Nov 30, 2012

The Hallberg-Rassy story in PBO

The latest December issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine treats HR fans, with Peter Poland's five-page article The Hallberg-Rassy story. In the article, the history and the development of the Hallberg-Rassy is presented from the early 1940s to this day. During the history of the yard, Monsun 31, launched in 1974, has been the most popular HR-yacht of all time with 904 boats built, followed by HR 352 with 802 hulls built. These are pretty impressive numbers for a Scandinavian yard.

The article also contains 'prices from' information for various older models on the second-hand market (UK), which might be valuable information for a seller/buyer.

It was also interesting to read how the HR range has evolved during the years. However, I was a bit disappointed that HR 29 is not mentioned in the article. After all, it is one of the newest Enderlein-designed HRs and has a bit different concept. Basically the underwater profile is pretty similar to other HRs from that era, but there are some differences above the waterline. First of all, the 29 has a lower freeboard and higher coachroof with windows, compared to the other 80s models, which have a higher freeboard, hull topsides windows and a flush deck.

The second major difference is the fractional 7/8 rig, which was a modern choice at that time for a cruising boat. Actually the first HR with a fractional sail plan was HR 26 (and not the Frers-designed HR 34, as mentioned in the article). Also HR 29 and 312 were the only aft cockpit models in the range during the 80s. Nowadays the aft cockpit is getting more popular as there are four aft cockpit boats in the range.

Nov 27, 2012

Yacht Design course

This autumn the International School of Yacht Design organized the Principles of Yacht Design course at Forum Marinum in Turku. The course was held during two weekends with lectures from 10 am to 5 pm. So obviously there was a lot of information to be learned in just four days. 

The goal of this course was to give an extensive introduction to the subject and to provide essential background information and terminology needed to read further literature on the subject. So in this respect the course served both the amateur designers and sailors who are just interested to learn more about their boats. 

A modern wing theory was dealt pretty thoroughly in the course, since it plays such a major role when designing the optimal shape for the keel, rudder and the sails. In the history, it was thought that boat should have a long keel in order to prevent the boat from drifting sideways. However, with the advancements in the airplane wing theory, boat designers started to understand that keels (and sails), work like wings and generate lift which prevents side-slipping. According to the classic wing theory, the most efficient shape is a long and narrow keel, which generates more lift and has a lower wetted surface. That is what we are seeing nowadays in modern racing boats.

During the second weekend, the emphasis was on the forces affecting the boat, different construction materials and their strengths and weaknesses. Espeacially interesting was the lesson which dealt with different forces, that affect a sailing boat. For example, on a normal sailing yacht, the pressure on the mast foot can be as much as double the boat's displacements. Also the loadings from the shrouds can be very large - about the same as the boat's displacement. Also the keel and the rudder are under heavy loads when sailing in rough seas. So you want to be sure, that the designer has done the math right.

I found the course very interesting, although at times the physics and math were over my capacity. However, maybe one of the most valuable insights during the course was to understand and to learn to appreciate the complexity of designing a sailing boat. Things like the optimal shape of the keel or hull may be modelled in theory, but especially in a cruising boat one has to take into account also practical aspects related to the manufacturing costs, maximum draft, the strength of the keel in case of grounding, ease of handling with a small crew, comfort at sea and on harbour etc. So clearly the boat design and building is always about making compromises. After this course I am even more convinced that boat design should be leaved for those who have enough understanding on the subject. Therefore, the challenge for a sailor is to find a boat whose designer has made the most optimal compromises (for you).

The course was organized in Forum Marinum, a maritime museum, which is a perfect place for this kind of course. Here are some photos from the exhibition:

Nov 22, 2012

The High Coast presents: Ulvön & Trysunda

I love Höga Kusten just shared (on their great Facebook-page) two Världsklass 2015's brand new YouTube-videos about Ulvön and Trysunda in the High Coast. I think that these two short films capture the spirit of the islands in the most beautiful way and I could keep watching these over and over again. Just a perfect escape on this another grey November day...

