With Rover hauled out at Jabins for some projects and a new coat of bottom paint, Lisa and I are surfing YachtWorld and giving a little thought to what our next boat might be. We aren’t going to be serious buyers until we have a firm offer on Rover, but it’s never too early to start window shopping! Our focus is on two of the more recent, Jim Taylor designed Sabres: the 426 and the 402.
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.
Linked here is a story about two fatalities aboard a cruising boat that was returning from the Caribbean this winter. We heard about this tragedy through personal channels in the cruising community, and now an article has been written about it. Escape was docked next to us in St. Martin this winter, and we had briefly met Karl and Annamarie.
We think it is super important that articles like this be published so that the entire sailing community can reflect on incidents and hopefully learn from them. Here are my personal reflections:
In shopping for our own ocean passage maker, we quickly decided to avoid designs with main sheets led to the cockpit because of precisely this risk – that they can injure crew or damage other equipment in a gybe or a situation like this. This rigging arrangement is best left to race boats. We see a number of design traits in contemporary “passage makers” that are motivated more by marketing and style than by seaworthiness.
As I read the story – and I could be wrong – it appears that Karl was really the only person on board who could lead the group through maneuvers like reefing. The CNB 66 is a huge boat, so for open ocean passages at least one other senior leader should be aboard who is thoroughly familiar with all of the systems and the choreography of maneuvers, and preferably more than just one additional senior leader. In this situation Karl had to both execute procedures and serve as crew chief choreographing. He was over extended.
I hate to point fingers reading a story like this, but we can only learn from them when we do. In this situation the helmsman had no need to go head-to-wind while the genoa was being reefed – indeed, it is preferable not to. A close hauled or even beam reach angle is fine for reefing or furling a headsail. Karl should have given more clear instructions to the helmsman about staging the reefing – first the headsail at a close-hauled angle, then head to wind for the main. Going head-to-wind too quickly is the root cause of this accident, and the responsibility for that decision is jointly shared between the helmsman for doing it and by Karl for failing to correct him.
Piecing together the incident, I am inclined to believe that the helmsman not only came head to wind before it was desirable, but did so too quickly – quickly enough that Annamarie was not able to get the mainsheet in quickly enough to prevent the boom from swinging wildly back and forth. The moment the boom began to swing uncontrollably, a more experienced helmsman would have recognized the danger and fallen back off to prevent the wild motion of the boom and give Annamarie more time to grind in the sheet.
Given the spirited weather conditions, the helmsman probably came head to wind too quickly due to the anxiety of the situation. As weather conditions deteriorate, it is vital to manage our anxiety, slow down, and be very thoughtful about maneuvers.
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.
If you are lucky enough to be able to spend a season in St. Martin, be sure to join the St. Martin Yacht Club. Dues are very inexpensive, you get a discount on food and drinks and, best of all, the proceeds of your dues go to training the next generation of local sailors. Another major perk: you get to take out the Club’s dinghies! They have excellent trainers like the RS Zest I have been taking out, in addition to other other offerings like Lasers.
I’ve gone out sailing in the lagoon three times now, each time in gusty winds ranging from 0 to massive 30 knots gusts (seriously – the breeze here is really up and down)! It’s terrific practice and instantly brough me back to that giddy, child-like excitement one feels when a dinghy accelerates in an instant and hops up on a plane. The sea state in the lagoon is also very flat, making for an excellent training ground.
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!
I hate to have back to back negative posts but my readers know I love 1980s Sabres and I have a particular affinity for Sabre 42 since I owned and loved one for several years. These are beautiful, well made boats that will easily live 50, 60, 70 years with a minimum level of care. In my estimation they are halfway between products and works of art.
Last week I got the awful news that the J/29 I loved and cared for from 1996 through 2002 was abandoned by its owner in the Ferry Point marina. The marina took over the title of the boat and discovered that she had filled up with rainwater while sitting on land, destroying the interior. When boat yards are in a situation where they have taken title to a worthless boat, they cut them up and have them hauled off to the dump to free up space for paying customers. That is what happened to my poor baby.
I found out because over the years I have kept in touch with the guy who owned her before the last owner. As it happens I had travelled to see her a couple of times in recent years and I knew she had fallen into neglect. When I saw her in 2018 right after we sold Le Saberage she was in the water and had obviously not been sailed in many months or even years. I asked Peter to put me in touch with her owner to see if I could help fix her up and get her sold. The owner, who was reputed to be in poor health, never responded to Peter.