All of Herreshoff's yachts were designed to be seaworthy, and the H28 was no exception. Many of the Compass Yachts fibreglass versions have made long ocean passages, safely and comfortably; probably the most notable being the circumnavigation by two young Wellington lawyers in "BEN GUNN".

 

 

 

Bob Elliott is a retired air traffic controller, who had previously served as a master mariner, and who has a consuming interest and love for the sea. Since, launching "BELO VULA" seven years ago. Bob has carried out two extensive cruises in the South Pacific, visiting Fiji, The Yasawas, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Queensland. Much of his deep water sailing has been done single-handed.

 

He tells us here why he chose the H28, and how he made modifications to the standard configuration to improve its safety for blue-water single-handed sailing.

 

In 1973, realising that time was passing by, and that, if the sailing that I had always dreamed of doing was to come to pass, (that is; sailing around the Pacific,) this was the time. Therefore, I began looking around for a craft that would meet my needs.

 

These were:

 

a proven design,

b. handy, and capable of one-man operation,

 

c. suitable for incorporating the ideas I had gathered over the years, and which I could finish off myself, and, last but not least

 

d. within my budget.

 

As the H28 was the only yacht on the market that fell within the parameters I had set, I approached Compass Yachts and hull No. 27 was allocated to me. I say allocated because in those days, such was the demand for this popular design that one was lucky to get one within six months of ordering.

 

The legal requirements demanded by the Ministry of Transport for pleasure yachts proceeding overseas are contained in the NZ Yachting Federation's Handbook on Yacht Racing 1981-85. It was with the earlier equivalent of this in hand that I set about fitting out the hull and decks eventually delivered to me by Compass Yachts.

 

On looking over the hull, I realised that a few modifications were, to my way of thinking, essential. These were:

 

a. Blocking off the companionway to deck level,

 

b. Attempting to minimise the size of the cockpit which, if full of water, would lower the reserve buoyancy to below ' acceptable levels,

 

c. Finding somewhere to safely stow two 10 kg gas bottles so they were outside and could be 'drained' overboard rather than leaking an explosive mixture into the cabin,

 

d. leak-proofing the sliding hatch, and

 

e. providing better ventilation below decks.

 

Furthermore, I noticed that the hull was fitted with cockpit drains leading directly through the transom, a practice which I note was later discontinued by Compass Yachts. I considered this provided inadequate drainage for such a large cockpit, so one of my first tasks was to fit another two 32mm cross drains about halfway up the cockpit, and attach gate valves at each hull fitting. A gate valve was also attached to the transom-mounted exhaust fitting. Both these jobs, I might add, were done before the engine was installed and entailed a lot of squeezing and swearing in such a confined space. Nevertheless, as well as being a sensible precaution, the installation of these gate valves is necessary to meet the very thorough MOT inspection carried out by officers of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club before clearing a boat to proceed offshore.

 

Two manual bilge pumps were also installed, one attached to cockpit sole and port seat bulkhead so that it could be operated by the crew on deck, and the other under the port quarterberth with an extension hose which could be passed through a hole in the companionway door, and could be operated from inside with the hatch and doors shut. These pumps were the best I could obtain, as one never knows when they will be needed in real earnest. Little did I know at the time of fitting, how thankful I was to be ' for the reliability of those pumps later! Both the intake hoses to these pumps were fibreglassed to the hull to prevent them getting in the way of the propeller shaft.

 

The standard washboards were discarded and in their place I constructed a bridgedeck with the top opening flush with the cockpit seats. This bridgedeck was in the shape of a box and, after lowering the cockpit sole inside it 10cm, I fitted drains to it which were connected to the main cockpit drains. In this way I killed three birds with one stone; I provided a blocking arrangement for the companionway, I substantially reduced the volume of the cockpit, and I provided stowage for the two 10kg gas bottles for my stove. These bottles which are very heavy, were clamped immovably to the sole, and have never moved, no matter what antics I allowed the boat to get into. A further advantage of this arrangement, which I subsequently discovered, was that, when at sea and under self steering, this position provided a very comfortable thwartships bunk. I consequently had special cushions made for this position.

