One year aboard our PSC 37
Dear PSC Folks,
We just returned to Maine after a year-long, 4,000 mile cruise from Maine to Nova Scotia, down to the Bahamas, and back. It was a fabulous and wonderful trip on every count. The boat, the places, and the people we met were all inspiring and incredibly rewarding. Throughout the trip I thought often of all the help and wisdom I received from this group and have been wanting to give a "one-year-report."
The short version of that report is "What a Fabulous Boat!" During the year we saw almost every weather imaginable (with the exception, thank goodness, of a hurricane or even tropical depression). We went through a miserable gale between Maine and Cape Ann (Mass), and another while anchored in the Bahamas. We motored through calms, and sailed one- or two-night passages regularly on the way North and South. And then, of course, are those unforgettable beam reach sails at 7 knots in 15' of gin-clear-Bahamans-water. Oh My what a trip and what a boat.
Under every condition and throughout the year our joy and confidence in the boat only increased. She behaved stupendously even when we did not. Running downwind in the gale under staysail alone we averaged 6.5 to 7.2 knots all night. With seas breaking around us the boat lifted her stern to every one and never even thought about broaching. I was delighted and impressed -- and believe me it took a lot to delight me during that long, cold, rainy night. On other occasions, close reaching and beating to windward we found the boat easy to balance and easy to drive through the slop. We might be uncomfortable but the boat was not. And in lighter airs we often passed boats of similar length but double our weight. I could not find a single fault in the sailing performance of the boat.
The big "ding" against the Pacific Seacraft 37 is the purported lack of storage space. This we found was utter nonsense. Imi found lots of plastic containers of various sizes, including some tall rectangular containers designed to hold, of all things, loaves of "Wonder bread." These stacked in the the space under the vee berth with a fabulous efficiency such that we carried staples (canned good, brown rice, flour, granola, oats, & etc to last for 3 to six months! Similarly, with the galley lockers, especially the corner cabinet, Imi found a variety of containers to hold a week's worth of each of our staples plus everything we cook with. The lockers under the berths in the main cabin easily held canned goods for three months plus enough wine and rum to last most of the winter! All this and we still saw the waterline when filled with water and diesel.
So there is plenty of storage space if you use it well. The only problem we had was that when hard over on starboard tack the weigh of goods in the galley corner cabinet popped the door open. This was entirely solved by having two pieces of 1" X 1/4" teak a bit wider than the opening and with velcro "dots" on their ends matched with velcro inside the cabinet. They were easy to put up to hold stuff in the cabinet and equally easy to get out of the way when going for the granola!
We had a lot of people come visit us and every one commented on the wonderful, open, inviting interior. The layout of the 37, without the table down the middle, creates the feeling of being in a small but utterly lovely studio apartment. People loved (?envied?) the interior of the boat which feels both warm and inviting and light and open. What a wonderful combination.
What follows is a brief report on the various modifications we made and what worked and what did not. The short version is that almost everything worked perfectly for the whole year.
The 35 lb Manson Supreme held perfectly except for one time when some idiot (that would be me) did not put out enough scope and another time when anchoring in thin sand over rock. Otherwise it held first time every time. about 75% of the time we do a "flying anchor" going downwind at about 2 knots, letting out the anchor and enough scope and then snubbing it off. When the boat rounds smartly up into the wind you know your anchor is set and can sleep peacefully. Other times we do the traditional backing down which is never as secure but often the only choice give other boats, rocks, and other obstructions.
The 110 Yankee made by Doug Pope in Rockland, ME was wonderful and a joy to use. It gave us lots of power but without being too big to hand when the wind piped up. Plus being able to see under it and not catch boarding waves were added bonuses.
The staysail (also by Pope Sails & Rigging) added about .5 to .8 knots on anything but dead downwind and saw a lot of use. "Why not" was our usual refrain regarding the staysail.
The UK cruising spinnaker did not get much use but when we did hoist it it added 1.5 to 2 knots to our speed and was MUCH appreciated when trying to make miles on some long hops. On its longest run of 79 miles we averaged 6.8 knots, with lots of 7.2 after a slow start before hoisting the chute. It is big, a pain to keep on deck or below, but worth it when conditions are right. Having flown it much more toward the end our our trip I suspect we will use it more in the future.
The Cape Horn windvane was superb. When the wind was blowing reasonably steadily at anything over 5 knots it held course as if running on a wire. In stronger winds sailing downwind it did a much better job that I can with MUCH less pulling and pushing on the tiller and consequently much less wear and tear on the steering gear. In fact it seems that as the waves get higher and try to push the stern one way or the other this moves the windvane oar which seems to correct the boat's course long before I could have responded. And of course sailing upwind it follows every shift, never getting tired, bored, reading a book or spacing out looking at the waves. As a result we sailed higher and faster than we would have otherwise.
Autopilot: When the winds are light or frustratingly variable the Cape Horn has a built-in place to attach a small tiller-autopilo (e.g. a Raymarine ST1000). This then steers not by pushing or pulling the tiller (lots of effort) but by turning the windvane's oar in the water which then moves to one side or another (with amazing force) which steers the boat. So the tiller pilot has to exert almost no force and hence uses very little electricity. In light airs could run the tiller pilot all day along with all our regular electronics with no fear for the batteries. And of course when motoring it just plugged away hour after hour. Brilliant (and cheap) solution. We did not have the tiller pilot wired into the GPS so could not tell it to steer to a waypoint. It is therefore steering by an internal compass so if there is current or other factors effecting leeway you have to occasionally correct for them. Next time we will have it wired into the GPS.
Tiller: As you probably gathered by now, we removed the old Mirriam Wheel (5 turns lock to lock) and converted to tiller. We LOVED it, we loved everything about it, and would NEVER go back. In rough weather the idea of having to climb up and over the cockpit lockers to get around the wheel to steer seems like a real safety hazard plus a pain. When the windvane is steering (98% of the time) the tiller is up out of the way so we have the whole cockpit to laze around in. And steering by hand is direct, fast, and easy. Plus you have immediate feedback on the balance of the boat and so make changes to the sail plan to keep her happy and moving fast. Neither of us ever felt overpowered by the tiller (perhaps because the boat was balanced). When hand steering in nasty weather you can sneak up under the dodger to be out of the worst of it. And when hand steering in very light conditions (playing the zephyrs), you can change where you sit or stand depending on mood, sun angle, best view of the sails, & etc. We love it.
Refleks diesel heater mounted on the port side main bulkhead. The heater saw no use whatsoever in the Bahamas but once we got back into what passes for spring in Mass and Maine it has again been a delight. We can set it on very low just to take the chill off, burning about 2/3 gallons of fuel a day, keeping the boat dry and toasty.
Lavac head. By reputation these things can "handle anything short of a tennis shoe." I would tend to agree, especially as my morning deposits tend to be almost the size and consistency of said object. Next time I would carry a spare pump because the diaphragm ripped toward the end of the year after being forced to act as a surrogate macerator one too many times. I would also carry and use muriatic acid to get rid of the calcium build-up which caused problems in the lower valve of the pump at one point. Otherwise it works wonderfully.
But mostly we just loved the boat: Handles beautifully, moves well, looks great, and is VERY comfortable down below. I can't thing of a single thing I'd "improve" which says a lot for this inveterate "fixer-uper." Now we just have to figure out where we are headed next!
Wishing everyone a great summer!
SV Kenlanu ("A Nest for Us"), Buck's Harbor, Maine.
Last edited by BirdBrain333; 06-12-2012 at 08:26 PM.
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