Thursday, October 23, 2014

C&C Redline 41 Review

There has been no shortage of fanfare surrounding the launch of the new C&C Redline 41, and with good reason. This all-new design traces its commercial pedigree back to  the fabulous line of racing/cruising yachts designed by the legendary team of George Cuthbertson and George Cassian, The history of C&C Yachts is convoluted so I won't go into the details here, but you can read all about it on the Internet. Back then I was still a kid and a huge fan of C&C boats and thought they were all designed by the two Georges, but in fact much of the credit for the excellent design work belongs to Rob Ball and Rob Mazza as well as other talented designers that spent more or less time at C&C.

That was back in the heyday of yacht building in North America. By the mid 1990's the company had fallen on hard times and was taken over by Tartan Yachts, which produced a series of boats under the C&C name that were designed by Tim Jackett. Those were, in my opinion, okay boats but not quite in the same league as those designed by Ball, Mazza and the rest of early C&C design team.  In 2013 the C&C assets were acquired by US Watercraft, which is based in Warren, Rhode Island.

Finally, C&C, which suffered the same stormy weather as all the other sailboat builders in America over the last fifteen years, has found a favorable wind. It will be a surprise to me if C&C does not return to something akin to its former success. In addition to C&C, USW owns and manufactures the Alerion, True North and Carolina Cockpit brands as well as Waterline Systems. They are also a licensed builder of several J/Boat and Farr models. They have enlisted the venerable Barry Carroll to manage the C&C brand and Mark Mills to do the design work. It's hard to imagine a more capable gang to carry on the C&C name.

The Redline 41is intended as a racer/cruiser with the emphasis on IRC racer.  Here are some numbers:

LOA:  40.7'
LWL:  35.4'
BMAX: 12.13'
Draft:  8.2'
DISP:  15,100 LB
BAL:  7,232 LB
Calculated Sail Area: 891 SF
D/L:  152
SA/D:  23.3
BAL/DISP:  48%

Wire frame drawing shows a moderate displacement hull with firm bilges, narrow waterline beam, long overhang aft and no chines. 
I visited the C&C web site ( and found all of the photos for this article, including the beautiful wire frame drawing that gives us a pretty good understanding of the overall proportions of the boat. So beginning with the hull, we see a very clean shape with a narrow waterline beam and minimal wetted surface. Notice the slightly raked stem and the longish stern overhang. I like the raked stem for aesthetic reasons, and the long overhang aft provides reserve buoyancy when the boat is pressed, leaving a clean wake.  Notice the distribution of beam, it's been pulled in a bit at the transom and there is plenty of flare in the hull in that area. Up forward, the bow is fine, with just a bit of hollow in the waterlines, and the knuckle is placed just above the waterline . This is going to be a slippery and well behaved yacht on all points of sail.

Driving upwind. notice the clean release of the wake off the transom. 

The keel consists of a cast iron vertical fin mated to a lead bulb. Notice that the bulb is an inverted "U" shape in cross section. This helps get the center of gravity (CG) as low as possible but does generate more turbulence than a more symmetrical torpedo shape. I'm sure the Mills team analyzed this trade-off and decided that the benefit of the lower CG outweighs the cost of the higher turbulence.  The rudder is a deep, thin blade that should provide good control. With a displacement/length ratio of 152, the 41 isn't going to be a downwind planing machine but should surf along quite nicely on races such as the Transpac.

The IRC rule encourages moderate displacement and high-ish freeboard. This 41 is not equipped with an anchor locker or bow roller, but it sure is pretty.

Notice the inboard and outboard tracks and barber hauler.  

The cabin trunk is low and aerodynamically sculpted. Notice that it is narrow amidships, leaving wide side decks and plenty of room to locate the jib tracks well inboard. Racers need tight sheeting angles. Notice that the forward end of the trunk is fairly wide, leaving very little side deck in this area. This was likely done to provide headroom in the head and forward cabin. The cockpit design is a nearly perfect for a racer/cruiser. The seats forward allow for headroom in the quarterberths and offer some comfort for the crew. The mainsheet traveler is located on the cockpit sole, with the sheet led to a pair of winches at the aft end of the seats, Admirals cup style. The photos show a recess in the open transom and I noticed in one of the renderings on the web site that they were at least thinking about a fold-down panel there that would serve as a swim/boarding platform. I don't think it's necessary for cruising since the recess provides enough of a step, so boarding from a dinghy wouldn't be a problem.

Sensible deck layout and reasonable accommodations for a racer/cruiser

The rig is pure raceboat. The mast and boom are carbon and so is the retractable bow pole. The chainplates are out at the rails so jibs are limited to about 105%. Notice that the boat has inboard and outboard jib tracks and barber haulers. This will allow the trimmer to dial the jib in perfectly. There is apparently an option for a short permanent bowsprit in lieu of the retractable pole. This would be a nice place to mount the anchor and roller, but since there is no provision for an anchor locker or windlass there's no point in trading the pole for the sprit.

