Copyright 2017 - Woods Designs, Foss Quay, Millbrook, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL10 1EN, UK
  • home built Flica 37

  • plywood Romany 34

  • lightweight 14ft Zeta mainhull

  • Strike 15 trimaran at speed

  • 28ft Skoota in British Columbia

  • 10ft 2 sheet ply Duo dinghy

  • 24ft Strider sailing fast

  • 36ft Mirage open deck catamaran

Boats mentioned: Eclipse, Gypsy, Merlin, Strider

Eclipse cruising

As most people know, the big news this year was the fact that we abandoned our Eclipse on January 18th when caught out in a severe storm off S Mexico. Prior to that disaster we had been sailing in the Caribbean and then made a Panama Canal transit in December 2005. CLICK HERE to see more.

The forum pages gave the news as it occurred, but please check the Eclipse cruising reports for my accounts of what really happened. As always the media - including some of the sailing press unfortunately - rarely gave the true facts. Not surprising I didn’t take any photos during the storm, so all the published articles used sketches or stock photos.

None were correct, for had we had the conditions shown in the stock photos we wouldn’t have had problems. Instead we actually experienced very high and steep breaking waves, making it impossible to sail down wind. The photo which best illustrates the conditions we were in is this famous one, taken as a 24ft monohull tries to go the "wrong way" under the Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco (the next photos in the sequence show it rolling over and sinking).

Incidentally, an extract from my Eclipse log book won the 2004 Venture Trophy, presented by MOCRA (the British Multihull Association) for the best multihull cruising story published in 2004. See the left menu to download

By coincidence the day we lost Eclipse was also the day we completed the purchase of a house on Saturna Island, in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Regular visitors to this web site will know that we sailed in the area last year, which was enough to convince us to come back to live and sail in the Strait of Georgia, at least during the summer!

There are many island anchorages in the Strait of Georgia and San Juans to sail to, so, as distances are short and the weather usually dry with light winds, we have bought a Merlin to cruise and race while we are in Canada. Check my Inshore Cruising articles to read a report of our first year's cruising.

I am getting excited about the prospect of sailing smaller faster multihulls again. To add to my enthusiasm I recently received the following email from Klaas Jan Hoeve who is a very keen Strider sailor in Holland.

"I have recorded GPS speeds and windspeeds and angles. Siamees is clearly an upwind boat, for we could do better then 75 % of true windspeed at 45 deg. upwind, downwind I need the spi or genny to stay within 60 % of true windspeed.

Clearly this is a result of the choices my sailmaker Arjen Kooy and I made, ie max efficiency upwind and not losing too much downwind by getting something colourful hoisted.

Max speed I have ever seen was 22.5 knots with full main and gennaker, bearing down in a squall. Scary! Texel rating is now 128, which gives me a good chance when racing Dragonflies and Farriers. When the pictures were taken I was doing 8/ 10 knots in 12/ 15 knots true wind, later with the smaller jib up it was a bit more in 18 knots true. "

The photos are two of a sequence. You can see them all by CLICKING HERE or by going to the link on the forum pages.

Winfried von Mann has just launched his Gypsy in Panama. He became very frustrated trying to cope with the bureaucracy in a country where building recreational boats is rare. So in December 2005 he escaped and helped us sail Eclipse through the Panama Canal and on to Costa Rica. Then back to boatbuilding until June 8th when he wrote to us:

"My Gypsy has finally been launched, float well well above WL. Very good, mast tomorrow and pictures later"

As promised, later he wrote:

"Just come from the boat, the mast was raised yesterday using a tree with huge help from the local fishermen. Today sails, cleaning. Some stuff broke during transportation and raising the mast, that was fixed. Everything excellent. Boat very stable, light (floats well above WL, so a little difficult to manoeuver under engine in the river). And I do NOT regret the maststeps"

He plans some Pacific cruising later this year. No doubt he will tell us all how he gets on.

(Update - he sold his boat, moved back to Germany. But the new owner sailed it Panama to Tahiti)