The detail of your saga with Blue Dog from start to finish has been outstanding and i can't tell you how sorry I am for the way things ended. I am very curious as to how you ended up with the Seaward as you mentioned that you and the wife were looking at Bene's and Catalina's while at the 2012 Annapolis show. Seaward is very different than those makes. Could you shed some information? Were the dual Yanmar's worth it and what kind of speed did you see with both of them on? Did the 46 sway at anchor like the 26 and 32 do? Do you have an opinion on the fact that there is no port side seating below other than the small first mate chair. I have a Seaward 32 which is fine for day sailing or a 1 or 2 night trip and am / was strongly considering moving up as it is just too small for 2 adults and 2 kids.
I did go and take a look at Blue Dog at the salvage yard up here in MA this past winter thinking that she may have been worth looking at as a rebuild but a friend who is very skilled in boat building felt the project would be north of 200K with no guarantee.
Thanks again and I hope you find great sailing in San Diego.
Good questions Shoaldraft. I can answer with my best guess but as we only had the Blue Dog underway for two weeks, motoring in the ICW mostly, my responses will be limited to that. I can tell you what we liked and didn’t like after being aboard 24 x 7 for that period.
Liked: Aft “Catbird seats” were awesome. Probably our favorite thing about the boat. We mostly stayed on deck in the cockpit area unless it was raining or really cold/hot/windy. The stock seats had the railing right in the middle of your back so we had Hake modify them and add a backrest, then padding on the back rest and also where your arms rested on the rail. Very comfy and secure feeling. It was also quite nice at anchor to sit back there and watch the world. Excellent viewpoint with good visibility.
Captain’s chair- the main chair while driving the boat was very comfortable and offered good visibility. Hake spent top dollar for both chairs (Kirk Chair in the cabin also) and that was one of the things we liked a lot. Very comfy and secure.
Cabin windows- Lots of natural light came in and seemed like you were outside.
Cabinets/woodworking- One of the things we didn’t like about the major production boats Beneteau/Catalina etc. was the amount of pressboard with veneer. When you came onboard and went into the salon, it smelled of glue and other nasty things. The Seaward used actual wood cabinets with a rattan vent that allowed air to dry dishes naturally. We liked that.
Cabin table/work area- My wife and I have an engineering consulting business and worked at that table while underway. As long as we were in the ICW, most times, we had cell phone service and could get on line and work. It was a good spot for two people to work simultaneously while one of the other passengers was driving. Not sure how that would be in the open ocean, but in moderately calm waters, it was very handy.
Shoal Draft- We kept the keel up at the highest position during the majority of the voyage. It was pretty cool when anchoring to go past the other sailboats and get right next to the shore, within the protective line of shelter provide by trees or houses. More than once as we were slowly motoring past other sailboats, someone would call out on channel 16, “Blue Dog, Blue Dog, that’s pretty shallow over there.” We’d reply with something like, “Thanks. We got it.” Then go further in. There were times where we could literally anchor so close we were encroaching on someone’s dock space next to their house. That would be the limiting factor, not how far we had to go for keel depth. That ability gave us very nice anchorages (as long as the wind didn’t change too much during the night.) Sometimes we would lower the keel and rudders just a bit to help with movement at anchor, then pull it up in the morning before getting underway. One of the first nights on the hook we dropped a line over the side with a weight on it three or four times, measured the depth and zeroed in the chart plotter so we knew exactly how much water we had.
Speed- Blue Dog was FAST. Fast under sail and motoring. For the first day I dialed in 1,800 RPMs on both motors. I then looked up Yanmar specs online (we never got an owner’s manual) and 2,200 RPM was a nice number. We kept it at that RPM for most of the underway time. At 2,200 RPM we were tooling along around 7 kts-7.5 kts depending on wind and current.
Deck space- flat and fairly uncluttered going forward. Was pretty easy to clean when we got to a marina and not much to stub your toe on if barefoot.
It was gorgeous!
Those are the big things we liked about the boat.
Things we didn’t like about the boat mostly came on after being aboard for a while.
Step up on cabin sole next to port side chair- I can’t begin to tell you how many times everyone
on board stubbed their toes on this. We got to the point where we wore deck shoes in the cabin all the time. We also would forget to step down coming from the cockpit. A few times people fell. It was extremely inconvenient.
