From a fax from Pete Benjamin, of Heritage Manufacturing, the S-African builders of the Sagitta: " My charter Sagitta Bojangles was put on the rocks at a place called Rooi Els. The charterers claim the anchor rope parted at 3am and they were awakened by horrible sounds of the boat grinding on the rocks. To cut a long story short, when the tide went out they effected emergency repairs and the Sagitta was refloated on the following high tide by crowds of people - minus a keel and a badly damaged starboard hull as wel1. They motorsailed to Gordon's Bay and although the modules were awash the bloody thing didn't sink!!!!' It made national TV and I think that the safety aspects of the watertight compartments are not to be overlooked as is the incredible design feature that led her to being such a safe boat - Thanks folks!'
Pete also wrote to say that he competed in the Cape Town to Rio Race on board a St Francis 43 (with both its designer and builder also in the crew). He reported ""On all points of sail and under all conditions the Sagitta would have beaten the St Francis - I know that it's easy to say afterwards, but it's the truth. The Sagitta would have walked the multlhull class on handicap - and all of those who raced stand by that statement!!' As with other races in S Africa the Cape to Rio Race was not open to Sagitta as the race organisers ruled that the minimum length was 10m. They seemed not to take note of the fact that many smaller multihulls than this have raced successfully in the Transatlantic races, Round Britain etc.
Jorgen Kruger of the island of Sylt, Germany reported on the launching of Mira no 19. "I launched 'Timena von Sylt' on the 26th July 1992. After 2300 hours in 8 months (single-handed). I spent approx 60000 DM (£20000) including sails, but without an engine.A small handicap was the very small workshop (just 3.5m wide). But we had an excellent summer, over two months without rain, perfect for assembling the two hulls. After the first 400 miles I can say that she is a perfect little boat. Everyone is happy with the smooth motion, even in rough weather. Normally she goes along at 8-10 knots. In a surf we measured 20 knots (In fact a little bit frightening for a monohull sailor). I think she is just the boat I want for ocean cruising. Thank you for the excellent plans. After a few problems at first I found working with the plans was no problem. But 1000 times more pleasant than working is sailing with this little cat. I will try for a South Pacific cruise in 93 so we may show up in Torpoint!
Pierre Pominville from Canada had a Merlin built professionally by Atelier Multicoque of Quebec. He writes "we really appreciate the stability, her stiffness and the feeling of safety we have sailing her. Not to mention the pride!' He goes on to ask how heavy the boat should be. Pierre' s boat was cold moulded rather than strip cedar, and we have found that cedar boats tend to be lighter than ply ones. For example, Lilian and I can easily lift the Wizard shell, with bunks, daggerboard cases etc fitted. Most Merlins and Striders weigh around 800 kg in "racing trim", ie with cushions, anchor, flares etc but no cruising gear. However, the lightest Strider sailing (which we built as Woods Express) weighed 580 kg in race trim, and the heaviest we know of weighs 1100kg
We had our usual annual letter from Bob Cole, in Florida, who has been sailing his Strider for a number of years with his wife and two children. "The Strider is still doing great. We're planning our third Keys trip for June/July. We don't go sailing as much as I'd hoped (we know what he means!). But our big trip each year is a month long. So if the boat is lived on for 1/12th of the year we're doing better than most boat owners round here. I sometimes think that with the kids and all the stress of every-day life, our Strider trips are our last link with sanity and that's worth a lot!"
You will recall seeing the photo of Alan Nixon's Windsong in the last newsletter. We have just had a card from him, postmarked in Barbados saying "Arrived here in Barbados a week ago. Broke no records with a 26 day passage from Tenerife. Picked up the trade winds about 100 miles N of Cape Verde Isles after 10 days, due to calms and contrary winds. Had a novice crew so couldn't leave him with much sail up at night. Saw Charles on Cockleshell Hero (our old boat) at Palma, from where he left for The Gambia. Heard another Windsong had crossed, red hulls, maybe French/Dutch or German? Next stop Martinque. Cheers for now. Alan. "