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Selden Newsletter: Not a segue


Not a segue

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Cruising cat sans stick after Cyclone Debbie went through Hamilton Island - photo © Supplied

Dear Recipient Name

No there is not one being built right now. And to some, the next item is even a dirty word. So before we get back in to talking about boats, as started last time in The School Bus, we are going to have a quick word on the subject of insurance.

It is true that the last 18 months have been particularly challenging for people all over the globe, as a result of weather conditions. Whilst reading away recently, I saw a note about an insurance renewal that had gone up by 20%. That is certainly significant, and obviously eye catching as well, but like always, a little further digging can reveal a lot!

The first factor to consider in the equation was the insured was moving the boat from the Mediterranean to Australia. This means a different taxing structure. There is Stamp Duty at 10%, and also the Goods and Services Tax of 10%. So the policy could easily be 20% more expensive just as a result of the taxes alone. In the new-age global economy, the world’s largest insurers underwrite the sweeping majority of world’s policies, irrespectively of where you, or your boat, are domiciled.

West end of Paraquita Bay, Tortola half way through Irma. Back side of eye yet to pass. - photo © Glenn Ashmore
West end of Paraquita Bay, Tortola half way through Irma. Back side of eye yet to pass. - photo © Glenn Ashmore

That brings us back to weather, and certainly the catastrophes in places like the Caribbean, and Australia over the last 18 months have meant the insurers have had to make significant payouts. That means those global entities we just spoke about are substantially out of pocket, and like any business, they have to firstly survive, and then also show a return to shareholders. Equally, they too will have to go cap in hand for their own reinsurance, and all these costs will no doubt have a bearing on the final premium to be paid.

Mars Keel -  Manufactured Keel Systems 250   Seafarer 2018 300x250

Need a quantum for that? Well the Australian insurer, QBE, declared an AUD1.2b loss the last financial year, and they are underwritten by the giant known as Lloyd’s. Ultimately, whilst large, none of them are bottomless pits. Even if they had the Mariana Trench filled with gold bullion, you could argue that the value would be diminished if it were all used up, which is of course why Federal Reserves hold onto it in ultra-secure locations.

Ultimately you are left with it will be harder to secure cover for named storms, or the clauses presiding over them will be super stringent, but we’ll leave all of that to the insurers and lawyers. You can take that up with your own insurer/agent, but the crucial element will always remain good seamanship.

Right oh. Back to all things boat like. In The School Bus we looked at how changes to many things had afforded a new type of sailor to hit the seas, what you are intending to do with your craft, what form your hull, or hulls, should take, and important bits like keels and rudders.

The 102ft aluminium ketch Maramar originally designed by Dominiqe Presle - Superyacht Challenge Antigua 2018 - photo © Claire Matches /
The 102ft aluminium ketch Maramar originally designed by Dominiqe Presle - Superyacht Challenge Antigua 2018 - photo © Claire Matches /

Construction and materials seems like the next logical step. Many a production GRP boat is now vac-bagged, and if done so with a vinylester resin, it does provide you with the strongest and lightest possible craft in the end. This is one of the reasons they can now offer such space down below.

Steel and aluminium should not be ruled out, however, for their strength is unsurpassable. Steel certainly needs good initial preparation and then lots of maintenance as time goes by. There are countless tales of the sailor who gets the paint tin out, the very moment there is a scratch. These days alloy does not suffer so badly from electrolytic reaction with the water, but you can check out all of that with a specialist corrosion surveyor.

B&G Vulcan 2018 300x250   Nebo 300x250 6

Of course knowing if you are buying a production boat or a custom craft is important, but also with this, you go straight back to answering just where are you going, and what kind of cruising you’re doing? There is a reason boats heading into the Arctic are metal, but if you are in the tropics, then they are as comfortable as a plastic or timber boat with a dark deck!

If you take something like an X-Yacht for instance, it has a steel keel box, which gives immense strength, and also piece of mind, but the other side of the coin is the cost. Still, second hand versions are more approachable, and given their initial quality, their overall appearance years later has not diminished greatly. A craft like this could offer a good compromise between a lot of the variables at hand.

