Issue: December 2002
Multihull enthusiasts don’t compare their boats to monohulls any more. For decades they were like Christian disciples in Roman times preaching the gospel to the hordes of unbelievers and being ignored for their troubles. At least they did not end up as barbecue fuel, as their ancient predecessors did. Or having the flesh stripped from their bones with steel combs. Ouch!
The problem was that, in those ancient times a couple of decades ago, as they extolled the superiority of their boats abilities over those of a comparable monohull, those advantages were often hypothetical. The boats were not as good as the disciples reckoned.
But the latter-day apostles don’t evangelise and they don’t compare their boats to monohulls, because there is no need. The modern multihull does everything those ancient advocates predicted. And more.
Goetz Schraer was very fond of his Seawind 1000 cat he had owned two but he wanted to go bigger and a lot faster. He went to South African-born designer Jeff Schionning, now based at Port Stephens north of Newcastle, and chose the Cosmos 1320 fast cruiser.
The designer suggested several builders and Goetz flew around the country to interview the candidates before settling on SJ Marine in WA. The drawback was he would have to sail the boat back to Sydney with a beam of 7.5m it would be a handful on a semi-trailer.
The design has relatively slender hulls and a modest sail area 100 sq metres of sail on 13.20m, 44ft hulls. Accommodation is in three cabins, because this is a fast cruiser, not a floating caravan. The designer aimed at a displacement of around 6200kg. Goetz had his boat weighed at Sanctuary Cove after sailing up from Sydney and it came in at 6100kg wet i.e. with fuel, water and food.
When Goetz’s boat was finished he was so happy with the result he did a deal with SJ Marine to build another one, which was sold, and then another. Subsequent boats are 300ml longer, at 13.50m, with slightly greater bridgedeck clearance.
SJ Marine builds in end-grain balsa with fibreglass outside and Kevlar inside. Because the team wanted to build more than one boat they made moulds for the internal furniture, which gives the finish of a production boat, but is light in weight, because of the foam core. Goetz’s boat was built with a carbon fibre rotating mast, but after the WA weather gave the rig a rough time early in the delivery trip Goetz went back to Fremantle and had the builder fix the mast in place. Goetz and the boat completed the delivery trip with delivery skipper Jon Sanders, renowned circumnavigator, on his 33rd crossing of the Bight.
The interior is comfortably complete and stops short of opulence. If opulence is your thing buy a heavier boat. The starboard hull has two double cabins, one in the bow and one aft, with the galley between.
The port hull has the double cabin forward and a huge bathroom aft, with the shower in a separate room behind the toilet. The designer has provided room for en suites ahead of each forward cabin.
The dinette easily seats six, eight with a bit of a squeeze. On the port side of the main saloon is the navigation table. From the navigator’s seat there is almost full vision forward and to the side the seat is comfortable and the table big.
Full Pelt’s galley has a three-burner stove and separate eye-level oven. The top-opening fridge and freezer run all the time, powered by the 400 Watts of solar panels mounted on the top of the targa bar and on the coachroof, though Goetz reckons the 120 Watts on his Seawind 1000 did the same job. On the delivery trip from Fremantle to Broken Bay (Sydney) the engines were never run to top up the batteries.
The wide sidedecks and narrow superstructure mean you need to sway backwards or sideways when descending from the saloon into the hulls.
GOETZ’s boat, Full Pelt, has that from-a-galaxy-faraway look of modern multis (and some monos) an appearance heightened by the slightly-metallic, off-white exterior finish.
The auxiliaries two 25hp Yamaha four-stroke outboards ‘ are raised and lowered by tackles. When the motors are up the cutout from the hull bottom, which is bonded to the outboards’ skegs, closes the hole in the hull though it does not make it watertight. Goetz reckons he would not hesitate to install diesel saildrives (mounted further forward, says Schionning) with very little weight penalty. When the outboards are running the hatches are left open. When becalmed in Bass Strait Sanders and Goetz motored for 15 hours at 5 knots under one engine, using 3lt of unleaded per hour. Two motors at the same speed ‘ 3000 revs is good for 7 knots.
To raise them you give a big heave on the relevant lanyard. To lower them you release the lanyard and gravity does the rest. Full Pelt was set up for single-handing, because Goetz likes to sail with his family and is lucky to have a family that likes sailing. The 2:1 mainsail halyard is hauled up by an electric winch mounted on the centreline behind the helmsman’s. The headsail sheets are led down through the coachroof to the primary winches within easy reach of that chair.
The sheets are led through jammers, so to tack put down the helm (or auto-tack on the autopilot) throw open the leeward jammer, nip over to the other side of the cockpit and pull in the sheet by hand. There is no need to sheet right home, because the extra half knot gained by doing so means nothing when you are doing 10-12 knots anyway. And there is no need to pinch the boat, because ground made to windward will be only marginally better than if you foot off for speed.
Full Pelt’s coachroof was extended for full protection from the sun and rain, though you have to remain aware of it when moving from cockpit to sidedeck and back. On our sail in 12-15 knots of wind in a quiet sea, there was no spray. The bows dug into one very steep sea, which had built up because the onshore wind was blowing against the outgoing tide, and green water ran up the front windows, over the coachroof and cascaded away without a drop entering the cockpit. But no spray.
Full Pelt carries the genoa on a furler and the furling reacher, whose upper limit is about 15 knots, is rigged permanently to the bowsprit.
We did not use more than about two-thirds of the daggerboard depth and the boat did not seem to need it. These are raised and lowered by a simple system of lines.
Full Pelt tacks like a mono. No hesitation, no panicking when you’re nearing a lee shore, wondering if you need to tack early in case the boat doesn’t make it and you need another go. No backing the jib to make sure. Under main alone running square on port tack the boat swung straight up into the wind ‘ 180 degrees ‘ and through, sailing away upwind on starboard tack. This is another reason why you don’t need that extra bit of jib sheet tension ‘ tacking is so easy.
We saw 14.7 knots in 26 knots Apparent tight-reaching under main and reacher. On the wind under main and genoa we had 11 knots in 26 Apparent at 33 Apparent. Those buoyant hulls eased their way over the seas in complete silence except for a slight gurgle from the lee stern. The senses tell you nothing about how fast you are going, because no wind reaches the cockpit, partly because the apparent wind stays well forward. Goetz says he learned on the delivery trip to stick his head out of the cockpit occasionally, or watch the instruments closely, as at one stage he had not noticed that the wind had built to the point where he had trouble furling the reacher.
11-12 knots upwind is enough for a cruising boat; Goetz reckons it is more important to be able to slow down when the weather bites than it is to achieve extra speed when the going’s good. This rig is very easy to handle; headsails on furlers, and a main which drops straight into its boom cradle, guided by the lazy jacks, when the halyard is let go. And you can tidy the stow, if you want, because you can reach the aft end of the boom from the coachroof.
In smooth water, in the front cabins there is almost no noise, so clean is the passage through the water. In fact, this is the quietest boat I’ve ever been on. On the later boats, 300mm longer, even that gurgle from the lee stern may be reduced.
Full Pelt simply murders distance and does so in near-silence, with a very easy motion and negligible heel; beating at 11 knots on a quiet sea, or shy-reaching at 15 knots, the stubby stays put on any horizontal surface. From the behaviour of the stubby you can project the fact that the family, too, will be undisturbed by the motion.
This 44 footer has the internal volume of a 56ft monohull, the deck space of a 65 footer and the performance of a 70 footer. You can work out for yourself whether it is good value for the money.
But as I said at the start, there is no longer any point comparing multis with monos. The modern multihull is in a category all its own.
Story & Photos by Barry Tranter