A Biased Review of an F41

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Introduction

Endless Summer, Farrier F41 number 17, was built for me by Steve Ikin over a two year period finishing in 2002. For the past year my family and I have lived aboard and explored the east coast of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Summary

After about 5000 miles of sailing, I'm very happy with Endless Summer, I think that the design and build are very close to the sweet spot for a "high performance cruising cat." She sails brilliantly, the systems are simple and easy to maintain, and life aboard is quite comfortable for a family of four.

I have, by now, seen many boats, some with fiberglass work that is as nicely finished as Endless Summer's, but none better. In the main, Steve and the crew at Multihull Technologies did an outstanding job on the boat.

There is little doubt in my mind that Endless Summer is an exceptional coastal cruiser. Her speed allows us to stop off to enjoy places that slower boats have to pass. In a nice sea breeze, 40 miles is just an afternoon sail. Shoal draft allows us in to the most sheltered portion of an anchorage, and she rides comfortably at anchor in conditions that would cause seasickness on a monohull. The targa bar allows us to carry a dingy ready to go and the transom steps allow easy access to the dingy and the water.

My reservation about personally endorsing the boat for offshore cruising is heavy weather handling. Sooner or later, an offshore boat is going to have to handle a storm. Many others have endorsed catamarans of her type for offshore work but I have neither the first hand experience, nor the theoretical knowledge to add anything to the discussion. We haven't sailed Endless Summer in anything heavier than 30 knots, and I'm doing my level best to ensure that we never do. I don't doubt the boat's seaworthyness but I have no intention of putting it to the test.

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Caveat

It is too infrequently mentioned in this sort of review that what is presented is largely anecdotal. We did this; we had these sorts of problems. To be truly scientific, actually testing things like kick-up rudders or the impact of weight aloft, would be expensive and would keep one from going sailing on a merely very good boat for far too long. In my case this is even worse because my knowledge of what we did (exactly) and why is quite limited. I'm neither a boat builder nor a naval architect. I am, however, a reasonably competent boat user and it is on that basis that I write this review.

Criteria

The perfect is the enemy of the good

While I have taken the liberty to edit criteria with the benefit of things I've learned in the past year of sailing, this list is pretty close to the email that I sent Steve Ikin when we were first getting acquainted.

  1. safety
    Of course, we don't go adventuring on the ocean to be "safe," but we don't want to run needless risks. Much of this criteria translates into what is usually expressed as "blue water capable:" conservative, tried-and-true systems.

  2. spirited sailing performance
    We both enjoy sailing a dingy and we'd like a larger boat to capture at least some of that feeling. In particular, light air performance is important. We'd like to be able to sail effectively - close to wind speed - in 5kts. That being established, we don't want a racing boat. We'll satisfy any interest in racing by crewing on other people's boats.

  3. easy to singlehand
    Cruising with two sailors means that the boat is being single handed nearly all the time. Waking up the off-watch for every tack is not an option.

  4. simple, robust systems
    Complexity is one of the the great obstacles to stress-free cruising and it is the archilles heel of many modern boats. Complex things are harder to test, fail more frequently and are more difficult to repair when they do fail. To take one specific example, things like electric winches are worrisome because they wind up being essential to sailing the boat, but are hard to repair and more failure prone than a manual winch. When your electrical system croaks and you're 1000 miles from port, how are you going to raise and lower sails? Are you going to notice that something is hung up before the winch rips the headboard off of the main?

  5. accomodations for two families
    Being able to have friends and family visit comfortably is important. As a practical matter this means at least two queen-sized berths and a several singles.

  6. modest interior fitout
    We're not interested in a fancy interior. No fancy woodwork, media center, dishwasher, etc. If we want luxury, we'll check into a hotel.

Sailing

So, how does she sail?

My observations here are based on sailing Endless Summer a few thousand miles while paying attention to the instruments. The first thing I noticed was how variable everything is. In fact measurments are so variable that I've become suspicious of things as clear cut as polar diagrams and I'm heavily inclined to discount out of hand utterances like "at 38 degrees apparent she'll do 1.2 times wind speed." I simply don't believe that you can measure things that accurately in real life. Each number I report is the result of many hours of sailing, distances between hourly positions, looking at the instruments, fiddling with sail trim etc. Even now, we occasionally surprise ourselves by "discovering" better sail trim, so I wouldn't treat this report as the last word.

Performance Terminology

close hauled, hard on the wind
The point of sail (AWA) which produces the maximum VMG.

VMG
Velocity Made Good. The component of a boat's velocity which is directly upwind.
AWA
Apparent Wind Angle. The angle at which the wind strikes the boat. This angle is different from the true wind angle (twa) because of the boat's velocity.
TWA
True Wind Angle. The angle at which the wind crosses the boat's heading.
heading
What the compass says. The boat's course over ground is actually different due to windage (wind hitting the boat) and the fact that the daggerboards and sails cannot be perfectly efficient at converting sideways force to forward motion.
tacking through N°
The amount by which the heading changes when the boat tacks from close hauled on one side to close hauled on the other side.
Basically, Endless Summer is a fast boat. Under main and jib we get boat speeds up to 80% of true wind speed hard on the wind, up to 100% on a beam reach and then down to 90% of windspeed with a true wind angle of 135°. Adding the spinnaker gets us up to about 150% of windspeed on the perfect beam reach.

She'll tack through about 95° with VMG maxed out. Tacking through 90° slows us down a bit. We usually bear away a bit before tacking (particularly if using the autopilot to tack) and then build up speed on the opposite tack for a few seconds before hardening back up. To give one concrete example, in a 15-knot breeze (fully developed sea) with the first reef in, our course over ground tacked through roughly 100 degrees suggesting about 5 degrees of leeway. Under those conditions we averaged about 9 knots of boatspeed when hard on the wind. Easing off a bit produced hourly average speeds in the 11 knot range. Generally we seem see more leeway as wind speeds (and wave sizes) increase and less as they decrease.

The big difference vis-a-vis a monohull seems to be the shape of the polar curve. Most monos that I have sailed have a very small range of apparent wind angles, 3 - 5° which is technically fore-reaching. In contrast, Endless Summer seems to make her best VMG (up to 60% of windspeed) at an AWA of 26 - 29°. She'll pinch right down to an AWA of 18 - 20° before the jib starts luffing. I've never sailed a mono while paying this much attention to the VMG display so my impression of a difference might be wrong, but it certainly feels different to me. By way of comparison, I believe that AC boats, the current "ne plus ultra" of upwind performance sail close hauled at an AWA of around 18°.

As a practical matter, sailing around Sydney has given us ample opportunity to "join" various races and the results were sometimes surprising. For example, coming back from Broken Bay with a 10 kt south-easterly, we caught up to a pair of Beneteau 47.7s, evidently racing as they had full crews on the rail. In itself, catching them wasn't surprising as we had taken a long tack out of Broken Bay and were sailing a much hotter angle then they were. However, when we hardened up to a parallel course (AWA 23°), we still faster, and when we hardened up still more (AWA 20°), we were still faster, though not as much. One of the Beneteaux, seemed to have better sails or better trim than the other as it managed to move away from us sailing a hotter angle. We declined to chase them further because that would have meant tacking east off Manly to clear North Head while it looked like we would be able to clear it without tacking on the current course. Also we figured that it would be fun to give the enemy Beneteau a chance to savor victory just a little bit before we pierced his swolen ego in the screaming beam reach down Port Jackson. We did manage to clear North Head by just a touch more than the proverbial biscuit toss but the enemy Beneteau escaped into Middle Harbour leaving us with no one to crush on the run down to Rushcutter's Bay.

Generally, we seem to be able to keep up with most of the 35 to 45 foot sport boats (sailing the same course), but we have been beaten a few times. Deep downwind in relatively light wind (less than 10 knots) seems to be a weak spot. As it is very hard to trim sails when the apparent wind speed is just a couple of knots, it is probably our default as sailors rather than some problem with the boat. Of course, in a real race we would be sailing for maximum VMG, not have been trying to sail the same course.

Tacking

Tacking requires that the jib be sheeted in on the new tack, with good timing this will not require any winching. If need be, the jib can be tacked after the tack is completed as the main will drive right through the jib.

  1. Check opposite traveller
  2. Release mast rotation tackle
  3. Helm down
  4. Release jib sheet
  5. Switch wind instruments
  6. Sheet in jib
  7. Adjust traveller (if needed)
  8. Rotate mast

Endless Summer can tack in circles with out touching the sheets. We've lost interest in this manuver after repeating it three times.

We've only been in irons a couple of time usually due to a combination of driver error and light air.

Jybing

Jybing is easy, particularly if one pays attention to boat speed. If we're sailing with the apparent wind aft of 90° heading up and accelerating a bit makes for a quieter jybe as the extra boat speed reduces the apparent wind.

  1. Tighten main sheet
  2. Winch traveller up
  3. Check opposite traveller, leave it running free with 1 or 2 wraps on the winch depending on the strength of the wind. It will function as a shock absorber.
  4. Release mast rotation tackle
  5. Helm up
  6. Release jib sheet
  7. Switch wind instruments
  8. Sheet in jib
  9. Adjust traveller (if needed)
  10. Rotate mast

Heaving To

Endless Summer will heave to under first reef and full jib. While I haven't tried it, I suspect that she wouldn't heave to under full main as the main is too powerful relative to the jib.

Reefing

Endless Summer has a Selden single line reefing set-up in which a single reefing line, led aft with the halyards, pulls both the luff and the leach of the main down to the boom. The amount of reef is, of course, limited by the boom length, so the single-line approach is only for the first two reefs, the third requires using a strop to attach the luff cringle to the gooseneck.

To reef, we do the following:

  1. Tension the topping lift.
  2. Go forward to the mast and put the lazy jacks on.
  3. Have the helm (autopilot) pinch slightly to take the preassure off the main.
  4. Ease the main sheet.
  5. Ease the main halyard.
  6. Tension the reefing line.
  7. Retension the main halyard.
  8. Ease the topping lift.
  9. Secure the bunt with sail ties.
  10. Go forward to the mast and stow the lazy jacks.

Downwind, it is possible to reef without rounding up. To do so, we pull in the traveler a bit so as to keep the battens clear of the shrouds and then snub the main halyard around the halyard winch pedestal while winching in the reefing line. It can be a one-person job but the winching arm will get quite a workout.

One of the drawbacks to single line reefing are the loose reefing lines. When the sail is furled or reefed, the unused reefing lines will hang off the boom in big loops, ideally suited for snagging expensive bits of kit, such as the wind instruments, off the targa bar. Of course, you can pull the unused reefing lines through to the cockpit, but then the added friction will require using the winch to raise the main.

