Author Topic: Sun Cat open water abilities  (Read 13477 times)

richh

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Sun Cat open water abilities
« on: July 26, 2007, 09:05:46 AM »
 I am thinking of getting a Sun Cat, the area that I sail in is lower Delaware Bay in the Lewes area. The wave conditions there can be 2 to 3 with some higher depending on the conditions. Has anyone had the experience of sailing in conditions like these witht he Sun Cat and how did it preform

Thanks,

Rich

john walker

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2007, 10:32:12 AM »
Rich, I sail my Suncat on Green Bay in Wisconsin. Sounds like it's comparable to Delaware bay.  I've sailed many times in 2-3 ft. waves, but prefer 1 fotters!  Due to 17's light weight, the waves battering against you slow you down.  Also, rig your reefing so you can reef the front of the sail from the cockpit.  I added a 2nd cleat just forward of the rear reefing cleat, put a cheek block at the front of the boom.  Put a line thru the eye on the cleat, tie a stopper knot, run forward thru cheek block, then up thru reefing grommet, then then down to boom, tie off.  Now you can reef sail with out going forward, risky on a Suncat in rough seas. Johnny  Walker

Offline hitchhiker

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2009, 05:24:47 PM »
I would like to know how you put the cheek block at the front of the boom. I myself put one there but it isn't
close to the mast, so the tack of sail gets loose, which makes the bottom ruff track get too much tension.
Would you mind showing the pictures of your tack-part reefing system?

Offline Joseph

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2009, 07:08:35 AM »

Hi John,

From your description it seems that what you have is a "single line reefing system". Here is one from Harken.

http://www.harken.com/pdf/4171.pdf

I've used it in larger sloops and it works. Problems are friction, inability to independently balance down pull at tack and clew and cumbersome if more than two reefing points are needed.

Is yours different in any significant way?

J.

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SunCat 17 #365

Offline hitchhiker

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2009, 04:31:08 PM »
Thank you for your information.
This is quite an interesting system with one line to reef!

The SunCat's goose neck is moveable and used as cunningham, so
I may have to think more to install the system.

Offline Joseph

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2009, 07:11:34 AM »

Yes, with a gooseneck like the one in the Sun Cat such a contraption may need to be rigged entirely within the boom or at least the single reefing line may need to be cleated on the boom itself (i.e., without tying the boom to the mast or the cabin once the sail is reefed).  Where to place this cleat on the boom may be critical as one would not wish to have it too close to the mast (as that would defeat the purpose of the single line in avoiding having to go to the mast) or too far aft (as the boom may be swinging out of the boat while the sail is being reefed).  The other thing is that it may also require a small winch (also on the boom?), something that the Sun Cat so far seems to be able to do without.

J.
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SunCat 17 #365

Offline Potcake boy

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2009, 09:21:54 AM »
Hey guys,
I sailed with a friend on his SunCat for two days in the shallow waters of the Florida Bay along the Upper Keys. The wind was pretty consistant at 20-25 which made for a nasty chop of 2-4 feet. We of course survived but didn't have much relaxing time under sail. The point is (IMHO) that there are different boat designs because there are different sailing conditions and needs of the crew. There has not one design proved itself worthy of satisfying all the demands 100%. I believe the wisdom of this is that you need to consider your personal needs when choosing a boat, and not try to stretch a design to fit your needs. For daysailing it is hard to beat a Suncat, it's amazingly quick and easy to rig for a trailer boat, and does a real fine job of providing a comfortable enjoyable sailing experience. It's design criteria was not to be an all weather cruiser. Splitting the sail plan into multiple sails is a commonly accepted means of providing flexibility for widely varying weather conditions. For a small boat the most practical rig to answer the challenge has been a simple sloop rig. Wheather it's fractional or gaff the sloop rig provides more versatility to adjust your sail for the weather at hand. I think we all understand the principle that a fat light hull won't work as well as a skinnier hull to push through a heavy steep chop. Consider the origins of the cat boat - a simple rig for a work boat in protected waters.

