Shilo, the Solaris Sunstream 40 was very heavily constructed (to Lloyd's 100 A1 offshore
standards) and, despite the passage
of 14 years, an Atlantic crossing
, 2 trips along the length of the Eastern Seaboard, a trip from the Great Lakes
and then offshore through the Caribbean
(and back) and many miles of sailing in the Great Lakes
, mine is still in almost perfect structural condition. The only stress cracks are on on two cockpit
locker hatches and below a fixed portlight (which, by the way, are tempered glass rather than plastic and should never need replacing).
(or Prout rig) is incredibly well balanced and easy to handle; indeed, as the mast
steps at the companionway
bulkhead, all lines are automatically led to the cockpit
. The standing rigging
is extremely heavy for a cat: there are two headstays, two backstays
, two capstays and four shrouds. The twin furling
headsails allows use of a dedicated furling
of heavier dacron. In part due to the large foretriangle, she will tack in less than 4 knots of wind (albeit she does take some time to get back up to speed). She also tracks extremely well with proper sail trim - you will find that the autopilot
is not continuously straining to keep her on course.
The layout has a large galley
down which nevertheless is open at converstion height, to the main saloon
. This position increases the storage/counter space and keeps the heaviest part of the accomodation low.
In terms of accomodation, the main saloon
has a table that will seat 6, two separate 40 inch settees and a nav station with a desk that folds out to accomodate full size charts
. The aft staterooms are extremely large with seats, hanging lockers and three separate cupboards with shelves. The port forward stateroom also has a small double (48 " wide, narrowing to about 32") with a hanging locker. There is terrific ventilation throughout (mine has 10 opening hatches plus 6 opening portlights). And in addition to 2 head
compartments with large vanities, mine also has a dedicated cabin
for showering/bathing with a bathtub and vanity.
layout, while rather square and old-fasioned, permits easy passage
for and aft both on the side decks and along the lower coachroof (and this area is also perfect for seating). The cockpit is small for a cat; however, it is also well protected both fore and aft.
There is virtually 360 degree visibility from the helm
seat (the aft mounted mast
helps here) as well as visibility forward from a seated position in the main saloon. The solid platform separating the twin bow nets (as well as a full forward pulpit) provide terrific security
when having to raise or lower the genoa
(or if the furling were ever to need maintenance). It also provides a handy table for drinks when lounging on the nets. The low freeboard make boarding her from a dock
very easy and safe (no jumping from a height of 4 - 5 feet!).
The rudders have partial skegs, the section below having been designed to be sacrificial while still maintaining some rudder
in the case of a hard grounding. The keels have shoes on the botton whcih greatly increases their resistance to damage from rocks and coral
In terms of hull
design, the relatively narrow beam permits docking
and haulouts where many 40 foot cats cannot be accomodated. The bows have exceptional bouyancy due to the combination of some forward overhang, reasonable volume forward and distinct knuckles on both the inside and outside of the hulls. Combining that with the relatively narrow beam and the risk of pitchpoling is negligible.
Athwarthsip stability has been maintained, despite the narrow beam, by virtue of the heavy displacement
, lower center of gravity, and lower center of effort (the sail area is, with the cutter
rig, split more fore and aft than up an down).
Now for the negatives:
She is not a pretty boat.
The solid structure makes for a heavy boat and in turn, you will rarely attain speeds that significantly exceed hull speed
. Think in terms of sailing at about half windspeed to a maximum of 8 to 8 1/2 knots when not surfing.
Although the bows are extremely bouyant, the bridgedeck clearance is low aft; this does create some bumps and even pounding if you take waves from the wrong angle. Fortunately, the leading edge of the bridgedeck is very high and is sloped very gently aft (unlike boats with athwartship forward doubles, where the leading edge is often very blunt). The result is that such pounding as does occur is not
the type that can virtually stop a boats forward momentum (such as where solid water makes contact with a blunt leading edge of a bridgedeck).
The small cockpit reduces comfortble accomodation in that area to about 6.
While she tacks readily, she is hardly a meter boat to windward; think in terms of tacking through only about 110 - 120 degrees if you want to maintain decent boat speed.
Compared to a PDQ 36? She has much more interior
space and about twice the displacement
. While this means that she will tend to be slower than the PDQ (at least if both are relatively unladen), it also means that she is more capable of handling the stores required for extended voyaging.
As to structural strength, there is really no contest. While the PDQ has a well-deserved reputation for quality construction, the difference between the two boats can be illustrated by the effort required to properly store one on the hard
. There is a PDQ on the hard
beside my boat that needs 6 jackstands beneath the bridgedeck or else the interior
doors will jamb. My boat, on the other hand, is simply plopped down on a couple of 2 x 6's!
Other aspects of the PDQ's design/construction which are less than ideal for extended offshore use: short stantions (I believe only 24 inches, rather than 30); no bow pulpit; lighter gauge standing rigging
(and much less of it); no shoes on the keels; thinner hull
lamination schedules (just wrap on the hulls); very narrow side decks for passage fore/aft; very blunt leading edge to the bridgedeck; a nav station without a fixed chart table that is mounted away from the cockpit, in one of the hulls; no provision for a dedicated storm jib/staysail.
On the other hand, PDQ's are readily available, much more modern in appearance and, as already stated, faster and able to point higher. especially in light air. Really, although the price for used ones are now about the same, they were designed and built to a different philosophy and for a different purpose.