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Old 23-04-2015, 19:54   #211
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Hugh, how about the area, are you scuba diving or playing golf, etc. What's the value of US Dollars there, does it buy you more or less than what you're use to? Also what is a good round trip airfare?
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Old 23-04-2015, 22:47   #212
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Are you fitting any solar Hugh? We dont have a genset and live fine on solar, but some things arent possible (Aircon and Dive compressor) with our setup. I think a small AC dive compressor neeeds something like 6KVA to run and Aircon somwhere near that so so long as the battery bank and inverter is up for it I guess it will work with a DC genset. For us that would be the only time we would use a genset and therefore would be creating DC, supplying batteries, then converting back to AC for the appliance, which seems a bit backward to me. Also the battery bank would have to be pretty huge to handle a 5KVA load? Or perhaps the generator feeds the inverter directly?
Anyway, sounds interesting!
Yeah, we're aiming for 1,000 kw of solar. And the battery bank is beefy.

It is indeed backward when running the aircon. But I don't plan on running the aircon often at all. So the system is optimized for topping up the batteries, which is what I will mostly use it for. With an AC genset, you have a system optimized to run the aircon but very inefficient for charging batteries, which is what you end up using it for 90% of the time.

Both installations are backwards for one purpose and good for another. Which do you use the genset for most often? My watermaker will run off 24V DC, so I won't be cranking the genset to make water. Basically, the genset is a small and light backup to the solar panels. If we have a week of cloudy weather, or a lot of energy use, the genset pops on and very efficiently tops up the batteries, then shuts back down. It's really just there to convert diesel into battery power.
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Old 23-04-2015, 23:02   #213
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Hugh, how about the area, are you scuba diving or playing golf, etc. What's the value of US Dollars there, does it buy you more or less than what you're use to? Also what is a good round trip airfare?
I'm not a big golfer, but there are courses all along the "Garden Route," which is between here and Cape Town, about 700 km away. I've become friends with a Canadian man who is here just to play golf, and is hitting the links every day.

Haven't done any diving yet, but I'm being talked into doing a cage dive with great whites in Cape Town. Not sure if I'll make the time or not. Everyone says it's an experience.

I'm going to spend two nights at a game preserve (one of the non-abusive ones, supposedly). I went back and forth on whether to do this. Didn't think i was going to, but the local physician insisted I go see the wildlife nearby. This is also a surfing mecca. I can walk from my B&B to where ENDLESS SUMMER was filmed, a break called "Bruce's Beauties."

There's a main road here called St. Francis Rd. You drive one direction and you come to a picturesque harbor with some shops, restaurants, and the local squid fleet (as well as pleasure boats in a marina). The other direction on St. Francis Dr. takes you to a planned community build around a maze of canals, inspired by a developer's visit to Ft. Lauderdale. I've kayaked these canals, which is a lot of fun, and then out to the river and to the ocean beyond (got rolled by a big wave, which was invigorating this time of year). There are two great restaurants by the canal. I've gotten to know the owner of one, and he's trying to get me into kite surfing. Everyone here is very adamant about you having a good time. The local physician took me on a "bike ride," which meant jumping on his BMW touring motorcycle and riding two hours up into the mountains and back.

The dollar goes a LONG WAY here. It's ridiculous. You can stay in a B&B for $35 US a night (which covers a meal). There are really cute shops and places to eat within walking distance, and beach access everywhere. The shelling is superb. The hiking is some of the best I've ever seen at sea level. Yesterday morning I went to a yoga class up in this loft looking out over the surf break. The class only had three students, and the instructor was dynamite. It cost $5 US for over an hour. You start to feel guilty.

A steak dinner, with gratuity, might run you $15 - $20. And this is a resort town with higher prices than normal. You drive down to Jeffreys Bay or Port Elizabeth, and things are even cheaper. Just the nature of the US dollar right now. Not great for American manufacturing, but good for tourism (for that reason, it's not a situation I'm fond of or hope continues. Would rather the world economies be more balanced).