I was considering a Suncat, but understanding my sailing style went with a CP 19 instead. I love to go for short cruises (that's all the timeframe I can afford) and my sloop rig gives me what I need to deal with the weather that I've had to face. Granted it's not the best boat out there for punching to windward but she will get you there safely and in relative comfort. Why would you want to spend a whole day white knuckled and fighting for survival in a sailboat when you could go talk to the Taliban about religious tolerance instead?

If you've had the patience to read all my ramblings, then let me state it simply - you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear, so look for a boat that works for your needs and you'll be happy with the result. I love the Suncat, it just doesn't work for me.

Ron
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Offline Joseph

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2009, 09:37:08 PM »
Hi Potcake,

I am with you. Every boat is a compromise and some are more fitted than others to handle specific conditions. However, you seem to have done rather well in some - for the Sun Cat - pretty extreme conditions. I am curious about how it actually felt to be in a SunCat in 20-25 and a chop of 2-4. What point of sail were you? Were you reefed? Did you tack or gybe under those conditions? Did you broach? Did the boat get swamped from the stern by following seas? You obviously did not feel comfortable while on the boat, but she seems to have coped rather well and brought you back. And your experience may be precious to SunCat lovers whose sailing style may be different from yours but who may unwillingly have to face conditions like those that you describe.

J.
"Sassy Gaffer"
SunCat 17 #365

Offline Joseph

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2009, 08:00:11 PM »
Here is what Captain A. J Kenealy had to say about the water abilities of an ancestor of the Sun Cat, some hundred years ago..

"The Newport catboat is famous the world over for her handiness, speed and ability. I know that it is fashionable for scientific men and swell naval architects to decry the seaworthiness of these boats. It has been urged that the weight of the mast in the eyes of the craft is a serious objection, a strain on the hull, and not unlikely to be carried away for want of proper staying. The long boom also has been objected to, because of its liability to trip. The craft has been declared difficult to steer and a regular "yawer." But while saying unkind things of the catboat's behavior in a blow, no critic, however biased, has ventured to deny her general handiness. I might remind these gentlemen that the owner of a pleasure boat does not as a rule sail her in a blow or in a seaway. But this would not be a fair or legitimate argument. The elements are treacherous. A summer storm often plays havoc among the shipping, and a man who ventures seaward in the morning in a balmy breeze and with the water smooth as a horse-pond may be caught in a savage blow, followed by a heavy sea, both of which may sorely try the capabilities of his craft and his own resources as a seaman. I am such a devout believer, however, in a catboat of proper form and rig, that I will defend her as a good and handy craft in both fair weather and foul. It blows hard in Narragansett Bay sometimes, and I have often known a devil of a sea to be kicked up off Brenton's Reef lightship. But the Newport catboat, with a couple of reefs down, comes out of the harbor and dances over the steep waves like a duck or a cork. I never saw one of them come to grief, and in fact they have always impressed me as being the handiest all-round boat afloat. I have sailed in them in all sorts of weather, and I am not likely to alter my opinion. Many of the objections raised against them are idle."

Boat Sailing in Fair Weather and Foul
BY Captain A. J. Kenealy
MCMVIII (8th Edition)
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fassitt/kenealy/kenealy0.html

With thanks to MRB for pointing at Captain Kenealy's book in the Sun Cat section...

