Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Cheoy Lee Offshore 40
These were a reworked version of the Rhodes Reliant. I had the priviledge of spending a fair amount of time sailing one of these in Miami in the early 1970''s. These are absolutely beautiful boats to look at both above and below decks. The one that I knew had the same layout as the Reliant which was an aft cockpit/Aft cabin layout that had two companionways. This was a very practical layout and resulted in some nice features but also resulted in some strange features such as having to walk on deck to get to the main cabin companionway and a very strange vee berth if I remember correctly. The one that I sailed was a yawl but over the years I have seen some sloop versions as well.
As to sailing ability, even in their day these were slow boats. The story that went around, and was told to me by the owner of the boat that I sailed on, was that the interiors of these boats so far exceeded Rhodes'' design weights that the boats really gave up a lot of performance. To get them back on their lines, the ballast weights were reduced some and so was the sail plan. This resulted in a boat that was undercanvased and really poor in light air, and pretty tender in a breeze. They also had very short waterlines which really limited thier performance in moderate breezes as well. Not a good combination.
In the short wave patterns off of Miami these boats had a tendancy to pitch a lot, making work on the foredeck pretty uncomfortable. They were also pretty rolly, although I understand that the boats with the lighter aluminum rigs were less prone to rolling through as wide an angle.
I some times see these boats refered to as "full keel". They are not by any reasonable definition a full keel. They are really are approaching being fin keelers with attached rudders (by the classic definition of a fin keel being a keel that is 50% or less than the length over all or the length of the sailplan.) This means that they really do not really offer the advantages of either keel type (i.e. the tracking, rudder protection or ease of haul out of a full keel, or the manueverability, speed, and light helm of a fin keel boat.)
Build quality was a mixed bag. The owner of the boat that I knew, a boat that was less than 10 years old when I was sailing on her, complained about all kinds of quality issues. There were all kinds of deck leaks and with the Teak over plywood decks this was a very serious concern to him. Much of the hardware was made by Cheoy Lee and while beautiful to look at, replacement parts were non-existant and items like winches were somewhat undersized for the loads involved. Not that they would fail but they really required alot of strength to use in any breeze at all. He also had a number of electrical, dissimilar metals/electrolysis (had to replace a number of seacocks and throughhulls) and plumbing problems. His boat had a mix of iron and ss tanks if I remember right. Imagine these will need to be replaced if they haven''t been.
From all of this you may get the impression that I don''t like these boats. That is not the case. These are really beautiful old boats to sail. By now many of the original construction''issues'' have probably been sorted out. They are an interesting slice of history and would make a neat boat to own if speed is not a concern and you lived in an area with predominantly moderate winds. Sailing these old boats offers a very different aesthetic than more modern designs and that aesthetic can be very appealing.