As for airfare, you can get here and back for something like $1,200 to $1,500. I'd have to check, as I am flying back via Cape Town, so mine was a little more. If you stay for at least 10 days, I'd say the difference in accommodations pretty much pays for the flight.
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Old 24-04-2015, 00:55   #214
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Nice progress on your boat. Gotta do the dive with great whites. After that experience you don't have to watch shark week in the discovery channel. Did you stay with the sail drives or shaft? Love the bigger windows
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Old 24-04-2015, 00:58   #215
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Nice progress on your boat. Gotta do the dive with great whites. After that experience you don't have to watch shark week in the discovery channel. Did you stay with the sail drives or shaft? Love the bigger windows
I went with sail drives. You can do either with these boats. The engines are far enough forward.
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Old 24-04-2015, 01:02   #216
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Hi Monte,
We sold our gen-set and also live very comfortably off solar panels (the wind generator rarely goes into action). We also stripped out the air-con. We also have two fridges and two deep-freezers, which get switched off when supplies are used. We have zero issues with power. We are firm believers in individual systems - having had a diesel gen set fail on us many years ago mi-ocean. That left us without a water maker, unable to run the dive compressor, and having to use inefficient main engine alternators to recharge. Ever since we have used self contained equipment so a failure does not affect other systems. Our dive compressor has a petrol engine - we might even make an afternoon trip to the beach to refill cylinders, taking the barbeque with us, and the volley ball net.
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Old 24-04-2015, 06:56   #217
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Just wanted to make a posting so I could follow this subject thread that appears as though its going to be very interesting. I'll have to find some time to catch up on the reading.
Regards, Brian
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Old 24-04-2015, 07:43   #218
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Originally Posted by Hugh Howey View Post
They've also done a lowering davit system, which is nice. But I'm leaning toward a solution inspired from my powerboating days. It's a davit crane with an extendable boom. Mounted at the top of the starboard swim steps, the davit would lift the dinghy and either drop it off the stern or over the starboard side. Quick, with one-button operation, and a manual swing of the boom. All the measurements look good. Wish I'd seen this on more cats so I could get a sense of what's right or wrong with the idea. It feels like a sport fish solution on a sailboat, which is a funny combination. But I think it'll look sleek and sexy while being ultra functional.
That sounds like a really great system, but it does make me ask if the crane is also the means of stowing the dinghy, does that add a lot of weight into the starboard corner? Would it screw with the "balance" of the boat? Or am I not picturing something correctly in my inexperience?

Overall this boat looks fabulous! Already have been thinking of a trip to Annapolis to see her!
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Old 24-04-2015, 13:44   #219
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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That sounds like a really great system, but it does make me ask if the crane is also the means of stowing the dinghy, does that add a lot of weight into the starboard corner? Would it screw with the "balance" of the boat? Or am I not picturing something correctly in my inexperience?

Overall this boat looks fabulous! Already have been thinking of a trip to Annapolis to see her!
Yeah, the crane is just for lifting and stowing the dinghy. It adds about 170 lbs. to the starboard side of the boat. The outboard is also on the starboard side.

But on the other side, you've got the stove/range (which is quite heavy), the freezer (and contents), the fridge (ditto), and all the tools/spares. Plus dive tanks and gear are on the port side. As well as the generator.

Should all balance out.

Also: A stainless steel davit would probably be a good chunk of the weight of the crane. And you're getting rid of the davit, so that's a bit of offset. Plus, the purpose of the crane is to lift the dinghy and bring it forward, so it sits on chocks rather than hanging from a davit poking aft, which means you're bringing the weight of the dinghy forward, which is a big deal. So the impact of the crane is probably a net positive, all things considered.
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Old 24-04-2015, 16:08   #220
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

I love reading these posts. I came very close to buying "Penelope", a SF 50 a few years ago in Annapolis. Hugh, you make me want to buy a place in Cape St. Francis. My question for you is do you have much interaction with Duncan on this build? or is it mostly with upper management?
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Old 25-04-2015, 00:18   #221
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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I love reading these posts. I came very close to buying "Penelope", a SF 50 a few years ago in Annapolis. Hugh, you make me want to buy a place in Cape St. Francis. My question for you is do you have much interaction with Duncan on this build? or is it mostly with upper management?
Capt. Chris
I'm spending a lot of time with Duncan. He picked me up at the airport, drove me around town to orient me, showed me around the yard and boat, and then got me settled in to my B&B.

George, the sales manager at St. Francis, told me all this would happen when I first met him three or so years ago. It was at one of the Annapolis shows. I asked about how much the boat could be customized, and he went into a speil about how you fly out to the boat, Duncan picks you up, drives you around, and you lay out your interior with cardboard so you can really "see" it and walk around it before they build it out of wood.

