Thursday, December 11, 2014

Arcona 410 Review

Arcona is a name we seldom see in the USA, which is unfortunate because this Swedish company builds a line of nice looking and fast boats that I think could do well in this country. All of their current products were designed by Stefan Qviberg, another name that is pretty much unknown in the USA but I must say his firm's work is impressive. The 410 is the latest collaboration between Qviberg and Arcona.
Simplicity and balance are main elements of the Arcona 410 design

As I studied the drawings and photos of the 410, the theme that came to mind was simplicity and balance efficiently combined. In the profile view above, notice the delicately sprung sheer and balanced bow and stern profiles. The cabin trunk is low and blends perfectly with the subtly sprung sheerline. Simple designs are often the most difficult to execute well.
The 410 is fitted with a tall fractional rig with non-overlapping headsails. Notice the oversize spinnaker pole.
This boat will be a serious competitor on the race course.

The Arcona 410 is intended as a racer/cruiser and I would place it on the racier end of that spectrum. With a displacement of 17,200 pounds on a 36.75' waterline, it has a displacement/length ratio of 155 and a sail area/displacement ratio of 22.0. These numbers are indicative of a light and fairly powerful sailing yacht. By comparison, my Beneteau 423 has a D/L of 152 and a SA/D of 16.0. While the two boats have similar D/L ratios, the Arcona has roughly 33% more power in the rig. It's going to be a lot quicker in light air, and have higher speed potential in a breeze. The Arcona will be a the more interesting boat to sail. 

Wide side decks, non overlapping jibs and an Admirals Cup style mainsheet system show the 410's emphasis on performance.
I like the distribution of volume in the plan view below. The overall beam is 11.48 feet and the bow is relatively fine. Notice that the stern is not as wide as you find on some other recently designed cruiser/racers. There has been a faddish trend toward extremely wide sterns on this type of boat in recent years, and while that hullform has obvious advantages when a boat is in planing mode, I think a more balanced hullform offers better handling characteristics in a seaway.


The decks of the 410 are wide and uncluttered, perfect for racing. The cockpit is a good compromise for both racing and cruising, with big seats and plenty of space for working the boat or lounging. The open transom and twin helms are convenient for boarding from the dinghy and enable the helmsman to sit well outboard.

Notice that there is no provision for anchor storage on the bow. This is great for racing but you'll want to order your 410 with a bow roller and windlass if you plan to anchor. I like the recess for the dodger that is molded into the cabin top. The way we cruise, there is never a time when we want the dodger put away, but if you race as much as you cruise, a fold-away dodger makes a lot of sense.
Notice the recesses for sheet and halyard tails, and the mainsheet traveler mounted on the sole. Another nice feature is the block and tackle backstay adjuster, which is lighter and faster than a hydraulic unit would be. This boat has teak toe rails that are smaller than I would like for cruising.
Near perfect accommodations plan.

Arcona offers the 410 in two and three cabin layouts, and I could live with either, but the two cabin version would be ideal for a cruising couple. The aft stateroom incorporates a huge berth, a large hanging/stowage locker and plenty of shelf space.  

The small deadlight in the hull will provide a surprising amount of light in the aft stateroom. 

The aft head is just large enough to incorporate a shower. The three cabin version of the 410 offers a single head, located aft, while the two cabin includes an additional small head in the forecabin. In the main salon you find a large galley to port, with lots of counter space. Notice that the lockers above the stove are raised a few inches above the counter. This cuts into locker space a bit but creates more counter space.


Scandinavian styling: simple lines and high quality woodwork.
The arrangement of the galley wouldn't be very convenient to work in when the boat is under sail. This is probably a reasonable compromise if you don't do a lot of cooking at sea. Once in the slip or on the anchor, I think the cook would like this wide open arrangement. the nav station, opposite the galley would be a nice place to work anytime. The chart table is an ample size and there is plenty of storage space.


 The main salon includes a large dropleaf table and plenty of seating space, but the settee to starboard doesn't look quite long enough to be a good sea berth. We have the same basic arrangement aboard Finisterra and I added a lee board in the quarterberth to convert it to a usable sea berth when we're underway.

