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Old 07-03-2016, 20:34   #1
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Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Hiya All. I think this is my first post? not sure...ANYWAY.
ive been sailing about 5 years. I am 42. Ive circumnavigated on a 60m motoryacht twice, but a big dream for many many years - even before i started sailing was to sail, but also to cruise around different parts of the globe.
In the last 5 years ive owned 3 boats. a hobie 14, then a bluebird 22footer, now a 25 foot tophat. Ive spent nearly 35 hours per week sailing and i am on a racing crew on a J boat. For those that dont know tophats, theyre pretty seaworthy, heavy, robust boats for their size. I live in sydney and have taken the tophat up and down the coast just 40 miles or so.
Ive recently realised that i can take this boat anywhere if i prep right, so im planning to go up the east coast of Australia to the whitsundays, across to new caledonia and then vanuatu, etc...
There would be 2 of us. headrooms good at about 6.1 foot. only have an outboard and a really good waeco fridge/freezer. elec bilge pump. Dont really have any electronics apart from navionics, handheld vhf and a handheld garmin gps. No auto pilot as yet. Im all about simple systems but am willing to spend some money on epirbs, liferafts, batteries, wind vanes, spray dodgers, etc. The main thing is she has very heavy rigging. shes over rigged really but shes strong. GRP, plastic and epoxy. The hull and cabin are all one contruction and in some places 2cm thick.
On my trips up and down the coast ive been using tiller to sheet steering as self steering and a big fan of a book written by(geez cant remember his name! its on the boat) The author of said book travelled far in the 60s on a 22 foot boat using sheet to tiller and im tempted to do the same, albeit a little scared. Having an outboard means a windvane might not work and i dont know if i want the engine on and off the transom to use the windvane.
So shes a really basic boat but sails really well. marine toilet, cabin lights, meth stove, big enough v berth 2 settees. Pretty small space really when you consider you might be cooped up for weeks at a time on passages. I feel theres enough storage room in the keel space and lockers throughout.
Ive got a friend sailing from france to nz right now. hes leaving cape verde tomorrow. hes on a 28 foot steel boat, armed with just a hand held gps an epirb and not alot of experience, but hes done really well to get that far and i believe he can do it. In my case , i want to be able to download grib files, have a sat phone, hf radio, wind instruments etc. I can understand where my mates coming from not wanting any of that nav gear, but personally i want everything i can fit on there thatll help with weather predictions etc.
Its quite amazing to think that 20 years ago i dreamed this up and now its just around the corner. im not rich obviously, the boats worth under 10k. i paid only 5500 for it, but these boats have circumnavigated, even at lat 40. they can do it with the right skippering. I guess i dont really have any questions! im a planner and will do it anyway and plan as much as possible. I guess my only question is, am i mad to do this on such a vessel potentially without a windvane? keep in mind id have a tiller pilot or 2 and be using self steering with blocks and rope.
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Old 07-03-2016, 20:45   #2
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pirate Re: mark 1 tophat for bluewater cruising

Hi.. Welcome to CF..
Way to go...
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Old 07-03-2016, 23:57   #3
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Re: mark 1 tophat for bluewater cruising

Blocks and ropes steering always sounds fun. Good luck.
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Old 08-03-2016, 00:11   #4
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Re: mark 1 tophat for bluewater cruising

Sector Steve,

The reason to have a windvane is that electronic autopilots are fragile.

Leaving from the Whitsundays to Vanuatu or New Caledonia will put you hard on the wind all the way, if that is what you prefer, go for it.

Friends of ours sailed their Tophat from Newcastle to Canada, via Hawaii, but iirc, it had an inboard engine. (Ocean swells are large, and offer challenges to outboard motors.) I personally would rather go engineless and have the windvane, but I have sailed many, many miles with a windvane.

Sheet to tiller steering works well on the wind, when you don't really need it; it is sort of okay on a beam reach, may only need adjusting every 10 min. or so. If you have "downwind twins", seems like it can work okay ddw.

Boatie says, "go for it." Ann says, wryly, "It'll be a learning experience." Not easy, not for everyone, but they are sturdy little boats, and giving it a go will be educational.

Ann
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Old 08-03-2016, 00:16   #5
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

I had a Top Hat, you won't be comfortable much of the time, but you will be safe, they are a great little boat, and I know of one that has circumnavigated.

Most importantly, you will be out there while others are dreaming. Good luck.
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Old 08-03-2016, 00:33   #6
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Thanks everyone. awesome. already learned alot. see im still not aware of prevailing winds. so whitsundays over to new caledonia doesnt sound comfortable. Still. I want to go to the whitsundays, so maybe have to find another route. no rush to get anywhere.
I am aware why you would use a windvane and Ann , your logic of having the windvane over the outboard makes sense to me!
I do know of people who have sailed around on tophats with outboards. Im just a big fan of them cause i can always get them going - however i see your point regarding ocean swells and outboards. The thing is, its what ive got and i love the boat. strangely though im pretty sure my tophat originally came with an inboard, because i can see that someone has reglassed the cockpit area most likely to remove that inboard. As for comfort, well thatd be nice, but ive roughed it for many years so am kinda used to it, but we'll see. Believe it or not i started with a 600 dollar hobie and traded up each time barely putting my hand in my pocket. I made money on each sale because i grafted on each boat and made them alot better, then sold them to the right buyer. if i can do this with the tophat, i may trade up again and get something a little bigger with an inboard. I am prepared to do it on the tophat though. To me shes comfortable, but only the reality of it will tell! therell be a trip to victoria beforehand where the boat may live for a while, so we'll see how that goes before the big trip. i appreciate all the input. thanks alot! ive spent a few hours today perusing this forum and seen posts from you all on all topics. Im excited X
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Old 08-03-2016, 00:49   #7
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Yes, it's a lovely feeling to be on the brink of doing something you really want to do!

