How Does She Sail?

September 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Chris sent me a lovely email yesterday:

“Hello, I discovered your blog whilst searching for information on the Hurley 22.  I’m looking for my first cruiser, single handled mainly, Irish sea and the west coast of Scotland. How have you found Duet? Not quite a long keel, but as near as damn it. How does she sail?”

Great question Chris, I thought it deserved a post:

As some background, this season was really my first proper season in Duet and we did a touch over 500 coastal miles in a range of conditions, some of which were actually pretty challenging for us.  As some background to my own sailing experience, I have done some miles but in a rather narrow range of boats.  I have done a little school stuff in Jeanneau’s, and a Greek flotilla in a Jaguar 28 but most of my formative sailing was done in a Trapper 500 which is a 28 foot 1970s cruiser racer, a lot lighter displacement with a deep fin keel. Duet is my first boat, my first time skippering, and first experience single handing.

So with this context, I found that Duet actually sails really well, and she clearly loves to be sailed. There is a point somewhere around a force 4 that she definitely feels like she picks her skirts up and skips on.  (But I did have her bilges full of tins and tools this summer and the Hurley 22 is pretty heavy displacement for her size anyway.) Being heavier she feels like a much bigger boat in a chop, and I was surprised to find she actually felt bigger and often safer than the Trapper 500! I’ve never had Duet slam, which I have experienced on the Trapper and the Jeanneau’s too, and I definitely felt like she was able to look after me.  I will admit on a couple of occasions it was all getting a bit much for me and I dropped the sails and just lay ahull where she sat quietly beam on to the waves and I collected my thoughts, took a deep breath and put in a reef or had a cup of tea or whatever.  She also heaves to quite nicely.

Duet’s a fin, and although I’m not totally happy with her rig setup and tuning, I was happy enough how high she would point, and didn’t observe much of a problem with leeway all things considered.  I didn’t measure this scientifically, but I did notice she wouldn’t point as high with a reefed genoa as full sail, but that will be the roller reefing. I’ve averaged out my passage times and we averaged something like 3.5 knots over the 500 miles which I don’t think is too bad for a 22 foot boat on passage.  It sounds obvious but the biggest negative is her length.  Once the sea gets up to “moderate” she does struggle upwind, but then to be fair often so do bigger boats… The sea looks bigger and scarier from a little boat too. I found it best to reef early, by about 14 knots the first reef was usually in the main and the second in well before 20 knots, with the Genoa reefed in between. I found her quite easy to balance, but she definitely lets you know if she’s over canvassed as she becomes difficult to steer and feels out of control!  But Duet’s set up for easy single handing, with the main halyard and topping lift led back to the cockpit. As she’s little I found I could also reef the main standing on the quarter berths in the hatchway so I didn’t need to go on deck.  From the hatchway I can reach the mast, which is much safer than going on deck.

The outboard engine has taken a little getting used to as I’m used to an inboard really, but it’s much, much better in the well rather than transom hung like it was last season.  In the well it doesn’t lift clear of the water in a chop like it does on the transom.  However, on a couple of occasions I had a problem with it not staying central in the well but motion of the sea was pivoting it to one side, which affected steering and sounded awful and I ended up turning it off and sailing a bit more off the wind.  But to be fair this was at the top of a force 5, with over 4 foot (?) of short swell. I need to put a bar in the lazarette locker to fix the outboard to stop it being able to turn like this. Not having an inboard that (hopefully) starts at the push of a button or turn of a key might also need some consideration, as it’s a bit of a process to turn round, open the locker, prime the bulb, set the choke and the gear, and pull the chord (a few times) and you need some room for this, but singlehanded it’s ideally best to plan ahead and not leave action to the last minute. I have a 4 stroke Mercury 5hp sail pro which pushes her comfortably along at about 3.5 knots without sounding like you are hammering the engine (to my ears) but I did find that I was better off sailing if at all possible, which is no bad thing… There are some Hurley 22s out there with inboards though, if you have stricter time constraints or less patience ;o)

