I spent two years cursing the US east coast
aboard Sundowner, now i live part time aboard in the summer in New England
sailing here are my thoughts:
Tracking is bad, but Monitor windvane
handles this light displacement racing hull
quite well going downwind. I brought her back up from Puerto Rico
to RI solo in two 14 day legs. The only time I went behind the helm
was to get in and out the slip. The rest of the time I had autohelm
4000 or Monitor
do the steering
. I had following winds 90% of the time.
Monitor did quite well, especially in heavy seas and high winds. The important thing is to have a balanced sail plan. Every boat is different and for going offshore
, you need to learn how to balance her before you can rely on any kind of autosteering. This boat is very responsive, it turns on a dime, and if not balanced, it will broach faster then any other cruiser. For instance in 30+kts of following winds, she sailed stable with tripple reefed main and no head
sail at all. Under that in 20-30kts of following winds, a small jib
about 75% with pole did the trick for me.
tankage is a problem if you motor
, but this is a fast sailing boat. I used a total of about 20 gallons of gas for the 2400NM trip from PR to RI. (I have atomic 4). I had 6 jerry cans of gasoline aboard for cursing the Bahamas
Water tankage is also small. I solved
this by building high output watermaker
so I could refill my water supply weekly.
The most difficult point of sail for me was broad reach in swells, especially in light winds where monitor can't do the steering
and Autohelm motor
got too hot. Puffs will overpower the sailplan and she'll round up in swell. I am usually forced to lower the main, loose some speed, in the interest of stability and comfort.
For coastal cruising, its a different story. She is great especially for going upwind. Heading down east coast
with prevailing SW, she did very well. I found myself to outpoint the rest of the cruisers and match up quite well with racers. My buddies would motorsail and yet only beat me by few hours during small daytime island hopping passages, while I was only under sail.