Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Stadt 34

Stadt 34 in Cruise Mode!
Design 391 from Stadt Design is dated 1981 on their website. It carries much of the DNA of the Stadt range until then - good sea boats, modern underbodies, simple sloop rigs, relatively narrow, and quite conventional. Accommodation is much improved over many previous Stadt designs such as RCODs, Doggers etc. This design was drawn without undue consideration for the various rating systems that often compromise good sea boats, as were most Stadts in fact. Nor is it a charter boat. It is a good fast sea boat, suitable for offshore racing or cruising.

Stadt Design claim this was their first design "where the computer played the title role".  As such it is a very well proportioned boat, conventional and moderate, but very well optimised. It's the kind of boat where you can't really think of anything to change. The design allows for various materials - steel, aluminium, or GRP hulls - home built (multi-chine), or otherwise. It offers either a racing rig (fractional), or a cruising rig with masthead Genoa. The underside shows a fin keel and generous spade rudder.

Simple Racing or Cruising Rig.
Steel, hard chine version has good lines.

Generous spade rudder. Moderate stern. Moderate Beam.
The majority of the Stadt 34s around Cape Town are steel (multi-chine) or GRP. Their club handicaps range from 0.94 to 0.98 (depending on rig and hull material), and are much faster than one would expect, especially when the wind is up. As a testament to their sailing performance, two Stadt 34s finished 2nd and 3rd in the recent Governors Cup Race (2013). The winner was also a Stadt (RCOD). Now admittedly this was on corrected time, but if memory serves the first two on handicap were also first over the line, and the first Stadt 34 beat a well campaigned Farr 38/40... Perhaps a bit exceptional due to tactics and the misfortune of some other entrants, but it does show these boats are no slouches.

How do they compare with other 34s in the local market? 

In South Africa, the best 34s to chose from include the DiDi 34, and the L34 covered elsewhere in this blog. They are all excellent boats, and many buyers would chose on price and availability. The DiDi 34 is the latest design, and the fastest of the three by some margin. There are not many available yet but they are available as a very nice kit in ply-epoxy for home building. The L34 is likely the most popular as a production boat in GRP, and a good fast all-rounder. A cruising version also exists as the Holiday 34. These are fast and seaworthy and also great all-rounders. The Stadt 34 is an older design but still very contemporary, and some very recent builds available. Often built in steel, it is often the choice of serious cruisers and is a very good sea boat. The RCYC club handicaps (showing the highest) for these three are as follows: DiDi 34 at 1.025, L34 at 1.015, and the Stadt 34 at 0.98. Bear in mind that the steel Stadts are significantly heavier and have the shortest waterlines. Spoilt for choice....

Stadt 34 Vitals:
  • LOA 10.25
  • LWL 8.0
  • Beam 3.3
  • Disp (Steel) 5-400 Kgs Ballast 1-800 Kgs
  • Disp (Alu) 4-500 Kgs Ballast 2-000 Kgs
  • Disp Wood 4-500 Kgs Ballast 2-000 Kgs
  • Draft 1.8m (fixed keel) or 1.3m (lifting centreplate)

The Alu and Wood versions have similar weights and ballast ratios to the L34, although a bit more than the Didi 34. I suspect the GRP versions will be similar to the Wood and Alu as well. For racing and upwind sailing this would be useful, while for cruising and downwind sailing steel will be fine.
Nicely finished example. Centre walkway open.

Heads with option for shower. Full chart Table.Engine under the steps (good and bad!)
Nice sized saloon. Note the shoal draft keel option.

Small secure cockpit, nice for shorthanding.
Simple tiller steering.
Well served by an elegant canvas dodger.
Definitely worth a look if you find a good one. At time of writing this one looks very  tempting on Gumtree, as does this one!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Holiday 23

H23 with a reef in, enjoying a bit of a breeze at Saldanha I think.

A neat Holiday 23, perfect for Langebaan!
Extraordinarily spacious "liveaboard" interior.
Well thought out galley, with two-burner plus icebox.
Standing headroom (nearly).
The Holiday 23 is really something of a small miracle. Full live-aboard space, standing headroom, shoal draft, easily trailerable with a decent car, good looks, capable coastal sailboat, and quite affordable, all at once. 

