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Congratulations! I have a Rafiki 37 berthed in Alameda. Hull number 27, named Sunshine. Would really like to hear about your trip down to Monterey, its a trip I would like to make once this whole corona thing clears up. I bought Sunshine at the end of last December and have been working on it ever since, lots of cosmetic stuff mainly. A question for you, do you use the self-tending rig for the staysail? If so, do you have a pic of the setup? Happy sailing!
 

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Hi Michael, we're in the same neighborhood, so I'm sure we will be crossing wakes at some point. My trip to Monterey, where I live, was quite uneventful, which was fine with me for my first 'out of the Bay' outing. I and two non-sailing but nimble friends first fueled up in Sausalito, and left mid-morning for Half Moon Bay. Keep an eye on the GG tides, sometime near slack is considered best. It was some sailing and some motorsailing, and we arrived about 4 hours later. Very protected area to anchor, just take care on approach, as you need to avoid the reef off the entrance. Next morning, off to Monterey, again avoiding the well marked reef, and arriving about 10 hrs later. You often see whales, porpoise and mola-molas (sunfish). I made an earlier arrangement to stay at Breakwater Cove Marina, right between Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf. Heading back was uneventful, but would be a slog if the wind and waves got up.

I haven't rigged my stays'l yet, so I'm no help there, sorry. The previous owner said he was good with the 120 jib (yankee) only, though I have the inner forestay, boom, and running backstays as well as the sail. I certainly want to get it rigged up, as I know it's a great option when winds get heavy. Plus, it will look yar!
 

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Hi,

I am looking at purchasing a Rafiki 37. I am wondering if any owners would share their knowledge with me about some of my concerns.

Were the through hulls in the cored hulls properly installed with blocking and epoxy sealing of the core at those sites? Have there been any problems with water intrusion cores of the hull?

Those of you that have removed your teak decks (or even if you haven't), was there water intrusion into the balsa core?

Were the original spars wooden?

Was the ballast internal iron? Any problems with the hull at the level of the iron?

How much demolition do you have to do to replace the black iron fuel tanks?

I would be very interested to hear about your staysail rigs. Do you have running backstays to take the load of the staysail's forestay? Club footed vs. free sheeted. Roller furled vs hanked on. Removable stay vs fixed. Difficulty of tacking the jib with fixed staysail stay.

One owner commented on heavy weather helm and need to move sail area (center of effort) forward. How does she sail with her rather unique absence of a bowsprit? What are your reefing orders?

I love the boat, don't mind projects, just wondering what I can anticipate. I appreciate your sharing you valuable experience and knowledge of these boats, and I appreciate the love you have for your boats.

I hail out of Penobscot Bay, Maine, US.

Best,

John
 

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Discussion Starter #125
Hi John, welcome to our little Rafiki group. I'll offer my responses below. Hopefully others will step in as well.

Were the through hulls in the cored hulls properly installed with blocking and epoxy sealing of the core at those sites? Have there been any problems with water intrusion cores of the hull?

All my original thru-hulls have been problem free. The only issues I've had are a failed depth sounder which required a whole new housing to be built, and then the replacement of another plastic thru-hull which housed a transducer. In both cases they were in located in the solid part of the hull. No issues with core.

Rafiki's hulls are airex cored, but it's not the whole hull. The coring stops just a bit below the waterline (if I recall).

Those of you that have removed your teak decks (or even if you haven't), was there water intrusion into the balsa core?

I have not removed my teak decks. I am getting some leaks, and it is getting worse, but it's not really bad (yet). My current approach is to redo the caulking and re-plug some of the teak plugs. It's a huge job removing the deck, and it just hasn't got bad enough for me to go that route yet, but a day may come when I do.

Or it may not. One thing about these boats is that they are so solidly and well built is that I don't know if a wet core will produce much change in the structural integrity. This is both good and bad.


Were the original spars wooden?

I think some were. Mine came to me with aluminum spars which I believe are original.

Was the ballast internal iron? Any problems with the hull at the level of the iron?

I've not found a definitive answer on this. In some places I've seen reference to iron, and others to lead. I've had no issues with my boat.

How much demolition do you have to do to replace the black iron fuel tanks?

I still have the original iron tanks. One of my two diesel tanks failed a pressure test and was decommissioned before I bought the boat. The second one passed the test and continues to be fine.

Removing these tanks will be a major project. My thinking, at this point, is that IF my second tank fails I will try and insert a bladder. But I really don't know if this will work.

