Sarum’s Sea Trials

At last, my “new” 12-foot boat sailed the sea today, at the very moment when my Bishop is on the Atlantic on the Queen Mary II. I don’t know what things are like for him but there is quite a fresh south-westerly following the traditional direction of the Gulf Stream and taking heavy clouds to the British Isles. It is the season, and we can expect the cold to be coming in the next few days. That wind gave me a weather shore and some 12 knots with gusts of about 18 to 20 knots. With the wind coming from the land, there was very little swell on the sea.

Here she is, ready to go.


I was warned that the Zef was a slow boat and would not sail upwind with anything less than the original rig. She went like a dream in the fresh breeze. The sharp bow sliced through the wavelets and the sail filled beautifully as on Sophia, my old Tabur 320 boat. Here are three photos of her sea trial.


I found that the jib sheet cleats were a tad out of reach, and have since screwed them to each side of the thwart. I sailed about six nautical miles to the east, almost to Varengeville from Veules les Roses, and then back to the beach in time to land on sand. This is a fibreglass boat, not rotomoulded polypropelene like Sophia. Fibreglass is light and strong, but brittle and will break on impact with rocks! One has to be careful.

Stability is as people say about the Zef. It isn’t a regatta boat. She is designed for cruising and fishing, just right for me. Sarum is much faster than Sophia and sails better upwind with the Mirror rig. She was buffeted by the gusts coming from the land, and I reacted as I was taught, putting my weight on the gunwale, steering to the wind and keeping a “dynamic” mainsheet. There was always time to react before the boat would come anywhere near capsizing. The skeg helps to avoid broaching, and I’m used to compensating waves with a jerk on the rudder. My new rudder worked just fine, and the helm impeder came in useful a couple of times to sort out a line on the mast or a fouled jibsheet.

I will proceed with the blessing of Sarum and her “official” naming. I think a bottle of champagne would knock a hole in the hull, so I’ll just use holy water! I still need to sort out a few things with the trailer. New sailing days are beginning, even with the oncoming winter. In all seasons, there are days when you can take a boat out, even if you have to dress warmly. That is the advantage of trailer-sailing. You just up and go when you want (when I don’t have work to do and the weather is good).

Well, my dear Bishop, I will be thinking of you enjoying your Atlantic crossing on that great liner. I very doubt that you are in peril on the sea, but may the Angels look after you all the same…

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6 Responses to Sarum’s Sea Trials

  1. Looks like a nicer (wooden parts) version of the Sweet 16 sloops I learned sailing on (lake) 35 years ago.

  2. Juan de la Fuente says:

    Congratulations Anthony, I,m happy to read that your first essay on Sarum was satisfactory. I would have thought that you might have found some lee helm as the length of the Zef would position the end of the boom a bit further forwards than the boat would seem to deserve.

    Will you make a boom tent in the future and try to cruise and camp inside?


    • Thank you, Juan. The boat still has a small amount of weather helm, at least when sailing upwind. I need to try allowing the boat to broach in a light wind from a full reach to facing the wind to test the weather helm. In 12 knots of wind, the helm was light but comfortable. Each time I released the tiller, the boat would luff. I am confident the balance is OK. I should do some experiments with the position of the (pivoting) centreboard, which is impossible on a boat with a daggerboard.

      I also had the good idea of making a deep rudder. The rudder never comes out of the water in waves, and more rudder surface makes for better control.

      Yes, I think I will make a tent at some time. For sleeping, I think it is possible for a man to squeeze under the thwart and between the side of the boat and the centreboard well on the port said. I put my oars and gaff on the starboard side. I will need to make foam mattress in segments and see about dry bags big enough for the bedding. I still need to think about my arrangement for things in the boat. I would like to make a lazarette and some arrangement under the thwart for the VHF and navigational instruments. The space under the foredeck is vast and good for warps, fenders and dry bags.

      That being said, for the Semaine du Golfe, I may well camp on land leaving the boat moored or at anchor each night. There is also the question of food and cooking. Roger Barnes shows some wonderful ideas in his book, and various types of cookers can be used. They must be kept dry!

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