Joseph.
"Sassy Gaffer"
SunCat 17 #365

Offline Potcake boy

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2009, 01:06:57 PM »
Joseph,
We were luckily for the most part on a beam to broad reach. We had already reefed the sail while lying ahull (rather bouncy experience) so were OK in that wind though I'm glad we didn't see much more. We did not get broached (feather sail in gusts) nor did we take water over the transom. We did get some wet saltwater kisses but nothing more than stimulating. From a safety aspect the boat was fine in those conditions, but as I stated previously not fun to sail. Had we been sailing a sloop by comparison, we would have rigged a reefed main and perhaps shortened the foresail. That would have provided a better balance for easier control and maintaining headway even in the gusts by feathering the main and leaving the jib trimmed. My CP19 would not have been a great boat to windward in these conditions, but she would have done the job, and I don't think we'd have been any good trying in the Suncat. It's not just the wind factor, but the sea state that plays a critical role. I don't believe the SunCat is a good boat in either respect in more severe conditions. I feel she will keep her crew safe but you may have to pick another destination or pick your weather window.
This is my observation - SunCat great for trailing and quick set up. OK for occasional overnighter unless you have an open time frame for sailing when conditions are acceptable. For cruising when you can't necessarily pick your weather I recommend a sloop rig with a spinnaker to provide the versatility for a wide range of conditions you will likely encounter. A good two cylinder outboard is also very helpful. A two cylinder is much smoother than a one cylinder and my Yamaha 4 stroke is very quiet.
To reiterate my view - if the boat is not suitable to your needs you should consider another boat in preference to trying to change the nature of your present boat. Any design you can imagine has either already been built or there is a good reason it hasn't.
Ron
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Offline Joseph

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2009, 08:57:30 PM »
Ron,

This is excellent. I really appreciate you taking the time.

I'll try to explain my sailing conundrum. I am looking for a return to sailing next season to do single-handed costal cruising in rivers and lakes in NE North America. Hence, I am looking for a new, small, ballasted sailboat of shallow draft, with a cabin, easy to trailer, launch and rig. A plus would be if its trailer length could be within 20' (which the Sun Cat would, if fitted with a swinging tongue - this would make it fit inside my garage and avoid mooring fees...). I have considered several sloops (Precision, Montgomery, other Com-Pacs and even Catalinas, Hunters, the Potters and the new Sanibel, just to mention a few). Of the Com-Pac sloops the only one fitting those specs is the Legacy (the Eclipse is too large, not as easy to rig and I have doubts about its open stern).  Albeit smaller than the SunCat, the Legacy may cut the waves better than the SunCat and, hence, may sail better in conditions similar to those that you described. Also, being a sloop I would be already familiar with most of its quirks. However, I suspect that hoisting the mast is not as easy as with the SunCat and it may also mean a significant trade-off in cabin comfort.  It is also my bias that with an extra reefing point, an autohelm, an auxiliary engine, a couple of hooks with suitable rodes and some applied seamanship, the Suncat should be able to resolve most conditions normally encountered in fresh-water coastal cruising, and those that it could not resolve, I hope that it would help me to avoid by patiently awaiting for improved conditions while on the hook in shallow protected waters. Is this not a fair expectation? Would any other boat fitting the above specs be better than the SunCat for my intended sailing style?

I welcome any input on the above.

Joseph.

"Sassy Gaffer"
SunCat 17 #365

Offline Craig Weis

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2009, 02:58:03 PM »
OK CORKS DON'T SINK. The Sun Cat can be a cork. I see no reason why a CAT boat Hull is dangerous. Read the article on Cat Boats I posted as to general sea characteristics.
SO, keep the water out and short tethering [Long teathers can find you over the side and beaten to death with the hull and quarter waves] your body to the boat using the 'D' ring of a good, comfortable personal Floatation device.
Stay in the cockpit and it's always one hand for the ship, one hand for you.
Let her pound bow to the waves and fight it's tendency to fall off of the leeside of waves to keep from broaching.
Might try the sea anchor or make shift 3# Hills Brother's coffee can on a bridle.
If you can run with the waves, trail a few hundred foot of line or a can and line affixed midships.
Stay away from land and the shallows, try heaving to, even with short sail.
If your running up on shore, in a last ditch effort to stop moving toward the beach is to toss out all the ground tackle you have. The lunch anchor and the 8# Danforth.
Or stay on the dock.

skip.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 03:00:07 PM by skip »