I would be very interested to hear about your staysail rigs. Do you have running backstays to take the load of the staysail's forestay? Club footed vs. free sheeted. Roller furled vs hanked on. Removable stay vs fixed. Difficulty of tacking the jib with fixed staysail stay.

My rig uses running backs. I rig them when sailing in 20 knots or more on the staysail. This is just my rule of thumb.

The staysail is self-tacking, on its own track (a rod) and own boom. There is a single sheet that runs to the cockpit. This sail is hanked on, and reefable (although I've never reefed it).

My foresail (yankee) is on a furler. The slot between the inner and outer stay is smallish, which makes tacking a bit of a PITA at times. Getting the sail through the slot is a challenge in light airs. In these cases I will tend to furl it in and then release it once tacked.

One owner commented on heavy weather helm and need to move sail area (center of effort) forward. How does she sail with her rather unique absence of a bowsprit? What are your reefing orders?

The main on these boats is proportionally larger than more modern rigs. Hence the need to reef appropriately. I tend to reef our main early (~12-15 knots), which functionally means we're in reef#1 most of the time. I tend to reef the main first, then the yankee, and from there keep balancing the two as things progress. For upwind sailing in heavy winds (35+) we'll got to staysail and double-reefed main.

The nice thing about tiller-driven boats like these are you can easily tell when the rig is out of balance.

I love the boat, don't mind projects, just wondering what I can anticipate. I appreciate your sharing you valuable experience and knowledge of these boats, and I appreciate the love you have for your boats.

I hail out of Penobscot Bay, Maine, US.

Best,

John
Hope this helps.
 

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Mike,

Thanks so much for this helpful info. Tacking the jib problem has led some to have a removable staysail stay. I have been told that some have good success with allowing the staysail to back a bit when tacking, this provides a surface and airflow to help the jib through the slot. Lots of different opinions.

Would you have to remove just cabin sole and sole beams or furniture also to replace the fuel tanks?

Did you get to the St. Lawrence and Caribbean as you had hoped? The boat I am looking into is coincidentally also on the Great Lakes.

Best,

John
 

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I am looking at purchasing a Rafiki 37. I am wondering if any owners would share their knowledge with me about some of my concerns.

Were the through hulls in the cored hulls properly installed with blocking and epoxy sealing of the core at those sites? Have there been any problems with water intrusion cores of the hull? * I own Hull #25 built in November of 1977, and the hull on mine is not cored above or below waterline. Not sure, but other #'s may vary. During some thru hull replacements, I can verify that hull thickness is about 1" thick below the waterline.

Those of you that have removed your teak decks (or even if you haven't), was there water intrusion into the balsa core? *Teak decks previously replaced on mine. Previous Owner told me that core was dried out by drilling many holes and leaving in the Mexican sun for some weeks. Then epoxy was poured to solidify. Haven't drilled a core through the deck to confirm, but they are solid. I did give some special attention to the gap around the chainplates; dug out some punky wood, and resealed with epoxy and caulk.

Were the original spars wooden? Mine appear original, and are aluminum per LeFeill. That company made structural airplane parts as well.

Was the ballast internal iron? Any problems with the hull at the level of the iron? Not positive, but surveyor call it out as 11,500 lbs of lead. Haven't seen any rust stains inside or out.

How much demolition do you have to do to replace the black iron fuel tanks? * Call it careful removal, and you'd have to do the cabin sole and cabinetry installed about it at all tank locations. Big job...

I would be very interested to hear about your staysail rigs. Do you have running backstays to take the load of the staysail's forestay? Club footed vs. free sheeted. Roller furled vs hanked on. Removable stay vs fixed. Difficulty of tacking the jib with fixed staysail stay. * I don't have my staysail rigged as yet, but I do have the boom, hank on sail, and running backstays ready to go. I'm still pondering removable vs 'permanent' like you.

One owner commented on heavy weather helm and need to move sail area (center of effort) forward. How does she sail with her rather unique absence of a bowsprit? What are your reefing orders? * A first reef makes all the difference when winds get above 15-20. I guess reefing does bring the center of effort forward, come to think of it. Tiller balance returns with that reef. Also, I think the lack of a bowsprit is a Rafiki plus, and who want to pay the extra slip fees?