Sole decks in the cabin had gloss finish and were VERY slippery if wet- I’m sure this is not unique to this vessel, but if you washed dishes and got any water at all on the deck, the next person would slip and catch themselves or fall. My wife and I both fell numerous times as did each crew member. Also numerous hatches leaked the entire voyage and would drip water onto the deck. Even if you were careful to wipe up after dishwashing or using the sink, the main cabin hatch leaked as did the one in the V-berth forward and you would step into the forward berth and fall on your butt. Especially tricky if we were in any type of seas.
Main engine hatch- It is wide and heavy. You need to remove the short ladder coming into the cabin from the cockpit and raise the heavy engine hatch cover by hand. It was secured only by a screen door type of latch on either side that extended into a very, very shallow recess. You could check the engine and Racors at the dock or at anchor, but underway, especially in rough seas (like the night we had water in the fuel and ran aground) it was virtually impossible to open and also ran the risk of the heavy hatch falling on you if you got it open. Quite dangerous.
No manual method to raise or lower keel- There is an electric keel motor that raises and lowers the keel. As long as everything is good and the stars are aligned, it works very well. There is no provision to use a main winch to raise or lower the keel. I had not thought of that when we bought the boat but was told this often by folks helping with the recovery.
Hull construction- The inner hull is bonded directly to the outer hull. This is a good thing as far as interior space goes. The interior of the Blue Dog was huge compared to other 46’ vessels. The drawback with this design is it is virtually impossible to repair hull damage without doing both inner and outer fiberglass at the same time. On a typical design boat with stringers, there is a space between the inner liner and outer hull. If you hit something that damages the outer hull, you can pull up a deck hatch/plate and see the damage then repair both sides. With this boat, large interior sections were made in molds then glued to the outer hull. The inner liner actually provided stiffness for the outer hull and are very difficult to repair if damaged.
Fuel tank vent close to the static waterline- This is one of those things that is easy to see after the fact, but not so much when you are buying a boat. I don’t know if seawater was sucked into the fuel tank during our trip that caused this accident, but I do believe there is a high probability of that. Also, after getting the Blue Dog on blocks at the marina, I spent a significant amount of time with marine surveyors, Naval Architects, composite material experts and generally salty dogs learning more about all types of boat construction. It was also discovered that there was no “Loop” in the fuel tank vent line. The thru-hull vent line ran directly to the fuel tank. If water got up to the level of the tank vent, it had a non-interrupted path to the tank. That was not something I checked when buying the boat.
Skegs were “tabbed” to the boat- After we were up on blocks and had the opportunity to check out the hull, we could find no support at the aft end of the boat on the hull for the skegs. It appeared as if the hull were laid up and the skegs were “tabbed” to the boat only without any further support, then gel coated over. There was a single stainless “thru bolt” but it did not have backing inside the hull either and was what tore out when we hit the sand allowing seawater into the boat. We were never provided hull construction drawings or any information on how the fiberglass was laid up. We had to take multiple hull samples then send off to a lab to try to figure out what each layer was. Hake offered to do the repair work and for a fairly reasonable price, but had to be at their yard in Florida. We were leery of using them as we had gotten poor support to that point. When we decided to use a local boat yard, Hake was unwilling or unable to provide any construction documents.
Twin engines close to centerline- I was initially excited about having two engines for redundancy and also being able to maneuver in tight spaces as I have driven twin engine boats (Bertram’s among others). As both engines fit into the same cavity as a single engine, the props are very close to centerline. This has the effect of having a single engine for maneuvering purposes. Not necessarily a big deal, but it is when you are trying to get into a difficult docking location and running one in forward and the other in reverse does nothing. I would probably go with one engine in the future and spend the money saved on dual Racors and on-board fuel polishing system.
Climb Mast to connect main halyard to main sail- The boom is pretty high which is nice for not getting hit in the head tacking or gybing while in the cockpit. The flip side of this is you need to connect the main halyard before leaving anchorage or the dock.
This is a good practice to get into anyway, but if you are in a restricted maneuvering environment like the ICW and don’t have your main rigged, it is virtually impossible to climb 3 steps up the mast to attach the main halyard if the seas are rough.
That is probably enough. There are other things, but the bottom line is the 46RK is a gorgeous vessel with sleek lines and goes fast. I would not however, classify it as a “Blue Water Cruiser” If your goal is a 46’ day sailer with a shoal keel, it might be a good fit.
We have found some local sailors out here on the west coast and started Wednesday night “beer can” races this past week. We looked at used ~35’- 40’ boats over the weekend for something to sail while we are deciding what to do next. Hard to say how it will all turn out, but we are much more informed than before and slow to buy another boat. We do like the Hylas 46’ and that is top on our current list.