Because the sail plan is quite large, we spend a lot of time at first reef. The reefing line runs from the end of the boom, through a large grommet on the sail and then back down to the boom where it is tied off. This arrangement causes a lot of chafe where the line turns around grommet both reefed and unreefed. I'm considering using a block for the first reef, but attaching one is kind of awkward and I'm not sure that might not be better just to have the reefing line cut extra long so the wear points can be adjusted. Lines are replace from time to time anyway so a longer line may be the most cost effective solution. I've used some McLube on our new first reef line so we'll see how it goes.

Sometimes we get really lazy and leave the lazy jacks up, but generally I try to stow them when we're sailing. The sails work better and there is no chafe.

Motion

In seaway, the motion is comfortable with the caveat that increased speed always causes more bashing and bouncing. Running to the windward at 10 knots is going to be a lot less comfortable than running to the windward at 7 knots. Aside from the increased speed, I think the most noticable difference between Endless Summer's motion and that of a mono is that we definitely sail "on top" of the water rather than ploughing through it.

Relative to smaller multihulls, Endless Summer's greater size seems to make it quite comfortable to move around. Provided one keeps an eye on the sea, it is rarely necessary hang on when working the foredeck.

Fun

Sailing Endless Summer is easy enough and fun enough that we frequently go sailing for just a couple of hours. It sounds silly to be proud of that, but you'd be surprised how many cruisers won't put up a sail for anything less than a full day passage. Everyone who's ever had a trick at the helm comments on how (surprisingly) responsive she is. "I never though a big boat would be this fun to sail!" is a typical response.

Motoring

Endless Summer's top speed under power (clean props/bottom, daggerboards up, flat water, etc.) is about 10 knots. Realistically, we usually see between 8 and 9 knots at full throttle.

The balanced forward and reverse power provided by the Autoprops and the widely spaced engines makes manuvering under power very easy. By using one throttle forward and the other in reverse we can rotate the boat in its own length. Our usual docking manuver is to stop next to the dock, and rotate the boat such that someone can step off the transom onto the dock. We then snub the stern dock line and push the boat into the dock using the engines. As long as the crosswind is light this manuver can usually be performed with the engines at idle.

Windage is always a concern, particularly during low-speed manuvers. In close quarters, we always keep the daggerboards at least halfway down. In anything more than 15 knots of wind, close quarters manuvering can be quite tricky.

Fuel economy ranges between 3 and 6 litres per hour under predictable circumstances. As a rule of thumb I use 5 litres per hour and have never been negatively surprised. The only time I've recorded consumption of 6 litres per hour I wasn't sure that the tank was completely full when we started.

Cruising Performance

My hope was to be able to average 8 knots under sail. That's 192 miles a day, quite fast for a cruising boat. Generally, we seem to be able to achieve this goal by keeping the boat conservatively reefed when under autopilot, and hand steering in "performance mode" for a few hours a day.

I can't emphasize enough how important light-air performance is to a cruiser. The average windspeed world wide is something on the order of 8 knots. It is absolutely true that the better the boat performs in light airs the lower the chance of experiencing heavy airs (or motoring a lot). As we have learned, sailing in "good weather" means 5 - 15 knots. A day which sees a 15-knot maximum breeze usually starts out at 3 knots. With spinnaker or screecher Endless Summer can ghost along at 4 knots in a 3-knot breeze and as soon as the wind hits 5 knots any point of sail is workable. Most of the cruising monos that we see won't even bother with sails until the wind starts to come above 10 knots. You can, of course, use the diesel to escape the laws of probability, but ultimately that will turn you into a motorboat.

Since the speed limit with a cat is when it tips over, cruising on a cat means sailing with very generous safety margins. Unlike a monohull which can be driven hard even when short handed (assuming all the various hatches are closed) there is no (safe) way for a cruising multihull to approach the speed of a fully crewed racing multihull. That I know of, the best way of putting a number on the safety margin is to take the true wind speed as a percentage of the static capsize windspeed, the windspeed necessary to tip the boat over sideways if it were sitting on the hard with all sails sheeted in tight. Obviously, the static capsize wind speed is just a rough approximation of the forces experienced at sea where the boat's velocity, sea state, leeway and dozens of other factors will all come into play. It does have the shining virtue of being easy to compute, so, when Ian Farrier tells me that it is 36 knots, I can actually believe that number. In contrast, things like stability curves have huge numbers of underlying assumptions (most of which are immediately violated by payload brought aboard by the owner) and are difficult to calculate to boot.

Somewhat arbitrarily, I chose 15 knots (gust) as the threshold for the first reef, 23 for the second, and 30 for the third. In practice these numbers seem to work relatively well though we haven't used the third reef in anger.

For upwind work, the balance between main and jib actually seems to be better with the first reef in: less weather helm. Speed is not much of an incentive to hang on to full sails.

Heavy Weather

The heaviest weather we've been out in was a 25-knot blow inside the barrier reef. We were running downwind with first reef and full jib averaging over 11 knots (for about 8 hours) with the autopilot trying to keep apparent wind around 100°. The autopilot didn't steer all that well, even jybing once, as we routinely surfed over 15 knots causing lots of variation in apparent wind. Subsequent experience has shown that keeping the apparent wind at 90° or higher will produce better VMG. Also, we've learned that using the autopilot in true wind mode, usually copes with surfing better though still not as well as a human driver. In the shallow water, seas were very steep with the largest breakers being easily 3 metres in height. We were pooped once resulting in about 100 litres of water in the cockpit. It probably wouldn't have happened with either true wind mode or a human at the helm.

Storm Tatics

In an actual storm, we will use a series drogue deployed off the stern on an adjustable bridle. On each side, the bridle runs through a very large snatch block attached to the stern cleat to the spinnaker winch which allows adjustment. In a storm, the tactics would be to quarter off under storm jib or just bare poles. By adjusting the bridle we should be able to achieve a stable attitude that could be maintained without the use of the auto-pilot. We'll also retract the daggerboards completely which will allow the boat to slide sideways and, because of the rudders, tend to turn her stern-to breaking waves.

Perhaps some day I'll test this out, but I hope not to.

Parachute sea anchors seem to be the conventional wisdom, but I am deeply sceptical of their utility in a storm. Most successful deployments seem to have been in gales. Theoretical problems with parachute sea anchors are numerous and there are many anecdotes to substantiate them. To wit:

  • You have to work on the foredeck to deploy them. Remember that in a 50-knot wind, it is basically impossible to walk and the foredeck is going to be the least hospitable place for crawling on the whole boat.
  • The standard advice to adjust the rode such that it is the same length as the waves is simply impractical to carry out. It may be difficult or impossible to identify the wavelength (which will change anyway), and adjusting the rode in storm conditions will range from a merely difficult trip to the foredeck, to suicide.
  • For a cat, the need to use a bridle complicates everything, most particularly adjusting the length of the rode.
  • Assuming that the parachute is actually deployed successfully, the boat is held basically motionless taking the full force of seas over the bows.
  • Should the rode part or go slack, the boat will be driven backwards down the waves, endangering the rudders and steering system and maximizing the risk of pitchpoling for a stern-heavy catamaran with a raked rig.

The Boat

Plans

Ian Farrier's plans are exceptionally detailed, and, for a project of this scope, had remarkably few errors. From my standpoint, the detailed plans were absolutely essential for managing the build in Australia from my home in California. Anything less would have cost thousands more in travel, management and the figuring out of things.

Nothing that was built according to plan or changed with Ian's blessing has failed in use. There were some problems with the boat, ultimately minor problems, but by the time the problems arose, the relationship between builder and designer had deteriorated to the point that the truth (or even just a consistent story) could not be determined. Ian feels that failures were due to his design not being followed and Steve feels that he didn't follow the design because it was problematic. Their falling out is regrettable; the boat is a success for both.

There is a natural conflict between the plans which cost something like 2% of the boat's price and the professional builder who collects the remaining 58% (with 40% or so passing through for various raw materials). Following the obvious principle that liability is proportional to the price paid it is the builder who is ultimately responsible for the boat. It would be ideal to have some financial mechanism whereby the designer can say "do it this way and I'll be liable if it fails" but short of a boat building company employing both designer and builder, I can't think of any realistic solution. In practice, the fact that a builder agrees to build to a set of plans usually implies that he feels that the boat specified is worth the risk he's assuming.

Size Matters

Relative to other catamarans of the same length, a Perry 43 for example, Endless Summer is quite small inside. As Ian Farrier points out, it is really more like a stretched 39-footer. Unlike a Perry 43, she weighs about 6.5 tons with full tanks and a month's worth of provisions.

One criteria that I had always had in mind was that the boat should be manageable with dead batteries. To this end, I wanted no electric winches or furlers. In addition to extra complexity, they are notorious for dammaging gear because the user has little feedback about the force being exerted. My hunch was that this requirement would limit sail area to about 1000 square feet and thus that the boat should be sized to perform well with that sail area. The F41 fits this criteria quite nicely and has proven as manageable as I had hoped. My kids (10 and 12) can up anchor and make sail though they do need to use the winch for the last third of the main.

The attractiveness of a relatively small boat being established, I think that there would be some advantages to a slightly larger boat which could be obtained at a nominal increase in cost:

  • more payload
    While generous for two, Endless Summer is a bit tight for 4 people, particularly if toys such as scuba gear are desired.
  • performance & comfort
    All things being equal, more waterline length is always faster and more comfortable.
  • safety
    Larger boats are more resistant to wave-induced capsize
  • ease of access to systems
    A larger boat might allow for easier access to plumbing wiring and other things.

Specifically, I'd look at making the boat about 10% longer and wider, while keeping the cabin and cockpit the same length and height. This would make the length something like 15 metres and with width close to 8. I'd keep the hulls the same width, making the L/B ratio longer than 11:1, because there isn't anything more that I think needs to be fit in them.

The rig would need a proportional increase in size but I still believe that it would be within the capabilities of a manual winch and off-the-shelf sailing gear.

The big increase in cost comes when one adds more interior: another cabin or shower for example.

Berthing expense wouldn't be much higher. You'd still need a double berth (or an end tie) but 15 metre boats are pretty common these days.

Aesthetics

While her looks tend more to functional than flashy, I think that Endless Summer is a very attractive catamaran, largely because Ian Farrier resisted the urge to cram too much interior into too little boat. If the main cabin is too large there's no way to avoid having the boat look top heavy. About the worst one could say is that some of the lines are a little squarish and to some degree Endless Summer has repaired this with the rounded transom steps. In other areas, for example the angle of the upper cabin sides, I think change would be ill advised, steeper and it looks more boxy and windage is worse, flatter and tropical sun will turn the main cabin into a solar oven and visibility is worse.