One of the biggest issues that I had when I first got her was getting in and out of a marina berth.  With the outboard in the well behind the prop she just won’t prop walk like a yacht with an inboard, and with the long(ish)keel putting her in reverse is very unpredictable – you are never quite sure which way the stern will go. So I’m afraid you need to ignore most of the stuff in books, yachting magazine articles and from the RYA on ‘close quarters manoeuvring”.  However, as she is small she’s actually very easy to (wo)manhandle: I warp her round if there is the room (and this can be done easily in a standard marina berth if there is not a boat next to you, either between or around the finger pontoons).  Alternatively I have walked her out backwards with the engine out of gear and then used the boat hook to turn her and keep her clear of other boats.  Once the boat is clear and pointing in the right general direction I return to the cockpit and put her in gear.  Obviously every situation with wind, tide and surrounding boat overhangs needs to be considered but damage is caused by boats under way usually, rather than just adrift. Some might see this as unseamanlike but I believe you have to work with what you’ve got!  Springs can be useful in a tide, and I have found stopping is often a bit of an, ahem, issue (as I need to turn round and rummage in the lazarette locker at the last vital moment to find reverse on the outboard) but then you have to learn to use the tide and wind to your advantage if at all possible, and to do things as slowly as possible, just keeping enough way on to keep steerage.  I always put lots of fenders out and there’s definitely a learning curve to this…

Another area I was nervous about was weighing anchor single handed, but I have found that her keel holds her in the water and there is surprisingly little windage.  By the time I’ve sorted the anchor, closed the lid and got back to the cockpit I’m surprised how little she moves, even in a good breeze.  I know that in some of the situations we’ve been in, I’m pretty sure the Trapper would have skidded off and been on the rocks!

Accommodation wise, she’s a 22 foot boat with 4’9″ headroom which is what it is… But the forepeak berth is massive and I’ve also had a few comfortable nights in the quarter berth. With the paraffin lamp on in the evening she is cosy and snug, and after living aboard for 9 weeks this summer I thought the lack of space would annoy me but it honestly didn’t (and I’m 5’9″ and not exactly a midget).  I have a boom tent to cover the cockpit which effectively doubles your living space, and also gives you somewhere to hang wet oilies.  I would definitely recommend this.  The cockpit is quite spacious, and deep.  It would be comfortable to day sail her with crew, but as for staying over I think you’d have to get on very, very well. Great for one though!  After all, if you put 2 people on a 28 foot boat and there’s not really *that* much space each…

So, bottom line is I found she sails very well, better than I hoped if I’m honest.  You have to pick your weather ideally, and found that the sea state and direction of the waves was as important, if not more, than the wind speed for making progress in the direction you want.  But she did feel safe, and I felt she looked after me in some tricky situations with too much sea and too much wind and she was really good for my confidence. At one point though, after the 11 hour passage from Salcombe to Plymouth dead into a force 5-6, making 1.5 knots motor sailing against a significant swell, I did think I wanted a bigger boat.  But then the wind direction changed to more Easterly and we had some fabulous sails further West and you know, I think I’ll keep her for another year after all… She’s a lot of fun and adventure for her size, and certainly for the money!

If I’ve missed anything or you’ve got any questions or comments then I’d love to hear them below :-)

Hurley 22



Expedition up the Tamar River

August 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm

So boisterous Saturday was about the best day of the Bank Holiday Weekend…

On Sunday I waited out the tide at Cawsand and then headed up the river Tamar with the intention of a trip up, and then back down to anchor again in the Dandy Hole, safely tucked away from an incoming blow.  I managed to sail pretty much all of the way up to Weir Quay (under headsail only as the wind was behind), past the Naval docks and the chain ferries and under the bridge (a bit heart stopping even though I was following a much larger boat with clearly more air draft.  I think it’s the perspective isn’t it?).

I was up well past Salter Mill when I finally put the headsail away.  The wind was starting to gust, and with the flood tide still running pretty fast I knew that once the sail went away I would have little control in the stream. So it was a case of hanging on past the boats on moorings, waiting for an open(ish) bit with empty buoys, turning round to start the outboard as the unattended helm let the boat luff up and then getting her back under control asap.  Luckily the engine started first time, even though it was cold. There wasn’t alot of room in the river!

On the way up I’d decided I didn’t want to go all the way up to Calstock.  But by Weir Quay I was really quite alarmed at how fast the current still was, and the river was really narrowing by then.  But there was no way I would be able to make it back down to the Dandy Hole with the tide against me so I would definitely need to stop somewhere and sit it out. I turned into the tide to try to take up one of the visitors buoys but I chickened out.  The boats were close together, the tide was running fast, and we now had a good 18-20 knots of wind from the same direction as the tide.  Either I would have to go forward to hook the buoy, leaving the helm unattended and the engine in gear to stem the tide, or I would have to pick the buoy up from the cockpit and risk my arms coming out their sockets (or me over the side!) as I held on to it and tried to get it forwards past the shrouds without the boat spinning round on me. Clearly lots of opportunity for mishap.