The forward cabin includes the aforementioned head, a large v-berth and smallish hanging locker. The accommodations plan shows that the berth has been pushed aft a bit to allow for storage room aft of the anchor locker but I don't see an access hatch in the photo below. Aside from that, the forward cabin looks bright and airy.

V-berth in the 3 cabin version of the 410

The styling of the interior of the Arcona 410 fits nicely with the overall theme of clean, simple lines. While some might appreciate fancier design elements in the accommodations, I think this approach will wear well over time. The corners and edges are softer than we see in the latest designs from competitors like Beneteau and Hanse, yet it is a thoroughly modern looking interior. I like it a lot.





Overall I give this boat high marks for design and it should be a worthy competitor in the marketplace as well as on the race course. Add a few amenities such as lazy jacks and an anchor windlass and you'll have a fine cruising yacht. I encourage you to visit the Arcona web site, which is where I found the information on this boat: www.arconayachts.se.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Passage to La Cruz

Finisterra departed Puerto Los Cabos at 1130 on Friday, November 28th after five pleasant days in the marina. Conditions were expected to be mostly light air for the entire passage to La Cruz, which would be a nice change from the more boisterous conditions we experienced on the Pacific side of Baja. Our water tanks were nearly empty so as soon as we cleared the harbor mouth I started the watermaker and over the next 18 hours we added 125 gallons to the tanks.

Throughout that day and night the wind remained constant at 15-18 knots out of the north and we made good progress under sail. With light air in the forecast we were thinking of passing to the north of the Islas Tres Marias and stopping at Isla Isabella before turning south to Bahia de Banderas but the seas were still fairly rough, left over from the strong northerly blow of the previous few days, making it uncomfortable to sail toward that island. I was just as happy to leave the Marias to port and sail the more direct route.

Early the next morning the wind backed around to northwest and lightened to about 6 knots, which gave us a speed of about 3.5 knots toward our destination. I fired up the diesel and we motorsailed the rest of the way to La Cruz. I had been watching another sailing vessel on AIS that left San Jose an hour ahead of us. It was a nearly new 50 footer with a code Zero headsail up, which gave it good speed in light air, and it stayed about three miles ahead of us for the entire passage.

As we approached Bahia de Banderas I noticed that the other boat was headed directly for the Islas Tres Marietas instead of the safe channel between those islands and Punta de Mita. By the time we were within about ten miles of the Islas it was pretty clear that their intention was to thread their way through them. As it was a dark and moonless night, and knowing that the folks aboard that boat had never been in these waters before, I called them on the VHF and offered to give them some waypoints in the channel between the Marietas and Pta. de Mita. The skipper thanked me and altered course about 20 degrees and made the entrance to the bay safe and sound. The Tres Marietas are beautiful but there are lots of rocks and shoals around them, and it's not a place to be on a moonless night if you're not armed with very good local knowledge. Even then, it's better to visit them during the daytime.

Finisterra entered Bahia de Banderas just after 0300 local time. With no wind at all, we motored slowly toward La Cruz, timing our arrival for first light on Sunday, November 30th,  Nevertheless, was still pitch dark when we got there so we loitered just outside the anchorage until the first streaks of dawn appeared over the mountains to the east, then entered the harbor and took a berth on Gangway 10.

It was great to arrive back at our favorite harbor in all of Mexico.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bumpy ride to Cabo

We stayed in Ensenada only three days. Just long enough to check into the country and get Mexican phones, and enjoy our first Mexican fish tacos and Pacifico's since last June. The check-in process has gotten easier since the last time Finisterra entered the country. A couple of months ago the story was that we needed to list virtually everything of value on the boat on our TIP (Temporary Import Permit) so I created a detailed list of all that stuff and was ready to present it at the Port Captain's office, but they said the rules had been recently changed (again) and all that paperwork was no longer necessary. We breezed through the process in less than an hour.

