Hanging on for dear life I straddle Sookies bow Sprite like a bull rider, bucking and pitching it can get pretty exciting out there. Her bow net keeps me in check as a frothy green sea attempts to swallow me whole washing me from my little perch. I swear I’m going to add roller furling to save me from the precarious journey out to the ends. An hour later Im working my way to weather. My main double reefed and slightly backed my Yankee and staysail flat and drawing nicely. I survey my little ship and wonder why anybody would ever add a roller furler to thier boat.
The bow Sprite and the staysail are two of the most traditional features found on boats that sail, they also happen to be two of the most modern. You won’t find a racer worth his salt that doesnt have these wonderful additions to thier satly craft. At 22′ LOD Sookies 5 foot bow Sprite is on the larger side, at 30’6″ LOA she carries a fair bit of canvas.
A good set of crisp new sails can literally cost more than the average budget cruiser. When it comes to sailing boats the sails are at the highest priority, for safety and fun. The best boat in the world will still sail at a severe handicap with tired old sails, add the performance penalty of roller furling and your really out on a tired old dog.
On my micro budget Sookie carries all plain sail. With her main, Yankee and staysail she has 15 different usable sail combinations and sails well enough with any and all of them, a new Asym will complete the package. She will work any sailable point of the compass with main alone and any combination of reef points as she will under staysail alone or Yankee alone. I’ve done quite a bit of performance testing on her intentionally putting myself in undesirable situations for a bit of real world testing. She does a fantastic job but I always have my eyes on a full set of Hasse sails and yes there is a difference. On these old traditional boats it’s very important to keep your drive foreward of the center. For all the teasing I do of Sookie she isn’t really slow, wet or tender but she is a slow manovering tank with her proper full keel. The reason I chose Sookie is that she was to only boat under 28′ designed with a full keel capable of heaving to, the cutaway keel robs the boat of this ability but still peanalizes the sailor with slow dorky handling. Puttting Sookie in tight spaces is always exciting, doing it backwards adds to the fun.
For my personal needs the good old design keeps my boat simple and relatively mainetnece free. A good set of working sails, a stern hung rudder, outboard chain plates and lots of sail combinations without filling the belly of my tiny beast with half a dozen bags of sails. All her Haliards are at the mast where I prefer them. Her mast stoutly mounted to the deck of the boat so I am standing on deck when I’m working foreward, not perched on top of the cabin. This is a relatively secure set up, I say relatively because the smaller the boat the more lively she will be and I’ve had some pretty wild rides up there. When it comes to safety at sea a large functioning boat will always be safer than a small functioning boat but safety is a very relative term as is comefort at sea.
Looking at the new BCC she has all the features I desire in a boat but I just can’t wrap my head around her interior. I’m not even remotely fond of all the wasted space of an enclosed head on such a small boat and putting it in the bow is down right retarded. My preferred head has always and will always be a plastic bucket. I’ve never had a problem showering on deck or in the sea and I don’t ever see how it will be an issue. On the other hand finding a compatable coed that prefers these choices has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Many compare life on a small boat as camping, I couldnt argue more against that point other to say they obviously have never cruised on a small well designed boat. Sookie has larger berths than an Island packet 38. More usable counter space than a Catalina 36, I better comefort ratio than over 90 percent of boats under 38′ and capsize ratio of 1.67 and a range of positive stability at a very respectable 133.These are all big numbers but the fact remains that she is a tiny little boat, if your not a snuggle ninja you could never be happy on such s small yacht. I like cozy small places and sharing my personal space but in the world we live in of bigger is better I’m one of the few.
Regardless of the boat I sail the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island has been calling my name, sail north across the pacific or circumnavigate the island, either way it’s a win win. I have every chart I need but one, two great boats to choose from and nine months till winter. More than anything I want to return to the Caribbean but not until I have made my way to Glacier Bay and back. I love the process of daily miles made good, a new and interesting protected anchorage every night and the challenge of the unkown.