 

 

 

In place of the washboards above the bridgedeck, I fitted two 32mm mahogany doors. I beefed up the companionway edges to take the hinges for these doors, and constructed two strong grab-handles on the inside, through which I can pass a 32 x 50mm bar, thus making it impossible for any seas to burst the doors inwards.

 

The batteries, of which I have two, are fitted into a glass-fibre covered box under the starboard quarter berth, and a bar is also clamped across them to prevent any movement, even if the boat turns 180°.

 

These batteries are completely sealed, and besides not requiring the addition of water throughout their lifetime, can be completely inverted without losing acid; a quality for which I was later to be grateful. Presumably, if the terminals were to be waterproofed, they could continue to be used when submerged. One of my batteries supplies power for the radio and the other for lighting and engine starting. They can also be interswitched so that I have emergency power available for navigation lights.

 

A tricolour light was mounted at the masthead and wired on a different circuit from the port/starboard/stern lights which were fitted on the pulpit and pushpit, thus providing an emergency navigation light system.

 

Two stainless steel drinking water tanks were fitted under the port and starboard main berths. One of these holds 180 litres and the other 160 litres. They have separate filler caps on deck and separate vents high up on the cabin sides, venting outboard. While they are completely independent, however, they are connected through a threeway valve so that I can draw water from either tank to the sink, without the danger of water siphoning from the high tank to the low one at sea. The water, and the fuel tanks, are securely clamped into position, so that, even when full, they are unable to move should the boat be inverted.

 

The navigating compass was mounted on the cabin top underneath the spray hood, and a steering compass fitted to the inside of one of the campanionway doors. This arrangement has the double advantage that, with the doors fastened open, the helmsman has a convenient reference below eyelevel, and, when the doors are closed, a heading reference, albeit reciprocal, is available within the cabin.

 

The four main cabin windows unfortunately exceeded the MOT maximum of two square feet in area by a small margin and seemed rather vulnerable; so plywood shutters were made. These can be fitted, when necessary, by bolting them to nuts fibreglassed to the inside of holes drilled in the cabin sides. When the shutters are removed the bolts fill these holes.

 

To guarantee the watertightness of the main hatch I constructed a garage over it. My hard dinghy is carried between this and the mast, and having taken up the cabintop space, and not wishing to clutter the foredeck, I was then faced with the problem of where to stow the liferaft, so it is quickly available in an emergency. After much deliberation I decided to build a frame between the cockpit seats aft. I carry my six-man liferaft strapped to this frame with a quick-release lashing. This of course, prevents access to the after cockpit locker; but as it is my habit at sea to stow very little in there anyway, the loss of access did not strike me as very important. On the credit side, this arrangement tended to further reduce the cockpit volume, and beneath the frame I was able to stow spare containers of diesel. Moreover, I discovered that I had produced a very handy cockpit table at sea!

 

On the pushpit, I made provision to stow two lifebuoys, a danbuoy, dyemarker, McMurdo lights and a heaving line as required by the MOT rules. In addition, I equipped the cockpit with a weather-cloth which is lashed with light line to the railing and lifelines. The reason for the light line is that, in the event of a knockdown, the pressure of water against the weather-cloth will break the line rather than bend the stanchions.

 

 

 

All handrails, and the eyebolts used for lashing the dinghy, are through-bolted. If handrails of the same shape are fitted inside the boat, the same bolts can be used to secure them to the deckhead. On "BELO VULA", the internal handrails are mounted on the cabin sides, just below the windows, and on the sloping part of the deckhead; but I feel if they had been fixed to the deckhead immediately below the external grab-rails, they would be more effective.

 

 

 

Because it was my intention to do most of my cruising in the tropics, I fitted a small perspex hatch for extra ventilation between the mast and the break of the aft cabin top. I have found this hatch to be a great asset. It is covered by the upturned dinghy at sea, can be opened in reasonable weather, and can be left open in tropical downpours. In harbour it provides additional light and ventilation to the main cabin. Dorade vents were mounted on the cabin top, just aft of the main bulkhead, and these have sliding shutters which can be operated from inside the cabin. The hull can thus be made watertight, even if inverted.