I remember the conversation very well, because I would go on to hear the exact same pitch four or five more times. Every time I visited a SF at a boat show, I would hear the pitch. And I would overhear George saying all this to other customers, as they asked about interior options or how the build process goes.

What's weird is having heard the pitch, and then having seen what happens in reality, and realizing it isn't a pitch. It's just George telling you how things are going to happen. Because they've done it dozens of times before.


I can feel the history of their previous boat builds just by spending time here in St. Francis Bay. People hear my American accent and ask if I'm on holiday. I say that I'm here because of a boat. "Oh, you mean Duncan," they'll say. Or "Leftbridge," depending on how they know him. "You're the new boat buyer." And they might have something to say about a previous boat buyer who passed through. Or the reputation of the boats. I guess what I mean is that you feel like you're part of a larger process here. That this is a normal way of life for this town. A few times a year, a massive catamaran rolls down the highway, pulled by a tractor, all traffic blocked off, until it backs down the ramp at the sea port and bobs on the water for the first time. It's as regular as the squid boats.

What was so hypothetical and unreal sitting on a demo boat at a boat show is really bizarrely real and normal sitting here in South Africa. What's so strange is how normal it all feels.


Back to Duncan, though, and who you work with as you go through a build: Duncan is the heart and soul of St. Francis Marine. Not sure if you know the history of the company (and I could be messing it up here), but he didn't set out to build a bunch of boats. He wanted to build himself a boat to go sail around the world with his family. He was a land developer in this area. He looked at boats, didn't see the mix of what he wanted, and so he hired a naval architect to come up with a solution. By the time he was done with the boat, he had offers on it, and he also saw how he would build the next one a little better. So he did. And a friend wanted that one as well. So he kept building them, and people kept buying them, and I honestly think his love of tinkering and designing and perfecting just took hold.

I can see how it would. It's addicting. Walking through the boats with Duncan (at boat shows and now here) is a blast. He not only has so many ideas, he has so much experience from past builds and from tens of thousands of miles of sailing these boats (in some really bad conditions and also in many Cape to Rio races and deliveries). He's seen more of the sea than I ever will and been a part of more boat builds than most human beings. So we walk around the boat and geek out over ideas. I tell him some crazy thing I want, and he says, "Oh, sure, we can do that." I tell him something else, and he says, "We tried that before, and here's why that didn't work out great, and here's how I would go about it this time."

I've been to the yard nearly every day since I've been here. Not sure if this is normal or not, but I just walk up and knock on his office, and he waves me in and asks if he can get me tea or coffee, and we sit and look at paperwork together, or schematics, or lists of items, or mock-ups. He might tell me a story about his sailing experiences. Or walk me over to the boat to ask if something should go this way or that way. Or I walk around the conference room and agonize over color choices.

I also spend a lot of time with Jaco, his yard manager, who has been with St. Francis for 20 years. He started as a carpenter or a plumber (can't remember which) and worked his way up, so he's familiar with the entire process and all the iterations. Both are brilliant when it comes to engineering. They calculate load forces and know how to buttress things. I give them a weird idea, and one of them immediately gives me a tweak that makes it better. Both are crazily accessible, to the point that I have to really force myself to stay out of their hair. I find myself apologizing for taking up their time and staying away more than I really want, because they don't do anything to shoo me off. They just make me feel very welcome. Which puts the onus on me to be mindful of not slowing down the work by being there during shifts.

Today, Duncan is meeting me at the yard (on a Saturday!) just to let in a family I have become friends with in town to let them see the boat under construction. My feeling (and I've felt this at boat shows, and it really sold me on the yachts) is that he loves showing the boats off because he's proud of them. And he continues to build them because he loves the process. But that's just my gut feeling. I'm sure if you cornered him at a show and asked him his thoughts you'd get a better answer. And I'm just assuming here that my experience with the build is normal. So far, it's gone just like George said it would, all those years ago and so many times since. It's been a dream. And I have a good idea of what to expect at the end, because I've sailed on the finished product, and that was a dream as well. I've spent a total of two weeks living on the model, so I know how the daily routine works and how the systems work. I know two weeks doesn't sound like much when you're talking about living on a boat for years and years, but it's a lot more than a few hours walking through a boat before pulling the trigger. It was crucial for me, to remove any doubts I had over which boat to purchase.

