Talking to a man about a Hustler.

By Ian Cartwright

I was talking to a man a few months ago. He had been sailing a half-decker for a day, and had some time to spare, so we decided a pint would round off the day nicely.

He asked me what it was like to sail a Hustler – a cabin yacht. Our conversation spread over two pints, but this is broadly what I told him. He must have believed me, because he has booked one for a week.

He said he had sailed dinghies, and I had seen him sailing a half-decker, so I knew he knew something about sailing. I would never suggest to someone who had never sailed before that he should start on a Hustler; it would be like learning to drive in a Porsche – or at least a BMW.

My first thought was that a Hustler is bigger and heavier than dinghies or a half-decker. Hence, she will run on further when you luff, and go further into the bank if you forget to turn in time. A dinghy will spin on a sixpence; a Hustler has a long straight keel and won’t. But her weight will let her shoot several yards between tacks, and keep enough way on to turn onto the next tack. A Hustler won’t heel over so far or so quickly – and won’t capsize and dump you in the river. She will accelerate quickly, for a cabin yacht, but not as quickly as a dinghy – although, short of planing, she will be just as fast – given a decent wind.

With a Hustler, you don’t need to do things in so much hurry; you have time to think – even to have second thoughts, as long as you don’t wait too long to have them .

A Hustler has a gaff rig, with a gaff extending the sail above the height of the mast. That has the advantage over a Bermudan rig that the main driving part of the sail is just the right height to make the most of the wind over the reedbeds and bushes, while keeping the centre of effort nicely low. It also means that, when you get the mast down to shoot one of Broadland’s few bridges, you haven’t got the embarrassment of yards of mast sticking out over the transom. Motor cruisers always fail to see an extra ten feet of mast behind a yacht – and also don’t appreciate how much that extra length restricts a yacht’s freedom of manoeuvre. Another advantage at bridges is that a short mast is easier to raise and lower than a long heavy one.

Ian enjoying a solo sail on Hustler 5

Ian enjoying a solo sail on Hustler 5

People who have only known loose-footed jibs worry about a self-tacking jib with only one jib-sheet. Granted, there is a knack to it. You can’t haul it aback to turn the boat’s head through a tack by sheer brute force. What you can do is let it blow across as the boat turns, harden in the single jib-sheet and hold it to help the boat’s head round – and then slacken the sheet off an inch or two to get the jib drawing nicely on the new tack. Unlike a high-aspect Bermudan rig, where the foresail does most of the work and hence needs winches and often a muscular crew to work them, a gaff rig gets most of its drive from the mainsail, which is much more easily controlled by the mainsheet. Granted, a gaff rigged boat generally won’t point as high as a Bermudan, but that’s rarely a problem on the Broads – and it’s surprising how high a Hustler will point.

A Hustler isn’t hard work to sail. Going back a few years, some of the old hire boats were brutes; you needed muscles like Popeye, and if you didn’t have them to begin with, you soon developed them! They were deliberately unbalanced, to encourage hirers to reef early. A Hustler is much better balanced – although this requires a hirer to know when to reef in good time. (The answer is:  “If you are wondering about a reef, you should probably put one in”. The boat will sail better for it, especially on the wind, and nature being what it is, the wind is seldom far enough behind you to make sheer acreage of sail an advantage for long!) If you start to think helming is hard work, you’re probably doing something wrong – generally, the mainsheet is in too tight.

People do wonder about the lack of an engine. It depends on what you want to do. If you turn up to the Broads with a long list of “Places I must go to this week”, you probably do need a boat with an engine. If your approach is more on the lines of “It might be nice to go to these places, but they will still be there next year. What I really want to do is relax, enjoy the sailing, watch and listen to the wildlife and not add to my carbon footprint”, then a Hustler is probably a better answer. Yes, it might need a bit more thinking and planning about where you are going to go, but you will have the virtuous feeling, at the end of each day, of having outwitted the winds and tides!

Ian keeping an eye on the other beautiful sailing craft near by

Ian keeping an eye on the other beautiful sailing craft near by

permission to publish given by Ian Cartwright Jan 2014

A little while ago a customer shared a link to a fantastic short(ish) video from the 2012 3 Rivers Race recorded by KeepTurningLeft.

It not only shows some of the Hunter Fleet, (especially at the beginning) but you can see some great footage of the Norfolk Broads and the people racing too.  The narrator has a nice voice and comes across very knowledgable, a real bonus to the content.

If you’re like us and have to work on the Broads, or just not able to join in, then you might enjoy this video as it brings you right in there with them.

Pop over and take a look, we’re sure you’ll enjoy watching it and you never know, you might even recognise some of the people and places too, like Potter Heigham bridge.