 

The batteries, of which I have two, are fitted into a glass-fibre covered box under the starboard quarter berth, and a bar is also clamped across them to prevent any movement, even if the boat turns 180°.

 

These batteries are completely sealed, and besides not requiring the addition of water throughout their lifetime, can be completely inverted without losing acid; a quality for which I was later to be grateful. Presumably, if the terminals were to be waterproofed, they could continue to be used when submerged. One of my batteries supplies power for the radio and the other for lighting and engine starting. They can also be interswitched so that I have emergency power available for navigation lights.

 

A tricolour light was mounted at the masthead and wired on a different circuit from the port/starboard/stern lights which were fitted on the pulpit and pushpit, thus providing an emergency navigation light system.

 

Two stainless steel drinking water tanks were fitted under the port and starboard main berths. One of these holds 180 litres and the other 160 litres. They have separate filler caps on deck and separate vents high up on the cabin sides, venting outboard. While they are completely independent, however, they are connected through a threeway valve so that I can draw water from either tank to the sink, without the danger of water siphoning from the high tank to the low one at sea. The water, and the fuel tanks, are securely clamped into position, so that, even when full, they are unable to move should the boat be inverted.

 

The navigating compass was mounted on the cabin top underneath the spray hood, and a steering compass fitted to the inside of one of the campanionway doors. This arrangement has the double advantage that, with the doors fastened open, the helmsman has a convenient reference below eyelevel, and, when the doors are closed, a heading reference, albeit reciprocal, is available within the cabin.

 

The four main cabin windows unfortunately exceeded the MOT maximum of two square feet in area by a small margin and seemed rather vulnerable; so plywood shutters were made. These can be fitted, when necessary, by bolting them to nuts fibreglassed to the inside of holes drilled in the cabin sides. When the shutters are removed the bolts fill these holes.

 

To guarantee the watertightness of the main hatch I constructed a garage over it. My hard dinghy is carried between this and the mast, and having taken up the cabintop space, and not wishing to clutter the foredeck, I was then faced with the problem of where to stow the liferaft, so it is quickly available in an emergency. After much deliberation I decided to build a frame between the cockpit seats aft. I carry my six-man liferaft strapped to this frame with a quick-release lashing. This of course, prevents access to the after cockpit locker; but as it is my habit at sea to stow very little in there anyway, the loss of access did not strike me as very important. On the credit side, this arrangement tended to further reduce the cockpit volume, and beneath the frame I was able to stow spare containers of diesel. Moreover, I discovered that I had produced a very handy cockpit table at sea!

 

On the pushpit, I made provision to stow two lifebuoys, a danbuoy, dyemarker, McMurdo lights and a heaving line as required by the MOT rules. In addition, I equipped the cockpit with a weather-cloth which is lashed with light line to the railing and lifelines. The reason for the light line is that, in the event of a knockdown, the pressure of water against the weather-cloth will break the line rather than bend the stanchions.

 

 

 

All handrails, and the eyebolts used for lashing the dinghy, are through-bolted. If handrails of the same shape are fitted inside the boat, the same bolts can be used to secure them to the deckhead. On "BELO VULA", the internal handrails are mounted on the cabin sides, just below the windows, and on the sloping part of the deckhead; but I feel if they had been fixed to the deckhead immediately below the external grab-rails, they would be more effective.

 

 

 

Because it was my intention to do most of my cruising in the tropics, I fitted a small perspex hatch for extra ventilation between the mast and the break of the aft cabin top. I have found this hatch to be a great asset. It is covered by the upturned dinghy at sea, can be opened in reasonable weather, and can be left open in tropical downpours. In harbour it provides additional light and ventilation to the main cabin. Dorade vents were mounted on the cabin top, just aft of the main bulkhead, and these have sliding shutters which can be operated from inside the cabin. The hull can thus be made watertight, even if inverted.

 

I equipped "BELO VULA" with twin forestays and twin backstays. Although this slows the boat down through extra weight and windage, I have never regretted them for the peace of mind it gives.