I love the boat, don't mind projects, just wondering what I can anticipate. I appreciate your sharing you valuable experience and knowledge of these boats, and I appreciate the love you have for your boats. * Boats of this vintage need significant restoration, whether by you or the previous owner. It's almost always cheaper to buy someone else's work at a discount, paint and brightwork excluded, so park your heart while looking over various examples. I bought mine with redone decks, new tanks, a Monitor windvane, radar, and a 50 hp Yanmar with 2k hours on it. That's maybe $20k in improvements I didn't have to pay for. I kinda like doing projects too, but you'll find plenty on any boat 40+ years old. Nice to keep them on the less expensive side.

I hail out of Penobscot Bay, Maine, US. * I'm on San Francisco Bay, meet you in Panama some day?

Best,

John[/QUOTE]
 

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Discussion Starter #128 (Edited)
Thanks so much for this helpful info. Tacking the jib problem has led some to have a removable staysail stay. I have been told that some have good success with allowing the staysail to back a bit when tacking, this provides a surface and airflow to help the jib through the slot. Lots of different opinions.
Tacking is only an issue in light airs. With anything above about 10 knots the sail passes through without too much bother, and above say 15 knots it's a non-issue. In light airs we'll quickly furl it in and then let it out. Since it's light airs it's not hard. It's not really an issue for me, but I suppose you could install the inner stay with a quick release if you wanted to.

One thing about the coring. I believe it extends below the waterline, but this is based on the blueprints I have for these boats. Not on any direct evidence. All the holes in my boat that I've played with have been in solid glassed areas.

Would you have to remove just cabin sole and sole beams or furniture also to replace the fuel tanks?
I haven't thought out the project in detail, but I think you'd have to remove part of the sole, the table and perhaps some cabinetry. Or maybe it can be cut out in pieces such that limited upper renos would be required. Either way, it would be a big job.

Did you get to the St. Lawrence and Caribbean as you had hoped? The boat I am looking into is coincidentally also on the Great Lakes.
That's pretty amazing to have a second Rafiki on the GL. I know they're far more common on the west coast. But there aren't that many of us to begin with.

Yes, we sailed from the western end of Lake Superior, through the GL, and out the St. Lawrence. We've been based in Newfoundland these past few years now, so far exploring some of the northern sections of the island. The Caribbean is still on the possibility list, but the more I read, the less enthused I am about heading south.

I love cruising in lightly traveled areas. Last season we sailed the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. We were out for about two months, anchoring almost every night. We shared an anchorage with a fellow cruiser exactly once the whole time, and that was one other boat.

The waters and climate are challenging up here, but the cruising is amazing -- if you like wilderness and generally being away from urban areas.

But we'll probably head south eventually. Maybe. I think. Oh who knows...
 

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Hi Jeff,

Thanks so much for your helpful answers to my questions. I agree that you were fortunate to get #25 with so much of the restoration already done.

The opinions on staysail options are so widespread that I believe there is no right answer, just preferences. I am sure that you are contemplating many or all of these. Here are some thoughts regarding this issue.

Pros:

A staysail club offers the convenience of self tending, eliminating the second set of jib sheets which need to be delt with while coming about. As I get older, I find that tacking or jibing with two sets of jib sheets plus the running backstays makes frequent tacking cumbersome. I have been spoiled because I owned a boat with only a club footed jib and main, and one could tack like a gentlemen with one hand on the tiller and perhaps the other on a corn cob pipe, no jib sheets to touch! One can do this on the cutters with clubs by dropping the jib tacking up a narrow body of water.

The club also offers a place to furl and store a hanked on sail, without having to bag and store it. One can also have roller furling with a club.

Cons:

Many blue water sailers have removed their clubs and gone to sheeting the staysail. They feel quite strongly that the clubs dangerously foul the foredeck with one calling the club a leg breaker.

The club for the most part eliminates the possibility of a removable stay, and the fixed stay has its relative negatives with regard to tacking the jib.

While on the topic of the staysail. Although the club eliminates the possibility of a removable stay, a foil with roller furling doesn't necessarily as I learned of one sailor who installed a track aloft for the foiled stay. This allows him to move the foil aft by raising its head on the track. I guess it shows the extent that ingenuity will take some! I have read of another sailor who uses a free flying furler on his staysail, which allows him to not have a staysail stay. For a heavy weather sail, this would not be my choice.

So I am undecided and I hope that others will share their experience. I know that MikeOReilly uses a club.

