pump to run regularly quite apart from any leaks that would be alarming to the crew or a threat to the vessel. For example, rainwater would run down the center of the mast into the bilge which could cause the bilge pump to run periodically during rainy periods. Also, the Sabre’s air conditioning and refrigeration drained condensate directly to the bilge (neither of which were particularly desirable) which would trigger automated draining of the bilge by the pump. Whatever the cause, while aboard we regularly would hear the bilge pump run and therefore had an awareness that that the bilge pump worked.