The V-berth is snug and lightweight.

Going below, the accommodations are exactly what I would expect from the builders of the Alerion, a tasteful blend of white surfaces and wood accents. You might wonder what all that wood is doing in a boat like this. It certainly harks back to the days of true racer cruisers that C&C once built. The layout is functional for racing and offers just enough comfort for coastal cruising. The V-berth looks small, a perfect place for the kids. The head is minimal for a racer/cruiser and is located forward of the main bulkhead with access from the forward cabin. This isn't a perfect arrangement but is acceptable, in my opinion, because the Redline 41 is a racing yacht with cruising amenities rather than a cruising yacht racing capabilities.

Basic but comfortable accommodations.

The galley is bright and spacious for a racing yacht.

It's nice to see a well designed nav station on the Redline 41

The Redline 41 is going to be a fast and fun boat to sail. As for cruising, it's easy to envision spending a week at the island, on a mooring. People passing by will inevitably slow down and admire it, ask what she is and comment on what a beautiful boat she is. It's harder to envision this boat spending a month cruising in more remote areas where good ground tackle, sun protection and shallower draft are important. It's a racing yacht that can be cruised. As I mentioned earlier, I will be surprised if this boat isn't a huge success and a worthy successor to the legendary boats that C&C produced in its heyday.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting Ready to Head South

Finisterra has been in her slip for the last four months undergoing some refits, improvements and upgrades in preparation for her next adventure. Here is a partial list of work done:
- 10 coats of varnish on the cap rails
- Replace the worn teak in the cockpit with synthetic teak
- Add a fourth element to the lazyjacks
- Rebuild the watermaker
- Replace the jib sheets and main halyard
- Service the ground tackle
- Install fans in all the cabins
- Modify the outboard motor hoist to make it smaller and lighter
- Install a cut-out switch between the solar panels and charge controller
- Upgrade the bimini
- Fabricate and install a new cockpit table
- Replace the XM radio antenna
- Replace all docklines
- Install spreader patches on the mainsail
- Service the diesel engine and outboard motor
- Seal the joint between the galley countertop and lockers
- Completely empty the boat and clean out all lockers
- Refresh ditch bag
- Get new bug screens for all hatches

Whew! That was a lot of work. Now all that's left is to provision, fuel up and take care of roughly a thousand other minor tasks, such as refill the propane tanks, re-certify all the safety gear, go through our wardrobes and thin them down for the tropics, install an Iridium Go satellite communications system, stock up on spare parts and tools, make copies of documentation, etc. etc.  A few of my landlocked friends tell me I'm "Livin' the dream", but what they don't understand is that living the dream is a lot of work!

Anyway, it looks like, barring any surprises, Finisterra will be ready to sail sometime in early November. The plan is to spend a few days at Catalina Island, another week or so in San Diego and then head for Ensenada. From there we'll sail down the coast of Baja California, stopping in Turtle Bay and possibly Magdalena Bay before rounding Cabo San Lucas and laying over a day or two in San Jose Del Cabo to top up provisions. From San Jose, the plan is to cross the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan, then cruise down the coast to Puerto Vallarta where we'll spend a month or so and plan our next move.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Cockpit Table

When we bought Finisterra it was equipped with the standard steel and fiberglass cockpit table. It was great for dining but inconvenient for sailing the boat and for general living aboard. Last year I removed it and replaced it with a small pedestal that was really nothing more than a combination drinkholder/handhold/GPS mount, and it works great for all those purposes, but we still need a table of some sort in the cockpit. On our last voyage to Mexico we used a couple of plastic folding tables which worked okay for that trip, but I had always intended to build a fold-down table. Now that we're home for awhile I got busy and built one out of teak.

Here is a typical table installation with the removable drop-leaves in place
Finisterra with the table removed. I used the existing mounting holes to install a teak footrest.
The pedestal is handy when we're underway. The GPS is mounted on a swivel so it can be seen from anywhere in the cockpit. 

The new table measures 15.50" x 24.00"
I found a nice piece of teak at my local hardwood supplier. It was about 9 inches wide so I cut it to about 25 inches long and edge-bonded two pieces together to make a single piece. Then it was a simple matter to round off the edges and attach a folding leg to it.

In this photo you can just see the bolt that I used for a pivot. The table is attached to the underside of the wood part of the pedestal with a pair of stainless steel hinges.

