Owners Speak Up
From Charlie Pingree, builder and owner of Hammerhead 54' Trimaran 'Flying Fish'
In this cat crazed sailing world, I wanted to remind you that your H-54 trimaran rules!
I doubt that any cruising boat as comfortable as Flying Fish goes as fast, and as we know "fast is fun".
I was reminded just how much fun last summer when my Hammerhead 54, "Flying Fish" came out from behind one the many islands of East Penobscot Bay to find the newly launched 90' Gunboat working to windward and headed for the Fox Island Thorofare. I had heard enough of the the Gunboat hype with never a Gunboat in any NEMA (New England Multihull Association) race I have participated in to not let such an opportunity slip by.
I gave chase, crossing under her transom and the race was on. The Gunboat was captained by Cam Lewis- captain from The Race with the boat sharing most of the carbon features of the 110 footers including Cuben fiber sails. I had a 75 year old monohull racing veteran at the helm for his first ever multihull sail.
The breeze was perfect, high teens with gust to 20 and flat water. We gained slowly and crossed their bow two tacks later. I made the mistake of tacking too far off-shore into rough water and losing our lead and then some. As we rounded the nav buoy and bore off slightly for the Thorofare we started to eat into their 100 yard lead. Before overtaking them they tacked away in what could only have been seen a face-saving move. As we came in under the land the gusts bumped up to 25kts and Flying Fish tagged 22kts.
The smile on my old monohull friend was almost as big as my own.
You nailed it with this one. This is the ultimate cruising tri, and for some of us only a tri will do.
Would be great to see you and Kate Downeast again soon.
Good Sailing Charlie
VALDIVIA, 17 MAY 2011
Dear Alex and Roni,
Just a brief note before we head off north to the Galapagos.
I, and all the motley crew of Aussies, feel we can not leave without letting you and all the friendly, efficient team at Alwoplast know how much we have enjoyed our stay with you in Valdivia.
In particular, I have enjoyed the entire sequence of initial negotiation on the Atlantic 57, the building process and now completion, sea-trials and final hand-over. It has been an exciting process, the exact opposite to some of the horror stories told about custom yachts delivered late and way over budget.
As you know, I have been ‘around boats’ for about 50 years mainly in Australia, PNG and the Pacific. I have always been very wary of commissioning a custom-built yacht, as fixed-price contracts are a rarity and may lack ‘transparency’. Dealing with Alwoplast and Chris White has been the very opposite, as you offered a straightforward, negotiable fixed-price deal and have delivered a first-class vessel, on time and with no hidden extra or unexpected costs.
Your progress reports during the building process gave me excellent detail and let me know things were on track and on time despite occasional delays in supply from outside sources……very impressive. I am particularly grateful that Alwoplast took on the considerable administrative and financial costs of dealing with Chilean GST, Customs and the Navy…….this has allowed matters to progress smoothly and on schedule.
I think a lot of your success with the A57 is not only the highly developed design and the top quality build (equal or better than anything from Australia or the States, I think), but the long term commitment you and Chris White have to each vessel………being experienced sailors you are able to, and in fact deliver, most valuable advice and assistance for the life of the yacht if appropriate.
The crew and I now feel we have become part of the Alwoplast A57 family, thanks for your hospitality and assistance during our stay……for example providing transport was invaluable to us in helping stock and provision the boat; it was most generous of you and went well beyond “the call of duty”.
I only hope we can repay you and your families with the same degree of hospitality in Australia sometime soon.
We are now sad to leave, but looking forward to some exciting sailing northward. We will keep you informed on our travels in PACIFIC EAGLE.
Please pass on our thanks and appreciation to all your friendly staff who have helped us so much.
Hamish Foster (Commander, Royal Australian Navy Retired)
Great to hear from you. I hope you are well and enjoying summer! How is the new 47' coming along?
Yes - we're into the swing of cruising now, and I'm increasing in confidence daily. There have been several things to get used too, and I'd put navigating coral reefs near the top of the list, but overall I've been amazed how easy it has all been, and what a wonderful cruising area Fiji is. We're constantly meeting people who've cruised here several years in a row, sailing from Australia or New Zealand each season...
My biggest lesson so far is 'less is more' - less planning, less ambitious itineraries, fewer commitments with fly in guests.... That won't surprise you. We've just decided to take New Caledonia completely off the list for this trip, and concentrate on Fiji and Vanuatu in the remaining months. I'm looking forward to it all.
Resolute is fantastic - not a day goes by when I don't see another aspect to the design which 'just works'. I amuse myself sometimes by effortlessly sailing past other boats, but it is cheap fun, and mostly we're slowing the boat down and being conservative. I can totally see the logic of your new Mast Foil, and am eagerly waiting to hear how she sails in practice.
