Sunday, June 19, 2011
Small ‘Zeta’ – Hunter Europa 19
Further to my article of 12th June 2011, ‘Boats that I have Built’, here is another one to be added to the list. I built her in 1977 from a kit I purchased from Hunter Boats at Rochford, Essex. I was a member of the Up River Yacht Club when three of us approached Peter Poland and asked him to make a deal by giving us reduced prices. I think he took 10% off the normal basic kit price. Mine was a shallow draught boat with supporting bilge flanges to enable her to sit upright on a drying mooring. She proved to be very fast, and I did quite a few long trips in her: a return cruise from Hullbridge to Amsterdam and the inland waterways of Holland, lots of East Coast cruising and racing, plus two cruises in the English Channel, one of which saw me riding out a gale between the shipping lanes.
To make the boat easier to handle for single-handing, I re-rigged her as a junk sloop. John Christian, who designed junk sails for the Newbridge range of yachts, designed the sail for my Hunter. I really appreciated the ease with which I could reef the boat, but she had excessive weather helm when running, because there was no way of moving the centre of effort closer to the centre of the boat. That proved to be her downfall, as it put a large strain on her rudder fittings.
One memorable day when running before a strong wind from Brighton to Dover, a pintle gave way, so that I could no longer steer the boat. This happened not far from the Western Entrance of Dover Harbour, and as the wind was about a Force 7, I was in imminent danger of being swept onto the harbour wall. Fortunately, another yacht was entering the harbour and her crew realised something was wrong. They came to my assistance. At the third attempt they manage to get a line to ‘Zeta’ (Small ‘Zeta’) while one of the cross-channel ferries provided a lee. She was ignominiously towed backwards into the Harbour, and at one point, the skipper thought he had lost ‘Zeta’ when one strand of the three-stranded rope parted. He called for assistance from the lifeboat, but when he realised the rope was holding, he cancelled his request. Incidentally, towing a boat backwards is not as bad as it sounds, because she will yaw far less than when being towed from the bow.
Boats I have Built
‘Willing Griffin’ David Blagden’s Hunter 19