How It All Began - Part 2
CHOOSING A FAMILY CRUISER
My first thoughts were for a safe cruising monohull. Multihulls prompted thoughts of my first Hobie regatta. Being oblivious of sailing rules, on my very first race I fouled a Flying Dutchman on some port/starboard rule only to be met by a loud bellow: "RETIRE – RETIRE IMMEDIATELY". Having just driven 450km to attend this regatta I just steered well away and continued sailing, obviously I was very good at surfing, but bad at racing
Surfing the surfers_0001
DUNCAN JNR & DAD SURFING BRUCE'S BEAUTIES
At the yacht club that night, I could clearly hear a group of flying Dutchman competitors describing Hobie Cats as the "new fangled sailing contraption" that should be banned from serious races. This did happen shortly thereafter, wherein the racing of catamarans and monohulls had separate starts, first by hours and later by weeks.
Years before marriage I had put my name down for an Arthur Piver Diadem Trimaran. On paper it looked ideal with lots of space and fast. In those days multihulls developed a bad name, as the materials used to keep the boats light did not have the strength and endurance to hold the separate hulls together.
Arthur Piver himself went missing on one of his trimarans and my dream boat forgotten.
In my quest to find a safe cruising boat, I spent many hours looking and sailing monohulls. Using my Hobie I often visited any yacht that anchored or sheltered in St Francis Bay. Giving them a plastic bag holding today's paper, a loaf of bread and a pint of milk. There I would generally hang around until invited onboard. Looking for good points that I may use.
My final choice was narrowed down to a Compass 47, designed by Angelo Lavranos who has an excellent reputation and it was built in South Africa. This was ideal, having a building company all I needed was the hull, deck & bulkheads and a couple of good carpenters from my building sites.
I would have my ideal boat.
We quickly built a 15 x 25m brick barn, started negotiations for a Compass hull, deck & bulkheads, made an appointment with management to see their factory, gave the date & time my flight would arrive in Cape Town expecting to be met by the factory owner. Having waited a reasonable time, I phoned the factory, the owner was out, so I hired a car, found the factory (very basic, but quality looked good).
START OF ST FRANCIS MARINE, LATER DOORS HAD TO BE WIDENED TO ACCOMMODATE CATAMARANS
Finally tacking the owner down at home we started negotiating. The price was now different, certain extras were now not included and delivery date had changed.
Checking in at a hotel I pondered my next move. Angelo Lavranos, the Compass 47 designer whom I had never met was living in Cape Town. A phone call secured an appointment for the next morning. That night I wrote down all the features wanted to take the family cruising and importantly a redesigned modern Compass 47.
Angelo's home incorporating his office is situated in the sought after area Oranjezight at the foot of Table Mountain, overlooks the city of Cape Town and all of Table Bay. You would have to climb Table Mountain for a better view.
He was very patient, listened to my requests. Asked what I do and sail. When I mentioned Hobie Cats he said: "Have you ever considered a catamaran?" My answer was: "Aren't they dangerous? I want to take the family cruising." "No", he answered. "Not if they are designed correctly." Thus started a couple of months discussing & reviewing plans.
DISCUSSING PLANS WITH ANGELO LAVRANOS
At first my idea was more for speed, rotating mast, centre boards, single engine. Then as the plans progressed reality set in. The rotating wing mast fine for powerful sailing, but overkill on a cruising boat with a young family onboard. Centre boards/dagger boards a good idea in going to weather, but very difficult to raise under pressure, you virtually have to stop the boat first. Gunk holing around strange islands not ideal, as when retracted the deepest parts of your boat are the engine props and rudders.
Single engine saves weight & increased sailing speed, but reduces redundancy.
The final configuration was to go for fixed keels ± 360cm deep. These reinforced keels are designed to take drying out, wherein the yacht would comfortably sit on these while supported aft by reinforced balanced spade rudders. This proved very useful, as in the early days I would sail up the Kromme River on a high spring tide.
Let the boat dry out on top of a couple of scaffold planks. Then redo the anti-fouling & replace engine sail drive, anodes, etc.
KROM RIVER AT LOW TIDE
We kept our heavy equipment amidships. Engines, batteries, water in the keels, fuel tanks level with the mast. This meant that the engines had a gravity feed. A good safety feature, as any leak in the feed pipe is soon discovered and the fuel pumps never suck in air.
Keeping the weight out of the ends makes for better sea keeping by reducing the pitching movement. Weight in the extremities builds up an inertia, which increases pitching.
Another feature that I discussed extensively with Angelo was that catamarans and especially Hobie cats pitch poled (dig their bows in, while the stern continuous over the top) far more than them turning over sideways.
This was overcome by adding additional buoyancy forward in the hull and adding the traditional aesthetic raked bow, thus moving the lifting moment forward, as the bows are depressed.
The design completed, Charles Ellis, a very talented artist and my building foreman was shown the plans. All carefully drawn to 1:25 scale, which required lofting all the bulkheads etc. to full scale before we could even start. Later our 50' plans were all computer drawn to full size, saving a tremendous amount of time.
CHARLES ELLIS LOFTING