I would probably still be hemming and hawing over which cat to get were it not for the personalities and people involved. I'd be putting off the decision, because I'd be worried about not making the "perfect" decision. The owner of hull #18 said when he walked on a SF 50, something in his gut told him this was the right boat. It was the exact same feeling I had years ago, and then had again every boat show since. That was key. But it was getting to know the people involved that really pushed me to take the leap. You're working with normal people. Sailors. Nothing against other builders, as I'm sure the experience is similar. Just relating what it's like with this company, since you asked. Not to get emotional or anything, but I've already told several people involved with the project that they feel like family already, and I've only been here a week.
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Old 25-04-2015, 05:31   #222
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Yeah, the crane is just for lifting and stowing the dinghy. It adds about 170 lbs. to the starboard side of the boat. The outboard is also on the starboard side.

But on the other side, you've got the stove/range (which is quite heavy), the freezer (and contents), the fridge (ditto), and all the tools/spares. Plus dive tanks and gear are on the port side. As well as the generator.

Also: A stainless steel davit would probably be a good chunk of the weight of the crane. And you're getting rid of the davit, so that's a bit of offset. Plus, the purpose of the crane is to lift the dinghy and bring it forward, so it sits on chocks rather than hanging from a davit poking aft, which means you're bringing the weight of the dinghy forward, which is a big deal. So the impact of the crane is probably a net positive, all things considered.
Ah - that makes sense! Again, my inexperience. I'm picturing the crane holding the dinghy somehow, as opposed to merely using it to move the dinghy - and in my mind I am thinking between the crane and dinghy there has to be 1000 lbs. 170 lbs is nothing! I also just figure that the usual complement of stuff (stove, fridge, freezer, AC, etc.) was basically compensated for in the design to give a pretty even Center of Gravity - maybe I give designers too much credit!

Again, like everyone else here I am looking forward to seeing her progress and the finished product! Then we are all going to buy you a beer, suck up, and see if we can't get you to offer us a ride!

Congrats on a beautiful boat and some great modifications!
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Old 25-04-2015, 07:29   #223
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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in my mind I am thinking between the crane and dinghy there has to be 1000 lbs. 170 lbs is nothing!
The 170 lbs. is for the crane, which is slightly to the starboard side. The dinghy is another 650 lbs, but it goes right across the swim platform, so it's only adding weight to the starboard side because of the outboard being on that side. If you needed to balance the cat, you could switch the dinghy around, keep your tools elsewhere, move your dive tanks to a different side, jettison some shoes or clothes, etc.

The boat is very well naturally balanced. And there's a lot of flexibility on where things are stowed. It's not a big deal at all, but it is something that deserves a bit of consideration.
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Old 25-04-2015, 08:13   #224
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Do not overlook the problem of fore and aft weight distribution. My dingy was 117lb plus another 97 for the motor so a bit over 200 lbs total and it was still a constant battle to keep the weight away from the stern. You will hinder the performance by adding all that weight. Yes they deliver 1100lb fun boats from s Africa on her stern and she can handle weight better than some catamarans but you will pay a price. Your sea motion will suffer as well with so much weight towards the end away from center. I don't see how the dingy can be carried further forward using the crane as opposed to the davits?


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Old 25-04-2015, 08:44   #225
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Do not overlook the problem of fore and aft weight distribution. My dingy was 117lb plus another 97 for the motor so a bit over 200 lbs total and it was still a constant battle to keep the weight away from the stern. You will hinder the performance by adding all that weight. Yes they deliver 1100lb fun boats from s Africa on her stern and she can handle weight better than some catamarans but you will pay a price. Your sea motion will suffer as well with so much weight towards the end away from center. I don't see how the dingy can be carried further forward using the crane as opposed to the davits?


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Really good points.

The SF50 is nice in that the engines aren't in the hatches at the top of the steps, like in a lot of cats these days. They are under the aft bunks, much farther forward.

And the crane comparison for moving weight forward was more of a comparison between the SF50 and other boats, where the dinghy is lifted straight up and carried on the davit, over the water. The SF50 moves the dinghy forward about 3 feet, so the keel rests on chocks on the swim platform. That 3 feet of movement forward is what I was referring to. When the SF50 uses davits or the in-boom lifting system, it achieves the same thing.
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