Structure

Construction

Endless Summer is built of vacuum bagged epoxy and glass over a Core-Cell foam core. The bow beam is carbon fibre and there are other bits of carbon where it seemed cost-effective: the chainplates, some reinforcing of the cockpit sole, and so forth.

For collision protection, the inner skin below the water line has an extra layer of Kevlar.

The most recent haulout left the port-side hull a little dimpled where it stood on the blocks. Steve recommends sand bags for support but few yards seem to have them available. Since a cruising boat may not always be near a top quality yard, I think that it makes good sense to create hardened areas on the hull large enough to take to fit both the lifting strap and the block. An extra layer (or layers?) of laminate on the bottom as well as extra ribs fore and aft of the relevant bulkheads should do the trick.

Thank's to Steve's painstaking construction methods - for example, routing out foam where skins overlap - the hulls were extremely fair with a minimal amount of filling and sanding. People routinely mistake her for a molded boat.

She was built to Queensland survey standards, but there are certain modifications that would have to be made (stainless staunchions, pulpit, etc.) in order to put the boat into charter service. A well-known Queensland surveyor, Terry Buddel, inspected the build as it progressed.

Interior finish is polyurethane paint. Exterior finish is a modified (buffable) acrylic. The bottom is undercoated with copper-poxy and finished Micron Extra antifouling.

If I were building the boat again, I wouldn't hesitate to go with carbon for all the bulkheads, the targa bar, and much of the bridgedeck structure. For durability reasons, I'd be a little reluctant to use all carbon on a cruising boat. Also, given that you're doing all the really thick layers of laminate in carbon (beams, bulkheads), it isn't clear that the weight savings from carbon hull skins is going to be worth the expense and fragility.

Doing It Cheaper

On of the attractive points of this design was that I knew that Ian Farrier, having a few successful mass produced designs under his belt, was very concerned with economy.

I would avoid economies with the hull because that is the only thing that cannot be redone later. In a similar vein, I'd avoid economizing on the rig and deck gear because the failure of an economy fitting might jeopardize the whole boat.

rough interior finish
Finishing the interior, particularly a smooth painted finish like Endless Summer's is incredibly difficult and time consuming.

A step above a raw fiberglass interior that might be worth investigating would be to laminate a finishing fabric (rice paper?) over the glass. With the right choice of fabric, you might be able to get an attractive, durable finish at a fraction of the cost of paint. Possibly, painting the foam (as is done with surfboards) prior to glassing could be another alternative.

No pressurized/hot water
A foot pump serving a tank at the galley would be quite adequate. If going this route, one could scrap the interior shower and vanity area, relying instead on an outdoor solar shower.

Scrap integrated sailing instruments
The premium for this bit of gear over a collection of more mass market things like a fishfinder, handheld gps, bit of yarn on the shroud, etc. is huge, a factor of 5 at least.

The requirement that pushed me into the purchase of B&G system was the need for an autopilot.

Give up the screecher
Particularly for cruising, this sail has too much overlap with the spinnaker.

No refrigeration
A well insulated ice box can keep one in perishables for a week or so. A compromise solution might be one of the 12-volt ice chests made for automotive use.

No inverter
About the only thing in the electrical system that is purely a luxury.

No SSB
For us, the most important function of SSB is the reception of weatherfaxes. This can be handled quite adequately by a much cheaper HF receiver.

"Cut Here" markings instead of escape hatches
You would need to ensure that a suitable saw was available on both the interior and exterior of the boat.

Waterline

When Endless Summer was launched it was immediately apparent that she was not floating on the designed waterline. After the usual fire drill on the part of Steve and Ian and a couple of dejected nights on my part it became clear that Ian had made an error in the center of buoyancy computation for the hull.

We discussed shifting tankage around to trim the boat, but it seemed a shame to have invested in an ultra-light carbon bow beam only to cancel it out by moving tanks forward.

Fortunately, the boat sailed just fine with the de facto waterline so the issue was just cosmetic. We decided to repaint the waterline, move then engine exhausts higher, and redo the shower floor to address the drainage problems.

Layout

The layout has a cabin in each corner of the boat, heads amidships, galley up, and a shower forward of the forward bulkhead on the starboard side. Everyone that has seen it has liked this layout; I think it is better than any in the plans.

When standing in the door to the cabin, you'd find the refrigerator/freezer at your left, then the stairs down into the port hull, the settee and table, the nav station, the stairs down into the starboard hull and the L-form galley containing the sink and stove.

Purely in terms of space utilization, I think that a galley-down layout would be better because the galley could make use of space that would otherwise be a "hallway." However, there are a number of other considerations which make galley-up better for us:

  • Cooking fumes naturally vent outside instead of into the main cabin
  • Cook is part of society
  • Cook has excellent view of the horizon and plenty of fresh air
  • No need to carry dishes back and forth (in seaway)

The only layout change that I'd think about making would be to swap the locations of the fridge and the nav station. The fridge door could then open into the starboard hull, at waist-level instead of on the floor, and the settee could wrap around the table a bit more.

Having the nav station just inside from the port helm would allow things like radar and GPS displays to be mounted on a flexible arm, viewable indoors or out.

The drawback to this layout change is that the cabin would be less open and airy than it is. As it stands we haven't missed having radar visible from the helm. As radar is usually consulted in intervals measured in minutes, it is no problem to walk in and take a look at it. For the rest, we don't have a chart plotter and the GPS information can be displayed on the sailing instruments.

Main Cabin

Clearance under the bridgedeck is about 850mm, obviously adequate because we never experience slamming. When water does come in contact with the bridge deck, it usually sounds as though someone is hosing off the bottom of the cabin.

With the higher cabin option, headroom is adequate for me (6' 3") everywhere but on the stairs which requires a duck.

The settee is comfortable for eating but a bit too upright for lounging. In addition to the settee, we have two ordinary folding deck chairs and a couple of folding stools.

Since the table also serves as a handhold when making one's way across the cabin, it must be very strong. The first table, timber veneer over a a foam/glass sandwich, was too flexible in addition to being too small. Steve replaced it with a larger model based on carbon fibre which is much stiffer.

Aft Cabins

The aft cabins have an awkward angle in the ceiling where the cabin extends above the side deck. I'd certainly contemplate extending the outboard edge of the cabin all the way to the side of the boat. That would get rid of the awkward angle on one side of the cabin. The other side is more problematic as it is integral to the cockpit seat and locker but it might be worth making the cockpit 40cm narrower to get rid of it. Making the cockpit narrower would also allow the cockpit seats to be made lower (they're a bit too high) as they'd no longer have any relation to the aft cabin.

The large, 600x600 Gebo hatches on the aft cabins have been difficult to make waterproof. It took several tries to get the hatches completely watertight. I suspect that this is due to flex in the cabin ceiling as people walk across. Some extra glass aligned with the edges of the hatch might prevent the problem. Note that using something permanent like 5200 is not desirable for these hatches because you might need to remove them to get the engines out. If the leak returns I will run a bead of 5200 along the outside of the frame where it could be cut away if need be. For mounting hatches permanently, 5200 seems to be the go.

Ports and Hatches

The Gebo hatches generally seem to work well, but the handles both interior and exterior are inexcusably flimsy. The exterior handles are glued to the latch body with a glue that wasn't quite up to the rigors of tropical sun. Many have come loose and I'm still trying to get the local Gebo representative to replace them.

The screens for the hatches are expensive (A$60) and for the price, quite flimsy.

The Gebo ports along the bevel in the side of the hull leak unless closed. The problem seems to be water running off the deck above and then under the top of the open port. A molded flange should prevent this leakage and contribute greatly to tropical ventilation.

Inasmuch as they have remained closed and leak-free, the escape hatches have worked well. We have not used them for actual escaping. We did have a very slight leak once which turned out to be due to the screw holding the interior and exterior handles loosening up.

If you forget to close the escape hatches, you will get quite a bit of water in the boat. Very quickly.

Cockpit

The cockpit is roomy and comfortable, a great place for socializing. If anything it is a bit large as it can be a little awkward to cross in a (very) bouncy seaway.

The helm stations are moderately sheltered. In exchange for buffeting the odd bit of spray the driver has an excellent view of the sails. In inclement conditions, we usually let the autopilot drive and sit on one of the bench seats which are very sheltered. In really bad weather, we stay in the main cabin.

In the plans the cockpit sole is raked aft, ideal for drainage but leaving an awkward step down at the cabin threshold. Endless Summer's cockpit sole is level with drainage provided by four large scuppers. A little squeegee work takes care of any puddles.

The cockpit could be made a few cm narrower which would allow the seats to be moved lower with a higher, more comfortable backrest against the aft cabins.

The foot well for the helm station is quite low relative to a seat on the aft cabin top. We sometimes bring up a tool box to rest our feet on. The footwell could be made higher, but would put the helmsman's head in striking distance of the boom when standing. A molded foot rail under the helm might be just the ticket.

Water will collect in the lee foot well when under sail as the boat heels just enough to prevent it from draining. About 10° more rake in the footwell would prevent this minor irritation.

Transoms

Steve Ikin volunteered Endless Summer's transom design and we love it. The curved steps are comfortable and the extended transom allows easy boarding of the dingy - sit on transom with feet in dingy, scootch into dingy - in addition to providing some extra reserve buoyancy in the stern and waterline length.

An important safety consideration arguing for a low transom is the fact that a swimmer can board the boat without aid of a ladder. Access to and from a dock is also much easier than on a boat with high topsides.

The transom steps and cockpit are lighted with small LED lights which are very handy when returning to the boat on dark nights. Aim right between the two lights and turn off the outboard when you hit your head.

Access to Systems

In Endless Summer's case, access to plumbing and wiring is quite tight, in many cases needlessly so. I think that instead of using a commercially made hatches in a molded in interior panel, I'd rather make the entire panel removable. Fastening with stainless hex-head screws would be acceptable if some sort of twist-lock quick release fastening couldn't be sourced. If quick access is necessary a smaller conventional hatch could always be mounted in a removable panel.

Full-size access panels could reasonably be used:

  • around the black water tanks and head plumbing
  • at the back of the nav station to provide access to all of the various switches and panels.
  • On the back and seat of the settee providing access to batteries, wiring, plumbing, and storage.
  • On the inside of the hulls, just forward of the stairs where the water tanks are located.
  • in the floorboards, particularly the section of floor (large step) around the heads.

