SAILING THE BEACHCOMBER 25

The main advantages of the cat ketch sail plan of the BEACHCOMBER 25 are its simplicity and ease of handling combined with good performance. The sails unfurl from the masts like window shades, controlled from the cockpit, with no need to go forward except to release mooring lines or haul up the anchor. Once the sails have been unfurled, you set up on the clew outhauls which also lead to the cockpit. A small winch is required in the case of the mainsail in order to obtain the desired degree of sail flatness. This is the last time you will have to touch the winch unless you reef or for the refinement of easing the outhaul for more sail draft off the wind. After dropping the mooring or raising the anchor, the boat will head off on which ever tack you desire by backing the main boom by hand. If the wind is too strong for full sail, unfurl the sails only to the area desired and lock the masts against further rotation with the furling lines. For optimum trim when heavily reefed, adjustment of the topping lift is required. This is cleated on the side of the boom.

Donít forget to drop the centerboard when you takeoff. It is obviously essential for sailing to windward, and evens small amount of board will increase maneuverability under either sail or power. The board is raised or lowered by a simple four-part tackle lead-ing directly to the cockpit. The pennant is of nylon rope, eye-spliced into the board with no wire or swaging to corrode. The springy nylon acts also as a shock absorber should you bounce the board over a rock. The board installation is rugged and in soft bottoms may be used as a shallow water fathometer for feeling your way through the shoals.

Once the food and gear are stowed, getting underway doesnít take much more time than it has taken for you to read up to this point. Once you are underway things are even simpler. The camber (draft) and twist of the sail is controlled by the clew outhaul and topping lift respectively. These can be set once and then left alone. The sheet is strictly for setting the angle of the boom to the hull. Two-part sheets provide ample trimming power and you can forget about adjustable travellers and six-part boom vangs. Be careful not to overtrim. The sails should be trimmed to an angle of about 10 or 12 degrees to the hull centerline when hard on the wind, similar to a cruising genoa on a typical sloop. In steering to windward foot the boat, do not pinch. In coming about you do not have to touch a line, just put the helm down. Due to the long grounding shoe on the hull the boat will lose some of its way when coming about, even if you do it slowly, so donít pinch it up into the wind immediately but give it a chance to pick up some speed then gradually work it up into the groove. Otherwise you will stall out the board.

Off the wind it is important to ease the sails out much farther than a sloop mainsail since there is no jib to backwind them. Some yarn telltales knotted through the sail in the luff area will help in avoiding stalling the sails by sheeting them too flat. The mast may freely rotate with the sails, but for maximum drive, try over-rotating the masts using the furling lines to get even better sail shape.

Downwind and on broad reaches you can wing-and-wing the two sails, even allowing the booms to go forward of the beam. The board should be all the way up for best speed downwind. In booming runs, if you pick up a roll oscillation, dropping a little bit of board will stop it. If the weather helm builds up too much on reaches, ease the mizzen sheet and take in on the main, or even reef the mizzen. Make sure the board is not all the way down. As the board rotates up, its center of pressure moves aft rapidly, thereby reducing weather helm. Shoal draft boats are inherently difficult to balance in helm, but with the divided rig through sheet adjustment and selective reefing and with the long pivoting board you can do something about it. In light air a light weight mizzen staysail will improve reaching performance, but when the wind picks up donít overdo it, because the unstayed mizzen mast is not designed to carry this type of sail in a blow.

Jibing the BEACHCOMBER is no sweat. In light airs, the sails just flop over. If you happen to forget and stand up, your head gets sideswiped by cloth instead of a heavy boom. Headroom from the cockpit sole to the sail at the helmsmanís position is 5 ft. and to the boom 7 ft. There is no tendency for the sail to goosewing and no boom yang is necessary, the sail just swings like a barn door. However in heavy airs it pays to take in sheet during a jibe and ease it out on the other jibe to reduce the load on the rig when the boom fetches up.

Picking up a mooring under sail is not difficult and you can go forward and tie up without having to worry about instantly furling the sails. As mentioned previously, the long grounding shoe of the BEACHCOMBER kills the speed of the boat when rounding up so that the boat carries very little way, so when rounding up to a mooring from a run, start the maneuver when the mooring is a-bout abeam. Also, once again make sure you have some board down. It will reduce the turning diameter considerably and is handy to have if you miss and have to tack back.

On the mooring or at anchor the boat should lay to without sailing around if the main sheet is free and the mizzen is sheeted in, particularly if the board is up. The wishbooms tend to make the sails act like fully battened sails with no booms flailing around or sails flapping their stitches out. Pull the board up first, furl the main next, and do the mizzen when you have nothing else to do.

Putting the boat to bed is a joy. No sail stops, no halyards, no sail covers, and no crushing of genoas in too small bags ó just roll Ďem up. The protective strips on the leech and luff protect the sails from sunlight just as in roller furling jibs, and due to the ab-sence of crushing and cracking into sail covers or bags, the sails take their shape immediately when set without the look of un-ironed laundry.

The SANDPIPER/BEACHCOMBER rig differs from the FREEDOM 40 rig in that the FREEDOM 40 uses a two-ply sail hoisted on halyards with conventional so-called jiffy reefing. The SANDPIPER rig uses a sleeve sail similar to a LASER and it is literally screwed to the mast through a half-oval metal strip down the leading edge of the mast. Reefing is super-jiffy ó by rolling the sail on the mast. The roller system of taking out the boom thrust, I believe was invented with the original bendy STAR rig of the late 30ís. Unstayed masts were invented by prehistoric man. The roll up furl and reef idea was invented by a Swede named Ljungstrom and wishbooms were used if not invented by Nathaniel Herreshoff in the early part of this century ó so there is nothing new under the sun.

Walt Scott