Offshore 8 Metre - Yachts and Yachting Review

Reprinted from "YACHTS AND YACHTING", December 1969

 

 
   
  1. Hull and construction
  2. Decks and cockpit
  3. Rigging, spars and sails
  4. Accommodation
  5. Engine
  6. Performance
  7. Conclusions

Already well known in Holland as "de Bries", Offshore Yachts latest production yacht called the Eight Metre is slightly over 26ft overall and was designed by van de Stadt. Whilst the yacht generally is of conventional form, the new creation incorporates a number of unusual features intended to provide a high degree of convenience and comfort for the crew both at sea and in harbour and the basic design is such as to show promise of above average performance under

 Hull and construction

The boat comprises deck and hull mouldings bonded and bolted together at the gunwale and an additional inner moulding to provide a liner for the coachroof. As with other mouldings by the Tyler Boat Company, additional lay up is provided at points of stress particularly around the chainplates and U bolts securing the shrouds.

The form of the hull is somewhat unusual as indicated by the very long waterline length of 23ft 3 1/2in in relation to the overall length of 26ft 3in. The greater part of the total 2,250 lb weight of the ballast keel is concentrated in a bulb along its lower length so that the ballast ratio of around 45%, on a draft of a little over 4ft combined with a long and firm bilge would show promise of an above average ability to carry sail which was borne out in practice. On the other hand, the very short overhangs combined with fairly full sections both fore and aft may perhaps raise some misgiving as to her comfort under severe conditions, a speculation which it was not possible to prove or disprove under. the light weather conditions which prevailed during our trials.

The standard and finish of the mouldings showed no obvious blemishes and was as high as might be expected in a production yacht of' modest price.

Decks and cockpit

In keeping with modern practice, the cockpit is fully 6ft long and is fitted with side benches but no stern seat or bridge deck forward so that a full crew of five could be accommodated here at sea without undue discomfort. The full length well could hold a considerable weight and quantity of water should a sea come aboard and it was good to note that the two drains were a full 1 in diameter, crossed and with sea-cocks at their lower ends. Two deep scuppers run the full length of the well which should take are of rain water or spray under normal conditions. The coamings, high enough for comfort, are capped with teak, an incorporate a useful locker on either side to hold winch handles and other small items of gear requiring safe, but readily accessible stowage. The bottom action sheet winches are bolted directly on the top of the coamings.

Teak gratings are fitted to top of the side benches therefore providing dry seating under all conditions. Beneath the port bench is a large locker with access via a hinged and moulded lid to which the full length grating is attached, although the lid itself is only some 24in long. Dividing the grating into three sections of which only the centre one be fixed to the locker cover would be a more convenient arrangement. The locker contains the gas bottle for the stove and battery for the engine. It is questionable whether this is a sensible arrangement. The gear lever for the MD1 diesel engine is also fitted in this locker but was mounted rather too low in the bilge for convenient or quick operation. There is ample additional space for stowage of further gear.

Aft of the cockpit is about 18in of sterndeck below which is another cavernous locker with the rudder stock rising through its forward end and a short lifting tiller projecting through a cutaway portion of the bulkhead into the cockpit. The five gallon fuel tank is fitted under the deck head on the starboard side of the locker and filled via a deck filler cap, but the locker is large enough to stow the usual wardrobe of spare headsails at sea. It has a moulded lid secured by a length of shockcord but unsealed.

A pair of substantial timber cleats are mounted on the afterdeck with a pair of fairleads on the moulded toerail.

Forward of the cockpit, the well radiussed coachroof and side decks make movement relatively easy whilst the high double lifelines fitted as standard provide good security. The pulpit and stanchions are of stainless steel the latter being mounted in phosphor bronze sockets securely bolted through the deck. The coachroof carries a teak handrail along the full length of each side but whilst the whole area of the deck incorporates a non-slip surface, this is only moulded into the coarchroof in two small areas at the foot of the mast, with the remainder dangerously slippery when wet.

The foredeck is of quite reasonable area in relation to the size of the boat and carries a combined mooring cleat and chai stopper of galvanised iron. The 20lb plough anchor supplied as standard has chocks provided but these are mounted on the centre of the deck and would be better fitted to one side and further forward to provide greater freedom of movement. The chain pipe also is mounted centrally just aft of the mooring cleat and the chain is led via a length of pipe to a chain locker.

The coachroof projects well forward of the mast step and incorporates the forehatch which is fitted with a moulded cover sealed by means of a rubber strip and secured by a pair of screw toggle catches

Rigging, spars and sails

The rig is quite conventional, comprising a single forestay, three pairs of shrouds and a single standing backstay. Gold anodised spars are standard and the mast appeared to be of rather heavier section than usually found on a standard production yacht of this size. Similarly, the standing rigging of 1 by 19 galvanised wire rope is of generous section in relation to the size of the yacht and the two should contribute to a sense of security in the event of being caught out in a blow. All running rigging is of Terylene rope and a kicking strap downhaul on the boom, roller reefing and a single halyard winch are standard equipment.

Sails are by Gowen and have a fairly high aspect ratio as indicated by the relative areas of 150 and 167 sq ft for the main and working jib respectively. The mainsheet is a three part arrangement carried toa traveller moving on a length of track on the cockpit after coaming with the usual sliding lead blocks mounted on the toerail for the jib sheets. Headsails are normally sheeted inside the lifelines.

Accommodation

The accommodation plan of a separate fo'c's'le and saloon divided by a toilet and hanging locker is adopted. The fo'c's'le contains two berths with a common foot. These berths extend right forward to the tem so that their width at this point is restricted. As the overall length is barely 6 ft, it would not be possible for two adults to sleep in any degree of comfort.