I drilled a hole in the bottom of the leg and epoxied a stainless steel pin into it. It sticks out of the bottom about half an inch and fits into a  hole in the footrest. 
Table in the folded position.
When underway, the table is folded down and secured to the pedestal base, leaving the cockpit wide open. It took about 12 hours to make and install the table, not including the varnish work. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Cockpit Project: Installing the Teak Decking

The synthetic teak was waiting for us when we arrived back home. The package included 8 tubes of M1 polyether adhesive, a serrated trowel and 13 precut pieces of the teak material. They had sent me a first article back in August that didn't come close to fitting properly, but we worked out the problems and they remade that part and shipped it along with the rest of the pieces. The first thing I did was check fit each one on the deck, and they all fit reasonably well. 

Once I was sure all the pieces fit, I taped off each recess, applied the adhesive and installed each piece one at a time. The finished cockpit looks a lot better than the weathered teak look that we had before. The total cost for the teak, adhesive and trowel was $1,009.00. I added two rolls of tape, some sandpaper, a carpet roller and a little acetone so the total material cost added up to about $1,040.00. It took about 20 hours spread out over a week to install all the pieces. 

I started with 3M #2050 masking tape which worked well. When I ran out of it I tried  #2090 blue tape. The lower tack allowed the M1 adhesive to penetrate between the tape and the teak which I had to sand off after it was cured. 
I applied the adhesive with a caulking gun then spread it with the trowel.

The adhesive was evenly spread across the seat, with a thick bead of it around the perimeter.
I used the carpet seam roller to press the teak into the adhesive. To get it to lay perfectly into the recess, I started rolling in the center and worked toward the edges, squeezing out any excess adhesive.

I pulled the tapes as soon as possible. The temperatures hovered near 100 degrees every day while I was doing the installation, so the adhesive started curing almost instantly. 

The finished installation looks good. The black "caulking lines" are aligned within about 1/8" from piece to piece.

Of course the project wouldn't be complete without new cockpit cushions. 
We're pretty happy with the final results and now that Plasteak has accurate digital files for the teak inserts, it should be easy for any Beneteau 423 to be fitted with synthetic teak. Feel free to call on me if you have any questions about the material or the process.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Five Days in Yellowstone

It was a long drive from Mammoth to Twin Falls. We took the "road less traveled" through Ely and Wells, Nevada. There is a lot of open space in central Nevada and we enjoyed the solitude of the open road in one of the more remote parts of this country. We arrived in Twin Falls a little before sunset and had a nice dinner not far from the spectacular Snake River gorge. The next morning we were on the road early and arrived in West Yellowstone, MT in the early afternoon. This became our base of operations for next five days, from which we made day trips into the National Park.

We had planned to arrive in Yellowstone a couple of days after Labor day, thinking that with kids back in school, the park would be fairly uncrowded. Apparently a million other people had the same idea. The place was packed from dawn to dark. In several places, the very large parking lots were maxed out, with cars backed up on the roads. It would have been easy to let the crowds ruin our time there, but we made the best of it, and did the tourist things along with the rest of the tourists, but also found lots of outlying places where the crowds and tour buses didn't go. The weather was near perfect every day and the hiking was excellent. We fished the Madison River and caught only a single brown trout. There were fishermen in drift boats, in waders and lining the banks at nearly every likely looking spot on the Madison, Firehole, Yellowstone and Gibbon rivers so we didn't fish much at all. I could bore you with dozens of photos of geysers and other fantastic Yellowstone attractions, but they look just like all the others you've already seen or taken.

After five days of beautiful scenery in Yellowstone, we drove south to Jackson, Wyoming and spent a few days in Grand Teton National Park. The crowds were much smaller and we did a couple of wonderful hikes. In the evenings we watched elk and moose, bears and coyotes in the meadows and along the banks of the Snake river and Moose Creek.

When it was finally time to head home, we decided to take Highway 189 out of Jackson and pick up I-15 south out of Salt Lake City, which would take us back to our hometown in southern California. On the way out of Jackson, the news on the radio was that I-15 had been flooded out just north of Las Vegas, so we changed course and took I-80 west to Winnemucca then south to Bishop and down Highway 395 toward home.

We arrived home a couple of nights ago to find Finisterra wearing a thick coat of grime but otherwise in good shape. Now we're back at work getting her ready for her next adventure.


People visit Yellowstone in all kinds of vehicles but none as cool as this one. Notice the econobox parked next to it.

Peregrine falcon

Bull Elk

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Week in Mammoth

We took picturesque highway 20 from Nevada City to Interstate 80, then skirted the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe on Highway 28. About halfway down the lake, we picked up highway 50, going east until we reached the 395 which took us south to Mammoth Lakes, where we stayed a week, hiking, biking and fishing the beautiful lakes above the town.

