I also own a SF 44 and concur with most of Greg's comments. Although I was initially quite skeptical about the mid-hull engine
placement, for reasons of access and noise
, after actively cruising for a year, I've changed my mind.
We did do what I think is a good modification before we started. On the port side, the engine
is under a galley
countertop, with a cowling for access. We replaced all of the fiberglass/gelcoat countertops with Corian, which is certainly more attractive (and no more, or very little, extra weight), but also allowed us to cut the countertop above the engine, for a pretty large access point. Checking the vitals on the port engine is now very easy and takes only a few moments. The starboard engine (for some reason) has a larger cowling and the access is fine.
We've been buddy-boating with a Lagoon
410, with Yanmar
40's. Just two days ago I helped our friend change out a water
pump impellor. It took, the two of us (and he is quite mechanically skilled), four and a half hours
, while at the dock
, no less! He had to tear up his bed
, whenever we dropped a tool (and we all drop tools, don't we) we had a dickens of a time fishing
around in the deep bilge
to find it, and had to contort ourselves in all sorts of positions. All of this, to do what should be a simple job and one that, more than likely, will need to be done, sometime/somewhere, in a quasi-emergency basis. Plus, we noted that if you actually had to pull off the entire water
pump, it could only be done by lifting the entire engine
! This is because a critical bolt is actually behind a motor
On my St. Francis, I changed my starboard impellor (the first time, no less) in 15 minutes. Having done it once, I know that I could do it, in a hurry, in 5. The entire water pump could be done in 10. The port side took a bit longer, about 25, but in an emergency
, 10. And I don't have to tear anything up to get to them, just pull off the cowlings and the access panel in the galley
when under power, it is probably a bit more than having the engines under the aft beds, unless you are trying to sleep. Sure, the 410 has some sound insulation
, but the overall noise on the SF is not enough more to make that a deal breaker, at least in my opinion.
Sailing-wise, I certainly agree with Greg and the others. Keep her light and she will be quite fast, especially for a cruising cat. Like Greg, we're guilty of not keeping her light, but even then she still sails
very nicely. We're able to do 60 to 65% of wind
speed on a beam to broad reach, pretty consistently, up to the point where we want to slow her down (which is about 11 to 12 knots), and we've had her to 14.
I also agree with the strength of the boat -- I've never doubted the quality of the build. Another plus, is that you can easily see every chain plate
, back plate and deck
fitting from the inside of the hull
. You will know, quite soon, if one is starting to have problems (which hasn't happened, yet, on ours, but I know it is just a matter of time). But, the point is that unlike many boats where those things are hidden behind various panels
, fittings, etc., not on the SF. If it is easy to inspect, then a problem won't go hiding for long.
I also agree with Duncan Lethbridge's responsiveness. I've emailed him with various questions several times and he's always gotten back to me. Even though I bought the boat used (so he didn't get any money
from me), he has nonetheless been helpful and available. How many other builders can anyone say that about? (Except, perhaps, the sadly departed PDQ
Currently in Ft. Lauderdale, preparing for Exumas
& BVI's. Maybe we'll see you, Greg, in Georgetown