The plans are relatively silent on the subject of access to plumbing and wiring. While every boat will be different they will share some common problems:

  • cabling runs from main panel to engines
  • fuel lines from forward fuel tanks to engines
  • cabling from main panel to anchor winch

At the design level, I think that certain provisons could be made for running cabling and plumbing fore and aft. By extending the ribs on the bottom of the cabin and possibly making (at least one of) them a bit wider the design would provide an easy fore and aft cableway which would connect the fuel tanks and anchor winch forward to the aft cabin bulkhead. Conduits in the cockpit lockers could connect to a threshold conduit along the base of the aft cabin bulkhead.

Another possibility would be to create a triangular fore and aft cableway along the inner side of the hull just below the level of the escape hatch. It could integrate with the third (or so) step down from cabin into the hull. It would need to be sealed where it passes through into the engine rooms. The entire top section of the cableway could be removable.

As systems work usually comes at premium hourly rates, it makes sense to spend a little extra time on the structure in order to ease installation and maintenance of plumbing and wiring.

Side Decks

As it stands, the lower side decks are relatively useless for moving fore and aft because you have to duck around the side stays. Instead, everyone uses the upper side decks even though there's an awkward step from the roof of the aft cabin up to the narrow patch of side deck next to the jib sheet winch.

Personally, I'd scrap the lower side decks almost entirely by moving the lower cabin side out until it just clears the daggerboard case. In addition to creating a more usable upper side deck, this change would improve the head room in the hulls. Currently, the joint between the cabin side and the lower deck falls right in the middle of the interior: an awkward reduction in head room.

Molded Fittings

Endless Summer started down this track, the staunchion bases and chainplates are molded in, but there's plenty more that could be done. As much as possible I'd try to replace things like pad-eyes with integral composite equivalents.

Things like fairleads, should make some provision for chafe, possibly incorporating some sort of metal "thimble."

Metal gear would need to be attached to synthetic pad eyes via a strop, or the "eye" would need to be constructed to take a shackle as the chainplates do. Note that in the case of personal tethers, they should always be clipped into a strop (sling in climber's parlance) because in just the wrong circumstances a gated clip (carabiener) can be forced open by a rigid eye.

I have seen boats which have no horn cleats, using molded in pad eyes for dock lines instead. While very pretty, this arrangement strikes me as awkward because it complicates the use of the fixed docklines present at some fuel docks. Also, for example when taking a tow line aboard, it is much faster to snub a line around a horn cleat than to tie a bowline around a molded pad eye.

Lifelines?

Unless they are very high (more than a meter) and carry a strong mesh, I doubt that lifelines serve much purpose other than making the crew feel more secure. I don't think there are many situations when lifelines would actually prevent you from falling over board. You'd go right through them or over them possibly injuring yourself on any staunchion that happened to be in the way. In fact, staunchions are designed to bend or break in order to minimize this type of injury.

My inclination would be to replace the lifelines with a nice molded-on toe-rail and some molded-on grab rails on the cabin top. Endless Summer already has jack lines from either side of the cockpit to the bow beam so it is possible to clip a harness in from the safety of the cockpit before venturing forward. Unlike lifelines, which make a poor handhold and an even worse foothold, a toe-rail or a grab-rail will allow crew to actively prevent themselves from falling overboard.

Trampolines

The trampolines are constructed of nylon webbing, sewn and glued. As they're symmetrical, they can be flipped over and used on the other side. At this point it looks like the nets will last several years.

Steve moved the bow beam up slightly to be flush with the foredeck and then incorporated a perforated conduit around the trampoline opening. Inside the conduit is threaded a length of wire and the nets are then lashed to the wire via the holes in the conduit. The nets themselves hang on fibreglass rods and it is actually the rod that is lashed to the cable with half-inch webbing.

Targa Bar

The targa bar carries the dingy davits, GPS antenna, radar and wind instruments and provides a place to attach the aft end of the bimini. Aesthetically, the joint between the bar and the hull is a little awkward. It would look nicer if the bar followed the line of the hull and integrated into the transom steps, rather than protruding from the aft beam is it does.

The top of the targa bar is almost wide enough to allow a couple of smaller solar panels to be mounted. I'd certainly try and do this if building again. Note that the biggest problem with the targa bar is probably making the inside large enough to carry all the wires that need to get there.

Bimini

As a shelter from the sun, the bimini, strung between the back of the cabin and the targa bar, is very effective. Ours has a hole for the main sheet, but we never use it as the boom is always pulled to one side or the other to keep the solar panels exposed.

As delivered, it did not quite cover the hatches on the aft cabins which meant that they could not be left open during rainstorms. We have since had bimini modified to cover the hatches.

The nylon bimini clips are quite flimsy and tend to stick or break over time. Fortunately they're cheap and easy to replace as I haven't found a better solution. Bimini 2.0 may come with saddles and hooks instead.

The bimini does restrict access fore and aft, requiring an awkward squeeze past the helm to move forward. A solution will require some sort of pole, either running inside the bimini like a dome tent, or a simple support. I like the dome tent idea, but it might be a lot of work to get a canvas maker to produce one.

While motoring around, it is convenient to roll up the sides of the bimini rather than taking it down completely. Ours wasn't designed with this in mind but it seems to work well.

Permanent biminis (or extended cabin roofs) are attractive as they provide shade even when sailing, but it seems impossible to create one that is aesthetically pleasing and not a head banger.

The bimini provides adequate shelter in rain, the two problems being that water collects on top of it and that water drips off the cabin top. Some variation of the dome-tent idea might shed water. Adding a small lip (just half a cm) to the edge of the cabin roof would channel water away from the cockpit.

Steering

Steering is accomplished with dual Teleflex-Morse hydraulic helms. The fact that turning one helm doesn't turn the other is a bit unnerving at first. Each helm is a pump which moves hydraulic fluid from one side of the system to the other. If you turn both in opposite directions they simply cancel each other out. After getting used to the system, the most notable difference between hydraulic and mechanical systems is that the helms have no intrinsic "dead center" position. You have to look at the rudder trim indicator on the instruments to see what the rudder is doing. Since the boat turning is usually obvious, the only time I find myself looking at the rudder angle indicator is when preparing for slow speed manuvering which is done with with the engines alone.

The rams are connected in parallel (so that one will work even if the other is damaged) which does cause gradual misalignment of the rudders as they experience slightly different forces in response to helm input. A crossover valve is provided which allows one to realign the rudders by opening the valve while motoring straight with no helm input. Realignment seems to be necessary every couple of months or so, the symptom misalignment being that the boat sails better on one tack than on the other.

While one does notice a difference in the amount of effort required to turn the helm, hydraulic steering has little "feel" relative to a tiller. Having tried cats with various mechanical systems, I don't think that hydraulic any worse than gears or cables, and I do think that it is more reliable and easier to repair. It is also the most economical of the alternatives and integration with an autopilot is easy.

Initially, we did have some problems with leaky seals on the rams. The hydraulic technician attributed this to dust, probably from the construction that was ongoing when the hydraulics were installed. Since then, the hydraulics have worked flawlessly and I have taken extra care to keep them clean when in dusty environments (fx. Gladstone).

There is a mechanical emergency tiller which can be attached directly to either rudder. The tiller disassembles into two pieces which stow behind the settee.

Daggerboards & Cases

The F41 has the largest daggerboards of any cat that I've seen in person. For example, they are twice as wide and probably deeper than the boards on a Catana 471. The boards are lowered and raised via two control lines which are led aft to the traveller winches. The boards are naturally buoyant and float more-or-less at the fully lowered position so lowering the boards is usually as simple as easing out the uphaul line. If the boat is moving, it is sometimes necessary to winch the boards down into position or to walk forward and step on them.

When motoring in shoal water, we keep the boards halfway raised and leave the downhaul line clutch open. In this position, the boards are just slightly lower than the props and rudders and serve as bottom feelers.

We did not build in any automatic kick up mechanism, nor incorporate break-away sections into the boards, primarily because I am deeply sceptical of things which cannot be tested. One of the liabilities that one needs to accept with a high-performance cat is that running aground at speed is liable to be very expensive.

The daggerboards are quite noisy both raised and lowered. At anchor we solve this problem by raising the boards completely and wedging a couple of door stops between board and case. Under sail we live with the noise. It strikes me that wedges, the upper one deeper than the lower, could be molded onto the inside of the leading and trailing edges of the board with corresponding channels in the case. When fully lowered, the wedges would bear on corresponding surfaces at the end of the channels in the case, forcing the board against the outside edge of the case. In addition to eliminating the clonking noise, this would have the salubrious effect of reducing the shock loads and leverage on the outer wall of the case. To prevent the board from actually sticking, the wedges would have to have a pretty significant angle, closer to 45° than to a door stop.

The ropes to raise and lower the boards are simply epoxied in to the boards. While replacing the daggerboard control lines occurs infrequently, it might be worthwhile to create molded-in pad-eyes to which control lines could be spliced.

We had a couple of dramas with the daggerboards and cases. Unfortunately, the working relationship between builder and designer had deteriorated to the point that there seems to be no way to figure out what went wrong. I have to confess that I'm much more interested in sailing than in composite engineering so I really haven't pursued an answer very hard. Here's my best guess:

The original daggerboards, built in molded halves with a foam core, cracked on the join line. We later figured out that the boards had been lowered about 10cm too far but I don't think that that extra load should have made a difference given that we had been sailing in a 15-knot breeze when the damage was discovered. It isn't clear that the original boards were built as specified in the plans.

Steve built two new boards out of solid hoop pine and they've worked fine ever since. The new boards are also about 50 cm longer than designed which means that they are flush with deck when lowered. Mechanically, this arrangement is more conservative (a longer lever) and it has the advantage of leaving no hole in the deck when the boards are lowered. The cost is some extra weight and some extra windage when the boards are fully raised.

An important feature of the boards as designed is the raised layer of tape on the leading and trailing edge. Among other things, this layer of tape is what transfers the load from the board to the case. However, as the new boards were solid and built in extreme haste the tape was left off probably because it was deemed "structurally unnecessary" given that the boards were not made in halves.

Sometime later, I'm not sure how much, we noticed cracking at the leading and trailing edges of the daggerboard cases. It might have even started with the original boards which may or may not have had the required raised layer of tape. The cracks extended a few cm and then ceased growing. Since I continued to push the boat hard, I was pretty confident that the cracking was cosmetic only: the thin section of glass where the case exits the hull simply cracked back until the case/hull was thick/strong enough to support the load on the boards. We tried a simple repair, basically gluing the crack back together in hopes that the board had made enough room for itself, but the repair failed almost immediately.

