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coaSTal cRuiSing

Trailer Sailing

Thin waTer


A keelboAt sAilor discovers the shoAl-drAft life

By Wally Moran

he boats i sail today, including my own, are typical cruising boats. They have deep fin keels, and they're spacious, well equipped and comfortable. i spend a lot of my time on a boat, so i want at least a few of life's luxuries. and i like a boat with a bit of heft to it, like my Dufour 34, to handle bad weather. That's why i've never considered owning a trailer-sailer. one winter many years ago, i sailed a friend's o'Day 23 on Tampa Bay and along Florida's west coast. That o'Day was a cleverly built boat and a decent sailer. it was also easy to trailer. But it was cramped and uncomfortable for anything more than a daysail. i have no quarrel with trailer-sailers in principle. on the contrary, it would be great to get to new cruising grounds at 60 mph. Having sailed deep-keeled boats for so long, i would also love to be able to creep close in to shore and up into shallow rivers. nonetheless, there are certain things i must have on a boat, like a proper head, with standing headroom and a pump toilet--not a Porta-Potti. i also need a decent galley, with space to perform culinary miracles (if you can eat one of my concoctions, it's a miracle), and a hull form that can go to windward in a stiff breeze without being blown sideways. That's not a combination i thought possible in a trailer-sailer, until i was given the chance to borrow a Seaward 32 RK for a jaunt among the Florida Keys. During my week aboard i was neither soaked nor cramped. The boat performed wonderfully in a range of conditions, and i never once felt jostled about like a cork in a washing machine. i had hot meals, cold drinks, a proper hot-water shower and a couple of good adventures to boot. it all started one morning in miami when designer and Hake yachts ceo nick Hake and sales manager Tim De Vries arrived from the factory in Stuart, Florida, with the 32 RK in tow behind a large truck. Two hours later, the boat was afloat at the dock, the mast was up, sails were furled, the bimini was set and we were ready for provisioning. nick and Tim made the process of launching and rigging the boat look easy. everything went together as it should. Stepping the mast, usually the difficult part, was simple and impressively quick, thanks to the boat's cleverly designed hoisting mechanism. it took us only a few minutes, even in a


15-knot breeze. While all this was going on, the Seaward was attracting plenty of attention. even a local traffic cop stopped by to look the boat over in admiration. it isn't every day you see a boat this big being launched from a ramp typically used by much smaller powerboats. Soon enough, nick and Tim were heading back to work in Stuart and i found myself alone with the 32 RK. Truth to tell, i was expecting it to feel like that o'Day 23 years earlier, but i couldn't have been more wrong. The 32 RK is spacious, well laid out and has the accoutrements one expects in any modern cruising boat--a good-sized galley with fridge, freezer and a propane stove, pressurized hot water and good stowage. The electronics onboard were top

36 | J u ly 2010

The author would never get this close to land in his fixedkeel cruising boat

of the line, and--joy of joys--there was an autopilot. instead of an outboard, there was a hefty three-cylinder yanmar diesel. The boat even came equipped with--i kid you not--air conditioning. it is more a trailerable cruising boat than a true trailer-sailer. Because the weather was deteriorating as i left the dock, i decided to find a protected anchorage along the Venetian causeway to hide out from the breeze that was now gusting to 20 knots. That brought the only disappointment of the trip; the anchor refused to set and after eight or 10 attempts--thank goodness for the electric windlass!--i fled to a more protected area, where it dug in immediately. although i'd want a bigger anchor and more chain than the boat came with, i can see why you'd want to keep the weight

photo by jh peterson (top); by wally moran (bottom)

The 32 rK makes an impressive sight on its trailer

J u ly 2010 | 37

coaSTal cRuiSing

Trailer Sailing

down for trailering. The windlass was set up with controls both at the bow and in the cockpit, a real blessing for singlehanders, and another sign that this boat was no ordinary trailer-sailer. a lot of "proper" cruising boats don't have a setup like this. around 0400 The wind Turned To The northwest, promising a great sail into Key Biscayne. motoring past the inlet, i steered into the breeze, unfurled the genoa, and the 32 RK rocketed to over 6 knots as i turned downwind. The speed fluctuated while we were in the lee of the high-rises ashore, but once out in clear air, the Seaward moved along smartly and steadily on a beam reach. i chose not to set the main, which later proved to be a wise decision. The performance was heady enough with just a headsail. my goal for the evening was Boca chita Key in Biscayne Bay, about 16 miles south of the Key Biscayne lighthouse. if you haven't been to Boca chita Key, it's worth the visit, provided you go during the week when it's quiet. Weekends, on the other hand, are-- how do i put this kindly?--not a good idea for horses or nervous children. Boca chita Key is the former estate of the Honeywell family, long since abandoned

The joys of variable draft--snugged up close to the beach

and now a part of Biscayne national Park. Several of the old buildings still exist, as does a picturesque lighthouse, and the snorkeling in the channel on the opposite side of the key from the harbor entrance is excellent. i've seen big rays, lots of lobster, plenty of small colorful reef fish and more, all in water no more than 20 feet deep. arriving there, i experienced one of the true joys of the 32 RK. With its ballasted lifting keel down, the boat has a maximum

draft of 6ft 6in, giving it good windward ability. But when you raise the keel with the help of a powerful electric winch and lift up the rudder via a conveniently placed handle, the draft becomes just 20in. The channel into Boca chita has always been a concern with my own boat's 5ft draft, but with the Seaward it was a piece of cake. later, as i sailed southwest, roughly along the icW, the wind died and i raised the main to keep up my speed. no sooner had i done

Any trailer-sailer much over 25 feet is considered a big boat, and there aren't that many around to choose from. The number of trailerable sailboats-- as opposed to sailboats that can be transported on a trailer--over 30 feet is even smaller, especially if you want one that can be cruised, but they lack nothing in variety.

