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post #3585 of Old 12-30-2012
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Re: Interesting Sailboats

First of all: happy new year!
We wish you all fair winds, lots of sunshine and a good health to enjoy it.

Secondly, I owe you a big apology for taking so long before giving you an update on our experiences with the Pogo 12.50. Of course since we have the boat we spend a lot if time sailing, with less left even for the internet. But this is certainly not a good excuse for not following this excellent thread closely. The main reason is a professional career shift to France and although they do build fast boats, their administration makes me think of that heavy trawler with a few square meters of sail: it just doesn’t work. So that’s what really kept me up .

After almost 3.000 NM, the boat lived up to our expectations.
We wanted it to be safe, fast in most circumstances, easy to handle, simple to maintain and sufficiently comfortable for longer cruises.

Nothing wrong in that perspective, at least with a good sense of anticipation.

For example if strong winds are expected, the staysail should be rigged ready to hoist before leaving port. The solent is not meant to be roll-reefed, so after the second reef in the main the next step in reducing sail is rolling in the solent completely and setting the staysail, which is a hell of a job on a dancing foredeck.

Although both form and weight stability are quite enormous and the boat is designed to be sailed “under the mast”, it gets quite heeled from time to time and then the aftermost, open area behind the mainsail track is unsafe. But the sheltered cockpit itself works very well in all circumstances and with easy circulation as a bonus.

What I like most about the 12.50 is the excellent behavior under sail. It is indeed a cruiser and behaves just like that. When overpowered, you will slowly loose rudder control, giving you plenty of time to react and get the boat back in the rails. We never had a real round-up and the single broach we suffered was when we kept the spinnaker up while the wind was increasing to 25 knots. Also quite easy to recover from, although it was a hard job to get the 155 m2 back into the snuffer. Now we keep a much closer look at the true wind speed .

The stiffness of the sandwich construction is impressive. This is essential because with back swept spreaders but no backstay, the very rigid carbon mast is only kept upright and correctly bent by highly tensioned caps and shrouds. Nothing in this rig ever gives the slightest way and the only method to bend the mast a little more is to put full tension on the inner forestay, which is not countered by backstays.

Also not giving the slightest kick, is the swinging keel. At first it sometimes refused to lower without manual (hydraulic) encouragement, according to Structures (and also the review of Voiles & Voiliers) the very first problem with this concept. They promptly sent an engineer to Belgium to replace the whole system, illustrating the after sales service Structures provides even without dealers.
No fault was found in the original equipment and six months later I realize this was very probably due to the keel case. This keeps the head of the keel fixed but deeper scratches on this at the first haul out indicate that it was probably only a very thigh fit between keel and case that just needed to wear out. Which it did, with no more problems.

An unsinkable boat means that a lot of space below the berths is filled with foam, but I find it reassuring to know never having to leave the boat unless it’s on fire. And I hate removing all those cushions to be able to get to the ship’s stores anyway.
Excellent antislip everywhere you may need it plus well dimensioned, thought out and top quality gear, including remote controlled stoppers on the foredeck for the bowsprit and inner forestay. I keep telling myself all this cannot be cheap .

Once set up correctly, the NKE gyropilot with remote control is very efficient. But when sailing with crew, we like to disengage the piston from the steering mechanism to get a little more feedback from the rudders.
In this prospect the 12.50 is very disappointing compared to the 10.50, which has twin helms fitted directly on the rudderstocks, resulting in sensitive steering even with the twin rudders. The more forward and protected helming position of the 12.50 comes with the price of a (very solid) transmission that takes away most of the rudder feeling.

Given the light weight, at least on paper the 30HP engine is sufficient. But the boat being upright when motoring, the flat and beamy hull drags over an enormous surface of water. No problem on flat and windless waters, 8 knots can be reached.
But because light weight equals little inertia, the boat doesn’t like at all being motored into steep waves. I feel we have insufficient propulsion to eventually get ourselves quickly out of a difficult situation, which I consider unsafe.
After consultation with Structures we will first try to fit propeller blades with a higher pitch on the original Volvo hub. That’s because the max. revs are always easily reached, even in the harshest conditions, suggesting the engine power itself is not to blame. Plan B is fitting a three blade folding propeller, a much more expensive solution.

With the keel up, low weight and double rudders away from the propeller wash, maneuvering requires a learning curve, even with the retractable bow thruster. Sufficient speed is the key issue and if possible we prefer to dock backwards.

Fast in most circumstances
The boat is fast, no doubt about that. But carefully calibrating the log resulted in a correction factor of 0.85. This means our fastest surf on the long Atlantic waves when delivering the boat in april was in fact around 18 knots instead of over 21.

This has not been beaten since, but speeds of 13 knots and more are quite easy to achieve in a breeze, even without big following seas and/or the spinnaker.
Looking at the video Mr. W. posted (# 3335 on page 334) I fully agree that was no 25 or even 20 knots, more around 15. But even this kind of speed is indeed quite thrilling and the video shows very well that this can be done with no stress at all.
But one should not try to push his/her luck. I fully agree with Paulo that the guys on this video could have got into serious trouble with only the main up. It’s a big, heavy, fat headed sail that is very rewarding to trim, but without the shelter of a foresail it will be difficult to reef. It is absolutely impossible to bring the boat head to wind without a foresail, let alone to get it through a tack. And as said, in these conditions the engine might then be of little help.