Given that the simple repair failed, we then came up with two possible repairs: adding bearing patches to the outboard wall of the case so that the force from the boards would be transferred to the case where it was strong enough (ie. above the cracks) and replacing all the foam around the case exit with solid glass.

Since I was still more interested in sailing than in composite engineering, I decided to push ahead with both repairs simultaneously: we stripped away all of the foam from around the case exit and replaced it with solid unidirectional glass and we added two patches of glass to the outboard side of the case to transfer the force from the board to the case in a location that was strong enough. While stripping the damage away, we noticed some compression failure on the inside of the case and so stripped skin and foam from the entire case exit and replaced it with solid glass. We've experienced no cracking of board or case since then.

In hindsight, I find the design to be "excessively clever" in this area. I think that having a couple of patches of fiberglass on the case whose function is simple and obvious to anyone with high school physics is a better engineering solution that relying on a scantily documented interaction between the board structure and the case and assuming that people will follow instructions "exactly." Important structural relationships need to be as obvious as possible. The point is not that Ian's design will not work, just that a simpler design has a higher probability of being built successfully. Ian has since revised the plans to make the relationship between board and case completely clear. Of course, the builder has overall responsibilty for producing a working boat and that includes dealing with bits of design that may be excessively clever: either figure it out and simplify it or follow instructions exactly. In this one respect, I'm not too happy with either designer or builder, but the issue was ultimately minor.

If I were building an F41 again, I would go with a "full length" solid timber or foam daggerboard, possibly with the addition of bearing wedges to keep the boards quiet. I would also use bearing patches on the outboard side of the case instead of strips on the board as the boards are not always fully lowered, and I would overbuild the cases, using more solid glass around the case exit. The weight penalty is tiny relative to the hassle of repair. While it is a big modification to the case (ie. I'd want Ian's OK), I'd look at adding wedges to the boards and corresponding channels to the case such that the boards would forced against the outboard side of the case when fully lowered. It is easy to add shims to the top of the board, but without something halfway down the board, the board can still rattle back and forth in the case.

Underslung Spade Rudders

Endless Summer has very conventional underlsung spade rudders mounted on carbon fibre shafts which should snap cleanly if we ever hit something really hard. Steve added substantial reenforcement to ensure that it would be the shaft which snapped, not something else.

I made no provisions for emergency kick-up because I have no intention of devoting the time and energy required to make sure such a feature actually works. The kick-up systems I've seen all add a lot of complexity and I'm sceptical that they would actually work (ie. do less damage than snapping a rudder shaft). Also, given that we have inboard saildrives, rudder damage is going to be the least of our worries.

We did not opt for the daggerboard style rudders for a number of reasons:

  1. Given that we were using inboard saildrives, the need for retractable rudders, at best sketchy, just evaporates. Regardless of what sticks out of the bottom, beaching a 6-ton boat is not a casual operation. The fact that fixed rudders will stick into the sand a bit is no impediment to beaching the boat.

  2. Attaching the steering linkage to a shaft is dead easy. In contrast, bringing a stub tiller inside the boat in a simple, reliable, waterproof way is quite an engineering feat. Generally, solutions to this problem degenerate into converting the tiller to a shaft, so why bother with the tiller in the first place?

  3. I wanted extra waterline length, particularly at the stern. The cutout for a transom hung rudder precludes this.

Engines & Props

I was initially quite excited about the idea of using outboards but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it, particularly in the context of a cruising boat. Problems with outboards include:

  • mounting
    Mounting the outboards so that they could be raised and lowered seems like an open problem. It is very easy to lose all the weight savings in the mounting mechanism. It also takes time to raise and lower the motors; they are not instantly available as inboards are.

  • petrol
    The need to store large amounts of petrol (gasoline) is a safety issue that can't be swept under the carpet. Fire is the only weak spot of an unsinkable boat and diesel is much safer than petrol.

  • power generation
    Our modest AGM battery bank will absorb up to 240 amps when recharging. In order to generate that sort of power you're going to need a dedicated genset. The alternative is to accept very long recharging times. It may even be impossible to fit sufficient alternator capacity on a 25 hp outboard.

We went with 27 hp Yanmar saildrives and 17¼ inch H5 Autoprops.

Initially, we were considerably overpropped, and Yard Engineering, who supplied the props, replaced the propeller blades to obtain a lower pitch. Currently, we are now just slightly overpropped but not enough to bother with repitching the blades again. As a practical matter we only notice the overpropping when charging the batteries while motoring.

The Autoprop documentation suggests that the transmissions be locked in forward (so that the props will feather instead of rotating) at speeds less than 13 knots. Above 13 knots the recommendation is to leave the transmission in neutral allowing the props to freewheel. Unsatisfactory. Who's going to remember to do this? I phoned Brunton in England and spoke to an engineer. Evidently, the problem is that props can actually start the engine if dragged fast enough. There's an anecdote of a boat surfing down a wave, starting or turning the diesel backwards and eventually ruining the engine.

The most sensible thing seemed to be to lock the transmissions in reverse so that the engines, if they turned over would at least be turning in the right direction. In either forward or reverse, the thing resisting the propellor is the engine's compression. The fellow at Brunton approved of this, so that is what we do. Specifically, when switching from engines to sails we:

  1. Pinch a bit to keep boatspeed under 5 knots.
  2. Kill the engines.
  3. Shift the transmissions into reverse.
  4. Turn off engines

Brunton makes a shaft lock which resolves the problem, if you have shaft drives.

I do have some reservations about the maintenance overhead of the Yanmar saildrives but I'm not sure if the maintenance is really worse than with shaft drives which are also notorious for causing problems. However, saildrive salesmen never mention things like replacing the diaphragm rubber every 2 years. The SD-20 legs also require a haul-out to replace the drive leg oil. I frequently snorkle around the boat and clean the props and and the raw-water intake of the saildrive.

My worry about the Autoprops was the mechanical complexity and the maintenance schedule. Thus far, 370 engine hours, we've had no trouble and the only maintenance has been lubricating the props (which requires a haul-out) and changing the zincs (which can be done underwater). At about A$ 40 a piece, the zincs are quite expensive. Initially the zincs were attached to the props with bronze screws, but this seemed to cause the zincs to corrode first around the screw, ultimately causing the zinc to fall off before it was consumed. Currently, the recommended way to attach the zincs is with nylon screws. The nylon screws don't cause as much corrosion around the screw hole but aren't as secure as the metal ones.

We seem to go through about 2 sets of propellor anodes per year. The saildrive anodes last much longer, more than a year, which is nice because the props have to be removed in order to change them.

Aside from some air leaks caused by incorrectly sized hose clamps, the engines have worked well.

The engines are controlled by electronic Morse throttles at each helm station. In addition to throttles, we installed dual engine control panels but these proved unnecessary. The control panels which provide warning lights, tachometer and kill switch, are designed with flybridge cruisers in mind where one panel, the master, is located inside the cabin while the other, the slave, is located on the flybridge. The boat can only be started if the master panel has been turned on with the key. On Endless Summer, the port panels are the masters and the starboard the slaves. Initially we'd put keys in all four, but quite rapidly we stopped using the starboard panels. The only thing that you really need is the tachometer (for balancing engines) and it is easy enough to do this by ear, or to switch throttles. So now, the starboard panels serve only as "hot spares."

Dual throttles are handy as it allows the skipper to stand on the side of the boat closest to the dock when docking. The throttles have the usual forward-neutral-reverse operation with the addition of a button to make the throttle active (and the other inactive). When starting the motors, the port-side throttle becomes active, in neutral regardless of the position of the levers. Pressing the button while engaging the throttles allows control of the engine speed with the transmission in neutral.

The engine rooms are completely separate from the interior of the boat. There is an airtight (bolted on) hatch for engine removal under each of the aft cabin bunks. Everyday access to the engine rooms is via hatches built into the transom steps. Each engine room has its own 500gph bilge pump.

Diesel Tankage and Plumbing

Endless Summer has two stainless steel 144-litre diesel tanks in a fuel locker just forward of the mast. The tanks are filled via two deck mounted 1.5-inch fittings. The tanks are connected to the engines via a T-fitting with individual valves allowing either or both tanks to be used.

The diesel tanks are probably my least favorite part of the boat. Refueling is awkward and slow, and bulkhead fitting leaked until I figured out the yogi-like contortions necessary to get a wrench onto it. In the interests of ease of plumbing, it would certainly be worthwhile to extend one of the under cabin ribs far enough forward that the fuel lines could run directly through it rather than through the bulkhead into the main cabin and then into the rib.

With the tanks in an opening fuel locker, there is no reason to have deck fittings to fill them through. A better solution would be to have a 3-inch fill tubes mounted directly on the tanks with a reservoir to catch spills. The large diameter fill tube would allow one to fill the tanks rapidly at facilities designed to dispense thousands of litres to commercial craft instead of trying to dribble fuel through a funnel.

Another improvement would be some sort of visual fuel gauge at the tanks. As it is, one has to look for the appearance of diesel in the vent tubes to know that the tanks are full. The Wema gauges are pretty useless for this purpose as they're inside the cabin and seem prone to sticking to boot. I'd be perfectly happy without them as I always use a fuel economy estimate.

While we haven't run a tank dry, we did run one empty enough to get air into the fuel lines while motoring to the windward in rough seas. We had plenty of fuel left, but it was sloshing around enough to allow some air into the fuel line which shut down both engines. I've heard of flexible bladder tanks which might not be subject to this problem. Any way of avoiding the need to bleed diesels at night while trying to sail off a rocky headland seems well worth investigation.

In general, we try to fill only one tank at a time so that we always have a full tank (and 2 jerry cans) of good quality fuel. To this end, I replaced the diesel return T-connection with a valve so that we could run entirely on either tank.

Fuel filters are located in the forward cockpit locker which makes inspection and replacement of filters easy. It is still necessary to go down into the engine room to bleed the fuel line, (and, if you're luck is really bad, to replace the secondary filter) however.

Rather than having one filter for each engine, I'd consider a system using one filter for each tank. The filters would have to be sized to supply fuel to both engines and you'd need two fuel lines to the filters but the end result would be more redundant system which could respond more easily to a load of bad fuel as one could switch tanks and filters immediately and then change the clogged filter at leisure. Racor filters seem lend themselves to this sort of arrangement as they can be changed with a minimum of fuel spillage and bleeding. Endless Summer has Delphi filters which have worked fine inasmuch as we've had no fuel impurities to deal with.

Sailing Instruments

The location of the instrument panels is something of a compromise. They are easy to read from the cockpit but harder from the helm station. Usually, if we're paying attention to the instruments we're on autopilot, and we look mostly at the telltales if we're hand steering so this arrangement works out better than one would think. I would look at mounting some of the instruments in a little pod on the side of the upper cabin, more-or-less directly in front of the helm. I'm not sure how this would look or how well it would work but it could be nice.