"...I'm delighted with the boat...the center cockpit is brilliant..."
From Ken Gibson, new owner of Atlantic 48 'Resolute'
Hi Chris, I hope you are well and have enjoyed a great Easter break! I'm just back in Sydney after joining Resolute on the leg across the Pacific from the Galapagos Islands to Nuku Hiva, in the Marquesas. Here is a link with some pictures and a video, in case you are interested:
The bottom line is I'm delighted with the boat. For this particular leg - basically 16 days with steady trade winds on the beam or quarter, it is hard to imagine a more comfortable and practical boat for the trip. It has been a fantastic experience for me to sail with a couple of very experienced delivery crew members who also - by the time they got to the Galapagos - know the boat very well. I learned a lot! We arrived well rested and could have easily continued. It was a great lesson to meet people arriving in other boats- most had taken another 5 or more days for the same trip, and they looked exhausted....
Of course, the center cockpit is brilliant in these off-the-wind conditions, but that was no surprise. What did grab me was the usefulness of the genoa. We tried the Code Zero a few times, but honestly, the extra size is no substitute for the convenience and robustness of the genoa's furling mechanism. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say I'd rather go straight from genoa to some kind of spinnaker - something with a sock - and forget the complication of setting up the code zero. It makes me wonder why most of the other Atlantic 48s don't have genoas. I also love sailing with the main down. We found that when the wind came aft, we were fastest with the spinnaker and no main. To drop the spinnaker we'd just roll out the genoa to de-power it, then pull down the sock - easy. We found that once the wind came forward, rather than go for the code zero we were better off with either just the genoa, or, the genoa and a reefed main. Of course, we could put everything up, but the extra speed didn't seem worth it most of the time.
Anyway, congratulations on a great design.
“…nothing short of spectacular…”
Aboard Atlantic 55 ‘Saphira’
Over the last year, Jen, Holly (14), Tucker (12) and I have sailed about 8,000 miles on Saphira.
As you know, I am a beginner on catamarans. While we have chartered six or eight different designs, including the Gunboat 62, this can hardly be called sailing experience; and Hobie cats probably can’t either. On the other hand, I have sailed more than 100,000 miles on monohulls over my 57 years (!), including five Atlantic crossings and two or three Pacific crossings depending on how you count them. I have sailed in all seven oceans, rounded Cape Horn and Stewart Island south of New Zealand, forged through ice over 80° north and cruised in the canals of Europe. I have been a member of a winning US Admirals Cup team and raced Fasnet, SORC and all the northeast circuits a number of times. I even did reasonably well in Tempests back when they were popular. All this is intended as a way to say that I have some perspective on sailing in general and monohulls in particular.
Saphira is nothing short of spectacular for our purposes. Jen and I are like reformed smokers; catamarans are the way to go and we don’t hesitate in sharing our views. I feel fortunate that we picked the Atlantic 55 for our first experience. The forward cockpit is terrific. I feel like I am really sailing, unlike the sensation that I have had on most of the cats that we have chartered. Invariably people, who haven’t tried it, say, “Doesn’t it get wet?” We answer, “Of course, if you are on the wind you can get some spray, but then we move our bedroom-slippered feet inside to the incredible wheel house/main salon.” We have been pleasantly surprised by how much air flow the forward door creates in the main cabin, keeping us cool during our year in the tropics.
Saphira’s speed has been put to good use. We have averaged about 220 miles a day offshore this year. We have been planning for 200 to 210 miles a day and showed up early in Bermuda (from Nova Scotia), early in the BVI (from Bermuda), early in Cartagena (from BVI) … ditto in Panama (from Cartagena), Honduras (from Providencia) and Key West (from Mexico). You would think that we would learn, but I just can’t get my head around the average speeds that we are achieving.
Our longest day’s run was 260 miles. Our fastest speed was 23 knots and we have had plenty of time at 16 to 19 knots (there is a nice video of this on our website). We sailed 97 miles in one 8 hour segment coming from Puerto Morelos, Mexico, to Key West, but there was some current with us. We covered that whole leg of 360 miles, on the wind (fetched it), in 33 hours and had to slow down again by three hours to have light for our entry into Key West. I don’t think that we are pushing it too hard; after all, we have two kids aboard and on that leg, they started to take a watch together as opposed to joining one of us on watch. Pretty cool!
We often point out to visitors (and we have many visitors, Saphira attracts a crowd) that, in our view, your designs are practical and tested. The fact that you have cruised for many miles in your own designs shows up in the big and little details that just work well. The little tab on the end of the rudders, for example, makes a more than sufficient swimming ladder, even for me with old and unhappy knees. We found that the Gunboat, that we chartered, didn’t “work” anywhere near as well as Saphira has. Speaking of old knees, I am not sure that I could cruise today on a monohull with my gimpy pegs. While this isn’t unique to the A55, it is a compelling argument for us to be cruising in a cat – it is so much more comfortable at sea and in port!