Finisterra departed Ensenada at 10:00am on Sunday, November 16th. Just after clearing the harbor entrance we ran into a sea of kelp, so the first order of business was to back the boat down and clear it off the keel and rudder. The wind was blowing about 18 knots out of the WNW so we unrolled the jib and put a single reef in the main and set a southwesterly course for Punta Banda. Once clear of the point, we bore off to a broad reach and headed south toward our next destination of Turtle Bay, about 280 miles down the coast.

By 1800 hrs the wind had veered to NE and began to build. Finisterra is happiest on a broad reach and she ate up the miles quickly. The next day the wind continued to blow out of the northeast so we took the easterly route to Turtle Bay, leaving Cedros Island to starboard. We passed quickly down the east side of the Island in strong winds and big seas. It blew a little harder when we passed through the channel between Punta Eugenia and Isla Natividad, but once past Eugenia, the land blocked the waves but not the wind and we had a really exciting and fun 12 mile beam reach in 25-30 knots of wind and flat water. As we turned into Turtle Bay the wind died down and we came to anchor half a mile off the rickety old pier.

Within half an hour Enrique, the fuel guy, showed up in his panga and asked if we needed fuel. We topped up the tank, which didn't need much, and shared a few stories with him. He is a colorful character and is pretty much the only game in town if you need diesel fuel.  His prices are high and his fuel metering system is, for lack of a more descriptive word, elastic. So I wasn't surprised to hear him arguing with the skipper a nearby boat. But I think five bucks a gallon for good, clean fuel delivered to your boat is reasonable considering that the other options are to tie up to the rickety pier and pay approximately the same, or lug your jerry jugs up to the gas station in town.

We spent a night in Turtle, then headed south toward Bahia Santa Maria, about 220 miles further down the coast. The wind was still blowing fairly hard out of the northeast and we made good time broad reaching straight toward BSM.

We had planned to anchor for a day in the northwest corner of the bay, but as we rounded Punta Hughes we were able to download a fresh weather forecast. It called for medium winds today and light to very light air all the way to Cabo. So instead of anchoring, we headed right back out to sea in about 12 knots of breeze out of the Northwest. We sailed on starboard jibe for about 25 miles then jibed to port, back toward the land, taking a zigzag course to Cabo. By sundown the wind had built to 20-25 knots out of the northwest, bringing with it 6-8 foot quartering seas. It stayed that way for the next hundred miles.

About 50 miles out of Cabo San Lucas the wind moderated to a pleasant 15 knots and it was nice sailing for a few hours. By sunset the wind had lightened more and we were down to about 4 knots of speed so I started the diesel to give us a push until the wind returned. Thirty minutes later I noticed smoke coming out of the engine compartment. I quickly shut off the engine and discovered that the alternator had seized up. Luckily it wasn't wiring that was burning, it was the belt, which was lying dead inside its housing. We settled down for a long, light air sail toward the cape, finally arriving five miles off of Cabo Falso around midnight where the wind disappeared altogether.

Finiterra sat there until the following morning when the wind picked up out of the northeast. It was about 35 miles dead upwind to our destination of the marina at Puerto Los Cabos, and by mid-afternoon the wind died again. With a flat sea and no wind in sight, we hoisted the dinghy overboard and tied it to the stern. Its little 6 horsepower outboard pushed the 20,000 pound Finisterra along at nearly four knots and by 1630 we were at the harbor entrance. Half an our later we were relaxing in the cockpit with a sundowner.

Fortunately I had thought to bring along a spare alternator. It wasn't a perfect fit, but with a little effort we got the dead one out and the new one installed. A few hours after we tied up to the dock, the wind got serious and blew 25-30 knots out of the north for the next three days. We were happy to be nice and snug in Puerto Los Cabos where we've met new friends and reconnected with old ones.The recent hurricane, named Odile, that devastated Cabo San Lucas left its mark on San Jose as well. The Hotel Gonzo, located on the beach next to the harbor entrance was hit hard. Its plate glass windows, rooftop bar and swimming pool that we loved are all, well, gonzo, and the place is closed. Fortunately Fidel, our favorite bartender there survived the storm and is happily employed at the Container restaurant, which is located here in the marina.