Since the mast rotates, two sets of wind instruments were mounted on the targa bar. We select the wind instruments in clean air via a switch at the nav station. In the meantime, instrument makers have finally figured out that one could put a second fluxgate compass at the masthead and use the difference between that and the compass on the boat to account for mast rotation. However, having wind instruments on the targa bar does seem to give a significantly less variation in windspeed than masthead units. When comparing notes with nearby boats, our version of the windspeed is almost always less than other boats and more in agreement with land mounted sensors. Endless Summer seems to suffer fewer "yachtsman's gales" and that is a psychological help if nothing else.

The sailing instrument package (log, depth, wind, autopilot) is B&G H1000. While the package ultimately works quite well, we had a ghastly time getting it to work. The initial system had some software problem which manifested themselves several weeks after the boat was launched by crashing all the displays. Of course, this happened on the one day that nobody wanted to hand steer: wind 20 - 30 knots and rain.

Thankfully, the GPS was not integrated with the sailing instruments (other than via NMEA) and that is an arrangement that I'd insist on in the future as having both fail would have been truly vile. We do carry a handheld GPS for backup.

Several bits and pieces were swapped out, software was upgraded, and things seemed to be OK. They weren't. We had intermittent compass failures, and one of the autopilot controllers sometimes failed to control the autopilot. Both of those bits were replaced and the system became more or less usable. It got us to Papua New Guinea and back.

But the problems weren't over. One of the instrument display panels started crashing whenever we turned the backlights on. Also, we noticed a proliferation of "depth" sources in the list of candidates for programming a display. The longer the instruments were on, the more depth sounders we got.

Another visit by the B&G dealer (more software upgrades, rejiggering the NMEA interface, and some new hardware) seemed to correct everything but the faulty sea temperature sensor which now shows Port Jackson water temperature as 42° C. At this point I'm not sure if I want to risk stability of the system for the sake of correct sea temperature.

OK, enough drama. The H1000 system works reasonably well even if the display programming is a bit cumbersome. Our most-used displays are:

  • boatspeed, true wind direction, true wind speed
    What we usually have up as these are the three things we pay most attention to. For example, we usually put the first reef in as soon as we see true wind speed over 15 knots.

  • velocity to waypoint, bearing to waypoint, apparent wind angle, opposite tack
    Generally, this shows us how fast we're getting to where we want to go and when it is time to make the final tack or jybe to our destination.

  • velocity made good, true wind speed, apparent wind angle, boatspeed
    VMG/TWS as a percentage is my favorite measure of upwind performance.

  • depth profile

The autopilot will steer:

  • a compass course
  • to a GPS waypoint, or route (nav mode)
  • to an apparent wind angle
  • to a true wind angle

Generally, I prefer to use either apparent or true wind angle modes because one can be confident that the autopilot will usually try to do the "right thing," and, we get the best possible boatspeed because the sails are correctly trimmed. If winds are really light it is sometimes better to use compass mode; the fact that the sails aren't always properly trimmed won't make that much difference.

We usually put a destination waypoint into the GPS when we start a trip. Since nav mode steers to the course established at the time the waypoint was selected for going to, it is pretty useless for a sailboat which seldom follows the direct line. If switching the autopilot to nav mode, the first thing it does is try to get back on track by sailing directly towards the "desired" track instead of just going to the waypoint. To get the the behaviour we want, we have to cancel the goto and then immediately reinstate it. Or, we just use compass mode and the bearing to waypoint.

It would be nice if the B&G gear supported histograms of everything (not just depth) and allowed one to display ratios, for example, VMG:TWS as I tend to use such ratios to keep track of performance.

Nav Station

We don't have a chart plotter and not having radar visible from the helm hasn't been a big inconvenience. Using radar for collision avoidance involves checking the bearing line at intervals usually measured in minutes so there's no problem with walking inside to take a look.

A small tube for stowing charts is behind the settee. This works so well that we added a much larger tube under the portside aft cabin. Under way, the charts get unrolled and spread out full length on the dinette.

Occasionally, it is handy to have a radio at the helm and we use a handheld VHF for this purpose.

Galley

The galley is furnished with a SMEV sink, 3-burner cooktop and oven. The design of the units is nice with lids which can be lowered flush with the countertops but the functionality lags somewhat. The faucet on the sink was incorporated a pump switch which we did not need and it was extremely flimsy to boot. Miraculously, Steve did manage to find a simple stainless replacment which fit.

The stove and oven burn propane. Two 9kg propane bottles (one active, one spare) are carried in the fuel/anchor lockers forward. The tanks are isolated by a solenoid valve controlled by a switch near the galley. The switch incorporates two propane sensors and will automatically shut off the gas if a leak is detected. It also shuts off the bottle if anyone uses hairspray or insect repellent.

The burners on the stove and oven can most charitably be described as "temperamental." Each burner has its own temperature sensor which will automatically shut off the gas if the flame goes out. To light the burner one overrides the shut off by pushing the knob in while holding down the manual lighting switch which will spark the flames. One of the burners on the stove simply refuses to stay lit while the oven sometimes requires the services of a match, though the igniter always sparks vigorously once lit.

The burners on the stove are provided with removable racks which is quite handy for cleaning, but the grommets into which the racks fit seem to shrink with age and exposure to heat and eventually disappear.

There are no fiddle rails but the motion is such that they are seldom missed. In really rough weather it is necessary to keep a hand on anything on the stove.

As the burner is in the back, the heat in the oven is predictably irregular. This combined with the fact that temperature control knob indicates only temperatures 1 - 6 instead of actual degrees can make baking a little challenging.

Storage for dishes, pots and pans is adequate. We can comfortably cook for eight.

The I'd probably look for something other than SMEV if building again and I'd certainly add a saltwater foot pump to the sink for water-efficient rinsing.

A 9kg bottle of propane seems to last us about 5 weeks.

Fresh Water

The theory behind the fresh water system is to have relatively small tanks and a water maker rather than lug 500 litres of water with us.

Fresh water is stored in two tanks, one primary which serves the various taps via a Jabsco ParMax4 pump, and one secondary tank which is connected only to the primary tank via a transfer pump. Each tank is about 100 litres.

The initial ParMax 4 was really noisy. After a year of use, the first pump started to get "sticky," failed to respond immediately when the tap was opened. I removed the pressure switch to check for problems, found none, and reassembled the pump. It started leaking around the pressure switch which I was hesitant to fiddle with as it was secured to the pump with self-tappng screws into the plastic pump housing. True to my hunch, my third try at "fixing" the pump by lubricating the pressure piston with a little silicon while taming the leak with teflon tape resulted in a stripped screw.

For want of any choice, I replaced the old ParMax with a newer model. The new model has a different and hopefully better pressure switch and is much quieter to boot.

We have a Spectra Santa-Cruz model water marker which we usually run every day for half an hour to an hour to keep the tanks topped up.

Hot water is provided by a heat exchanger plumbed into the starboard engine. Originally secured by only two straps, the heat exchanger came loose at sea (on the same awful day that the B&G gear croaked) and landed on the tool tray in the engine room. The cause of the problem seemed to be the tank moving horizontally in the straps that held it. It now has a block to prevent horizontal escape and we've had no further problems with it.

There is a sink in the galley, a sink in each head (probably overkill) a sink in the vanity area, and a shower.

Gray Water & Bilge

Drainage of the sinks and shower is accomplished by a Johnson sump/pump in each hull. The sump is plumbed via non-return valve into a T-connection and thence overboard via a waterline through hull. The other arm of the T, similarly protected with a non-return valve, is used by the bilge pump.

In an emergency (ie. when the water is higher than the floor), the cover to the sump can be removed from the sump pump will function as an additional bilge pump.

The Johnson magnetic float switches in the sumps have proved most unsatisfactory. It appears that the float switch will switch the pump on in only the middle portion of the float's range of travel. A bouncy seaway combined with rapidly flowing water can cause the float to travel above the range of the sensor leaving the pump off until the overflowing sump comes to someone's attention. This problem seems to have been fixed on later versions of the float switch which feature a tab on the float which limits its range. We replaced the starboard sump with the new model which doesn't seem to have the problem as the float switch is now retained in the correct range by a little plastic tab. The port-side sump is used only for the wash basin in the port-side head which we never seem to use, the galley sink being handier.

The drain from the galley sink is plumbed directly overboard along with the required drains from the propane stove and oven.

Thankfully, the bilge pumps are the Rule 500 gph models with mercury float switches (and a manual override at the distribution panel) which don't seem to have the problems of the Johnson units.

Heads & Black Water Tankage

The heads are manual Raritan Cricket models. They have a few interesting idiosyncracies, but seem to work reasonably well. We broke one handle due to "overenthusiastic pumping".

The athwartship location of the heads makes it very convenient to locate the black water tanks and through-hulls just aft of the head compartment. The heads are plumbed directly into the tanks, and thence overboard via a pump-out fitting on the deck or a through hull located beneath the tank. Since the tank is above the waterline, no pump is necessary for drainage.

The Wema black water gauges stopped working almost immediately. Theoretically, it is possible to attach a hose, suitably adapted, to the top of the gauge sensor and "blast" the sensor clean. In practice, this seems to work for at most one filling of the tank so we don't bother with the gauges any more, going more by dead reckoning and keeping one tank in "reserve." I've since learned of a mechanical float-ball system which is supposed to be more reliable.

The black water through-hull fitting, being very large, can bring a substantial amount of leverage to bear on the hull. In our case, one of the through hulls was cracked loose in the struggle to replace some nonstandard sewage hose with true blackwater hose. If the location of the through hulls could be specified when laying up the hull, I would certainly put an extra layer of glass inside and out. That is in addition to the usual drill of picking out the foam and replacing it with solid epoxy to resist the compression loads of the fitting.

Heating & Ventilation

The intention was to heat the boat with a propane cabin heater and plumbing for such is present, however, the heater itself was never installed. Cold mornings are thus an incentive for the first riser to think of something for brekkie that can be made in the oven. Without heating, the boat is quite liveable down to 9° or 10°. The foam construction is an excellent insulator.

Ventilation is quite good, particularly at anchor where the forward opening forward hatches funnel a nice breeze through the boat. Rainy tropical weather is a bit more problematic. We've extended the bimini to completely cover the aft cabin hatches and we're planning on putting together some sort of little hatch cover so that the front hatches can remain open.