Ulvön, the pearl of the Gulf of Bothnia

Trysunda, Sweden's most beautiful island

Nov 20, 2012

Cruising article in Yachting Monthly

Our article "Cruising the coast of southern Norway" is included in the latest December issue of the Yachting Monthly magazine (pp. 52-55). The issue was published already last week, but it arrived here in the periphery only today. So I guess, that the latest issue should be now (or shortly) available on the magazine shops as well. You can also download the magazine to your iPad or other tablet device from here.

It was an honor to write an article for this renowned, over hundred years old British sailing magazine. I must admit that I was surprised when I got the email confirming that they will publish our article. But I guess that this is a good example that you don't always have to cross the oceans and travel to the other side of the world to get a story which someone might find interesting. Fortunately, there are still many less covered areas in the Northern Europe to be explored. Hope you like the article!

Nov 16, 2012

Principles of Yacht Design -course

The winter is perfect time for a sailing theory studies! This year I have been lucky, since during the coming two weekends, the Sailing yacht design -course is organized here in Turku. So I am very pleased to be attending this course. And don't worry, I am not planning to design my own boat! An idea is just to gain knowledge on the qualities of a seaworthy sailing vessel.

The course is organized by International School of Yacht Design and Vene-magazine. ISYD also organizes similar courses in England and Germany next year. The themes on this course include for example design methodology, hull geometry, stability, seaworthiness, resistance components, forces on mast and rig and forces from keel and rudder.

The course book on this course is Principles of Yacht Design, by Lars Larsson and Rolf E. Eliasson. The book arrived lately, and after the first glance, it appears to be quite an extensive theory package on the subject. But I will be blogging more about the course next week after the first lectures.

Nov 13, 2012

The amazing Baltic Sea sunsets/sunrises

I never get tired of watching (or photographing) the sunset and the sunrise at sea. Seeing the sun setting and rising again some hours later rewards after a sleepless night on watch. It makes you feel that sailing is the best hobby in the world and also makes you understand the beauty of the planet.

Unfortunately, this season we did not have a chance to experience those, because of the lousy weather. If the weather was sunny for a day, the next weather front appeared in the horizon in the evening.

Thus, we have to look for some older photos for this blog post. Here is a compilation of our best sunset/sunrise photos from previous seasons (2007-2011):

The first glimpse of sun light 

The moment before sunrise 

This and the next photo are not actually from Baltic, but from west coast of Sweden

Early morning in Stockholm Archipelago

Nov 10, 2012

HR29 in magazines

When making the decision of buying Dolphin Dance (named Johanne then) three years ago, I tried to gather all the information I could find on HR29. I had never sailed the boat, but just visited a couple of them in the harbour. Unfortunately, there was very little information to be found on the magazines. For example none of the Finnish boating magazines had tested this boat. The only article I came across was a short one page article by Yachting Monthly (11/1996).

This YM article is titled "A blend of conservative hull and performance rig". Besides writing about accommodation and general sailing characteristics, the writer wonders the 7/8 fractional rig, which is untypical for an older HR:
"Christoph Rassy and Olle Enderlein appeared guilty of some convoluted thinking; why else would they marry a modern fractional sailplan to a hull which looked tailor-made for a conservative masthead rig? Obviously, with 600 boats built up until 1993, they got the balance right between seakeeping and speed, proving that it's not just flat-bottomed cruiser-racers which can enjoy the benefits of a bendy spar." 
At the time of the design, the 7/8 fractional rig was a modern choice especially for a pure cruising boat. However, today the term 'performance rig' sounds bit of an overstatement, because the sturdy spar in HR29 has equal diameter from root to top whereas modern spars often taper towards the top. This makes them easier to bend. But I very much like the simplicity of the fractional sailplan, and find it more practical than the traditional masthead rig.

Article on Yachting World 

Newly, I discovered that more older articles had been added to the Yachting & Boat World archive. Thus, Yachting World's and Yachting Monthly's old HR29 test articles from 1989 are now also available for download. I decided to buy the YW's five page 'Long test' article, because it would be interesting to read what testers have written about the boat, and compare this to my own experiences.

