After 5000 miles
01/05/08 22:34 Filed in: Southerly Boats
Although we have only had the new boat for just over 5 months we have already passed 5000 miles. Somehow that seems like a lot but the boat has been quite good. I had wondered that we would have more problems – starting off with big passages and a brand new boat had many people questioning our plans. But it has been a great adventure and we have already come to love the new boat,
I thought I would put down a few thoughts about the boat so far.
Passagemaking with a swing keel – most of our 5000 miles have been open ocean. Many people have asked about the swing keel on passage. Firstly I must say it has been great! The swinging part of the keel weighs over 3000 pounds and it does not rattle. People who have had other swing-keel boats ask this – but ours does not and I truly doubt that a keel this heavy could possibly rattle. It must be a problem with centerboarders where the keel is much lighter. The other thing with the keel is that having a 9-foot draft (keel all the way down) makes the boat VERY stable. At sea she rolls quite a bit less that Two-Step did. Similarly when we are at anchor we seem to roll less than other boats in the anchorages we have been in. Originally I thought we might use the keel more like a dinghy – raising it when going downwind and lowering it all the way for beating. But so far we have been happier having it down at sea – less rolling and a more comfortable motion. Downwind I do raise it a little bit but not much. Since it swings back and up ino the hull, raising it a little essentially just moves it aft but not much shallower. This has been useful making the boat sail downwind.
Docking with the bow thruster and rudders - in close quarters has taken a bit of getting used to. Mainly because our previous boat was so different - long keel, low and heavy. First of all you absolutely need the bow thruster I think. Otherwise she handles well over 1.5-2 knots with just the rudders but lacking the propwash she needs the thruster to handle in slow speeds. One big advantage I have found is that with the thruster she handles quite well in reverse as well as forward. Many boats (including our old "Two-Step") did not go in reverse. So in summary, I think she handles quite well in close quarters. We have now gone into 40-50 different docks/marinas and had no problems. One other idea is to use the keel. With the keel up she slides sideways in turns. Keel down she tracks nicely and turns well. Keel half way up her bow blows off the wind. I am getting better at using the keel like this to help manoeuvrability in close quarters. One funny situation we had last week involved getting into a slip with pilings. We pulled into the slip and were trying to grab the pilings when we ran aground on the mud. Now we had time to get the lines on the pilings sorted out. When everything was sorted we raised the keel and moved into the slip. Kind of like having a parking brake!
Tropical Southerly – I absolutely love the pilothouse/raised saloon on the Southerly 42. Being able to see out at anchor is great, and at sea I think it is a big part of the reason I don't get seasick at all on the new boat. But the problem with the big windows is the sun heats up the boat. We did not get curtains done by the factory, perhaps we should have. Now we are installing “Fifertex” curtains and that seems to do the trick. I have also added 5 fans throughout the boat. The Hella 2-speed “Turbo” fans are great. Antifouling has been not the greatest. The factory put on International's Uno which is not available over here. In the Caribbean grass fouling seems to be a problem. The local antifoulings all tout some sort of wonder cure for it. I guess you can't hope for a perfect coating that will work well everywhere. And the antifouling has all fallen off around the bow thruster fairing. We will replace it when we dry out for the first time in the Bahamas...
Heading to the Bahamas – We are SO EXCITED to be heading back to our favourite cruising grounds – the Bahamas! We will be there for most of May and early June – a very good time to cruise these lovely islands. The last time we were there I vowed I would come back with a shallower boat and really explore. We are doing it. When we talk to veteran Bahamas experts they always ask how much we draw. When we say 2 foot – 10 they are jealous! Looking over the charts I have planned out whole new island groups e can now visit that were not available to us with our previous 6-foot draft. I will post some pictures as soon as we can!!