PxPixel
Just Launched: Petrel - Sail Magazine

Just Launched: Petrel

It is not very often that Hull #2 of a design beats Hull #1 onto the water by a couple of decades—which is why Jay E. Paris, longtime technical editor of SAIL and designer of the 32-foot cruiser Petrel, laughs ruefully as he looks back at the lengthy build timeline of his boat.
Author:
Publish date:
Jay-Paris-Petrel-sailing

It is not very often that Hull #2 of a design beats Hull #1 onto the water by a couple of decades—which is why Jay E. Paris, longtime technical editor of SAIL and designer of the 32-foot cruiser Petrel, laughs ruefully as he looks back at the lengthy build timeline of his boat, which hit the water this past summer, just on 30 years since her keel was laid. A Who’s Who of Maine boatbuilders had laid hands on her hull over the years, as funds and time permitted, but it was the respected Lyman Morse yard in Thomaston that finally breathed life into the project.

Since Jay first drafted Petrel’s lines, many fads in yacht design have sprung up, ebbed away or become part of the new design orthodoxy. Boats are fatter now, taller in the topsides, packed with complicated systems, tailored to meet ever-evolving expectations of onboard comfort and performance. Petrel is slim, compact, low to the water; the uneducated eye passing over her varnished cabintop sides and easy sheerline might take her for a beautifully restored relic of the 1950s or 60s, but a boat nerd will quickly discern a singular blend of time-proven design features and clever engineering that bespeak a much more recent launch date.

 The Stowe instruments date back to the 1980s; the Simrad multifunction display dates back to 2012. Note the wide hatchway and Swedish-style fixed windscreen

The Stowe instruments date back to the 1980s; the Simrad multifunction display dates back to 2012. Note the wide hatchway and Swedish-style fixed windscreen

Jay conceived her as a maxi-trailersailer with offshore capability, a couple’s boat with room for the occasional guest or two to crash out on the saloon settees. In general, the layout is a lesson on optimum use of available volume—not a cubic inch of space is wasted. She’s a snug boat, but in no way cramped; the 10 opening ports combined with the light finish and the very wide main hatch brighten the interior. There’s a nav station, a full galley with decent stowage and a fridge/freezer, a roomy double berth forward and a four-seater saloon with a drop-leaf table built over the centerboard trunk.

Back in the day, the maximum beam for a trailer-sailer was 8ft, just like Petrel’s beam; had he designed her today, Jay would have added 6in to that in line with current limits. The extra beam would have permitted wider side decks and more hip room belowdecks. The keel/centerboard concept is integral not only to the trailerable part of the design brief but also to the coastal exploration that lies in Petrel’s future. Drawing just 3ft with the bronze plate up, she can dry out on her long, flat-bottomed ballast keel. Board down, she draws 5ft 9in.

The rig and sailhandling setup is the end result of plenty of late-night ruminating and napkin-doodling. Jay loathes windage with a passion—even the boat’s stanchions are made from rod rigging to cut down on their wind resistance—and so the boat has just two shrouds. The carbon fiber Seldén mast was designed with some prebend; the upper panel is unstayed, the diamond upper shrouds in tandem with swept-back spreaders support the center panel, and the only shrouds that terminate at deck level are the lowers. 

 The combined mounting post for the jib boom and strongpoint for the bow roller is a beautiful example of custom stainless work from Lyman Morse. Note the continuous-line furler for the yankee; an A-sail will tack to the tip of the bow roller

The combined mounting post for the jib boom and strongpoint for the bow roller is a beautiful example of custom stainless work from Lyman Morse. Note the continuous-line furler for the yankee; an A-sail will tack to the tip of the bow roller

Jay designed a novel jib boom for the self-tacker that permits the sail not only to tack itself but, thanks to a track atop the boom, to be trimmed more efficiently when sailing off the wind. The self-tacker will suffice most of the time, but if more horsepower is needed the yankee, set on a continuous-line furler, can be deployed. Seldén single-line reefing defangs the big full-battened main. The payback for such a functional sailhandling setup? Cockpit spaghetti, and lots of it. Still and all, if you don’t like string, you should buy a powerboat, right?

Jay likes narrow-beamed boats because, as he says, such hulls are easily driven, track well and don’t mind a bit of overloading. On the other hand, they lack form stability and thus heel more at lower wind speeds than a typical wider-beamed boat. Which is exactly the way Petrel behaved as we tacked up the St. George river outside Thomaston, Maine, enjoying a fresh breeze on an unseasonably warm October day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the tiller and the responsiveness of the boat, which displayed a rather startling eagerness to point high and go fast that will no doubt embarrass a good many more contemporary designs. The beat upriver also gave me a chance to enjoy the quirkiness of the boat, for instance the unusual sheet winches that were designed by Jay himself back when Petrel was only a twinkle in his eye, the multi-functional dodger, and the cunning arrangement that allows a lone person to raise or lower the keel-stepped mast without help. 

There is nothing about this boat that doesn’t make sense, and considering that common sense isn’t often a factor in dreams, that’s a major achievement in itself.

Photos by Peter Nielsen

Related

Josie-helm-2

Chartering the U.S. and Spanish Virgins

Flying into Tortola in the British Virgin Islands one December morning, three months after Hurricane Irma, I felt like a war correspondent dispatched to the battlefront rather than a sailing magazine writer on an assignment to go cruising.As my LIAT plane descended toward Beef ...read more

Crew-North-27M004

Weather Gear for Inshore Sailing

Just because you’re not planning on braving the Southern Ocean this summer doesn’t mean that you won’t have some dicey days out on the water. If you haven’t got the right gear, a little rain or humidity can make things miserable. As with all safety equipment, “it’s always better ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

3DiNordac_webheader

3Di NORDAC: One Year In

One year ago this month, North Sails launched a cruising revolution with the introduction of 3Di NORDAC. The product promised to deliver a better cruising experience for a market that had not seen true product innovation in over 60 years. Today we’re celebrating the team that ...read more

HB96k_EP

Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP

What SUP?Dinghies and kayaks are all very well, but there’s nothing like a stand-up paddleboard for exploring interesting new shorelines while giving you a good workout. Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP makes a fine addition to your boat’s armory of anchorage toys, either on its ...read more

DSC_0031-43

Charting the USVI and Spanish Virgins

When my friends and I booked a one-way bareboat charter with Sail Caribe, starting in the U.S. Virgin Islands and finishing in Puerto Rico, we were a little nervous about what we would find in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria—even seven months later.When our plane ...read more

SailRepairKit

Know How: Sail Repair Kit

Despite your best efforts, there will inevitably be times when your sail gets damaged while at sea and needs to be repaired. First, no matter what the job, you will need to do a quick damage assessment, a task that requires a flat wooden surface, sharp scissors and a helping ...read more

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more