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

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!

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Sad Story of SV Tara

* Update: some history on the vessel Tara supplied by Linda Redfern, daughter of the 
original builder, now tagged on below this post:

This post is dedicated to the memory of George Mills and Rachel Daly, 
and in support of PJ Daly, the sole survivor of this tragic accident.

Tara, a beautiful 47' Holman and Pye Traditional Wooden Yawl.
Solidly constructed of Mahogany Planks over Oak frames,
she was a strong and well-found vessel displacing 13 Tons.
Images of Tara before the wreck courtesy of Roy McBride of CKD Boats. See his excellent blog here.

George Mills, Tara's most recent owner. Larger than life, and very humble at the same time.
George was a true Scot, a true sailor, happy soul, and an enthusiast of Traditional Scottish Music.
You just have to see this impromptu recording of George in action at HBYC just a few days before this accident.

Tara's most recent owner was George Mills, a member of both Hout Bay and Royal Cape Yacht Clubs. Sadly, George perished along with Rachel Daly at approximately 3 a.m. on Monday 1 Feb 2016, when this boat was wrecked near Bokpunt on the Cape West Coast (near Yzerfontein, South Africa). We have a short tribute to him and the crew (all wonderful people and well known at HBYC) - on the club website. George's death was widely reported in several UK newspapers including The Sun, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail, The Scotman as well as a number of local news agencies.

George spent a lot of time on this boat and kept her immaculate.
Tara also served as the Committee Boat for the previous two
Admiral's Regattas at HBYC, with George at the helm.

Yesterday, just six days after the accident, a gathering was held up at the site of the wreck, in a small bay (now called Tara Bay by those who knew George). This is a very remote and wild piece of coast, access possible only with 4x4s or similar vehicles. A number of folk arrived on horseback too from Ganzekraal.

Some beautiful bunches of flowers placed in a remnant of the hull,
 in memory of George and Rachel.

A few of the 4x4 arrivals from HBYC at Bokpunt.
The stern section of the hull was the only piece "in shape"

Friends of George, PJ and Rachel examining the wreck.
Tara had received a severe pounding on the rocks and the remnants
had been prepared for recovery in small piles.

"Bill" (surname unknown to me) - manager of the Bokpunt conservation area - related the events as he recalled. Tara had wrecked at around 3 am Monday morning, in pitch darkness and heavy mist (suspected possible auto-pilot error - but  investigation still in progress). PJ had scrambled ashore and found the vehicle track along this part of the shore. Fortuitously he followed it Southwards and found the (completely unlit) cottage of Bill about two kilometres further down. He (PJ) banged loudly on the door, as one would expect. An equally shaken Bill responded and together they set off back down the track to locate the wreck in the dark. The managed to spot a small section of the mast pointing upwards and so found the wreck. Bill (via his wife in Cape Town at the time) raised the alarm and a fast and well coordinated disaster plan was effected, including National Sea Rescue and all the related disaster teams. By 9 am the project was complete, save for the visit of SAMSA (SA Marine Safety Authorities), who arrived just two hours later.

Desolate coastline near Bokpunt...

I came to know of this tragedy earlier in the week, and we posted a piece in memorial in the HBYC Club website, and laid flowers in the club. I knew George personally via HBYC and had many good drinks with him. But I must confess that this memorial visit to the wreck was absolutely chilling. Besides the human aspect, seeing this beautiful yacht so completely smashed up - along with the rawness of this bleak and vicious coastline - was quite disturbing. To think it all happened in the middle of the night, with dense fog, must have been a complete nightmare.

Go well George, Go well Rachel. 
Our thoughts are now very much with PJ.


Some history and photos from Linda Redfern, (Amsterdamhoek, Port Elizabeth), daughter of Noel Redfern, the original builder, who (re)constructed Tara in a large garden shed at his house in Amsterdamhoek.

She was brought out to SA from Scotland (?) in the UK but got stuck in the tropics for about a year before finally reaching PE due to some political dispute somewhere up north Africa.
She left UK in mid-winter with the net result that her planking split, and so my dad literally took her apart to the very last bit as can be seen in the photographs then reassembled and re-caulked her.  I remember him having a wood steamer going for months as they bent timbers to fit.  There were lathes, band saws and god knows what all – it was a double story workshop and it was kitted out!
Let me see if I can find the documents pertaining to her arrival.  I know I have newspaper clippings…
Ok.. she arrived in PE in April 1960.
She was designed by Kim Holman and was an exclusive design for Noel Redfern who had quite some input in the design process.
She was designed as a racing and cruising yacht.

Her dimensions as follows:
L.O.A                     45 ft 4 in
L.W.L                     32 ft 1 in
Beam                    11 ft 8.5 in
Draft                      6 ft 9 in
Displacement    28,448 lbs
Ballast                   11,872 lbs
My dad sold it to John Desmond Hein of Eston, Natal.  I estimate the time it changed hands to be about 1974 or thereabouts… set sail 1974/5?
The above is accurate to the documentation.


Mahogany planking on Oak frames if I recall...

Built in a shed in the garden, Amsterdamhoek....
Click to enlarge.
"Tara" (then unnamed) arrives in PE Harbour by ship.