In addition to knocking out the beachfront hotels around the harbor, Odile pounded the harbor, breaking up docks, damaging and sinking boats and blowing roofs off of the buildings around here. The marina restrooms are actually prefab buildings set on solid concrete and stone foundations. The men's survived intact but the women's was blown apart, leaving only the foundation and a couple of shower stalls intact.

When we were here last June I wrote a rather scathing report about the dolphin show they put on here. We were curious to know how they had survived the storm in their pens near the harbor mouth. The pens looked empty the first time we checked, but the next day we noticed some big trucks parked nearby so we wandered over for a look. They turned out to be the dolphin delivery trucks, returning the animals from Puerto Vallarta, where they had been taken for safekeeping before the storm hit. We watched as they offloaded them from the trucks one by one in canvas slings. With ten guys carrying each dolphin, they walked them down to the water's edge and carefully rolled them into the water.
They had been coated with a white salve that one of the trainers told us was to protect their skin while they were in the trucks so at first they looked mottled and unhealthy to me. After swimming around for a few minutes the stuff came off and they looked normal again, and certainly seemed to be happy to be out of the trucks and back in their pens. All I can say is that the exhibit operators seem to be treating their prisoners well.

Just launched, this dolphin is still smeared with white salve.
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They dolphins put on a little impromptu performance for us.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Wedge



The Wedge is a surf break in Newport Beach, California. It's normally a pretty calm and benign place to surf, with ankle high waves, soft breezes and plenty of sun. But when hurricanes blow up out of the Gulf of Tehuantepec and head in a northwesterly direction they send powerful waves north to California. Earlier this year, Hurricane Marie did that and the Wedge came to life with surf up to 20' high, bringing out big-wave surfers and fools.

The Wedge was created when the Newport Harbor jetty was built in 1936.


The unique shape of the big waves at the Wedge is the result of waves reflecting off the rock jetty that forms the entrance to Newport Harbor and combining with the next wave in the set, to form massive peaks. My friend Craig Bothwell, a talented amateur photographer was there when the the surf got big and sent me these photos. For more info or to get higher resolution copies of these shots you can contact him directly at bothwell.craig@gmail.com.

Big wave rider or fool?

Dropping in.




Spin cycle


Looks a bit like the North Shore
Don't try this at home.



Wonder what the gulls thought of this guy. Notice his board on the face of the wave.


Back aboard Finisterra, we left Catalina last Friday and decided to spend a night at anchor in Dana Point on our way to San Diego. We left Dana Point just before dawn the next morning and arrived at Southwestern YC at 1530 Saturday afternoon. We spent the next four days hanging out with friends and doing some last minute provisioning, and buying an inflatable SUP. Early Thursday morning Finisterra departed San Diego, and crossed the line into Mexican waters at 0900. In the early afternoon the wind piped up to about 20 knots as we approached the harbor in Ensenada, where we will stay a few days to check into the country, get phones and enjoy some fish tacos and Pacifico's before heading south toward Puerto Vallarta.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Leaving LA

Big ships at the Evergreen dock.
The USS Iowa is a huge attraction 


Finisterra passed through Angels Gate for the last time just before noon on Monday, November 3rd. The wind was very light and we motored over a flat sea to Two Harbors where we secured a mooring on the west side of the cove. We spent the next couple of days hiking and relaxing after a long four months in the California Yacht Marina. It was always interesting to see and hear the ships coming and going from the deck of our boat, but it was ever so nice to have all our work projects completed, and the prospect of another voyage south to warm and welcoming Mexico just ahead.
While at the Isthmus we took time to vote

On Wednesday we sailed a few miles down the coast to Avalon. Here we've been been enjoying the town and relaxing. Yesterday we took the Zip Line Tour, which was a lot of fun. It starts on a hillside above Descanso Bay and in five legs drops about 550 feet, traversing the ravine behind the bay.
Geared up for the Zip Line

Tomorrow we'll leave early in the morning for San Diego, where we'll stay a few days to do some last minute provisioning and hang out with friends.


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 (www.c-cyachts.com) 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. 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. It is relatively 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 that 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%. 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. That 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.