Here is the link on YouTube https://youtu.be/mnWHWgAnXGI

Ahh, sailing on the beautiful Norfolk Broads – messing about on the water, in boats, without engines – wonderful!

Let us know what you think.

The Broads – A Different Sailing Experience

A piece written by Rob McNaughton, for Hunter’s Yard – We hope you enjoy the read

I was watching the extraordinary spectacle of the America’s Cup series this year and I confess with the modern aids to televised watching this kind of boat racing it was gripping stuff but way beyond my ambitions and most sailors I should think.  We all tend to sail in some kind of niche way; the lake and gravel pit racers, in dinghies and all kinds of small craft on the coastal sea, cruising, ocean racing and serious passage making.  The diversity is great and the sport and pleasure great for its diversity.

I’ve not covered half of the options but I’ve done quite a few and yet it has not broken my early love for sailing on the Broads.  Many of you might think that it’s hardly proper sailing at all but I hope to convince you that, both that it is and that it is well worth trying it.  Firstly the Broads area is very beautiful.  Noel Coward referred to Norfolk as ‘very flat’.  And the Broads is certainly that but the skies are as wide as the open ocean and the countryside generally beautiful in a small scale way; neat fields, lots of productive hedgerows and a range of flora, fauna and birds enough to thrill anyone.  Go for sailing but find time to walk and discover the amazingly beautiful beaches, nature trails and the soft gentle lanes.

The next thing the sailor will notice is that the traditional yachts and half-decked sailing boats are different.  The freeboard is low (no waves to worry about).  They’re long and lean and faster than you might imagine.  Gaff and gunter rigs are still the fashion for they carry their sail high to catch the wind above the banks and reeds.  The mainsails are disproportionately big, some with topsails and the foresails, often carried on bowsprits, are small.  It’s not about aesthetics, it’s about being able to turn quick and set the jib very fast to recover from a tack – and it works.  By any standards the sail area is large because winds are lighter than on open water and the sails of the racing River Cruisers tower over their slim hulls. The boats are generally beautiful to look at.

Sailing a traditional Broads’ yacht is ridiculously involving.  Thank God that most of the banks are soft because they’re never far away and nearly every manoeuvre warrants a good plan B.  You can probably learn more about boat handling in a mile of river sailing on the Broads than in fifty miles at sea.  You don’t think so; then try winkling a 20 foot (6 metre) yacht plus bowsprit to windward up a channel less than one and a half times the length of the boat.  Believe me the sense of achievement is terrific.  There are things that come into Broads sailing that don’t apply anywhere else.  The skill to use the counterintuitive favourable wind shifts of the leeward bank to extend a tack.  The constant watch and adjustment to avoid the motor cruiser traffic and always the task of adjusting sail and course as the rivers appear to twist the wind direction relative to the boat by the minute.  As I say, totally involving but at the same time mostly gentle and safe for the sensible crew.  Dinghy sailors adapt quickly to Broads craft because they demand quick reactions and larger boat owners find the boats a revelation in what can be achieved working a boat up a narrow river.

The rivers are tidal and a real consideration in sailing on the Southern rivers but even in the North where they seem innocuous they can make the difference between a possible and a very difficult and slow passage.

Beautiful boats in a beautiful place and a chance to sample a new sailing and learning experience; not a bad offer when you think about it and usually a good watering hole or mooring (many free) for the night after a day’s activity.

There are three main yards still offering sailing craft for hire on the Broads and a number of smaller operators.  For the real purist and traditionalist the Hunter’s charitable Heritage Fleet offers the genuine pre-war experience.  Their yachts have no motors (oh the strange joys of pushing a boat using a quant pole!) no electrics and a cocoon of mahogany to live in for a week or more – they sail so well too.  Hunters offer skippered sailing sessions for the newcomer or ‘want to try’ (on its taster sail days) and their fleet of small half-decked sloops and lug sail dinghies are gems to sail.

Martham Boats have the biggest fleet with yachts ranging from half-decked 20 footers through to powerful craft over of over 35 feet.  Recent acquisitions have made their offering large and diverse and suitable boats can be found for most levels of experience and crew size.  Eastwood Whelpton also have a diverse fleet with some powerful traditional yachts as well as some more modern designs.  These are not the only yards hiring out sailing craft and offering tuition and short sails.  It’s worth looking at all the options and easy enough with access to the internet.

The Broads is a great place to start sailing, generally safe and with plenty of opportunity to get out on the water quickly.  It’s a great place to visit, grow skill and enjoy a very special and rather wonderful part of the world and for me, in my later days, a great place just to sail. 

Somebody described sailing the Broads as just drifting through the reeds and slime but it requires special skill and brings unique rewards. 

Rob McNaughton