There is stowage beneath the berths with access from the sides. Headroom in this area is about 5ft 6in. A single electric light is fitted on the bulkhead and apart from the forehatch which is hinged aft, ventilation is dependant on two screw down vents over the toilet and the hanging space. These are installed to the starboard and port respectively aft of the fo'c's'le and the toilet door serves to seal off the fo'c's'le and saloon. The hanging area is of good size and provided with a rail. An SL400 or equivalent installation is fitted in the toilet compartment.

It is in the main saloon that the main appeal of the yacht from the accommodation point of view will be found. Both settee berths convert in a matter of seconds to a dinette with table on each side. The convenience and flexibility of this arrangement is remarkable and it is a matter of surprise that does not appear to have been thought of before. For the loss of a small amount of stowage space beneath the centre section of each settee, an adequate and solid area of table is provided which enables a crew of four to sit down to meals in comfort. The table on the port side is within easy reach of the galley and can provide a good area of working space for the preparation of meals enabling the area occupied by the galley itself to be kept to a minimum. Unlike the usual single folding table arrangement, fore and aft movement below deck is in no way restricted. Conversion takes a matter of seconds and the tables are securely locked into Nylon clips on the ships sides and supported by a single strut which locks into place beneath the surface of the table. It is without doubt, a simple and sensible arrangement which will contribute greatly to the general comfort and convenience of the crew.

The feet of the two settee berths project under the galley to port hand the chart table to starboard. The galley is fitted with a two burner and grill gas stove which is mounted in gimbals and has a rather low fiddle rail. The mounting of the stove could be rather more rigid and both gimbals and fiddle rail would be more effective is made rather deeper. The stainless steel sink is of a sensible size and has a fresh water pump to hand. Two compartmented shelves are fitted under the sidedeck behind the stove and there are additional lockers under the cockpit seat and in the bilge below the sink. Working space is severely restricted but the use of one of the saloon tables relieves this. A screw down vent is fitted in the in the coach roof above the stove and there is an electric light mounted on the after bulkhead.

A folding chat table is provided over the starboard quarter berth and is large enough to accommodate about three quarters of a standard chart. This is a good size for a comparatively small boat but there is no stowage of such items as pencils, rule and dividers. The provision of a simple open locker under the side deck and a plywood slide to blank off the opening of the berth tunnel with the chart table is use would cost little and much improve a basically satisfactory arrangement.

The yachts' sides are lined with plywood and the cabin furniture is of afromisia faced ply. This gives a pleasant and warm atmosphere but some owners may prefer the large area of fairly dark timber to be relieved by a little brighter paintwork here and there and this would be a simple matter for them to provide themselves. There is 6ft headroom at the after end of the saloon and slightly less forward. Stowage is provided beneath the ends of the berths and open lockers are fitted beneath the side decks on each side. A large florescent lamp is mounted on the forwards bulkhead. The long windows on each side are of Perspex in metal surrounds but will be of toughened glass in later boats and grab rails are mounted over the centre of each window.

There is very little space in the bilge beneath the cabin sole so that it will require very little water lying there to rise above the floorboards when heeled. The boards are screwed in place and we feel that a small hatch should be provided in them to enable the bilge to be sponged out.

Engine

The standard engine included in the basic price is the Wickstrom petrol engine. Alternatively an Albin is offered. The installation in both cases is straightforward and in accordance with approved practice so that further comment is unnecessary. The boat tested was a prototype and fitted with another make of motor and with the wrong propeller so that it was impossible to that either standard installation under way. An engine of 6-7 Hp however should provide ample power for what was clearly an easily driven.

Performance

It was disappointing that the fresh breeze which blew whilst photographs were being taken of the Eight Metre under sail did not continue when sailing trials were actually carried out when it fell to only about force 2. Watching the boat in the stronger breeze, however, it was clear that she was quite happy under full working sail even on the wind and that only a very small degree of helm had to be applied to hold her on course. Furthermore she appeared to be very close winded indeed.

Sailing later under the lighter conditions but with the Genoa bent on in place of the working jib, the impression of close windedness was confirmed by checking the variation of the yacht's head between tacks. This was found to be only a matter of slightly over 80 degrees. Even making allowance for the lack of any sea which enabled the yacht to be pointed as high s possible, this is a better figure than has been produced by the great majority if yachts in a similar class which have previously been tested.

The manner in which the yachts slipped along off the wind and even on a run in these light conditions indicated that she was very easily driven indeed. There was very little weight on the helm and it appeared that no difficulty would be found in getting her to steer herself with the wind forward of the beam.

Conclusions

In their new Eight Metre, Offshore Yachts Limited have introduced yet another competitor into an already crowded, albeit popular, market for yachts around 25ft overall and 6 tons TM in which their Halcyon 27 is already established. It may therefore be asked what this newcomer has to offer that is not already available and the answer may well lie in the very reasonable price at which she is offered.

There are five full length berths. The popular dinette table arrangement convertible to a double berth enables crew to pass right through the saloon even when the rest of the family are eating or sitting. A traditional layout with a berth either side is available to those who prefer it. We consider that three adults or two adults and two children could spend protracted periods aboard in reasonable comfort, but four adults or three adults and two children may well prove too many for comfort. In the purely weekend sailing role, the large cockpit will prove an attraction and it would certainly appear that her performance will prove high enough to appeal to those who are primarily interested in racing whether around the buoys or offshore. The general standard of finish is good for a production boat and such criticisms as have been made of the detailed arrangements must be seen against the fact that the boat tested was virtually a prototype and improvements will no doubt be made in the light of experience. All in all, therefore, it would appear that the new boat has much to offer.

 

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