First fibreglass yacht production
KEEN students of yacht design will have recognised the lineage of this month's design review from the drawings alone that cutaway keel, distinctive spade rudder and bold sheer can only come from the board of this two remarkable Americans. Olin and Rod Stephens. But before you frantically turn the page to escape the clutches of this fearsome racing yacht read deeper and be pleasantly surprised.
The Swan 36 may come from a line of yachts that are now the scourge of the Solent but in her own conception she is a docile creature - the lion tamed, as it were. She is a prime example of a highly successful, if somewhat controversial and experimental design being successfully tested by a few and then being made available to many in a more generally acccptablc form. In fact, a perfectly normal progression in yacht design. Her young progenitors are, of course.
Clarionet and Roundabout which have been further developed into Sunmaid. the Italian Al Na'lr and the French Cybele.
Cybele Is the one which needs the most scrutiny because the Swan 36 has exactly the same dimensions. Now Cybele was third overall in this year's One Ton Cup contest at Le Havre, placing eighth and seventh in the two short races and second by only half a minute in the 300 miler. Even taking into account the flukey airs she proved herself to be one of the fastest boats in the fleet, and curiously enough, although she looks larger than the " clariabouts she is in fact smaller. In a comparison for those who study form with Sunmold. the Swan 36 is 9 1/2 in. shorter overall, 15 in. shorter on the waterline, has 4 in.
less beam and 3 in. less draft, but has an almost identical sail area. In these days of continual seareh for longer waterline within the 22 ft. rating it is more than interesting that a boat with considerably shorter waterline length has proved so swift. Having established that Swan 36 is a fast boat, it is time to emphasise that she is no stripped out racer. She is built in fibreglass by Nautor Ky of Pictarsaari in Northern Finland to an extremely high standard of glassmanship and herein lies her universal appeal. Down below she is extremely roomy. The first one in this country has. I understand, already been sold and this is the standard cruise/racer version, with a total sleeping accommodation for seven, yes seven.
The whole of the interior has been designed by Ole Enderlein. one of the foremost accommodation designers in the world. Not over much of his work has been seen in this country but his ideas have already influenced a number of British arehitects, and I refer in this contest to the ' lopsided ' saloon arrangement where the galley occupies one side, in the case of Swan 36 to starboard, and opposite is a composite area for eating, sleeping or just lounging about. However, we will cover this in more detail later. Starting forward we have a fully fledged fore cabin with two coach built bunks, both over 6 ft. long and tapering slightly towards the bow. Under each bunk is a drawer and a locker and an 8 in. wide shelf runs above the full length of each bunk along the ship's side. Each bunk is serviced by a recessed reading light and the cabin has its own ventilator mounted just forward of the perspex forehatch. This hatch serves a double purpose: not only is it for getting in and out of but it also provides an area of full headroom between the two bunks none of that disc-slipping distress when dressing for dinner. Before we leave this cabin it is worth mentioning the open locker right in the eyes of the ship which would be useful for the stowage of bow fenders and warps. One pace aft and down through a sliding door brings us into the heads, a neatly thought out compartment which occupies the full beam of the yacht just forward of the mast. To starboard is a fibreglass washbasin serviced with fresh water by a Whale ' Flipper' pump, above which it a good sized locker with sliding doors for ablutionary gear. There is another access locker below. To port is the ' Baby' Blake while behind it are three shelves up against the ship's side and a large hanging space in front of the shelves. This last is a small example of the Ingenuity and intelligence used in making the most out of the available space, but for a more perfect full scale example we must step through the hinged door into the main saloon. Here one is immediately struck by the wide open spaces and the completely non fiberglass atmosphere of these most attractive living quarters. To starboard is the integral galley unit flanked by hanging lockers at either end. This unit consists of a generous sized iced box, a stainless steel sink served with fresh and salt water by Whale ' Flipper ' pumps and a two-burner Primus gas stove, which has collapsible gimbals so that it can stow away in Its own locker when not in use to give a clear galley surface just under 6 ft. long. The area behind this unit is devoted to storage cupboards with sliding doors, while built into the unit itself are seven drawers of various sizes, three lockers (one big. two smalt) and a thoroughly sensible cutting board which collects crumbs and others bits and pieces for later disposal. Another cunning little locker is hidden awav behind the stove, which would be difficult to get at with the stove lit and so would make an ideal place for galley cleaning gear.
