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by Wilhelm Laurie - South Africa + Introduction by John Welsford

For a couple of years now I've been corresponding with Wilhelm Laurie in South Africa. He's been beavering away at his Navigator and has just launched her. I received this lovely email from him to tell me of the launching and first sail. He's done a lovely job of her and his description of the first sail is what most people would dream about when thinking of how their project would turn out.

John Welsford, New Zealand


As promised, here are some pictures of the launch of my Navigator "Jacqui". The actual launch and champagne ceremony was a week or so beforehand, but that was not a sail really, because I just checked if everything work the way it should.

My first sail, with Steve and his wife Claudia, was out of Gordons Bay, a town on False Bay near Cape Town. False Bay is about 22 nautical miles across from Gordons Bay to Simons Town. We left the harbour under power of the little electric trawling motor. The power source is a 105 amp hour battery in a watertight compartment under the starboard thwart seat. The motor was modified by shortening the shaft so that the tiller can pass freely over the top of the motor. Although the motor does not have the thrust of a petrol outboard, it pushed us along at 5 knots and served it purpose, to get me from the trailer to the open sea and back on the trailer after the sail, just fine. To move along without any noise was a definite plus.

We cut the motor just out outside the harbour and set off in light winds. We cruised along in winds of 2 - 4 knots for about an hour when the wind increased and we headed out into the bay and the open sea. Steve switched on his sailing GPS, which he uses mainly to measure his speed when windsurfing, about one kilometre out of the harbour. During the day the wind increased to just over 20 knots and there was a two meter swell running into the bay from the Atlantic. From the data Steve downloaded from his GPS, we could plot our trip on Google earth. Some interesting facts are as follows:

  • we covered a distance of 30.3 kilometres (pus the one kilometre at the start) during the 4 hours 52 min at sea;

  • our average speed was 3.36 knots with the fastest speed (over a distance of a least 100 meters) was 8.03 knots;

  • our fastest speed over a distance of at least one nautical mile, was 4.96 knots;

  • when we headed back to port, we were 4.2 nautical miles from land.

We had all possible wind conditions and I can honestly say that the boat impressed me tremendously. She was very comfortable and stable throughout the trip. We were still reaching under full sails with a 20 knot wind, white horses all around and in a two meter swell. I don't know of another boat of this size that would be able to handle such conditions. Even in wind speeds of approaching 20 knots, Steve sat to leeward without feeling he has to move to windward to level the boat.

We dropped the main about 500 meters from the harbour and then the mizzen and foresail just before the harbour entrance, and motored into a completely sheltered slipway. A most memorable and satisfying first sail accompanied by two great crew members.

I must say, the compliments Jacqui got does justice to a great boat. The sailing picture was taken by such an enthusiast, telling me how much the boat reminds him of the boat he learned to sail on as a youngster in the Netherlands. I also had someone following me for 4 kilometres, until I stopped, just to have a look at the boat. Apart from the sailing pictures, I also include some detail pictures, especially of the trawling motor well. The hole where the motor shaft passes through can be covered with a plug that is screwed onto the bottom cover of the well. This way the boat can also be sailed without the motor.


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