Lake George
With the lakes freshly stocked, young rainbow trout rushed our hooks almost as soon as they hit the water at Lake George.
As the Labor Day holiday weekend approached the town of Mammoth Lakes began to swell with people. By Saturday, the hotels, campgrounds and day use areas were packed. To avoid the crowds we drove down highway 395 to Rock Creek and hiked up to the Gems, a pair of pristine lakes high in the eastern Sierras. The trail starts from Mosquito Flats at an elevation of 10,200 feet, and winds through aptly named Little Lakes Valley up to an elevation of 10,900 feet, where Upper Gem lies.
At nearly 11,000 feet elevation, the Gems are not far from the timberline.

I was surprised to see a little patch of snow in the shadows on the south side of the lake.

Still reluctant to face the crowds around Mammoth, the next day we drove down to McGee Creek Road, about 20 miles from Mammoth. Turning off the highway, we drove southwest past the pack station to the trailhead at the end of the road. From there we hiked up the trail through magnificent scenery along the creek until we arrived at the Pond, which lies at an elevation of 9,000 feet.
McGee Creek Trail starts here.

A midday moon

The beaver dam widens the creek into a pond of several acres.
The beavers' lodge is located near the upper end of the pond.
The water level in the pond is about four feet higher than the creek below it. You have to admire the engineering skill of America's largest rodent.
The North American beaver's habitat once extended from Canada to the deserts of northern Mexico, but the animal was hunted almost to extinction in the 1800's. Beavers weigh an average of 44 pounds. On another note, Oregon State University, with the Beaver as its mascot is not ranked in the AP Top 25 football poll this year, much to Lisa's chagrin.

Tomorrow, we'll head northeast through Nevada and Idaho to the West Entrance of Yellowstone NP.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Road Trip to Yellowstone

With most of our boat projects finished, we have some time on our hands before the synthetic teak arrives, so we decided to take a road trip to Yellowstone National Park, with stops along the way to visit friends and family in Berkeley and Nevada City, then a week or so in Mammoth Lakes before heading northeast to Yellowstone. We packed bikes and backpacks in the truck and headed up Highway 101 toward Berkeley. Along the way we stopped at Pinnacles National Park long enough to check out the unique caves near the west entrance to the park. These caves are made of enormous rocks that tumbled down into steep ravines, leaving spaces between them. Some of those spaces are cavernous, others are too small to fit through. After a couple of hours we continued on to Berkeley where we met friends and family. We spent a couple of days in the area and took an afternoon putter around the Bay aboard SF Joe, our friend's Grand Banks 36.

Pinnacles National Park. The "Balconies" cliffs overlook the ravine where the caves are located.

The trail to the caves crosses over a dry creek bed. Unfortunately we saw many signs of California's severe drought along the way,
Entrance to one of the caves. 
In some areas the caves were pitch dark and we were fortunate to have brought along a flashlight. In this area, light filtered down between the enormous boulders that make up the caves.
Lisa checked her camera after bouncing it on the rocks as we scrambled through the caves.

On Monday, August 18th we drove northeast toward the town of Grass Valley where we spent an afternoon and evening checking out the town and visiting a couple of our favorite wine tasting rooms. At the Sierra Starr winery, we were invited to visit their vineyard, which is located in the hills just out of town, where they were taking the first harvest of sauvignon blanc grapes. So the next day we drove up to the vineyard and spent a couple of hours with a merry group of volunteers harvesting these tasty grapes.

Rustic and quaint, Sierra Starr is a small, family run vineyard with about 25 acres of land under cultivation.
Phil Starr runs the vineyard while his wife, Anne manages the tasting room. But when harvest time comes, everyone picks grapes.

It's hot, sticky work, but for a few hours it was fun to pick the grapes and learn about the rudiments of viticulture.
Lisa's first bunch of grapes.
The colors of the grapes were amazing.
Picking grapes is hard work. I wouldn't want to do it for a living.
Son Jack Starr is the chief winemaker. After the grapes are crushed and cleaned they go into the stainless steel tanks where they are inoculated with yeast and allowed to ferment. 
The next day we drove through the town of Nevada City and up into the hills along Banner Lava Cap road to visit family, hike, bike and relax. We spent an afternoon riding our mountain bikes through a beautiful forest of pine and oak along an old aqueduct. Another day we went tubing on the Yuba river, enjoying perfect weather and lovely scenery.

We hiked down to the river from the road and were greeted with the sight of the beautiful old Bridgeport Bridge. It was completed in 1862  and is a fine example of a truss and arch covered bridge. It is the longest bridge of its type in the world, so I guess it beats all the bridges in Madison County!

Bridgeport Bridge is the longest single span covered bridge in the world. 
The bridge has fallen into disrepair and is no longer usable. Fortunately the governor of California has allocated some money in the state budget to repair and restore the bridge so there is hope that it will survive. 
It was fun to navigate our inner tubes among the rocks and float down the gentle rapids of the river.  
After three days in hills above Nevada City, we headed to Mammoth Lakes where we'll stay a week or so, hiking, biking and fly fishing.