Comparisons with another boat
We chartered a typical, modern sailboat in the Virgin Islands this past winter. As you know, all of my sailing for the past 50 years has been on “classic” boats, Atkin and Rhodes. This was my first experience sailing a modern boat with a broad beam, especially aft, a shallow hull, fin keel, detached rudder, and a sleek, “euro” look. It sure was different from the boat I normally sail and from your Cherubini 44s and 48s. I was amazed at how many peculiarities and deficiencies the modern boats have.
My first impression upon boarding the boat and going down the companionway was nice grab rails around the companionway. Once down below, however, I slowly realized that the rest of the interior did not have adequate grab rails. The second impression was the enormous interior volume of the boat, owing to its breadth, high freeboard, and high cabin top. There was lots of space for double cabins, table, stowage, etc. there were lots of windows and opening ports and hatches, giving a nice, light, airy feeling. The first impression was very nice.
After cruising for a few days, the shortcomings became more clear. The ventilation situation at first seemed wonderful -- the boat had 15 opening ports and hatches. Lots of air, you would guess. But there are two problems. First, there were no devices to hold the hatches up at the proper angle to catch the wind. They just flopped over backwards, where they could not force a draft. (We finally figured out that we could use empty water bottles to prop some of the hatches up to a reasonable angle.)
The other problem just drove me nuts. Almost every night there were several rain squalls. Just after I fell asleep, it would start to rain. My wife nudged me, with "Honey, it's raining, could you close the ports and hatches." Of course, I got up up and ran around the boat closing hatches and ports, all 15. For some hatches I had to go outside in the rain almost naked, climb to the cabin top to flop the hatch closed. Some were high on the cabin top, and I had trouble reaching the latches to lock them closed. The various hatches had different latching mechanisms. It was tricky to close them as you stretch up to them in the dark.
Just about the time I got all 15 securely closed and got back to bed, it stopped raining. Just as I fell asleep, my wife nudged me again with a "Honey, it's getting stuffy, could you open the hatches and ports." Needless to say, just after I got them opened again and fell asleep, it started again to rain again. Again, that nudge, "Honey, it's raining, could you close the hatches and ports." Of course, I got up to close them again. This went on several times, each night. I got very little sleep.
How I wished the boat had Dorade ventilators and Cherubini style ports that can continue to ventilate, even in the rain. Sadly, it had neither.
In addition, I did not like the lighting system. There were small, medium-bright lights with very small, awkward switches on the ceiling. Some were hard to reach. In other cases, there was a single switch to control 4 or 10 lights. You could not select to have just one light. Nor did the boat have red lights to provide a gentle night light for the cabin. Surprisingly, there were no reading lights at the heads of the bunks, to give a person an easy to way have light in bed, either to get up or to read.
I simply can’t imagine that whoever designed the ventilation and lighting systems actually slept on the boat for a few days and understood what was needed.
When going to windward, my wife came up from below to ask why the hull was flexing so much. I also noticed that the hull would sometimes vibrate, perhaps resonating with the rigging. I think the bulkheads are bonded to the interior liner, not to the hull, and this would be part of the reason for the flexing. Also, probably the hull is thinner than on a Cherubini. Whether or not the hull is structurally adequate, it sure is un-nerving to experience all the flexing and vibration.
The boat had a quick, unpleasant motion, most noticeable when we were at moorings, trying to sleep. The motion in the aft cabin was especially severe, probably related to the extreme breadth of the stern. In addition, there was a lot of noise in the aft cabin from the waves slapping the stern and splashing off the edge of the transom. I now understand why so many modern sailboats now stay at docks instead of at anchor. We were sailing in protected waters, so I did not have a chance to evaluate the motion of the hull in a real seaway.
When motoring, if I released the steering wheel for second (to tend a genoa sheet), the boat turned sharply to port. It was so fast and so far, it would be easy to have a collision. It reminded me of the Laser Death Roll. To me, it seemed that this instability of the boat created a major safety problem. For safety, I kept the boat on autopilot ALL the time when under power. It was in enormous contrast to Ted’s boat, which I sailed recently. Ted’s boat is a double ender with a very balanced hull. You can drop the tiller for an extended time period, and the boat simply goes straight.
I found the deck very awkward and uncomfortable to work on. The cabin top was so high that it felt uncomfortable and insecure to step down from the cabin top to the deck. It was even worse when coming down from the raised part of the cabin top.
The dodger and bimini were both very large and provided lots of protection in the cockpit. On the other hand, it was very awkward to get around them to get to the deck. In addition, they blocked visibility. It was so bad that we sailed with the dodger down so we could see where we were going, and so that we could get a glimpse of the sails to see if they were luffing. The scoop stern was convenient for boarding and swimming.
The roller jib and the in-mast furling main made sailing and reefing very convenient. The boat seemed to sail pretty well, but going to windward was tedious. The boat was pointed close to the wind, but it just didn't seem to make good headway to windward. Finally I realized that when the boat heels over, the very wide stern angles the keel in such a way that the keel actually pushes the boat to leeward. The leeway is actually increased by the action of the keel! Our classic hull is balanced, so we do better to windward. Off the wind, this new boat sailed fine.
The outfitting of the boat was less than first class. The heads were modest plastic ones, and both failed to suck in flushing water. Obviously the seals had failed. Fortunately, there was a bucket on board, which worked well! I'm not sure if the failure of the toilets was a basic quality issue or an inadequate maintenance issue; certainly the charter boats need lots of maintenance. I'm used to classic bronze heads, which are very reliable.
The charging system seemed marginal. We were instructed to run the engine 3 hours a day to keep the batteries charged for the refrigerator. That's a lot. I think the boat needed a bigger alternator and more batteries, but I couldn't be sure about the charging rate because the ammeter was not working.
The navigation system was OK for the Virgin Islands, where navigation is really simple -- mainly you can eyeball everything. It lacked both radar and electronic charting. It certainly was inadequate for foggy New England and the tricky channels in the Delaware River or Chesapeake.
The boat had a fixed propeller, which free-wheeled and made lots of noise and vibration. It reminded me of why I installed a feathering propeller on my boat some years ago.
I note on YachtWorld.com that one of these boats is being offered used for sale at a price quite a bit less than a Cherubini 44. I would just say that it is worth much less; it’s a very different kind of boat from what I normally sail and from what you build. It was OK for a week in the Virgin Islands, but I wouldn't want to have her for an extensive cruise or for an ocean passage.
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