Copyright 2024 - Woods Designs, 16 King St, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL11 2AT UK
  • production Strider 24

  • 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, Romany

Cruising on Eclipse

In late 2004 we sailed to the San Blas islands, in NE Panama via the Bay Islands, Honduras; Providencia, Colombia and the whole north coast of Panama. In March 2005 we left Eclipse in a Panamanian marina, and went home to work for the summer. However we later took a break from work and helped sail a friend's monohull south from Wrangell, Alaska to Oregon, through the fantastic cruising ground of British Columbia (CLICK HERE). Then it was back to the Eclipse in October 2005.

Latest boat launchings

The first Romany, below, was built by Brad Mandell from Annapolis, USA and was launched at the end of May.

Brad writes:

" I had my first sail on the Woods Design Romany "Bombay Duck". I was delighted. Top speed as recorded on my GPS was 9.2 knots. This was in 15 knots of wind. We sailed mostly in the mid 7's with hardly any fuss. This was with a very used mainsail with no battens and a flapping leech! (New mainsail next year). In lighter air (under 10 knots) we made 4.5 to 5. She steered well but had a little weather helm. This is due I think to my slightly undersized jib.

There was 4 of us aboard with food and gear for a weekend. She pointed as well as a cruising cat which is less than a monohull but off the wind she took off quickly. Heaving to could be a problem as the main was against the shrouds and with full battens in the sail, there would be much chafe. I have to experiment more there. It's strange to be sailing and not building but I'll get used to it soon! The 9.9 high thrust Yamaha was fine, but motoring directly into the wind the boat did hobbyhorse and the 9.9 topped out at 6 knots. All in all I'm very happy with the boat. I think I can average at least a knot faster sailing with a new main and jib."

In September he wrote "I want to report a great increase in ther performance of my Romany with my new mainsail. It was built according to the plans in Hong Kong with full battens. My boat now sails better in light air and will point up with all but the faster nonohulls! I have the LAR keels on the boat. In 15 knots of wind I was making 6.5 close hauled and was keeping up with 90% of the monos on the Chesapeake!

Cracked off a bit we accelerated to over 8 and pulled away from all the monohulls. I'm not a racer but it was much fun seeing the reactions from the monohull skippers. I was amazed at the difference that the new mainsail makes. I still need a new jib but will get that next year along with a drifter for light air downwind sailing."

The first wood Eclipse was launched about a couple of years ago, another is now sailing in Millbrook. When I saw it in May 2004 one hull had just been turned over while the other was being glassed. So I was very surprised when I took the following pictures in September 2004. The boat was assembled, the cabin roof fitted and much of the interior had been finished. it was launched in summer 2005.

Just to inspire the other Eclipse builders here is a photo of my Eclipse sailing at 12 knots, taken as we approached Cuba in February 2004.

Probably the major news of early 2004 was that the May issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine (the UK's largest yachting magazine) carried an excellent boat test on the Eclipse. I can't reprint the whole article here for copyright reasons, but I think I can use the summing up:

"Something worth saying is that the Eclipse makes you realise the value of a designer's practical, hands-on experience. Everything works: the hulls, the foils, the rig, the deck layout and the arrangement below decks. And while the boat is more expensive - at least in ready-built form - than most single-hulled alternatives of similar overall length, don't forget that her accommodation and performance put her on a par with monohulls a good deal longer....Whatever your inclinations, it's hard to deny the practicality of a cat such as the Eclipse for long-distance sailing. Or even for a quick whizz around the Isle of Wight".

You can see more on the Review of 2004 page, to get a full boat test visit and click on the appropriate link.