So I spent the morning crawling around this facility with the owner, a surprisingly young guy.
I even got to crawl all over Noelex's and Seaworthy
Lass' boat (sorry about the fingerprints
The workmanship these guys do is simply exceptional. I've never seen anything like the fairness of these hulls, and the beauty of these welds. Better than aircraft construction I've seen. They do their own structural design in-house, and you can see the passion for the structure of their boats.
Many beautiful details like standpipes, the port lights and hatches they make in-house. Very well designed autopilot
ram mounts -- lots of attention paid to structural qualities.
I enjoyed very much the guy, who is exceptionally knowledgeable and interesting. He showed me his own boat, too. He uses a 90% blade jib
like I do and was waxing poetic about its virtues. In fact he doesn't use any other jib
; he got rid of his genoa
altogether. What's interesting is that he uses it on a Hoyt boom -- with a hydraulic vang
. This solves the problem of how to deal with leech tension. Looks very cool. He says it is exceptionally good downwind because with the boom, he can spread it out to present maximum surface to the wind
. I'm going to have to study this system some more.
He had strong opinions about spade rudders, which he considers to be inherently stronger than skeg rudders for a lot of reasons he went on quite a while about. Of course HIS spade rudders are very different from the way they are implemented in many other boats. They look just like Steve Dashew's spade rudders, massively overbuilt, with it looked like 10mm wall thickness on the rudder
tube. The rudder
shafts are solid billet aluminum
, some of them probably 20cm in diameter.
Also I loved (!) his tillers. The cockpits are entirely free when they are lifted out of the way. They can be notched into different positions to make them comfortable from different positions.
Another example of his approach to strength -- he said he believes that you should be able to lift
a boat by its deck cleats
. Right on. I really like that.
From the point of view of structure and workmanship, this is exactly what I want in my next boat, and this yard is at the top of my list now.
From the design point of view, however, there were many things I did not like. Noelex and SWL were exactly right to increase the size of their pilothouse -- his pilot houses are not nice -- too small and with no forward-facing nav station. The interiors are cave-like and I did not like the Ikea-like fitouts. Far less comfortable and pleasant than the interior
of my own boat. But of course the beauty of working with a yard like this is that you get what you want, so you hire a designer
who understands what that is. I think SWL and Noelex have added a bunch of deck
hatches to brighten up the belowdecks space in their boat -- good move.
Now w're on passage
, motoring in the Ijsselmeer against a strong wind
(we can't leave the channel to tack).