Brilliantly conceived (Jerrold Salomon), brilliantly designed (Angelo Lavranos), and very well built (John Robertson). The link on "Jerrold Salomon" is a  good read and directs to the H23 Class Association website. A huge amount of thought went into this concept and design, and it shows in the product. The design brief went something like this:
  • Be able to tow it legally behind a car with engine strength of 2.5L or more
  • It must have a lift keel
  • The average person must be able almost stand up straight in the boat
  • Proper Bellamy mast and boom
  • North Sails
  • Heads
  • Storage space for a cooler box
  • Ample storage for mooring lines, etc.
  • Price at that of an average family car
  • Woodwork inside had to be teak with proper cushions for the bunks. 
Clean and simple. Fractional Bermudan rig.
Transom mounted rudder adds space all round.

Retractable keel. Rudder is cassette mounted on the transom and can be raised.
Two plate gas burner, Portaloo. Enclosed V-berth up front.
Easily powered with 5-15 h.p. outboard.
More info on www.holiday23.co.za

Building of the first H23 started in 1983. By 1991, 189 had been produced, and the class is still very active in various parts of South Africa, including the Gariep Dam (Vaal), Hartebeespoort Dam, Langebaan, Port Owen, Theewaterskloof, Knysna, Richards Bay etc. Quite a few can be spotted in False Bay and Table Bay on occasion. They tend to move around quite a bit - being easily trailerable. 

Sailing performance is surprisingly good in lighter and moderate conditions. They handle well and are easy to sail. In fresh conditions they want to be well reefed with crew on the rail, but will still "get you home" without much trouble.

A common question about small boats is what kind of passage they would be good for? This all depends on who you ask! Anthony Steward (who circumnavigated in a 19' open boat) tends to answer this differently from normal people, but in truth it depends largely on the skipper. Having said that, The Holiday 23 would be regarded as a bit light for true offshore passages, or the Cape South Coast, but I would say quite suitable for short coastal hops from say False Bay to Langebaan in reasonable conditions. The size and ballast ratios etc make it ideal for estuaries and bays, with occasional coastal passages. 

Low and snug on the custom trailer.
Easy towing and easy launching/recovery.
A four-wheel trailer is a blessing,
 and insurance against failed wheel-bearings.
The H23 package is a very broad offering. Besides being a nice sailing boat, it is a practical weekend getaway to many folk. Being trailerable, it can serve as a caravan en-route, and makes a great holiday toy (reverse pun?!). Being able to remove the boat from the water for maintenance and storage is also a great plus, and saves unwanted marina bills and lifting charges normal for other keel boats.

V-berth up front, enclosed.

For me, the most outstanding feature of the H23 is just how liveable it really is. It's hard to explain unless you go inside one - the neatly moulded interior is very pleasant, spacious and comfortable. You really have everything you need in a minimalist sort of way. For a couple, this would be a very good option in areas with decent waterways, and the shoal draft and demountable rig would make it very suitable for river or canal cruising too. 

In South Africa, sailing boats under 9 metres LOA do not require a licensed skipper, nor the annual Certificate of Fitness rigmarole (unless your club has deemed it necessary to implement their own version of the CoF (grrrr)). 

Used H23s often come on the market in SA between R100-200k, and are generally in sound condition. Very little osmosis recorded on these hulls due mostly to good build quality, plus they have often spent time out of the water. A bit of easy maintenance will usually get them well serviceable again, and the outboard makes it so much easier too.

All in all, an affordable, easy to own, very versatile boat offering loads of fun! 

Comfortable, uncluttered and protected cockpit.
Vital Statistics:
  • LOA 7.0m
  • LWL 6.0m
  • Beam 2.5m
  • Draft (keel down) 1.65m (keel up) 0.5m
  • Displacement 1300 kg
  • Ballast 373 kg (iron)
  • Sail Areas Main 12 sq.m, #1 Genoa 16 sq.m 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lello 34

Nice looking Lello 34 (SV Double Helix)
Very traditional, long-keeled sloop, with beautiful lines, Designed by Bryan Lello in about 1966, in South Africa.  It was evidently intended for the first Cape to Rio Race in 1971. They were (mostly) built by Henry Vink in Walkerville on the Vaal Dam in South Africa, and very solidly built at that. Both Bryan Lello and Henry Vink are now deceased for some years, and regrettably we don't have much detailed information on the design.

Cascade is this one's name
Full keel with trailing rudder.
Note the position of the prop - aft of the rudder, high up and offset.
Racing aspirations!

Masthead rig, single spreader. Big genoa and long boom.
A simple rig with  good downwind performance.
Nice protected aft cockpit, ideal for shorthanding.

