Saturday, April 16, 2016

________ Cassandra - Ron Swanson Designed 'Carmen Class' Sloop ________

'Cassandra' - 30ft Ron Swanson Designed 'Carman Class' Sloop

Well shipmates when I do my circumnavigation it will be in a boat of this or similar design. This New Zealand built and owned yacht is the 'Cassandra'. She has a New Zealand sister ship 'Castanet' that was campaigned during the 1960's and was runner up to the famous 'Rainbow II' in the 1969 Sydney Hobart yacht race. She was designed by the Australian yacht designer Ron Swanson. The design is now over 40 years old and in those years this design has been proved both in ocean racing and in high latitude cruising. Her dimensions are approximately 30 feet over all, 24 feet on the water line, 9 foot beam with a 5 foot draft.

Cassandra and Castanet have two other famous sisters as well. One is the 'Cadence' which won the 1964? Sydney Hobart race and the 'Carronade' which completed a brave Cape Horn passage (again in the 1960s)which included a capsize in one of the most dangerous places for sailors on the planet.
One of the keys to the racing success of this design was its ability to maintain consistently good hull speeds in a wide range of conditions. The cruising success of this design is its sea kindly attributes, flush deck, long keel and its strong construction. Incorporated with good load carrying ability, good accommodation for its size, manageable sail area and good turn of speed it would be a good choice for an extended cruise - if you were looking for something small and relatively inexpensive.
The Cape Horn passage is told in Des Kearns book 'World Wanderer - 100,000 miles Under Sail."

"On the 26th March, 1967, just 500 miles from Cape Horn we were awed by what we saw and heard 'beyond the common experience of men'......... Carronade was long past the point of no return and fast bringing up the latitude of the Cape. At the change of watch I remarked to Andy that the Southern Cross was directly overhead. Craning his neck to see it, he said quietly, "Yes we're a long way south." The barometer had been falling for three days without a change in the weather. We had been lucky till then but now silently scanned the weather horizon waiting for the contest to begin. The barometer stood at 28.6, a quarter of an inch from the end of the scale; we shook with uncertainty and tenseness - waiting for the unknown, men fear most. It happened quickly...................

 'Carronade' Rounding Cape Horn 1967 - Painting by Jack Earl
............. Cape Horn stands within one of the most inhospitable, loneliest and treacherous pieces of water on our planet. Once in the golden age of sail, before the creation of the Panama Canal, it was the only route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. This area is the graveyard of over 800 ships and 10,000 sailors.

The crew of Carronade were three brave young men who rounded in 1967 but paid the price with a complete capsize in a hurricane - which luckily didn't dismast them - Its a wonderful story of skill courage and youthful adventure. 


Bursledon Blogger said...

Alden, that's my kind of boat too. Does that doghouse have an open rear section - like a dodger or is it the raised cabin roof?

either way the raised sheer is going to give good space below and a clear flush deck for working.

Couple of nice examples on my blog archive that I'd take offshore

and of course this one which we did which had neither a dog house or a flush deck, but was a great sea boat non the less


Alden Smith said...

The structure is not a doghouse in the usual sense, it's more of a molded wooden spray dodger and very strong. Underneath the dodger is a normal entrance through the rear part of the raised deck via a sliding hatch (which is a bit wider than would be usual for boat of this size). The dodger extends a little bit back into the cockpit area and provides a comfortable sitting position out of the wind and spray.

Many of the Carmen Class yachts have names beginning with 'C' - The boats I know of are named: Castanet, Cassandra (Both NZ built and owned), Cadence (Sydney Hobart race winner), Cavalier and Carronade (Whose epic story is featured in this posting).

Alden Smith said...

..... and there is a rather nice close up aerial photograph of Cavalier sailing in the 1963 Sydney to Hobart (she was placed 2nd on handicap) in the 5th Edition of Adlard Coles 'Heavy Weather Sailing'. She is referred to as an 'old fashioned design'!!

Cavalier was caught in a storm when returning from Hobart after the race and was rolled over. The skipper John McDonell complained that the boat wasn't fast enough to get out of the way of big breaking seas when running in the storm. But she was strong enough to be rolled without damage which says something about the boats design and strength - compare this with what happened to many modern designs in both the 1979 Fastnet storm and the 1989 Sydney Hobart storm.

When sailing short handed or single handed I would say a small boat like this that will look after herself, perhaps towing a series drogue when there isn't a large racing crew to keep her sailing is just the type that makes for a safe offshore cruising boat.

Dan Gurney said...

What's she like underwater? Full keel? Cutaway? Fin with spade rudder?

Alden Smith said...

Dan, she has a long full keel with the rudder attached at the back of the keel. She doesn't have a "full" forefoot of the older more traditional type yacht, rather she has a moderately cut away forefoot that is found on most "modern" long full keel yachts of the era circa 1950s - 1970s. The long keel is in keeping with the traditional structure of reverse curve in the gar-board area giving a decent amount of room for any bilge water and great strength in the area of connection of the outside ballast to the yachts overall structure. In boats of this type keels don't drop off due to structural failure as can happen with some fin keels, but lead ballast can drop off due to the corrosion of keel bolts, although this is very rare.

Dan Gurney said...

That's what I would have guessed. Similar to a folkboat in many ways except the Marieholm International folkboats made of fiberglass had the lead inside the FG hull. That way, no keel bolts to corrode. But the problem with the Folkboat is that it would seem awfully small for cruises longer than a weekend. A Carmen Class yacht would be both a lot roomier and still have that reassuring feeling that it could handle all but the most severe storms.

Alden Smith said...

Dan, you are quite correct about the Carmen Class yacht being roomier than the FolkBoat, but this has not stopped people from sailing them on extended journeys.

Two very well known voyages in FolkBoats are the circumnavigation of Ann Gash who arrived back in Australia in 1977 and the solo singled handed Trans Atlantic race exploits of the very famous Junk rigged modified FolkBoat 'Jester' in the hands of her first modifier / owner 'Blondie' Hasler (of 'CockleShell Heroes' fame) and subsequent Trans Atlantic voyages in 'Jester' by Michael Richey.

I think 'Jester' and her identical replacement (After she was lost in an Atlantic storm in one of the races) has taken place in all the solo Trans Atlantic races since the races beginning in the early 1960s.

Ann Gash's reason for her voyage was very down to earth and practical. Apparently she wanted to take part in a bamboo flute festival in the UK and couldn't afford the air fare - but she did have a FolkBoat, so she sailed from Australia to the UK for the festival. Apparently she didn't have the air fare home from the UK either, as she just sailed back (As you do!).

There are other notable examples, one being Mike Bailes, a retired British Naval Commander who lived for decades on a flush decked version cruising the South Pacific, in later years turning up here in Whanagarei.