We have been in the Bahamas for the last 6 weeks or so. Is our 3 ½ foot draft a luxury! We get to go places that many others can’t (especially monohulls).
Best to you and Katie,
Peter and Jen Francis
“…..This was the best sail I have ever had…”
“….I love Pata Gao …Most importantly though, my family loves the boat and the adventures that come with it.”
Hello Alex (of Alwoplast Marine) and Chris,
I’m back in Maryland and very happy to see my family again, but other than that; I’m still wondering why I made that last left. I knew the moment we rounded Cape Henry that heading up the (Chesapeake) Bay just wasn’t right. That premonition was validated when less than a mile from my final destination, we were cutting off the lightning rod so we could get under the bridge!!!!!! 6000 miles of sailing and at the end….doink! I could give you a list of my other mistakes for the benefit of your next customers, but those guys won’t listen either!
In all, it has been a great experience. ….I love Pata Gao and the ocean and I wish I was back out there. Most importantly though, my family loves the boat and the adventures that come with it. They got a good taste of what’s yet to come during our Galapagos Island hopping, the 900 mile passage to Panama and transit thru the canal and they were very sad to leave when the time came to fly out of Panama.
In short, the boat is absolutely incredible. After 6000 miles at sea, I have that peace of mind one gets when you totally trust your boat and equipment and understand its capabilities. I feel safe with my family on board (my limitations will pop up way before the boat’s). The performance and comfort need to be experienced to be believed. I told my friends what to expect on our last leg from Key West to Annapolis but they still told their wives they would be home 3 days later than our actual arrival. They are believers now…
The 2600 mile passage from Valdivia, Chile to the Galapagos Islands was certainly the most exciting…..the uncertainties of a new boat, southern ocean sailing, a significant distance to sail in one hop, (especially for a new boat) and a touch of fear. Nothing seemed difficult after that. We sailed in most conditions except headwinds……seas 15-20’ winds 30 + on the extreme side and everything else less than that. The average conditions were winds of 15 to 20 and seas of 10 to 12. We had SE winds the whole time instead of the customary SW winds which caused a very confused sea state for most of the trip.
The 900 mile passage from the Galapagos to Panama was in some ways the toughest…good conditions for 2 days then no wind then strong winds (up to 30) w/ big seas. We LOVE the pilot house and inside helm. Ann and the kids sailed that part of the trip and loved it.
The performance on the leg from Panama to Key West was similar. We averaged 250 miles a day up to the Western tip of Cuba. After that it was on the nose and the going was slower.
We left Key West on Friday at 0830 and arrived in Annapolis Tuesday at 1500 …..a little over 1000 nautical miles just over 4 days. Conditions were near perfect. I had 2 friends on board who have been sailing various monohulls most of their lives and they couldn’t believe the comfort, stability and performance of Pata Gao. An observation from one of them…..”This was the best sail I have ever had”…his exact words. He’s a professional seaman (Bay pilot) and has been sailing all is life (owns a 43’ monohull).
I still have that scotch and rum on board that you both were so attached to... Until we meet again………
I hope it’s soon….
Take care guys and thanks once again for everything….especially your patience.
A note from a charter guest aboard Atlantic 57 "Cerulean", January, 2010
"A brief note to tell you about our charter on the Atlantic 57 'Cerulean'. This was a fantastic vacation combining great sailing, superb gourmet dining, and a good measure of leisurely relaxation.
First, as to the sailing, the performance of the A57 is just incredible. A couple of examples -- I was amazed at the ease of short tacking between two prominent reefs along the south coast of Carriacou in 20+ knots true wind and square waves, all in complete control and comfort with no need to adjust sails due to the self-tacking jib-boom. My wife then set the speed record for the trip at 16.1 knots while we were shooting back along the lee side of Grenada.
One our goals for the charter was to see if the larger Atlantic cats could be handled by a couple and we were impressed not only by just how easy it is to sail these cats fast, but also by how much fun it is for those of us acclimated to performance-oriented monohulls. The cable steering system on the larger Atlantic cats indeed provides light fingertip control and feeling, particularly with the lee board down.
The gourmet dining experience on board Cerulean is just superb, to the point that this stands out as a major facet of the charter. Liz is a fantastic chef who takes careful account of guest preferences, while applying her own special creativity to each meal. Her flare for presentation of each dish is worthy of a top restaurant.
Alan, as skipper, orchestrated the perfect itinerary for the kind of relaxation we were seeking with plenty of time for snorkeling, reading on deck, and leisurely meals. Another dimension to the relaxed luxury of Cerulean, is that she is a very well-appointed and nicely finished yacht, maintained to impeccable standards by Alan and Liz.
