TIPS from Bob after 50 + years of boating life.


Maybe other designers and crusty old sea dogs should put their tips on their sites to help educate the boating masses wherever they are.

Our boat Slim is along the style of the 14R (not shown on the site). A smallish boat in volume with what appears a very conservative rig at 14.5 mts.


Having cruised in company now with 2 of our quicker 44C’s ‘Schools Out’ and ‘Somewhere’ from Southern Queensland down to Sydney and back, and for 4 months cruising north last year it appears the boat has isn't much slower, and the 44C is known as a quick boat. Especially 'Out of the bag'  'Somewhere' and 'Schools Out' (they are well sailed). I don’t bother with a spinnaker as our reacher is on a bridle and is easy to use. In the very light winds we are then at a disadvantage but I can easily live with it (although in the super light stuff I'm tempted).

Like the 12R and 16R it is built in Balsa, Foam or plywood composite and epoxy panels.

Slim has front and rear cockpits and as I have said repeatedly I simply wouldn’t be without the front cockpit. Spending a day on a boat with a front cockpit isn't really enough to form a valid opinion on their merits.

Our front cockpit boats are more accurately described as twin cockpit boats. The aft cockpit is the same size as an 'ordinary' aft cockpit boat. The front cockpit takes space from one of the bridgedeck bunks forward of the mast. On the smaller boats there is usually a WC and shower in this area so it is no loss.


We wore some ugly breaking seas exiting Port Stevens which saw the bows completely under and white water back to the sheet winches 500 mm deep and 10mts back from the bows. The front cockpit had maybe 50mm of water in it that drained out in 20 seconds.

Light boats of any type bob around whether at sea or anchored. Water ballast tanks are cheap (it takes no skill to get water in a boat, and a $100 x 2,000GPH bilge pump gets it out quickly) and very effective in damping a quick motion, especially if you have already reached your desired cruising speed.


Further to water ballast for stability.


If in a small boat in a rolly anchorage (whether from wind against tide, running sea or boat wakes) lower a steel bucket (stainless or galv) over each side about a metre under the water down aft and it will change your boating life.

I started on my first trawler off Exmouth Gulf in NW Australia when I was 9, err that would be 1963. Left school at 13 to work coastal shipping, log barges, trawlers etc.


Could splice ½” steel trawl wire at 13.


Had logs roll on me at 19 which has left me walking around like a very old man (instead of just an older man) at 62.

Here’s a trick question for you.

What’s the best way of coming alongside a wharf, jetty, marina berth etc?


Answer: Slowly!


The reason.

A prang at high speed is a big prang, i.e. lots of damage with much greater risk to life and limb.


A prang at low speed is a small prang, i.e. considerably less damage and much less chance of risk to the afore mentioned life and limb.


The use of the word ‘prang’ to describe an aircraft crash “wizard prang, old chap” by RAF pilots during WWl and WWll makes me laugh to this day. One of those ridiculous ‘stiff upper lip’ sayings to cope with tragedy and disaster, the poms are ‘rather’ famous for.


My Grandfather was one of the early flying  officers in the Royal flying corps, the predecessor to the RAF.

I have been asked a few times by owners of sailing cats (ours as well as others) what is the easiest way and most cost effective way to get into a power cat.


Quite glibly but with more than a bit of truth I simply say, ‘don’t put the mainsail up’.


They have realized, that as they get older the pleasure of cruising under sail with the effort required, costs and greater maintenance, has waned somewhat.


Most of our boats sail quite respectfully off and on the wind without the mainsail, especially with one engine ticking along.


They make one hell of a motor sailor simply by leaving the mainsail cover on.


Another benefit of using your existing boat as your ‘new’ power boat is the systems are already set up as you like them  and you are familiar with them.


The next option to further reduce maintenance and effort, is to remove the rig and all associated gear. This will reduce weight and windage as well, which in turn will increase fuel economy, range and cruising speed under power, this includes outboard powered boats, although they may have to trim weight aft to keep the motors immersed at their original depth.


It genuinely  surprised me just how the performance improved by simply reducing windage, i.e. taking the reacher down or taking the rig off.


As an example, our 75C had a pair of 105 hp diesels in it. Without the rig it did 18 knots WOT. With the rig fitted it did 13 knots WOT. Can you imagine the range and economy this adds to cruising.


Another example. Mango when launched without its rig did over 13 knots with a single 40hp 4 stroke outboard. Rigged it did just over 10 knots.


Good, light sailing catamarans make excellent power boats. Simples.

Web Design by Bob Oram and Art Malak

© 2018 Bob Oram Design

Queensland, Australia.