Fwiw, we have found, over the years, if you want to go to NC or Vanuatu, leave from Southport, Qld. It is port of Brisbane, and Australian Border Forces are willing to clear you out from there, and we have found Southport YC to be helpful for a temporary berth for the clearance. Then, on a westerly flow, you sail out east, as far as it will take you, then ride the SE's north to NC, or, around Torch Banks, and to Vanuatu. Make sure you have your paper work in order.

Cheers.

ann

PS, navionics is not a program we use. As long as it does not require internet support, it will be okay for overseas work, but if it does, you might want to investigate other options. Remember, long distance travel in Tophats has been done using a sextant, paper charts, and a lead line.....
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Old 08-03-2016, 02:29   #8
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Ha, I bumped into a little mk 1 top hat "possibilities" cruising around the beagle channel. Tough wee boats. I'd keep it simple though myself.

From memory he used a qme style vane with no underwater parts, so could leave the outboard in place. Also cheap and simple for a little boat like her.

Fair winds.
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Old 08-03-2016, 04:34   #9
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Where's your outboard mounted?

I've only ever seen them in a well in the middle of the cockpit floor. The only inboard Taphat I've been on still had the well there, but with a fibreglass plug that filled the hole.

If it's in the middle of the cockpit, that is just as good as the inboard. The prop is in around about the same place, and would not be a problem with cavitation in waves. A good high thrust four stroke outboard would give similar fuel consumption.

But if it's on a bracket on the stern, not so good for anything rough.
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Old 08-03-2016, 04:47   #10
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Steve.
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Old 08-03-2016, 05:18   #11
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Welcome to CF Steve !
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Old 08-03-2016, 09:53   #12
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

With all the other gear and supplies aboard, you won't have space for much fuel for the outboard. Part of the beauty of going small is that you can sail into harbours and anchorages. I had a C&C25 with an outboard, but seldom used it (the engine). The most exciting sailing I had was when I removed the outboard, and took it in for repair. Without an engine, sailing felt more real. With the option of starting up the engine gone, sailing became simpler, and better.

I suggest you hold fast to your ideal of simplicity. Lose the outboard. Get a solar panel to keep the battery up. I've only had good experiences with tiller pilot...so I would go that way, with a couple spares. Just because you have a tiller pilot connected, doesn't mean you can't trim the boat perfectly as well.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
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Old 08-03-2016, 11:42   #13
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Get a vane!!!!!! They steer the boat at near optimum speeds without the need for electrons and there reliability and feeding issues. WindPilot makes a vane for smaller boats and others probably do as well.

Whether sheet to tiller will work at all or on all points of sail will take a lot of testing. Generally, to get it to work, you have to degrade performance. That will mean more time on passages that will be long because of the waterline of the boat. Unless you are someone who can live with an underperforming boat for weeks on end and passages that stretch into a month rather than weeks, you won't be happy with.
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Old 08-03-2016, 13:28   #14
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

Hi Sectorsteve,

I passed the Tophat "Possibilities" when they were in Broken Bay a couple of years ago. I believe they had just completed a circumnavigation that took around 10 yrs, cruising & working and marrying. You might find them on the net.
To me the boat looked very well set up.
Tophat with cockpit outboard stinks of poisonous fumes. On the transom it will be in & out of the water and like someone said where will you carry all the fuel.

I agree solar panels are a must and good batteries. Maybe one of those little electric outboards for when you are really desperate for in harbour. If you can bother with it.

Tophat will go anywhere. Maybe a bit wet to windward at times.

Good luck and good preparation.
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Old 08-03-2016, 14:29   #15
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Re: Mark 1 Tophat For Bluewater Cruising

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Originally Posted by goodoldwoody View Post
Hi Sectorsteve,

I passed the Tophat "Possibilities" when they were in Broken Bay a couple of years ago. I believe they had just completed a circumnavigation that took around 10 yrs, cruising & working and marrying. You might find them on the net.
To me the boat looked very well set up.
Tophat with cockpit outboard stinks of poisonous fumes. On the transom it will be in & out of the water and like someone said where will you carry all the fuel.

I agree solar panels are a must and good batteries. Maybe one of those little electric outboards for when you are really desperate for in harbour. If you can bother with it.

Tophat will go anywhere. Maybe a bit wet to windward at times.

Good luck and good preparation.
Hi there, and thanks for your reply!
The tophat possibilities went everywhere. Patagonia etc, around cape horn. They only had an outboard and basic gear. The boat was for sale last year for 14k. Very inspiring. In regards to my motor. At present i never really use it. no problem on and off the mooring or anchorages. i keep it on a bracket that comes right out of the water and she folds up on the bracket getting her right out of the water. I like to go fast and dont like any drag! Ive been sailing up to pittwater and back and down to Jibbon, plus at least once a week in the harbour since early december. im still on the same 10litres of fuel i bought then. So im hoping i could do the same. Im all about the sailing, not a fan of motoring.
I do have just 1 good deep cycle battery and a solar panel, but i need to up this. Ive got a rear seat at the stern and the plan is to install a framed bimini over this and cover it in panels. Ive got 2 solar panel ports. one in the cockpit and one in the forward cabin. the fridge/freezer gets a beer from warm to really cold in 30 minutes - better than my freezer at home, but chews through the 1 battery i have. Ive got space for 3 batteries.
I also have rigged up my outboard to charge the battery. works better than the solar panel. I plan to get a wind generator.
At half throttle, doing about 5 knots on my 8hp mercury, ill use about a litre per hour. Use double if full throttle and if the swells up, then you need full throttle.
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