So then. If all that we have done to date is at the waterline or below, then maybe it is time to reach for the stars. That of course means the spar, as well as the standing and running rigging. Now a cat has a cathedral rig, and the stays are large and aft to account for apparent wind and also the stiffness of the craft. Generally, they take a larger load further up range, as well.

Control lines all fed aft and within easy reach of the helmer and the powered winches - photo © John Curnow
Control lines all fed aft and within easy reach of the helmer and the powered winches - photo © John Curnow

I can always remember cruising monohulls with masthead rigs and huge, overlapping genoas. It was good for power and pointing, but gear changes had to happen early, and it required experienced sailors for most manoeuvres. Going to a fractional rig, these days more like nine tenths, in conjunction with a self-tacking jib, swept back spreaders, and then running all the control lines back to the helmer, IMOCA style certainly made short-handed sailing of large cruising boats all the more easier.

Of particular interest is to now see the deck sweeper furler being offered on production boats. This improves the light wind performance astronomically, and depending on your standpoint, looks way better than a sail above the fence. The Code Zero on its own furler out on the bowsprit has also come to the fore. Once only for light wind, they now go up range to the mid-teens and offer a very usable package across a great divide, and can go fairly deep too.

Selden XPS   Zhik 2018 Hyeres 300x250

There was a time when a permanent baby stay was favoured to allow for a cutter rig in the light, and then run a Solent in heavy airs. The above package has removed this requirement somewhat, and with Genoa and Spinnaker Staysails having their own stay as part of the furler, the interesting element is that now just the one ‘snake’ could indeed perform all three jobs.

Michael Coxon, the Managing Director of North Sails Australia says, “This is very much a reality now, especially due to the benefits of 3Di technology. It is both strong enough, and light enough to perform across the range with totally safety, whereas previously your heavy weather jib would have been too inefficient to use in light airs.”

“So we don’t have to compromise with the design of the sail, and of course 3Di holds its shape for the life of the sail, because of its structure, and lighter weight with no membrane holding it all together. Downwind reaching and going uphill in heavy weather is now possible with the one sail.”

Shearwater, 57 foot performance cruiser - photo © Andrea Francolini
Shearwater, 57 foot performance cruiser - photo © Andrea Francolini

The recent launching of the very state-of-the-art Shearwater express cruiser really places an exclamation mark next to all of this. She has no Diesel auxiliary, but two electric motors driven primarily by solar with a genset to back it all up, including powering her winches.

She very much personifies the new thinking, and if you look closely at Comanche, for instance, you’ll note that her storm job is actually also part of her downwind package, eliminating the need to carry additional sails. As for the Code Zero versus asymmetric kite for cruising, Coxon explains, “It all depends on your performance requirements, as the Code Zero does not have as much roach on the front and back, so is a smaller triangle overall, but certainly these days does have the ability to work across a much larger wind range than previously.”

If selecting the kite option, then the correct dousing equipment will also need to be deployed, because having spent so much time and effort getting everything to be simple, you would hate to have to work hard to get your kite down in a hurry.

Enjoying their spinnaker and all set for the douse with the sock in place. - photo © John Curnow
Enjoying their spinnaker and all set for the douse with the sock in place. - photo © John Curnow

In closing, vessels like the ketches from Amel offer the power of a very substantial rig, but the quick and motorised ability to reef or shake all at the touch of button. If your budget extends to this, then it is certainly something that needs to be a part of your consideration set.

We’ll come back with more, but in the meantime you will find that we have information for you about Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef, North Sails, deliveries from Bavaria continue as they seek investors, apparel from Musto, shipwrecks, the South Pacific, corals, new Swan 78, new Beneteau 46.1, new and really good looking custom 57 (it’s gold), the British Isles, saildrones, the ten best boat names, as well as much more. It is also really great to learn that the European Union looking to ban single use plastic.

CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Team with one of their Saildrones - photo © CSIRO
CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Team with one of their Saildrones - photo © CSIRO

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour… We’re really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top and the drag down menu, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it’s all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time…

John Curnow, Editor,

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