Click to expand.
The advert in SA Sailing in 1968.
Thanks and credit to Richard Crockett (current editor of Sailing Magazine) for digging this up!
Vital Statistics:
LOA 33'7"
LWL: 25'
Beam 9'3.5"
Draft 5'9"
Disp: 6.5 tons
Sail Area 520 sq. ft.
Masthead Sloop with Deck-stepped mast
Aux motor (if fitted!!) 8-15 h.p.
Water tanks 50 gals.

Conventional interior for the time, quite narrow but adequate.
These Lello 34s proved themselves as very solid seaworthy racers, with a number of racing achievements at the time. They were well capable in the very challenging waters on South African South coast. I personally recall the harrowing tales told by two crew (one being an uncle of mine) on a trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth - with the late Bobby Bongers - if memory serves. Much of it was upwind....It seems that the boat took it all in it's stride, but the three of them took a few days before they could walk properly!

Although the Lello 34 was a great example of this class of boat - simple long-keel vessel with a simple but modern sloop rig - it would be unfair to compare it with the modern designs we see today. Still - it is very interesting exercise! Looking at say the L34, or Didi 34, the approach has changed fundamentally - these have spade rudders, relatively flat underbodies, bulb keels, high reserve stability, taller rigs, and displace about 60% of the Lello 34. Naturally they are significantly faster on all points of sail. Personally, I think the evolution was driven largely by a combination of modern materials and the contribution of new designs from van der Stadt with the RCODs and similar. However, if I were faced with a passage across the Southern Ocean I wouldn't be disappointed if I was forced to take the Lello.... for all its aged design, this is a true "get you home boat" and a long keel does a good job of looking after you when it gets really tough. Also a very seakindly design, if you don't mind getting a bit wet and hobby-horsing on occasion. One would expect this design to track reasonably well with the long keel, but I do wonder if that rudder is adequate for downwind control, especially with the long boom... I suppose it will all come down to reefing strategies, and favoring the large Genoa as the dominant sail in strong winds. Having said that, I haven't sailed on a Lello 34 personally, so I can't comment on the handling and speed from experience. If you can add to this, I would be glad to include it here!

This boat comes from an era where "auxiliaries" were truly optional, and many of the facilities we take for granted simply didn't exist back then. These were the days of sunsights, dead reckoning, hank-on headsails, plumb-bob depth sounders, wind-vane steering systems etc. No GPS, Decca, autopilot, satphones, chartplotters, digital depth sounders or EPIRBs. They often did have VHF and HF radios  (before SSB though!). This was very much the era of the first Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, famously won by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in Suhaili. Great movie called "Deep Water" on this race, and especially the fate of Donald Crowhurst, who committed suicide near the end.

Now as it happens, this era of sailing is being revived again, in the form of the 2018 Golden Globe Race!!!  Essentially, it's a re-enactment of the first one in 1968. Personally, I look forward to following this race more than any other event I can imagine, America's Cup included. The race is by invitation only, but already around 30 confirmed entrants. The rules specify yachts of 32-36 feet, long keels, and rudders attached to the back of the keel. Technology is limited to what was available to Sir Robin in 1968 - which means almost no electronics besides a VHF and an SSB radio. Details on the link above. Remember this is a non-stop singlehanded circumnavigation from Falmouth-Falmouth. The routing instructions are quite simple:

"Race Route
The race course is an east-about circumnavigation starting and finishing in Falmouth UK. Competitors will sail down the Atlantic from North to South leaving:
• Cape of Good Hope to port 
• Prince Edward Island to starboard
• Crozet Islands to starboard
• Kerguelen Islands to starboard
• 50°S latitude to starboard 
• Cape Leeuwin to port
• Then to a ‘Gate’ in Storm Bay. Tasmania
• Then leaving 50°S latitude to starboard until 100°W longitude 
• Cape Horn to port 
• Sail up the Atlantic from South to North.
• Finish in Falmouth. "

So that's it then! Did I mention just one lap? Any queries from the French? Are we back already?

At this stage I will confess my sudden interest in the Lello 34 took a new turn when I received an email from one of the signed up competitors asking if I had information on the Lello 34. He would like to have it included in the list as it fits the bill quite well, and is likely one of the fastest, given it's SA / Disp ratio etc. For a number of factors he considers it to be something of a performance boat amongst the other designs. To get the design approved, we are looking for a complete set of plans, plus some kind of confirmation that at least twenty were built. 

Most grateful for any help, it would be great to see this well loved South African design in this race!