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Tragic trend of yacht design

Published on June 16th, 2022

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
It came two years late, but I was recently able to use the money held by Dream Yacht Charter intended for a 30th wedding anniversary bareboat cruise with my wife. Given the company’s arrogance early on in the pandemic, I had written off the funds, so it was a treat to finally get to Grenada and the Grenadines.

The warmth of the people we met just barely made up for the problems with our Dufour 460. When we returned the boat, I provided a two page to-do list. In fairness, we knew we were in trouble when the boat had just arrived at their base and lacked a thorough vetting.

After the B&G rep troubleshot our Raymarine depth sounder, and the base crew rebolted the cockpit bimini which went Mary Poppins after the first gust, we were underway to soon experience the engine battery implosion.

The interior gas alarm followed the release of Hydrogen Sulfide (aka rotten eggs), which earned us a night sleeping outdoors in the 20 knot easterly, hoping our anchor would hold, and wondering when a replacement battery would arrive. Good times!

By half way through the trip, most of the problems were either solved or accepted, which was just in time for food poisoning. I guess we own this issue, as we did our own cooking, but it likely came from a refrigerator that didn’t keep much cold. Brutal illness under normal circumstance, and made worse with abrasive single ply nautical toilet paper. Ugh!

But through it all, what bothered me most was the tragic trend of yacht design.

Maximizing berths and heads has made for bulky hulls, with catamaran mainsails diminished due to elevated steering stations. Sailing performance has suffered, though maybe it doesn’t matter as I didn’t see any charter sailboats sail. Only legit cruisers with less tortured hulls were sailing. The rest were just boats with sticks.

My sister-in-law, a proud powerboater, recently chartered a powercat in the BVI. I initially had misgivings but now contend she has it right. We either powered, powersailed, or once broadreach sailed in 20-25 knots to claim a lumbering 7 knots of speed. I was longing for the performance of our Alerion 28 at home.

Of course, our boat also had half a fish market attached to its hull, which didn’t help performance much either. Thankfully, my marriage remains intact, and I will score this as another pandemic memory. Onward!

MORE: Herb McCormick nicely captures the warmth of the locals in this Cruising World report, Grenada With Green Man.

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