 

 

 

One of the backstays is insulated as the aerial for the SSB transceiver, and I have found that its length seems to agree very well with the 4MHz frequencies and provides a very efficient aerial. On the other backstay I installed an aluminium radar reflector. How effective this piece of equipment is, I have yet to find out;

 

but I should point out that, contrary to the stated experience of other yachtsmen I have met on my voyages, I have sighted ships on every leg of every trip I have done so far, so I figure it is in my interests to give them every assistance to 'see' my boat.

 

Lee cloths are fitted to both bunks in the main cabin. These are a necessity, because, although at sea one normally sleeps on the leeward berth, the lee cloth on the windward bunk prevents any clothes, books, heavy-weather gear etc.,which invariably get thrown around in rough weather, from disturbing one's rest. I have built two sideboards over the forward ends of the main bunks. The result and loss of in-harbour seating space is more than compensated for by the ability to stow sleeping bags or blankets inside them, and the extra stowage room on top. On one of these sideboards is my first aid box and library, and on the other side is secure stowage for my sextant and tapes for the tapedeck.

 

 

 

Most of my sailing was to be in coral waters, so the forepeak chainlocker was made large enough to hold 90 metres of 8mm chain. The bottom of this locker is 25cm above the forward cabin bunk squabs, which allows one's feet to go beneath it. The 22s Danforth anchor remains lashed to a large bronze roller fitted at the stemhead, and chain leads from this aft to a Simpson Lawrence 'Hyspeed' windlass, thence down a spurting pipe into the forepeak. Aft of the forepeak bulkhead, which incidently gives added strength to the bow, and helps prevent it "panting" in a seaway, I have mounted, thwartships, a 38mm stainless steel pipe. On this pipe are threaded two large wooded "cottonreels" which I made. One holds 100 metres of 14mm nylon warp and the other 100 metres of 12mm terylene for spare halyards. I have found these "cottonreels" are a most convenient way to carry emergency lines, and it enables me to quickly run them aft for towing in heavy weather if necessary. The bower anchor, a 16kg CQR with 100m of 14mm nylon warp and 10m of 10mm chain, is stowed beneath the forward bunks.

 

 

 

Sandy Harold, of Sails Specialties who built all my sails, designed for me a cruising main/trisail. The peak of this sail reaches to about halfway between the spreaders and the masthead; the sail has an almost straight leech, so it needs no battens, and it can be roller-reefed easily to trisail size. I have found this sail to be excellent for passage making; and carry it during all my deep water work; therefore never have to worry about broken battens in the event of a gybe caused by sudden wind change.

 

The self steering on "BELO VULA" is of my own design, using a balanced trim tab on the rudder. It is in fact, the Mark I model of the self steering gear described in last year's H28 Yearbook. Provided the boat is balanced correctly, this gear steers a better course than I can, even down to a 3 knot following breeze and, apart from the vane breaking off during a knockdown, has safely guided me on three separate tours around the Pacific.

 

Around both sides of the deck, from the forward bollard to the after cleats, I have run two 5mm stainless steel wires, sheathed in plastic tubing. Four 25mm stainless steel rings are threaded on these wires, (two on each side), and onto these rings are clipped the harness safety lines, when at sea. These safety lines, which are 1.8m long, have stainless clips at each end, so that, when one steps down into the cabin from the cockpit, the harness can be undipped from the body end, leaving the safety line inside the companionway. Before going on deck, the line is attached to the harness, as I fully believe that the transition from the cabin to the deck is the time when the crew are most at risk of being lost over the side. Having the S/S wire running along each side-deck, enables me to move the whole length of the boat without unclipping the harness and gives a great sense of security. The wire, when not in use, is quite unobtrusive, and does not get in the way.

 

I have found that the way 'BELO VULA' is rigged is excellent for singlehanded operation and, during my first voyage, of which four legs were undertaken single-handed,, inweather situations that varied from flat calm to winds of more than 40 knots, the sail changing was not too arduous and the H28 hull was sea-kindly and comfortable.

 

Bob Elliott.