So all-in-all, a wonderful experience that we can recommend highly and a really enjoyable way to get an in-depth feel for your Atlantic cats." -- Dave
Dec. 15, 2009
“…we left Antigua for St. Vincent Sunday morning in company with a new Gunboat 66™. (Gunboat and Gunboat 66 are trademarks of Gunboat, Inc.) The wind was blowing quite fresh between 25 and 30 knots.
We chose to sail east of Guadeloupe and Dominica and anchor in St Pierre on the north end of Martinique for the night. (150 miles harbor to harbor)
We left going to weather with 2 reefs in the main and the staysail and then shook out one reef as we cracked off the wind and later with full main and staysail. At all times CERULEAN was fully under control and flying. We crept up to the Gunboat™ with 2 reefs, both boats shook one reef and that is where some of the photos were taken. Then more photos were taken when we sailed past them on the leeward side with full main.
In 14 hrs of sailing we were never more than a mile apart.
By the way all the real sailors absolutely love CERULEAN and what's not to love."
Alan Weeks, A57 “Cerulean”
Date: 19 Apr 2009
"We had a quick chat with Pegasus in Balboa (Panama) but no chance for a good visit yet.
Grace is the best boat in the world.
We keep finding ways to make her work better. Thanks again."
Jim & Kay, A42, GRACE
Aboard Atlantic 57 Nogal, maiden voyage from Valdivia, Chile
"The first night out we did have a bumpy ride with winds gusting up to 40 knots aft the beam with a rather confused sea. We reefed right down, three reefs in the main and using the staysail and it wasn't bad at all.
I used to have a Fontaine Pajot and Nogal was just a Rolls Royce ride compared with that.
I think Nogal is a fantastic cruising cat. Fast and very easy to handle. We hit 18 knots a couple of times on the second night before Ron asked me to slow her down.
She felt completely in control, tracking like she was on rails.
I am sure you are very proud of the A57 and quite rightly."
Bob Goodchild, Surveyor April 2009
"I cannot tell you how happy I've been with the boat.
We left Northeast Harbour (Maine) at 10 in the morning sick of the rotten fog and we sailed to Shelbourne, Nova Scotia arriving at 7 in the morning- that is 165 miles.
Stefania took care of the 3 little girls while I did the sailing. If we didn't have our Atlantic cat it would have been too much for me.
The fog never lifted so we motorsailed with a light south wind 'till night. Later hit the wind but it was so cold I would have gone sick. Instead I was inside, sailing with radar and electronics in my shorts and heaters going just fine. What a difference for sailing safe.
At 20 years old you can sit outside all night but now I just do not have the ability to do that.
Thanks mate, your design is choice!"
Antonio Pasquale, A42 “Duality”
Date: 20 Dec 2008
"I trust you're well and all looking forward to the Christmas break...(is there ever a break for the self employed?)
We are currently mid Atlantic at 18N 34W and going well. We've had 3 days of 30-40 kts and currently going downwind with goosewinged staysail and genoa. Very stable and easy to shorten or increase sail, directionally stable to ease autohelm...great.
Quite a bit of surfing at 13-20 kts with main up and 3 reefs (a bit too fast for all on board), so now surfing at 12-16 and making about 8 between surfs - so much better.
Pegasus is really remarkable. She handles the waves beautifully and is very stable. It's taken a while to trust her but with the current rig we can go a long, long way. Very sustainable.
Hope you all have a great Christmas.
We've got our "Santa stop here" sign in the back window and a Christmas tree in the dinghy so were all set!"
All the Best,
Jason, Amanda, Jean-Jaques and Louis,
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2008
"I've been doing the Sea of Abaco tour for the past three weeks.
One question: so where is the 30-foot Chris White statue located in the Bahamas? I can't pull into a harbor without having somebody roar up in a dinghy and ask "is that a Chris White boat, I've always wanted to see one?"
But I had to persuade one guy that no, it really isn't a Gunboat.
I'm having a good time and it is the perfect boat for this shallow water. I take pleasure when people ask about her draft in giving it in inches rather than feet.
I couldn't imagine a more perfect boat…"
Harvey Schwartz A42 Cat, Catharsis
Hi Chris -
"We are having a blast on the boat here in Mexico, now in Santa Rosalia and heading up to Bahia de Los Angeles for hurricane season. It is a lot different from what we are used to in Florida and the Bahamas.
We sure get a lot of admiring comments on the design - most everyone recognizes it.
Hope you are doing well, and getting some sailing in and not just working all the time!"
John Kremski & Sharon Del Bianco , A46 “Sunbow”