I decided to keep going with the intention of trying to anchor round the bend at South Hooe, where hopefully the current would be less strong, or at least we’d be sheltered from the wind.  But I was worried that singlehanded in a fast ebb current later on I wouldn’t then be able to get the anchor back up and keep control.  By the time the anchor was in the locker we’d be tens of yards away and potentially pointing the wrong way and in trouble with either depth of water, or the many moored boats.

So when I saw the last buoy on the bend was empty and with no other moored boats nearby I decided that was a better option and made a turn and determinedly motored towards it against the tide with gritted teeth, muttering “You’re mine”.  The wind was easier, and I picked it up first go. It was a long slimey rope loop, with a very long length of slimey blue rope to the pickup buoy.  Once we were on, we sat quietly enough.  It was about 4pm, and a group of people appeared on the bank of the muddy brown river, with a wood cabin behind, and stared at me.  I wondered if it was their mooring but they waved back at me cheerfully enough.  It reminded me a little of Cambodia, and the banks of the Mekong.  And then it started to rain… and the wind got up… So I stayed there the night, with the tide sounding like a waterfall against the hull up in the forepeak while I read Treasure Island on iPad.

Treasure Island Cover

The next morning it was flat calm (the blow had passed) but still raining, and a low mist hung in the trees (very like Cambodia).  I had finished Treasure Island but flattened the battery on my iPad, and decided I needed to leave before I got a fever or Malaria, or blood thirsty pirates attacked me from the rocky shore just 20 yards away (that would be because of reading Treasure Island…) so at 10am, after a good breakfast, I donned full oilies and started the engine.

I set it in gear with the throttle slightly open to stem the outgoing tide, and went forward to throw the rope loop and pickup buoy off the bow.  So far so good.  I then went back to the cockpit and pushed the helm over to turn us and get away.

But we weren’t clear of the pickup buoy and it managed to catch somewhere underneath the boat, holding us fast to the buoy, pointed downstream about 10 feet from the main mooring buoy with nothing visible in the brown water between us.

I tried turning the boat to free us, but nothing happened.  I tried upping the revs on the engine but wasn’t sure even though it sounded ok where the line was caught.  Was it round the engine? But nothing freed us, we were stuck fast pointing downstream, stern to the tide, as the brown river sped past.  I poked about over the side with the boat hook but the rope was nearly a full boat hook length under the water and I could barely bring it to the surface. It was now raining torrentially and it was clear we weren’t going anywhere unless something gave way, so I stopped for a think. Unsure of what to do as this had never happened before…

Luckily, just then, the first boat that I’d seen that morning appeared round the bend from the direction of Calstock.  It was an unusual looking craft In shape it was like a cross between a bigger Robert Tucker Debutante and a classic wooden motor launch, but with a wooden mast.  It was painted custard yellow, sky blue and grass green and looked like something out of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (I am not exaggerating).  There were 3 young chaps aboard, hunched against the rain they waved a hello as they came  near.

“I’m stuck”, I said forlornly. “Oh dear! Would you like a hand?”, said one.  “Yes please.” I said pathetically, with the rain dripping off my nose.

And with that, they spun in the tide, motored back and anchored efficiently 15 yards away in the main stream of the river.  Their dinghy was launched from their rear deck, the outboard was fitted and soon a Barbour clad chap was peering over my dodgers and I had stopped panicking.

We (he) did eventually get it free, after poking around with the boat hook some more, setting out the kedge (it didn’t hold), and then eventually we figured out to put a line back around the main buoy which I hauled to slacken the caught line (this had the double benefit of meaning I wasn’t totally adrift when I was set free) and then poking around with the boathook some more, and turning the engine off and putting first my hand, and then the boat hook down the outboard well.  Suddenly it just freed and the pickup buoy bobbed to the surface. Christ knows where it was caught… I think maybe between the skeg and the rudder? I expect there will be marks in the antifoul when she comes out later in the year…

So once I was free it was a simple matter of slipping the line, while my rescuer kept the pickup buoy and its dangerous line safely out of the way.  Thank you again.

I toddled off downstream as by then we were less than 2 hours before low tide and the current had started to weaken. So back we went past Weir Quay, under the power cable and past Cargreen. Luckily the chaps had overtaken me again, pushing past with their diesel inboard, so I just followed them rather than try to decipher the chart as well. As we reached Warren Point I had to open my revs up to push across the chop and it was nearly a whiteout with the heavy rain and the wind had risen to touch 20 knots, making my eyes sting.