Stuck in Cairns in December, we purchased 4 small 12-volt fans and Karin rigged up suction cups to allow them to be mounted almost anywere. It made a huge difference on windless nights. I'd certainly consider building in three or four which could draw air from the anchor locker and provide it via conduit to to the cabins. Another use for a couple of the under-cabin ribs.

The forward and side cabin windows are smoky polycarbonate and, in addition to letting the tropical sun in, they get quite hot. Karin scavenged the reflective material from automobile sun shades and cut fitted sun shades for the windows. Ultimately, I think that some sort of reflective cover for the outside of the cabin is the go but they don't make automobile sun shades that big. Oddly, most boats seem to have black sunshades. Black?

The aft cabin windows are removable and, in the tropics, we rarely put them in.

Be sure to get fly screens for everything that you intend to have open. The main cabin door is a particular problem.

Electrical System

The electrical system is, per my specification, absolutely top notch. Faulty electrical systems are a frequent cause of fire and fire is one of the few weak spots of an unsinkable boat.

All wiring is tinned marine grade wire, conservatively gauged, with crimped connections. All wiring runs are fused.

Where necessary, wiring was run inside the hull foam allowing for flush-mounted lighting fixtures with no conduit. For very long-term maintenance, it would probably be better to run actual conduit in the foam so that wires could be removed. I'm not sure if the lifespan of marine-grade wire is short enough to justify the expense.

The battery bank consists of 2 210 amp-hour Lifeline AGM batteries, and a smaller starter battery. The batteries are automatically cross charged by the charge controller so all we need to do is keep ourselves apprised of the %-remaining display on the energy monitor.

Power is provided by 5 60-watt solar panels and by 2 120-amp hot rated Bosh alternators. At the control panel there are switches on the alternator field wires (current through the field wire controls how much power is generated by alternators) which allow one to turn the alternators off, guaranteeing that all engine power goes to the props. Since the alternators draw roughly 5 hp (20% of the available engine power) at full chat, the field switches are an essential safety feature.

Alternators

Initially, we went with above-ground alternators, that is, we modified the alternators to use a separate ground cable instead of going through the alternator body and engine block and the engine's ground cable. The concern was that the ordinary grounding mechanism would lead to electrolysis between the two engines.

Sadly, the original alternators were incorrectly modified and were substantially damaged. While chasing down a solution to the alternator problems I spoke to a number of electricians and found that the only one advocating above ground alternators was also selling very expensive above ground alternators. Generally the consensus of the other electricians seemed to be:

  1. You have to do more than lift the alternators in order to be fully "above ground." The entire engine wiring harness would have to be changed.

  2. The benefits of having an above-ground electrical system were marginal at best. It might be worthwhile if the batteries were much closer to one engine than the other but as it stands, we can't measure a voltage difference at the engines.

The alternators require correctly tensioned, high quality toothed belts. The normal (toothless) belts simply do not provide enough grip. We've had good luck with Gates and Dayco belts. It is to be necessary to check belt tension frequently, every 10 hours or so, as any slippage will destroy the belt in short order.

Ideally I would use a separate pully to drive the alternator This would allow the use of a "normal" (ie. easy to find) belt and also allows the engine to continue to run if the alternator does shred its belt.

Lightening Protection

Lightening protection is provided by attaching a grounding cable to the base of the mast, and leading it through the anchor locker directly below. The cable can be lowered to the water via a hole in the anchor locker. My initial attempt used some aluminum cable but it proved too stiff to deal with mast rotation so I'm replacing it with heavy-gauge copper.

A grounding system is important because carbon (as in carbon-fibre chainplates) is a reasonable conductor. The shortest path from masthead to ground might very well be through the chainplates. In the worst case, a strike could hole both hulls and bring down the mast. Even with lightening protection, the operating assumption is that a lightening strike would destroy most or even all of the boat's electronic equipment. Hopefully the handheld GPS and VHF would be spared.

Rig & Sails

My children are amazed that one can be stupid enough to order a boat without a proper crows nest and still remember to breathe.

The rig consists of an aluminium rotating mast supported by three dyform stays. There are no backstays, running or otherwise. Since the side-stays must necessarily come somewhat aft of the mast, they limit the extent to which the boom can be let out. The limit is not the boom hitting the stay, it is the battens on the mainsail hitting the stay. If we're really keen on sailing deep downwind (deeper than a TWA of 135°), we'll use a preventer to keep the main clear of the shrouds and keep the boom quiescent in case of an accidental jybe. The vang does tend to pull all the twist out of the main, but, when running deep downwind, shape is pretty irrelevant anyway. Using a vang can also help reduce flapping in light winds.

Since the shrouds are smooth dyform wire, we don't see much of a problem with chafe. The sail has a couple of grubby streaks corresponding to the shrouds at full hoist and first reef, but no signs of a serious chafe problem. The batten pockets do require some chafe protection where the battens meet the shrouds.

Mast

Endless Summer has a rotating aluminium mast fabricated by All Yachts Spars. The mast section is oval, not really a wing mast. Two spreaders induce a moderate bend. The whole mast is raked aft about 6 degrees.

For a cruising boat, I think that a carbon mast is unattractive for a couple of reasons:

  1. Quality is heavily dependent on the correctness of the design and the skill of the fabricator. Unlike aluminium extrusions which are very consistent, it is relatively common to break a carbon mast due to some fabrication mistake or design error. Dynamic loads on a rig are notoriously difficult to model.
  2. Proper lightening protection is an afterthought. Adding a suitable, heavy-gauge, grounding cable would negate much of carbon's weight advantage relative to aluminium.

For reducing weight aloft, what I would consider first is replacing the dyform side stays with synthetic: Vectran or Dyneema (or both). 12-braids such as Amsteel Blue are very easy to splice and comparable in cost to Dyform wire while being vastly lighter. I'm pretty sceptical that reducing weight aloft is going to make much of a difference, however. Everyone says it does and spends money on it, but I've seen precious few measurements. I'd certainly try and measure the difference in performance with an old battery flying at half staff before spending a lot of money on weight reduction for its own sake.

A nice benefit of switching to synthetic is that impending failure will be obvious long before it occurs. Failure is one of the more nerve wracking aspects of stainless gear. Basically, no one knows how long a piece of stainless will last and stainless rarely gives any indication that it is about to fail. "Experts" suggest changing stainless bits every 5 years, or 7, or 3, or 10... Take your pick.

While the intention of the designer was that the mast rotation should happen naturally, due to tension on the main sheet, our experience is that the mast usually needs some extra coaxing to rotate to the optimal position. Said coaxing is provided by a 4:1 tackle on either side of the mast base. Possibly looser shrouds might enable easier rotation. The riggers were reluctant to go there and I'm unsure how loose you really want the mast to be given that it can generate quite significant dynamic loads on your stainless gear. We have a rotation limiter but never use it.

While the value of weight reduction aloft may be debatable, my experience, frequently verified, is that mast rotation makes a considerable difference in performance, at least 5%, possibly as much as 10%.

Synthetic Shrouds?

It was always my intention to have use synthetic shrouds, but the riggers were not comfortable with the idea so we went with the more conservative dyform wire. While I like the Precourt deadeyes, I don't see the need for them given that an F41 mast will not be raised or lowered. There's no reason not to make the shrouds fixed length as they don't need to be tight.

The most interesting idea I've heard of (credit to Rob Denny) is to build a composite drum, say 10 - 15 cm in diameter, and then secure the shroud by wrapping it around the drum just as one would wrap a sheet around a winch. Possibly, the drum could be fabricated as part of the chain plate. The tail of the shroud could be permanently secured by any means as it would not be under significant load. My preference would be to epoxy it to a purpose built slot on the drum but it could be spliced back into the shroud or siezed or even just tied to something. Since rope strength is tested with a similar arrangement, you would actually get 100% of the the rope strength.

Halyards Aft

All halyards are led aft via two sets of sheaves on the bottom of the cabin, one directly under the mast and one directly under the aft beam. Halyards are led through a set of clutches to a horizontal winch on the aft beam. Under the cabin, a couple of fairlead eyes keep the halyards organized. If you're going to have halyards aft, this is the way to do it, vastly neater than the usual unruly mess of turning blocks at the mast base. Note that the two sheave boxes under the boat must be very strong, the surrounding glass work as well. Loads on just the screecher halyard can easily run as high as a ton.

While the system works well for us I can't really say that it is the only way to go. On the plus side, it allows reefing or raising the main to be carried out almost entirely in the cockpit. Also, in an emergency, halyards are more-or-less instantly available. Assuming that the main halyard is properly flaked, it is possible, albeit messy, to lower the main in seconds.

On the minus side, having halyards led aft costs more, several hundred dollars worth of rope, and makes certain single handed operations more difficult. For example, when striking the spinnaker, we need one person to shove it down the hatch and one to work the halyard back in the cockpit. If the halyard was clutched at the mast, one person could do the entire job. Similarly, lowering the main (neatly) requires two, one to lower the halyard and one to flake the sail.

Bowsprit

The retractable bowsprit is a bit harder to use than I expected. I think that part of the difficulty has to do with running the pole out such that the stays come reasonably tight just as the pin holes line up. It requires a lot of fiddling with the stay length to get the tension right and even when the bobstay tension is correct it takes a heavy jerk on the extension line to get the pole out the last few inches. If you're rigging the screecher, the furler drum bouncing around only makes things worse.

The bowsprit is extended by pulling on a line rigged basically as shown in the plans. Instead of coming out above the tube, it comes through a sheave on the side and is led back to the anchor locker. Unlike the plans which show concentric tubes, Endless Summer's bowsprit rides on bushings. Initially, there was nothing preventing the sprit from rotating in the tube which made it even more awkward to extend. This was repaired with the addition of a strip to the pole and a corresponding slot in the bushings. The bowsprit is retracted by pulling in the spinnaker tack line.

Over time I noticed that the pole became harder and harder to extend. I suspect that the problem was due to salt water in the tube drying out. I've since drilled a drainage hole in the tube and flushed it with fresh water and it now seems to operate as reasonably well. I use a silicon-based lubricant.

Initially, Endless Summer's bowsprit came with massively oversize dyform wire stays, much larger than plan. It was extremely difficult to line up the pin hole when extending the pole.

Part of the problem comes from using fixed length stays and tensioning them solely by heaving out the pole. Mechanically this is just difficult, particularly when the bobstays are made out of something stiff, like wire. The system is workable with Endless Summer's current synthetic bobstays.

A better alternative might be to run the bobstays through a molded in dead-eye at the attachment point on the hulls and then to a horn cleat on the bow. The pole could then be run out under no tension from the bobstays and the bobstays tensioned after the pin is in place. This would also eliminate the need for a bobstay retraction line to hold the bobstays out of the water when the pole is retracted.

