First Sailing of “ALCEDO” IDEA21 cruiser
The test of the idea21 cruiser n.1 “Alcedo” of Milos and Kirstine took place on a lake in southern Germany, for a total of about 8 hours of sailing distributed over two days at the beginning of summer 2020; the conditions of the two days were almost identical, with a well stretched wind between 6 and 10 knots, without great gusts, just a few shifts of direction near the shores of the lake; waves were non-existent.
I had already seen the boat during construction and had reported on the blog the progress of the work, the boat was almost ready for launch last summer, there were still some works to be done, especially on the retractable keel, and assemble the deck gears; work commitments of the owners have recommended to do things without haste and wait this summer for the launch. Compared to the standard design of IDEA21 cruiser the most relevant modification is the so called FLK (Full Lifting Keel), i.e. the retractable keel slides closed inside a watertight keel box that runs from the bottom of the hull to the top of the cabin (the flanks of the box were open during the test to check that everything was ok); the keel can then be partially lifted even during navigation using the winches, with a hoist 1: 6 (very little effort required, it slides perfectly into the Teflon guides), allowing navigation in shallow waters or mooring in complete safety in “beach” depths. Another important modification is the wooden rig, built to perfection and beautiful, which pays something in terms of weight compared to an aluminum rig but does its job perfectly and adds charm to the construction. For the rest, the construction is really at a very very high level, Milos and Kirstine did a top notch work, with a perfect mix of high school aesthetic details and solutions always very practical to use while sailing.
another modification required by the builder/owner has simplified the launching operations: a single lifting point with a chainplate bolted to the keel box and popping out from the roof of the cabin, perfectly on the boat’s centre of gravity; this solution avoids the use of belts, all you need is a shackle and a loop or a high-load belt of those used in the yard to lift loads; the boat can be taken over by the crane and put in the water. Simple and fast.
Deck gear and sails
Everything is as by building plans, all simple and linear, two size 8 winches in cabin top, two batteries of 3 stoppers, organizers, swivel turrets for the jib sheets (very effective), wide rail for the mainsail car, 1: 5 mainsheet and swiveling turret, a little bit sporty gear, but it is necessary to better manage the power of the square top mainsail; we have to review the mainsail car purchase, too direct and too hard to adjust; in the trials we lacked the jib sheet points and we had the points of the jib provisionally armed, the rails with the jib point on cars will arrive soon. Owners fitted a jib furler in the bow, the small model of Plastimo, maybe a little “plastic” aesthetically, but perfect for a boat like this. The sails, mainsail and jib for the moment, are by Lee Sails Germany, cruising sails , in cross cut dacron , very well packaged, with a good shape, especially the top square mainsail, whose making it is not super easy , with battens, batten holders and pockets well made and accessories of good quality, excellent value for money, three reefing points on the mainsail for when the boat will pass from the peaceful lake to the sea; the jib has three small vertical battens perfectly compatible with the roll bow. The square top mainsail with plastic sliders slides perfectly in the rig wooden groove, without sticking, as soon as it will be installed a spectra lazy jack that also acts as a boom tophaul , now absent, the mainsail will be manageable singlehanded, in hoisting, lowering and reefing.
It is a very light 1000W/24V electric motor (about 4 kg) with forward and reverse gear, it does its job perfectly in the lake environment, making the boat arrive at 4 knots speed in quiet conditions, the batteries (two AGM) are housed under the bow berths, and also act as load batteries; if you want to stay on the electric, which I recommend, at sea I would go for a slightly more powerful engine, 2 kW, but it is also true that with light winds, 5-6 knots, the boat already sails perfectly, so the use of the engine is restricted to the total nowind patches and to the approaches and exits from the dock. With two batteries like these, the range is not a problem, we will be able to run motoring up and down the lake a couple of times.
Out of the mooring
In this small cute pier club sailors use to moor bow on the dock, so you let go of the lines, motor reverse and you are out, the rudders work perfectly once you have a bit of speed, they are out of the flow of the propeller, we did not even use the steering of the engine, so we go forward gear, all rudder to starboard and we are out of the pier, being careful to stay in the middle of the small gulf to avoid a couple of shallow waters points; we move away from the shore at three knots and we reach at 4 knots , just to understand how much the engine can push.
we point the bow to the wind with the engine on half throttle ; this is the first “real” mainsail hoist so we are two, one at the winch and one at mast foot to check that everything is fine, the next hoists with the sliders of the mainsail already inserted will be much easier and can be single handed managed (there is no metal gate to close the mast channel at the bottom to keep the sliders inside, it will be installed, a lop of thin line does the same function today). The jib rolls and unrolls in three seconds without friction. We use the winch with the handle only to give a final pull to the mainsail halyard once it reaches the masthead. The mainsail has spent a year folded in the bag and you can see it, only at the end of the second day of “stretching” the fabric will stretch well eliminating some wrinkles. From the bow to the wind we bera away 45°, we turn off the engine, we rotate it out of the water (it has the function of almost 90° tilt) and we are finally sailing.