Super Trailer-SailerS

Presto 30 Easily handled rig, sparkling performance, sleeps four.

loa 30ft // lWl 28ft 9in Beam 8ft 6in DRaFT 1ft 1in/5ft 6in BallaST 1,050lb PRice $92,500

seaward 32 rK Generous accommodation, good performance.

loa 34ft 7in // lWl 30ft 7in Beam 10ft 6in DRaFT 1ft 8in/6ft 6in BallaST 2,500lb PRice $134,000

Corsair 31 UC Fast folding-wing trimaran with standing headroom, can sleep four.

loa 30ft 10in // lWl 30ft DRaFT 1ft 4in/5ft 6in Beam 22ft 5in (8ft 2in folded) DiSPlacemenT 3,875lb PRice $149,990

Corsair 37 Cr Blistering performance in a cruisable package. Can sleep up to six.

loa 37ft // lWl 35ft DRaFT 1ft 8in/6ft Beam 25ft 7in (9ft 10in folded) DiSPlacemenT 5,500lb engine 15hp outboard PRice $265,990 // FoB Vietnam

DiSPlacemenT 3,915lb engine 8hp outboard FoB Bucksport, maine BuilDeR Ryder Boats,

DiSPlacemenT 8,300lb engine 28hp diesel FoB Stuart, Florida

engine 9.9hp outboard FoB Vietnam

BuilDeR Seaward yachts,

BuilDeR corsair marine,

BuilDeR corsair marine,

note that trailers are extra for all these boats.

38 | J u ly 2010

Sailing free and fast, the Seaward struts its stuff

photo by jh peterson; by wally moran (opposite page, top)

so, though, than i found the wind had other ideas. Soon i was looking at a steady 15 knots, with gusts to over 25. i was also getting my first true lesson in the differences between fixed-keel boats and lifting-keel boats like the Seaward. To sail a boat like the Seaward well, you have to reef early. unfortunately, being used to a heavier boat--the Seaward weighs a mere 8,500 pounds--i didn't realize this quickly enough and soon found myself rounding up into the wind. once i'd put a reef in the main, though, and rolled away some of the genoa, things settled back down again. The boat really wanted a second reef in the main, but the lines had not yet been rigged. Still, even in the increasing seas, the boat gave me the feeling that it would hang in there as long as i could. Then, in the middle of little card Sound, a crisis: the furling line snapped, letting the entire genoa roll out in the 20-knot wind. Worse yet, the sheets quickly flogged themselves into will-knots--the kind that take hours to undo--and i quickly grew

at l a n t i c ocean

M iaM i Biscayne Bay Boca Chita Key card Sound Barnes Sound Blackwater Sound Key largo

gulf of mexico

gulf of mexico

where i wished, ignoring channel markers and tacking well out into the sound and then back again. a couple of times i did find some unexpectedly shallow water. But a quick press of my thumb on the key fob was all it took to break the boat's lifting keel from the sound's gummy grip. i have to admit it, i was really starting to enjoy this, especially the trip back to the anchorage Resort, sailing fast on a broad reach. That's when those teenage dinghy sailing memories kicked in. Raising the board, i flew over the water with just enough keel to turn the boat and the stereo cranking--a luxury my old dinghy certainly never had. next morning, when i headed ashore, i found that anchoring off the beach has a whole new meaning when you can back concerned the sail would shred itself to your boat into less than two feet of water. pieces. i tried to lower it, but the pressure your supply of cold drinks is always conveof the wind was too great for me. now niently close, as is your galley, the head and what, i wondered, struggling with the other necessities. no more rowing or haulthrashing sailcloth. ing a heavy cooler back and forth aboard a Then i remembered i was no longer re- dinghy--just step back aboard, making sure stricted by draft. With no worries about to wipe the sand from your feet! shoals, i could sail toward the mind you, backing up with no mangroves a half-mile away keel and only a few inches of rudand deal with the problem in der quickly serves to reinforce the two feet of water, protected truism that sailboats don't back from the wind in the lee of the up well. as it was, a breeze on the land. What could have cost me beam kept pushing me off so that my sail on a keelboat became a i had to start well upwind of my wally moran simple matter of motoring into final goal if i was to end up where cruises the the wind at an angle that kept i wanted. ultimately, i dropped southern states, the sails from flogging until i the anchor about 60 feet off the Bermuda and could get into sheltered water. shore using the control at the the northern Sure enough, once out of helm, and then backed up to the Caribbean on his the full force of the wind i had beach, letting the keel ground itdufour 34 no problem rolling up and self in the sand. after that it was then tying off the genoa. This just a matter of bringing in a bit trailer-sailer business was starting to make of anchor line to hold the bow in place and a lot of sense. as the sun set, i motored step ashore. through the dusk toward the anchorage Too soon, i had to leave to meet Tim, who Resort in Key largo where i tied up, was driving back down from Stuart with the good and tired after a long but satis- trailer. my time with the Seaward was comfying day. ing to an end, just as i was starting to get into this whole lifting-keel thing. The following morning, i headed i had hoped to sail right off the beach, out into Blackwater Sound. The winds just for the enjoyment of it, but the palm were lighter, around 10-15 knots, and trees overshadowing the boat held the my goal was to find a resort and just breeze in their fronds, leaving none for me. hang out on the beach. The sailing, later, sailing back to the boat ramp, i though, was so good i soon lost myself dreamed about Katharine Hepburn sailing in the joys of being able to really ex- away with me aboard the Seaward, leaving plore this part of the Keys, something Bogie behind. Why not? my thin-water i'd never really been able to do before, boat had air conditioning and a shower. having limited myself to heavier keel- Bogie could never have said that about the boats. now i could cruise almost any- African Queen.

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