The synthetic bobstays are 7/16" Amsteel Blue (Dyneema SK-75) brummel spliced around heavy duty thimbles with twice the recommended bury, stitched and seized. The minimum breaking strength of the rope is about 23,000 lbs. The lashings are seven loops of Lightening Rope (Dyneema/Vectran) tied with a grapevine knot [Ashley #1415]. This knot is extremely strong, usually 80% of rope strength (even in synthetics as it avoids sharp bends), and easy to adjust.

As a practical matter we seem to leave the bowsprit extended most of the time. We retract it only to rig the screecher or when manuvering in a small marina. If we retracted the bowsprit frequently, I'd be concerned about wear and tear on the pin hole. A stainless sleeve might be worth considering or the metal plate recommended by the plans.

As there have been very few times we have needed to retract the bowsprit to fit in somewhere, it might be worth considering a permanent bowsprit. See the screecher discussion for ideas on how to rig a screecher.

Jib

The jib is quite small, just about 100% of the fore triangle. It is sheeted through a Harken jib sheet car, through two turning blocks around the cabin, and thence to a winch near the helm. The jib is furled on a Profurl furler.

The base of seagull striker needs to be made wider than plan to accomodate the furler drum.

The jib sheet tracks could profitably extend a little further back as we only use the two aft-most car positions. Using a turning block mounted on the main cabin instead of a cheek block at the end of the track would gain an important few cm.

I'd at least reconsider the furler. Firstly, it is a just a furler, not a reefing system. While it works reasonably well, it comes at the cost of additional weight, complexity and expense. Furthermore, one tends to forget to ease the jib halyard after furling, reducing the life of the jib. When all is said and done, I'm not sure that a furler is really worth it, particularly for such a small jib. The alternative I'd consider is a synthetic forestay carrying an extruded blade luff track. The bit of deck over the bow beam would provide an ideal place to mount a zippered storage bag.

Storm Jib

I don't think that it is wise to rely on sail remaining furled in a storm. There are too many anecdotes of sails coming unfurled and needing to be cut away for me to be comfortable leaving the jib furled in storm conditions. In consequence, the storm jib uses the furler just like the jib. The certainty of needing to switch jibs at around 30 knots, admittedly an ugly job, is better than the possibility of the jib coming unfurled in 40 knots.

I think.

The alternative is to fly the storm jib on a dedicated halyard corresponding to an "inner forestay." Some suggest using the spinnaker or screecher halyard for this purpose but I'd be concerned about chafe against the forestay.

Main

The mainsail has three reef points, the third being very deep. It is raised on a 2:1 halyard which allows a manual hoist if you're strong and your callouses are in good shape.

While our main has an eye for attaching a Cunningham, we don't use it and given the full-batten main and sail shaping capabilities of a 2:1 halyard, outhaul, and rotating mast, the need for a Cunningham seems dubious at best.

Screecher

In my experience, the screecher has been the least useful sail. There are two reasons for this impression:

  1. Relative to the spinnaker, it takes a lot effort to put up and take down
  2. It is ideal in only a small range of wind conditions
Part of the problem is the sheeting angle vis-a-vis the side stays. For upwind work, you need to run the sheets inside the stays, for downwind, outside. You can fudge the issue a little bit by running them inside and twinging them clear of side stays with a snatch block on the jib sheet winch but that ultimately makes the sail too baggy downwind.

On the race course, being able to carry the sail furled and then use it and furl it several times is nice, however, for a cruiser, the furler is more bother than it is worth. When sailing offshore, I am not comfortable leaving the sail up and furled when we're not using it. The danger that concerns me is having a big sail come unfurled when you'd rather it didn't (fx. at night in a 30-knot squall).

Taking the screecher down (or putting it up) is a bit of a hassle because you must retract the bow pole and lean out over the retracted pole to unfasten the furler drum which fails around until you put it out of its misery. To add insult to injury, you have to unthread the furler line in addition to the sheets.

In start contrast is the spinnaker. I just pull the sock down, open the foredeck hatch, and lower the sail straight into storage. With sufficient rectal tension, we can carry the spinnaker up into the mid thirties (apparent wind angle, roughly a beam reach) which doesn't leave a lot of room for the screecher to be useful in.

If I were going to replace the screecher, I would scrap the furler entirely and go with a sock or perhaps nothing. I've also been considering hanging the screecher off a strop and using the spinnaker tack line to pull the furler/strop out along the bow pole instead of running the pole in and out. One could use a short length of carbon tube as a rigid "strop" giving the benefits of easy rigging and a non-twisting attachment to the bow pole. The strop idea would, however, change the luff-length of the screecher. Also the stress on the pole would be different and should probably be verified by someone with the right engineering background.

Spinnaker

Don't miss this sail. We use it all the time. With the right angle it allows us to make 6 or 8 knots of boatspeed on a day that would otherwise be spent motoring. Even if the wind is a little wrong it sometimes pays to sail the hot angle and then use the motors for the final "jibe."

Our tack line runs from a clutch on the seagull striker through a block on the bow pole. Since the tack line is never adjusted under strain, there's not much point in either the very expensive block or the clutch. What I'd prefer is a simple fairlead molded into the bow pole and a cleat on the seagull striker. The same system could be used for the screecher as well.

We run the sheets "inside" to minimize the risk of getting a sheet under the boat. While jybing the spin takes good coordination between helm and crew (ideally 2 crew) it usually works. Screw ups can be corrected by steering back downwind, yelling at the relevant crew and, in extremis, pulling the sock down over the top of hourglass.

Small Symetrical Spinnaker

I'm considering getting one of these to allow us to go dead downwind when the true wind speed is in the 15 - 30 knot range. With winds in that range it is much harder to make the hot angles work. If you can average 10 knots dead down wind, you will have to average 15 knots jybing through 90 degrees. Averaging 15 knots is hard to do, particularly if you want to stay married.

Another intriguing possibility for this purpose is a kite sail.

Anchoring

Endless Summer came from the builder with a 20Kg Simson-Lawrence Delta anchor which I estimate should work in winds up to 35 knots. With that anchor, we actually dragged once in winds gusting up to 40 knots with 5:1 chain scope. While the scope was insufficient for maximum holding power, 8:1 probably would have kept us in place, Endless Summer's windage is such that we felt a larger anchor would be prudent. We now carry a 25 kg Delta. She carries 30 metres of 8mm anchor chain spliced to 90 metres of 16mm nylon three-strand anchor rode. In practice, we are nearly always able to anchor shallow enough to have an all chain rode.

I wouldn't recommend an all-chain rode as the catenary effect of heavy chain is most prominent close to the anchor. As soon as the chain comes off the sea floor, (and with a catamaran's windage that is pretty soon) it is the anchor alone which holds the boat in place. I've snorkled over our anchor (in 2 metres of water (low tide) with all 30 metres of chain out and seen the chain pull off the ground in gusts of about 25 knots. It is far better to invest the extra weight in a larger anchor.

In cases where short scope is desirable, putting a kellet on the end of the chain portion of the rode answers well. While one can buy a purpose built weight, we just use some spare chain.

Our anchor is carried all the way forward in a self-launcher right under the bow beam. This positioning makes it easy to get at the anchor and rode, for example when attaching a bridle. Without a bridle the boat will tend to yaw back and forth at anchor.

The bridal has a chain claw and a pigtail for tying a rolling hitch onto rope rode. The chain claw is prone to falling off in anchorages shallow enough for it to touch bottom but is otherwise reliable.

Endless Summer has two beefy bridle attachement points right where the bow beam joins the hulls.

The spare anchor is a 20 kg Bruce with 10 metres of 10mm chain and 120 metres of 18 mm nylon three-strand rode.

The Muir Sprint 1500 windlass seems to handle the loads we place on it quite well. It does have an unfortunate history of breaking some of the plastic bits: the tailer arm, and the stripper. It seems sad that an otherwise serviceable unit is saddled with fragile plastic parts.

If doing it again, I might consider moving one size up in windlass so that we could rig 10mm chain and an 18mm nylon rode. I would also add two bridal attachment points at the stern, probably integrated with the joint between the targa bar and the hull.

Deck Gear

Horn cleats are very large aluminium units, necessary due to the high loads generated by windage. Keep in mind that the usual docking manuver is to snub a dock line made fast to a stern cleat and then use the engines to snug the boat up to the dock. In a crosswind, with a short dockline and an unfavorable angle the loads on cleats and dock lines can be quite substantial, easily several hundred kg.

There are three horn cleats on each side of the boat with the front and rear cleats being most frequently used. The bow fairleads could profitably be an inch or so larger so as to admit the splice of a mooring pennant or dock line more easily.

Ideally, we tie the boat to a dock using 4 docklines. The fore and aft cleats on the hull closest to the dock are used to hold spring lines and the fore and aft cleats on the hull farthest from the dock are used to pull the boat against the dock. By tensioning the aft springline we pull the stern close to the dock so that it is easy to step aboard.

Dingy

After an initial term with a conventional hard dingy, we purchased a 2.9 metre Swift Hypalon inflatable with an aluminium keel and absolutely love it. It is only marginally heavier than the hard dingy it replaced, motors beautifully with a Honda 5hp outboard, carries 5 with aplomb, and can be stowed on the targa bar ready for use.

The negatives? It rows like a wet sock and doesn't sail.

Having a dingy on the davits ready for use makes it so much easier to get out and explore the world. It is also a safety feature as a ready-to-go dingy can be used to do desperate things like laying out a kedge.

Liferaft?

No. Loaded to the design waterline, Endless Summer, is unsinkable so the cases in which one would need to abandon ship reduce to fire and breakup of the boat.

We take fire very seriously. In addition to having a top-notch electrical system, Endless Summer has three fire extinguishers: one in each hull and one in the cockpit. Regardless of where you are in the boat and where fire breaks out it is always possible to lay hands on an extinguisher. Additionally, we carry a fire blanket. I contemplated having an (automatic) engine-room fire suppression system but the complexity of the systems I saw put me off the idea.

I think that breakup of the boat is very unlikely. The hulls have kevlar below the waterline and there's an awful lot of glass in the beams and cabin. Hitting a whale at high speed (as happened to Gavin Lesuer when D-Flawless broke up) would probably break the daggerboard, do severe damage to the case/hull, rip the sail drive off of the engine and snap the rudder off. I doubt that it would actually break the boat into pieces.

The problem with a life raft is that, like anything else that isn't routinely used, it may not work when you need it. Because of the expense, vanishingly few people who have liferafts have ever tried to inflate them and climb aboard, and few have the liferaft serviced and repacked at the recommended intervals.