By the way, picking up an older discussion about mainsail travelers, this kind of sail can only be handled with a very efficient one. Down to a beam reach, the sheet only serves as a downhoal to control the leech and shape of the sail. Power is regulated only, easily and very efficiently with the long, powerful traveler within direct reach of the helmsman. Don’t try this with a short traveler on the coachroof, unless you have Paulo at the helm and his athletic son at the piano .

Gentlemen do not sail upwind”. We don’t like it either but of course sometimes we have to. Let me be clear: sailing the 12.50 close hauled is not rewarding. Certainly not in choppy seas, as we frequently encounter in strong wind against tide conditions in these shallow waters.

With a good sail trim, the boat will point up to 33° of the apparent wind while maintaining a correct speed. You will not need 10 knots of wind to reach 6 knots. But you don’t want to try that in choppy seas, because the lack of inertia and the flat bow sections will make the boat slam. Slow and very uncomfortable.

So bearing down and easing the sheets a little is the way to generate sufficient power to get through. This gives very frustrating tacking angles on the chart plotter track, but the much better speed finally results in a quite satisfying VMG. So you end up in port together with most other production yachts of the same size, but after having sailed some more distance.

One time we gave up, against 2 meter but very steep waves and 30 knots of wind. Not because of the boat’s performance, it was just the crew that decided this was no fun at all.
So we turned our back and took a broad reach at an average of 15 knots, even without taking out the two reefs or replacing the staysail with the solent. Big smiles returned on all faces and if it weren’t for the trip back, we would probably have gone all the way up to Scandinavia .
So the main reason why you start really disliking sailing upwind with this boat, is because you know how fast any reaching course would be in the same conditions.

We never sail dead downwind. The mainsail looks horrible against the back swept spreaders, the battens don’t like this at all, the asymmetric spinnaker is completely useless even on the 2 meter bowsprit and gibing on broad reaches is not only a lot faster but also much more fun.

Easy to handle
All Pogo’s are concieved with shorthanded, if not single handed sailing in mind. It works, I do not hesitate to sail solo. Of course you need a reliable autopilot, which the NKE gyropilot is.

The helm is situated forward, which brings the helmsman within the cockpit, protected by the sprayhood and with all lines and winches within reach. No backbreaking efforts leaning over the leeward coamings and trying not end up in the guardrails, but straight up and looking forward in the most sheltered part of the cockpit.

Only no code zero or spinnaker in solo for me, because this means maneuvering on the foredeck without the backup of a cockpit crew.
What I do not look forward to, is hoisting the main on my own. The doubled halyard already gives you a good physical work-out at the mast, but without a crew taking up the slack it has to be done from the cockpit which is quite hard work. Not because of the track cars, these are almost frictionless and will let the main crash down on the boom in seconds if the halyard is not under control, but solely because of the weight of the big, fat headed sail.
And what I also do not look forward to, is docking the Pogo solo. As said, even with a crew this can be a challenge. But the learning curve is flattening .

Easy to maintain
Both NA and builder of the Pogo’s are very experienced sailors. When it comes to practical and efficient solutions, these guys definitely know what they’re talking about.
This is also very obvious on the 12.50, where everything is thought and laid out with efficiency, accessibility and ease of maintenance in mind. Although this might be somewhat easier in a boat without inner moulds, let it be clear that this particular aspect has been given much care.

From visible and thus accessible deck fittings to the technical starboard aft “cabin”, you don’t have to be a contortionist to maintain the boat and there are much less places where moisture and mould can hide. Dyneema lashings instead of shackles are not only lighter (and cheaper) but also much safer (just cut them in an emergency, even under load) and easy to replace. The removable and transparent fuel tank, the easy to clean interior surfaces, the list of practicalities is too long to fit in this already oversized post.

So let me put it this way: in this perspective the Bénéteau Sense concept seems like a nightmare to me. As is the absence of an easy access to the engine oil filter on the 12.50, which made the first replacement of this essential item a real nightmare .

Sufficiently comfortable
De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum ». The loft style interior of the Pogo is, if not shocking, at least repelling for many. We like it, especially for its brightness and simplicity, but this is a of course only a personal feeling.

Otherwise it has everything a cruiser needs, including a hot shower and a large refrigerator.
We even have heating, not really a luxury in this northern sailing area. But it lacks air conducts to the main and front cabin, only the aft cabins receive direct heating. Not that difficult to retrofit but this should have be foreseen by concept.

With 4.50 meters max. beam there is no lack of space, for living or for storing, even with all this foam underneath the berths. And again, lockers without doors but with plastic boxes instead look quite shocking at first, but are in fact an uncomplicated, very practical and seaworthy solution.
Given the fact that weight is a major issue everywhere on any Pogo, the finish is far away from e.g. Hallberg-Rassy but otherwise quite decent.

So the bottom line is, once again: every boat is the result of more or less distinct choices and this always implies compromises one way or the other. But given our personal cruising program and tastes, we are very happy with the 12.50.

I’ll try to post some pictures soon. And if I can get hold on them, maybe also a few short video’s taken by crewmembers who have the fortune of a digital camera .

Please excuse me for this excessively long post, probably overcompensating my absence on this wonderful thread .

Best regards and many cheers,

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