Owner’s perspective from Karl Hölscher
Bay Raider Expedition
In case you are interested here follows my verdict after the first about 9 weeks of ownership:
This year´s summer in Germany was windy and rainy. Accordingly I have never sailed the boat in anything under a full 4, most of the timea 5 gusting 6, a few times gusts of 7.
I am keeping the boat in Harlesiel at the Eastern Frisian coast of Germany. That means sailing in the German part of the „waddenzee“. Elevation between low and high tide is about 3-3,5 meters. Together with lots of sand and bars this means steep, short and often chaotic waves. So conditions for coming to the below judgement were pretty heavy for a boat this size.
Workmanship of build seems really excellent in all details except one. The one exception is the lower metal bar which holds the mizzen mast. For my taste too small in dimension. The walls oft the hull that hold the metal bar actually show a degree of movement under pressure. Not alarmingly but too much for my taste and to feel safe under all conditions. During winter break I will fix a much wider wooden or metal bar over the existing one to achieve a better distribution of forces. All else is very well made and functional.
Seaworthyness and seakindlyness are excellent for the size of boat. I was expecting it to be good but it is even better than expected. The water ballast works very well. Gives the boat great stability and attenuates the boats movements in choppy waves very well. I feel the water ballast attenuates movement actually better than a deep ballast keel.
Sails are good in quality and the the sail area adjustment with 3 sails is great. I have tried sailing under jib and mizzen only. That is very comfortable sailing in bad conditions on most courses except high to windward. Tacking was difficult with that arrangement and a few times impossible in adverse waves. If you know you will have to tack a lot in heavy weather and adverse waves I found double-reefed main and mizzen the better arrangement. Weather helm on the rudder remains acceptable in such configuration.
Cockpit is great, storage in the cokpit lockers okay. Cabin is enough for 2 to sit and stretch. I have taken the centre cushions (around the mast support) out permanently. That gives more room and is not really needed to stretch out. With a minimum of practice and excercise getting in and out of the cabin works well for someone my size (1,83 meters of hight). Individuals up to about 1,90 m will be okay, above that things will get a bit less comfortable. During the winter I will get a tailormade cockpit cover to fit over the boom. With that extra sheltered space the boat will be okay for living on board for a few days at least (if you are able to live without too much expectation for comfort of course).
Engine well works very well, prop stays in the water in all conditions. I have tried a 2,5 hp engine just for one day! If you only sail in calm waters that sort of mini-power may be okay. But not for where we are. After the 1 day experience with a 2,5 hp I went to the boat shop right away and got a 5 hp Mercury (built by Tohatsu) with a 12,5 litre auxiliary tank. That will push you thru strong headwind and waves and without worrying about gasoline supply in the engine tank. In additon these newer models come with the gear lever in front of the engine (instead of on the side), that is a nice feature indeed. Lastly, the boat has a rudder angle of only 30 degress left and right. At slow speeds in a congested marina manouverabiltiy is a bit limited. A 5hp engine helps alot to push you in the direction which you want. In summary, forget the 2,5 hp, 4 is okay, 5 is really good.
What I do not like and will change (just 2 points!).
I have the mk2 foresail arrangement. Very good indeed and the ability to adjust tension in the entire rig all the way to pulling everything real tight is priceless, particularly in strong conditions. But the handling of jibsheet in its present setup is impractical with the position of the cleats on top of the cabin roof. The cleats have a lot of bite and under pressure you have to really move directly in front of the cleats to pull the sheets vertically upwards for release or adjustment. Difficult singlehanded and even a second one on board needs power to handle the sheets. I have simulated leading the foresail sheets to a block on the sidedeck just fore or aft of the rowlock fixtures and further leading the sheets then to a cleat which would be fixed on the centreboard cover. In that arrangement the sheets run (almost) freely over the cabin deck, only interfere minimally with cockpit space and are then in easy reach from any position in the cockpit. I will work on this during the winter and am quite sure it will work. Will let you know the outcome. Hope you understand what I mean, a bit difficult for me to express this in English.
Lazyjack/boom halyard. The lazyjacks interfere badly with the mainsail battens on the main´s way both up or down. To avoid this you have to really point dead straight into the wind but that is unrealistic under in the conditions that I have mentioned. I just dont like that sort of think, to me a mainsail has to go up or down easily in all conditions. Again, I have simulated another arrangement (with the help of a good sailing friend) and I will try that out during the winter.
That´s all. I hope you don´t mind this lenghty report.
Many thanks for building me such good boat. With the few changes/adjustments mentioned I think it will be a very safe and reliable almost-go-just-about-anywhere-boat for even extended coastal cruises.