Offline tmolik

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2009, 04:09:26 PM »
OK CORKS DON'T SINK. The Sun Cat can be a cork. I see no reason why a CAT boat Hull is dangerous. Read the article on Cat Boats I posted as to general sea characteristics.
SO, keep the water out and short tethering [Long teathers can find you over the side and beaten to death with the hull and quarter waves] your body to the boat using the 'D' ring of a good, comfortable personal Floatation device.
Stay in the cockpit and it's always one hand for the ship, one hand for you.
Let her pound bow to the waves and fight it's tendency to fall off of the leeside of waves to keep from broaching.
Might try the sea anchor or make shift 3# Hills Brother's coffee can on a bridle.
If you can run with the waves, trail a few hundred foot of line or a can and line affixed midships.
Stay away from land and the shallows, try heaving to, even with short sail.
If your running up on shore, in a last ditch effort to stop moving toward the beach is to toss out all the ground tackle you have. The lunch anchor and the 8# Danforth.
Or stay on the dock.

skip.

as usual make sure you have insurance!!!
tom
TM,Com-Pac Suncat,Central Florida

Offline skip1930

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities. Lake Michigan Crossing.
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2011, 02:14:53 PM »
Last summer in Sister Bay, Wisconsin North of Sturgeon Bay, in The Bay of Green Bay, I shared a beer or two with a fellow sailor sitting on his beautiful dark blue Sun Cat. He was waiting for his wife who was driving over from Holland, Michigan. That's on the other side of Lake Michigan, where he sailed from.

Both of us were talking while we waxed his boat.
His wife eventually showed up just in time for dinner and me and dog Logan drove home. I never met the guy before.
Boy that was a nice boat and he said the trip was uneventful but the wife declined to go along.

If we killed a sailor every seven minutes like we do Nation-wide in cars on the road, nobody would be on the water...it's all prospective.

skip.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 03:07:50 PM by skip1930 »

Offline capt_nemo

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Re: Sun Cat open water abilities
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2012, 12:13:34 AM »
Browsing through the website I felt compelled to resurrect this old topic and perhaps give it new life, for it certainly deserves further comment.

Joseph - since your several earlier posts guess you finally decided that a Sun Cat was indeed the boat for you since we know you are now the proud owner of "Sassy Gaffer".

Potcake boy -  I wholeheartedly agree with your general comment that it is important to choose a boat design that is suitable to your needs, and that a Sloop Rig provides the flexibility to achieve better boat balance and performance under various weather conditions. However, I strongly disagree with you on two other points that you made.

The first is your rather negative assessment on the Sun Cat's "Seaworthiness" due primarily because when aboard a Sun Cat caught out in rough weather you "... didn't have much relaxing time under sail."

Here is Howard I. Chapelle's classic definition of "Seaworthiness" in Yacht Designing and Planning:
"Seaworthiness is basically the ability of a boat to live in heavy weather without swamping, capsizing, breaking up, or being heavily damaged while underway."

The second is your contention that one should "... consider your personal needs when choosing a boat, and not try to stretch a design to fit your needs".

Hogwash! Since all boats are said to have compromises, people choose boats which have a BASIC DESIGN that best fits most of their personal needs. Then, most serious sailors go about changing and modifying what they can to achieve whatever "needs" were lacking in the BASIC DESIGN.

I have personally "stretched" the design of my Sun Cat, turning her into a Sloop Rig for the very reasons you mentioned in your post. First, not satisfied with the lackluster performance of the Sun Cat in light air, I made a small Nylon Light Air Drifter which was set "flying" in the small foretriangle and made a dramatic improvement in light air performance. Next I made a complete Nylon Light Air Mainsail which complemented the Nylon Drifter for a Light Air Rig and kept me sailing when other sailboats were moving about under bare poles with the iron genney in gear. Most recently I've designed, fabricated and installed a 4' Bowsprit complete with Bobstay, Whisker Stays, a second set of Masthead Shrouds and a Second quick release Masthead Forestay to provide a platform on which to experiment and play with various headsails and an even larger Nylon Drifter. There are several other modifications I've made to Running Rigging and Interior Storage. Mostly satisfied with the many positive features of my Sun Cat, I'm slowly but surely addressing the "needs" that were lacking in the BASIC DESIGN.

capt-nemo