They peeled off and moored up on the short stay pontoon under the bridge at Saltash.  I didn’t join them, but pushed on to a marina berth and its siren call of an internet connection and a hot shower.

There were 2 Police boats guarding the submarines at the Naval Dockyard, even though there were no other boats on the river, but neither of them returned my cheery waves. Then I dodged the chain ferries with the windometer showing steadily over 25 knots. I guessed there would be a pattern, and there would always be at least one ferry on each side, with no side ever empty.  This meant that I knew which one was coming next, like a 1980s computer game.  It seemed to work anyway…

A little further up the wind peaked just before I rounded the green South Rubble buoy and turned the corner, showing 30 knots!  But then through The Narrows and Drakes Channel behind the island I had turned off the wind and it definitely calmed too.  By the time I crossed in front of the Hoe (a bit bumpy), the sun had even come out, and the wind was back to just 20 knots.  It seemed a massive respite.

I berthed with the wind and tide behind me, smacking the pontoon hard of course. In mitigation, it was an unfamiliar berth and I was surprised to find it 3 in from the end channel so had to turn again pretty much immediately to make the berth, without time to take way off (If I could have with the wind and tide) I tried a quick burst of reverse but it didn’t have much effect to be honest. At least though, it was the pontoon, not someone else’s boat.

So that was the story of my expedition up the Tamar.  Seems to me it was more dangerous than going to sea!

Dartmouth Boat (and Cabin) Porn

August 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm

So, I’ve traded at The Royal Dartmouth Regatta a couple of times with the Stripes so I know the town quite well, but I’ve never actually visited by boat before…

I left Torquay and meandered into a very light South Westerly (on the nose again!), tacking a couple of times and then got cornered the wrong side of the Mew Stone …and then the tide had changed and I was down to 3 knots  …and then 2 knot something …and then 2 knots …average …and then it started to threaten rain and I realised that everyone else had overtaken me with their engine and mainsail combos and I was soon to be totally alone. So with a mild sense of defeat I started my engine too and motored in and up the river to pick a buoy up at Dittisham. I didn’t dare go any further as the depth sounder had stopped working, but it’s a very pretty spot and was only £11.50 on a buoy for the night (including harbour dues).   (Note- I’ve since opened up the depth sounder display and poured out about 1/4 pint of rusty water, cleaned it up and dried it out and it seems to work fine now!)

Dittisham East Bank

Dittisham East Bank

Somewhere right in the middle of me spotting a vacant buoy with an easy looking approach, getting a rope out and preparing to pick the buoy up, stalling the engine rather than turning it down to idle and then actually breaking the boat hook ‘grabbing’ the buoy, two chaps on a Hurley 24 waved at me enthusiastically as if to beckon me to raft up but I already had my boat hook in one hand and my eye on the prize so to speak.  (And if there is one thing that I have learnt about mooring: it is not to change your mind at the last minute! You have to prepare well, and then just commit.)

However, I’ve just managed to log on to the internet for the first time in 2 weeks and realised that there was a Hurley Owners Association rally there at Dittisham the next evening so they probably thought I was there for that.  So, for the record, Seal, I’m really sorry, and I did think you were going to come over when you got in your dinghy, but you went to the pub instead.

Dittisham West Bank (and Hurley 24 "Seal")

Dittisham West Bank (and Hurley 24 “Seal”)

Oh and also for the record, the engine restarted first pull and I managed to get the rope through the ring and then tied to the front of the boat without too much more drama! First attempt too.

But anyway, back to Dartmouth… it’s pretty, eh?  Lots of lovely boats there too… I took lots of pictures. There does seem to be a bit of a theme with these boats I’ve photographed though: They all seem to be wooden!  If you know what they are, please do tell us in the comments. (#6 is a GRP Cornish Crabber, I know that…)

(And if you like cabins too, and you’ve not seen the Cabin Porn website yet you should probably check it out… I promise you it’s safe for work.)

Boat Porn #1

Boat Porn #1

Boat Porn #2

Boat Porn #2

Boat Porn #3

Boat Porn #3

Boat Porn #4

Boat Porn #4

Boat Porn #5

Boat Porn #5

Boat and Cabin Porn

Boat and Cabin Porn

Dartmouth Harbour

Headed out for a cracking sail!


Looking very promising indeed!

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.