Steering the boat
The boat in these conditions of light air has very neutral reactions on the rudders, as far as we can pull the mainsail there is never the feeling of “tug-of-war” between mainsail and rudders, the boat con be steered with a fingertip on the stick, perhaps even too neutral for the purists “old school” who would always want a little bit of weather helm, but for me it’s fine; sailing upwind when it gets a little more air the upper ruddeer blade is almost out of the water except the last 10 cm, the one in the wind has full authority; the first day the rudder was plagued by a very annoying vibration that showed over 4.5 knots, we bought a euro of plastic washers from the first hardware store in the area, recorded the autoblock nuts of the rudder shafts and the second day the vibration was just a memory. The boat is very agile, responsive to the rudders, the system has a minimal of frictions because of the rods and the connection from the central tiller but is always direct, precise and without annoying gaps, the adjustable tiller allows you to steer the boat practically from where you want in the cockpit.
Alcedo in the test conditions is docile, reacts very quickly to sail trimming, especially the mainsail which is the real engine, keeps a good pace, between 4.3 and 5. 1 knots upwind under test conditions; the upwind behaviour is quite classic for a small new generation sporty boat: it’s useless to hang her upwind , she can do it but she loses speed, you have to let her walk at 45° from the wind or something more and maybe take advantage of some wind shifts to gain bow; in these situations the boat is fast, she heels until she “sits” on the chine around 10 knots of real wind, and she is sensitive to weights on the cockpit but not too much, and she keeps a good pace; bearing away to beam reach (90° degrees TWA) you can feel the acceleration and you don’t struggle to get there and hold about 6.5 knots (I think the top speed of 7 knots of the gps was only optimism and confidence); in these conditions, and only mainsail and jib, is certainly the fastest pace you can obtain; keeping beraing away in these conditions of light air we are up to an optimal angle at about 140-145 ° from the wind; the feeling is to be slow, but we are over 5.3 knots steadily with top speeds around 6.2; we gybe about 80 °, the mainsail passes slowly in these conditions, the boom is a little low because we were probably a little optimistic giving the measurements to the sailmaker (the sails were made before having the boat rigged, which in hindsight could be avoided) but the cockpit is very large, the rudders must be used on small angles, it is useless to force them at exaggerated angles unless you are manouvering the boat in very tight spaces; a test in this sense was done on the second day when we made a ” modelling set “, more the boat than us, for a photographer hosted on an old Bavaria 800; in this session we appreciated the ability of the boat to turn and jibe like a sporty dinghy, accelerate and slow down very quickly to position ourselves where the photographer required to have the best light and background scenery.
Lowering the sails and return to mooring
we turn on the engine, we point the bow to the wind, roll the jib, and lower the mainsail, which comes down on its own releasing the halyard, and return to mooring dock smoothly, switching off the engine meters before the arrival on the pier; of course, given the reduced weight of the boat, any maneuver inaccurate in mooring can be controlled with a small push on the boat nearby or on the pier.
Cockpit and interiors
During eight hours of navigation we have appreciated the (for a 6.5 meters) roomy interiors, which include a separate bathroom (toilet not yet fitted but the divisory panels are already there); you have the opportunity to sit anywhere, the cushions and mattresses arrived the day after the tests, without ever having the feeling of having to be careful not to hit the head somewhere, the berths are comfortable, both the double one in the bow and aft, you do not feel the feeling of being buried in a coffin often present in these boats, the exposed wood definitely embellishes the interiors; the integral keel box obviously impacts on the interiors as well as the separate bathroom, but to have them and still have a very liveable boat I consider it an excellent compromise to have a not too “spartan”small cruiser ; the cockpit in this version is also very large, we have sailed in three adults, I think that in 4 would have changed little, the toerails and the liferaft box are perfect as positioning, you were always steady and comfortable with your feet pointing effortlessly, without having to “stick to something”; despite the boat for now has no pulpits, stanchions and liflelines, going to the bow is comfortable thanks to the more than generous toerails fitted on the deck.
The idea21 project was born with the intent to maintain the brilliant performances of idea19 and have interiors that were not reduced to a camping igloo tent; I would say that the objectives have been largely achieved, the boat is also more docile than its little sister, the performances are sparkling and fun and allow good daily cruising mileage (and missing the gennaker) , the interiors are perfectly capable of making you feel at home for short cruises and not regret two meters more boat. And if your club organizes some regattas, both between the buoys and offshore, you can proudly battle for a good final ranking.
A huge thanks to Milos and Kirstine for inviting me through all the building process and sharing with me the first hours of sailing.
FAIR WINDS !!!