Friday, January 14, 2011

Caribbea 30

If there ever was a competition to see how much one could get into a small boat this one must be a very strong contender! Besides its classic good looks and all-round sailing ability, its most outstanding feature is the very spacious accommodation it offers - more like a 34 footer inside. Designed by Dudley Dix, it remains one of his favourite designs. Quite a number were built in South Africa (25+), by Nebe in Hout Bay (as usual), making it another great local!

The design was originally commisioned by Imberhorne (owned by the Chaplin family ex HBYC in fact). They commisioned sketches from C&C and Dudley Dix and settled on Dudley's proposal - and so this went on to become Dudley's first production boat. Later Nebe took over the moulds.

The Caribbea is a fairly light, fast and nimble vessel, with decent performance on all points of sail, but excels downwind and has recorded amazing daily runs of 150+, including one of 178 in the trades between Cape Town and the Caribbean. The pictures shown are of the yacht G-String, which I understand was circumnavigating until recently - at any rate it happens to be for sale as far as I can see - on - if you fancy a great budget cruiser in good condition in St Maarten . . .

We used to have a really nice Caribbea at HBYC and several times I sailed alongside it in Hout Bay. It really is a simple, elegant boat, dead easy to sail, and moves very well. RCYC Club Handicap is about 0.90 (bearing in mind limited racing data, and usually cruising spec) which is a very respectable number.
Left-click to see large picture

In this design, Dudley has run the cockpit right back to the transom for extra space in both cabin and cockpit. The engine is sited aft under the cockpit sole, and uses a saildrive, leaving the cabin completely unobstructed, which is a priority in a smallish boat. Rudder is skeg-hung over the transom, while the keel is moderate - allowing a good combination of responsiveness, manouverability and tracking ability. Draft varies with the keel options (there are four) - this one is about 1.5m.

The rig is a conventional masthead sloop, easily managed mainsail, great cruising rig. Displacement is 3376 kgs (Disp/Length of 191) which is fairly light - but also quite average with many modern boats - Benetaus have much the same numbers, a DiDi 34 is around 135, and a Shearwater 39 weighs in at 235.

The relatively high coachroof and freeboard give her loads of cabin space - more than full standing headroom - I would guess about 6'2" or so - whilst giving her a very respectable stability curve with AVS > 140 deg.

The cockpit is generous, deep, safe and simple. Tiller lifts clear. Two nice positioned primary self-tailers for the headsail and a traveller for the main - all reachable and manageable by one person - single-handers dream!

The interior is the part that really impresses - see pics of G-String, from

Overall - this is a very likeable boat! What radio hams would call "a keeper". For the investment, you can do a lot with a boat like this, and never regret owning one. It's a performance cruiser rather than a racer, but will also give much fun in club races. An ideal couple-cruiser too, and perfect for the Med, the Caribbean, and the ICW, but capable of sailing in the rough stuff as well, or crossing the ditch.