To port across the wide companlonway is the U-shaped settee for eating, sleeping and drinking. With the table raised six can sit down In comfort, and when lowered It converts into a larse double bed, with another bunk available by lifting up the backrest to the horizontal. Stowage spaces are again carefully worked In under the forward and side sections of the settee and behind the back rest, with two lockers and open shelf space above. The engine lives under the after seat but just forward of the half bulkhead which gives the navigator his position of superior isolation, his Instruments grouped in front of him and his books and other equipment close by his left hand. The chart table itself Is a full size affair with more drawers worked into its base, useful for such items as sail ties, spare batteries, bulbs, etc. Aft again and we have two quarter berths, the head of the port hand one doubling as the navigator's seat, leaving him plenty of knee room. With engines being placed lower and further forward to make their weight more effective, extra useful space is found under the cockpit bridge deck behind the companionway steps, space for which many uses can be found. To my mind the choice would probably lie between oilskin stowage on the bulkhead which also holds the engine instruments or the building In of a slatted sail bin. In the cruising version of the Swan 36 sails would normally live in the capacious after lazarette and under the cockpit sole, but if you carry more than a standard suit of Mils (Swan 36 has a Ratsey main and genoa included in the price) more convenient stowage will be needed. A sail bin where I have suggested would easily take the next headsail change, a spinaker and all one's warps and fenders, but would be sufficiently tucked away not to harm the tidiness of the saloon. A Scandinavian tidiness which is far from puritan - all bulkheads and furniture surfaces are mahogany faced ply, all drawers are solid mahogany as are the compantonway steps. The cabin sole is of teak faced ply, split up into easily manageable access sections and the saloon table Is solid teak. Cushions and mattresses are 4 in. monocellular Dunlopillo covered in a moquette fabric - blue in the example I saw. though a choice is available - which not only looks good but is, more importantly, hard wearing.
Before we move up on deck, it is worth dwelling on the engine, which is a Volvo Penta M.D.2. As can be seen from the drawings this power unit is completely below the waterline and has a straight through propeller shaft which makes for considerable ease of implacement. The engine is water cooled with the cooling discharge by way of the exhaust pipe water jacket. The propeller shaft is mounted in two cutlass bearings driving through a flexibly mounted stern gland and a flexible coupling to the engine. Thus the shaft is capable of taking up any possible misalignment or settling of the engine without causing any stern gland leak, wear on the shaft itself or any undue vibration. On the business end a Bamford folding propeller is standard. Thirteen and a half gallons of fuel are carried in an integrally moulded tank filled from the cockpit and at an average consumption of half a gallon an hour will give something over seven hours continuous running. As yet no figures for speed are available but I will be very surprised if this easily driven hull doesn't do a steady six knots, probably more. The battery which operates a 12 volt system sits alongside the engine, and once one has lifted the aft settee cushions and cover accessibility is good.
The firit impression as one steps out of the central sliding hatch is of a much larger boat than the dimensions specify. The cockpit is big - over 7 ft. long and five wide with broad seats and a high coaming - a really workmanlike space which could hardly be bettered for racing activity or cruising serenity. There are two self drainers on the cockpit floor which continue to function at any angle of heel and. sensibly, there are effective seat drains. The winches - Berlow 28s and 24s (these Australian winches are standard throughout the boat) are sited outside the cockpit, but are no problem to work from inside, and sheet snagging engine controls are tucked away in a lacker starboard side. Forward of the cockpit the sidedecks are wide and uncluttered, while all topsides whether it be deck, coach roof or cockpit, are finished in one of the best non-skid surfaces I have yet come across on a glass- fibre yacht. Apparently the builder laid ' trakmark ' on the original mould and this has paid dividends on the finished article, particularly as it has been so liberally applied. Add to this grabrails running the length of the coach roof and tapered stanchions, pushpit and pulpit of Swedish stainless steel and it will be seen that the working platform has been made as safe as can be. The standard mast will be a hollow wooden spar with internal halyards made In Finland to the same dimensions as Clarionet's although the halyard winches will be mast mounted rather than on the coachroof. Other deck fittings will be from Lewmar with the track fittings being sited on specially strengthened areas of the deck moulding. Altogether a simple deck layout which should be easy to work and maintain.
Coming from a foreign builder about which little is known in this country, it is as well to delve a little deeper Into the method of Swan 36's construction than if she had popped out of a well-known British yard. The hull is a one-piece mould out of two parting female moulds as one would expect from the shape of the reverse transom and cutaway keel: the deck unit, too, is a single mould, although of sandwich construction with a layer of foam between the two skins, except where solid resin is used throughout the thickness for sheeting tracks, stanchion beds, ctc.
These two units are bonded and through bolted for double security. A heavy half-lnch thick ' U' shaped fibreglass reinforcement runs almost all round the boat to take the main shroud plates and a dummy frame has been inserted at station 31 to stiffen the boat at the only place where possible weakness might occur. Integral fresh water tanks are moulded in just above the keel which is 3.6 tons lead ballast cast in Finland and fitted externally and bolted.
The rudder, rather larger than the " clariabouts ", is of the same balanced 'spade' type mounted on an integrally moulded skeg formed by a reverse curve of the extensions of the waterline. Externally the fibreglass finish is smooth and true while down below, in the few places that one can see it, the fibres have been expertly laid with a precision that might make some British builders blush. Hardly surprising, then, that Swan 36 more than meets the Lloyds 100 AI classification. Being the first fibreglass or production yacht in this country from the Stephens stable, the Swan 36 is bound to create a great deal of interest in racing circles when she attacks the R.O.R.C. fleet next season under the captaincy of David Johnson, whose Hamble firm, Hurrell & Johnson is importing this new class. Not only can she rate at 22 ft. for the One Ton. but by small changes in mainsail area she can go up to Class II (b). Whichever it is she will do well, but this is perhaps the least of her qualities: to me a lot of her charm lies in the price, which is £8.500 - not a lot for this size of boat and exceptional value when one considers her pedigree, her capabilities and her comfort.
published:Yachtsman magazine | 1967