New F-33 in Washington State

Nick Reid took delivery of his new F-33R last spring and writes:

Hi Ian,

First of all a one word summary: magnificent. Qualifier: first season learning curve…lots of refinements to running rigging and deck layout decisions, etc. In other words: dialing it in. Your email arrived, coincidentally the day I spent taking Cloud Splitter (our F-33R) out of the water, lowering the mast, etc. . and I was too tired to write back !

This is a big boat. It was very windy that day and the mast lowering went smoothly but then ama folding was hard. We folded the windward ama easily but found then that the leeward ama wouldn’t budge. Eventually we figured it out but were ready for a beer and a sit down by the time we had her on the trailer.

The boat had been in the water since May and she was used almost continuously between June and through September. I slept 40 nights on Cloud Splitter during a variety of short cruises with family and friends ranging from two days to three weeks. Unlike many Northwest summers we had a common pattern of light air mornings building to late afternoon breezes in the 18-25k range. As our confidence built we stayed out later in the afternoons, after getting our skills together with reefing efficiently and also with putting a link between the motor and the tiller which took the terror out of dock handling.

Our sails came from Doyle in Auckland, very high spec carbon blend and seemingly bullet proof. I’d never had sails that had such a stable perfect shape. Kudos to Doyle. Surprises: Sailing 4-6 knots with screecher and main in very light air, over a glassy sea. “Can you believe this???!!!!” Sailing past “parked” boats…….The screecher is such a friendly weapon! Sailing 14-18 knots with no sense of impending doom. Just comfortable sailing with a light helm.

At twenty knots, our max so far, we were paying close attention and thrilled out of our minds…… Watching many of my very experienced monohull sailing friends experience the F-33 first hand, at the helm…… I heard nothing but amazement…… Taking sailing-fearful people (no heeling no keeling !!!) sailing and having them feel relaxed and elated as we coasted along in light and medium air.

Single handing: The first time I took the boat out alone I was super conservative. I tucked in a double reef before I left the dock even though it was blowing only 8 knots. The hardest part, before I got better at it, was putting up our huge main—feeding it up through the sail pack lazy jacks—without snagging the battens—while keeping the boat head to wind. The autopilot was the key…. I eventually graduated to a 200 mile singlehanded cruise to Desolation Sound from Port Townsend including a spinnaker reach aided by an ATN sock. This was a great adventure for me and included two fast reaches across the Straits of Georgia which I’ll never forget.

Systems we installed worked very well. I built a very efficient refrigerator. A small box, 3 cu ft, Vacuum panel insulation combined with a water cooled condenser resulted in extremely low power usage. Our charging power was a combination of 14 amps (max) from our 15 HP honda and a Watt and Sea hydrogenerator. Between the two we were self sufficient all the while enjoying ice cubes in our G&T’s and cold milk on our granola.

Our batteries are newish tech; Firefly carbon-foam units that don’t sulfate at high discharge levels, allow one to use almost the full capacity of the batteries. That gives us a usable 190 ah of power, quite a lot for a boat this size. I installed a L&S French hydraulic autopilot drive, which coupled with our chart plotter was flawless at any speed or point of sail or sea state and had the advantage of being electronically clutched allowing one to resume manual steering in a moment. This pilot is what allowed easy single handing and also relaxed long reaches with no one strapped to the helm.

I took the above photo this summer when I rafted up to my previous boat, Morning Star, which I owned for 33 years. My son was born in NZ while cruising on Morning Star in 1982. Morning Star now belongs to close friends who have also cruised her extensively. It is interesting to compare the two visually, from above. Such different concepts, both so successful in their mission. Morning Star displaces 25 tons, 45’ LOD, 12’-6” beam. At 8 knots of boat speed it is time to think of reefing. At the same speed on Cloud Splitter we start to look at improving the sail trim……

Problems: very few considering the complexity of the boat. Other than learning curve problems we had only a few based on manufacture. Anyway, Ian, that’s the short version! If you come up to the North West, come visit.


Nick Reid