Best,

John
 

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Thanks Mike,

Did you haul out for the winter and come home or stay up in Newfound. I know a British couple that love cruising Labrador (in their ferro cement Colin Archer) and would come south to Maine to winter! Closest I got was to the Bras D'or Lakes, Cape Breton. I wanted to go north through the cut I believe it was through Sydney, then about ?90 miles across to NL, but had to head south back to Connecticut at that time.

Best,

John
 

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Discussion Starter #131
Thanks Mike,

Did you haul out for the winter and come home or stay up in Newfound. I know a British couple that love cruising Labrador (in their ferro cement Colin Archer) and would come south to Maine to winter! Closest I got was to the Bras D'or Lakes, Cape Breton. I wanted to go north through the cut I believe it was through Sydney, then about ?90 miles across to NL, but had to head south back to Connecticut at that time.
Hi John, yes we're hauled out for winter. We've been based in Newfoundland since 2017. We initially sailed down the St. Lawrence and went to Corner Brook, in the Bay of Islands. We based out of the Bay of Islands Yacht Club, which is a wonderful place full of great people.

We stayed based in Corner Brook for two full seasons, and then spent last season sailing around the northern peninsula to Lewisporte. We hauled out there for the winter.

This season our plans had been to explore Notre Dame Bay, and maybe Bonavista Bay. But given the current Covid apocalypse I'm not sure we can even get to the boat this season. Newfoundland has barred all non-residents from even coming to the island (outside of essential services). I guess they are being extra cautious.

Stunning place to cruise, but not easy to get to.
 

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That's pretty amazing to have a second Rafiki on the GL. I know they're far more common on the west coast. But there aren't that many of us to begin with.
Chiming in to say hello from a 3rd Rafiki on the GL. We have a 35’ Rafiki on the North Shore of Superior. (Hull #27 of 32)

Currently in the process of doing lots of work on her. Replaced several thru hulls this spring to solve some seepage issues and update electronics. Can confirm the foam core up front but ours was wood cored back by the engine. Launched this past week but haven’t taken her out yet. Replaced the head this year too as they had converted to a bladder and it was a stinky disaster. (Went for a composting one now). Our fuel tank was replaced with a bladder before we bought it but are considering installing a larger one under the pilot’s berth. Our teak decking was also removed prior to our purchase and we’ve only found one spot that’s got a smidge of a leak we have to address. Overall nothing major now as we’ve handled the dire ones prior to launch. We bought her in August so are just starting to delve into the major projects.
 

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Discussion Starter #134
Chiming in to say hello from a 3rd Rafiki on the GL. We have a 35’ Rafiki on the North Shore of Superior. (Hull #27 of 32)

Currently in the process of doing lots of work on her. Replaced several thru hulls this spring to solve some seepage issues and update electronics. Can confirm the foam core up front but ours was wood cored back by the engine. Launched this past week but haven’t taken her out yet. Replaced the head this year too as they had converted to a bladder and it was a stinky disaster. (Went for a composting one now). Our fuel tank was replaced with a bladder before we bought it but are considering installing a larger one under the pilot’s berth. Our teak decking was also removed prior to our purchase and we’ve only found one spot that’s got a smidge of a leak we have to address. Overall nothing major now as we’ve handled the dire ones prior to launch. We bought her in August so are just starting to delve into the major projects.
Hi Kam, welcome to this little Rafiki space here on SN. I sailed Superior for over a decade, mostly along the Canadian (north and east) shores. Glorious cruising grounds that I still miss.

I've never seen a 35 and would love to get on board one some day. I know they are quite different than the 37s, although built to the same high design and construction standards. And of course both designed by Stan Huntingford.

Have fun with your new (old) boat. And enjoy the Big Lake. It's one of the finest undiscovered cruising grounds.
 

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I've appreciated reading a number of posts and after reading up am looking for a Rafiki 37 to buy. I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Any owners in the area comfortable talking more about them or happen to know of anyone who might be ready to part with theirs? Best, Chris
 

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Hi Chris, I have Sunshine, hull #27 in Alameda. I bought it at the beginning of the year and have been putting a lot of time (not too much money though) into her. Due to social distancing and all, I only just recently took her sailing for the first time. She cuts through the chop amazingly well! We did have a heck of a time with the yankee though. One of us always had to go up front and help it past the staysail. It could just be me as I'm not used to a cutter rig. Also found out there is no provision for reefing! I'll be starting that project as soon as the parts come in. Would I buy her again? In a heartbeat!
 
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