The YW article (6/1989) acknowledges good sailing characteristics:
"Just because a boat is destined for a cruising lifestyle doesn't mean that it shouldn't be interesting to sail. HR29 certainly keeps the helmsman interested and offers a perceptible response to correct sail trim. "
"Generous sail area offers good light weather performance" 
I agree, that an HR29 is an interesting boat to sail, in all but light winds. However, the boat in the test was equipped for the Round Britain Race and had a modified rig for masthead drifters. In general, the article should be considered in relation to the time when it was written, since boat design has developed quite a lot in the last twenty years - although, not all of the development is positive in my opinion. However, a modern boat of the same size would most probably have greater width, less weight, bigger downwind sail area, flat-bottom, shorter keel and a spade rudder. This will result in better performance especially in light winds and downwind. However, a traditional hull shape has other qualities:
"To cruise comfortably under sail is the raison d'être of the HR29. She panders to no racing rule and, while taking note of modern design trends, is sensibly traditional in almost every way."
Access to engine and quiet installation scored high marks in the test and it is easy to agree with that. However, it is a bit surprising that the boat is said to be "extremely handy" under power. I have found that maneuvering astern in tight quarters is...well, not very handy, especially when compared with  modern boats with shorter fin keel and spade rudder.

In the article, there are some complaints  regarding for example single-clipped hoses, exposed wiring runs attached to bulkheads, the lack of leecloths for the saloon berths and the lack of masthead tricolor light. However, all of these are quite easily fixed afterwards.

If you have an HR29 or you are otherwise interested in this boat, it might be a good idea to check those articles. They can be downloaded from Yachting & Boating World archive.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have experience or questions on this boat! And as always, you can also e-mail us at sydolphindance(a)

Nov 6, 2012

Misty November

The first weekend of November was misty and calm. On Saturday afternoon the mist cleared away for a few hours, but when the Sun started setting later in the afternoon, sea smoke built over the water. This made great conditions for photographing!

Taking a rowboat to its wintering berth in typical gray November morning.  

Nov 1, 2012

Natural teak vs. Flexiteek

I have previously blogged about my contradictory attitude towards teak decks. In short, I admire the looks of a teak deck, but not the cost, the maintenance required and the fact that using teak is ecologically unsustainable. Rationally speaking, I would prefer a boat without a teak deck. However, most of the cruising boats built in Northern Europe seem to have teak decks installed by the yard: it is hard to find an HR, Najad, Swan, Baltic, Malö or Sweden Yachts without a teak deck. Most of the cruising versions of Finngulf's, X-Yachts', Maestro's and Arcona's are equipped with teak decks as well. So if one is looking for a boat made by some of the above mentioned Nordic yards, the teak deck is most probably an added bonus.

When seeing a boat ownership as a long term relationship, renewing the teak deck should also be taken into account. The longevity of the teak deck depends on the age of your deck and how your teak deck has been used and maintained over the years. Actually, most common mistake is over-maintenance (e.g. frequent brushing or sanding), which will speed up the wear of the wood. All in all, then the options are basically to bite the bullet and renew the teak deck with natural teak, remove the teak deck and paint the deck with non-skid paint, replace teak with cork deck or replace teak with some of the various synthetic deck materials available.

The cost of natural teak has inflated about 6-7 percents annually during the last ten years. As the price of the natural teak is probably going to keep rising in the future as well, the substitutes are getting more attractive. Of these other alternatives I would be most interested in synthetic teak materials, which clearly have many benefits over natural teak. However, all the fake teak decks I have seen do not look even close to real teak - and one can tell that from a good distance.

During last weekends' Turku boat show I visited the stand of the company Scandinavian Teak Deck. Besides making teak decks for example for Nautor's Swan and Baltic Yachts, they are also selling a synthetic decking material called Flexiteek, which is made from PVC-plastic. Flexiteek has four different colour options: white, black, grey and traditional teak colouring. Unlike real teak, Flexiteek does not change colour over the years.

I got a few Flexiteek-samples which I then tested against the natural teak. I like the grey colour better, because it looks more real to me. I think that in general the problem with many of the fake teak decks is that they try to look like new teak deck - when it is just laid. But majority of teak decks do not look like that after a few months in the sun.

Here are some comparison photos. What do you think, is it close enough?

Grey and traditional teak colour samples. 

Underside of the Flexiteek-sample