Windchat takes force 6, gusting 7, in her stride

A day out on the water in February isn’t top of my list and so as our confidence in the forecast for strong winds grew as the day drew nearer we wondered if we’d live to regret it.

We’d had this date in the diary for a couple of months hoping the winds would be light enough to play with the spinnaker. As we slipped our moorings at 0700 in the shelter of the Hamble, we didn’t let the light winds fool us.

Windguru forecast for Tuesday
Windguru forecast for Tuesday

We knew the winds would be very strong and I was a little uneasy not having been out in a 27′ yacht in such conditions. Given strong wind against tide we opted to sail up Southampton Water to avoid a nasty beat back from the eastern Solent at the end of the day. Peter decided to use the smallest jib and single reef the main.

Windchat sailing in Southampton Water
Andy on the helm

Frankly, I was shocked all day at how ‘in charge’ Windchat was in such strong winds. The sea state was only ever moderately choppy but the winds were consistently 25 knots true and very gusty (as shown by the graph produced by the Sotonmet data logger). Although this only records true wind, we noted speeds in the mid 30’s several times. Sure, we had to pay attention as the gusts came but she sailed carried on effortlessly. At no time did we need to reef her in – she was never over powered.

Wind speed & gust recorded at Sotonmet (knots)
True wind speed & gusts recorded at Sotonmet (knots)
Windchat sailing in Southampton Water
Pete, Paul & Andy (L-R)

We sailed on a reach up the River Itchen past Shamrock Quay and then tacked back out again and headed up the River Test towards Ikea. Another surprise was just how quickly she moved through the water. The log being brand new hadn’t been calibrated yet and was clearly in error. But speed over the ground was impressive. Next time we’ll take closer note but she was easily exceeding 6-7 knots. She also seemed to point quite high.

My suspicion is that her classic 70’s long keel hull reflected a bias in those days to designing seaworthy craft rather than today’s more comfortable beamy fin keel yachts.

5 thoughts on “Windchat takes force 6, gusting 7, in her stride”

  1. Good to hear that the Old Girl is still showing her paces.

    In my experience the “old” deep keel design may not be as fast as modern designs but makes for a better sea-going vessel. I would have sailed Windchat anywhere when I was younger. She could take anything thrown at her – certainly more than me!


  2. Hi Guys, awesome to see this site and follow your footsteps as I have recently purchased a Cutlass 27. The lines were so pretty I took a step backwards in the yard and looked at something that just oozed class and seaworthiness. Not only am I a yacht surveyor but also am part of a large boat builder near Southampton plus having been a skipper for many years the thought of owning a yacht was a distant spark – well, not any more!
    For the princely sum of £100 squids I took great pleasure transporting her from Kent to a barn in Dorset and now have started the process of stripping and re building. I cannot wait for more stories / blogs and read up as much as possible on this beautiful design and I hope that I can call one you guys if I need advice or help. Long live the Cutlass 27 ! 🙂

  3. I have owned two of the Cutlass class, Lady Ash and Sword, the latter having been sold around 2000. They really are amazing sea boats but somewhat wet going to windward in a chop. I am 71 now and am considering the possibility of buying another Cutlass when I sell my current boat. By the way, I re-engined Sword myself as it was fitted with a Faryman 7 German engine. Replaced this with a Beta 14 which was ideal for the size and weight of the Cutlass.

    1. Hi there, I currently own Sword and have enjoyed some great sailing over the last few years including a passage to Amsterdam which is the furthest I have been from the River Deben thus far. Sword is currently for sale as I’d like to size up with a view to spending more time living aboard in the warmer months. I lived on Sword for a while and it was a little tight! A great boat and I’m looking forward to a great season pending no sale… I’m not in a hurry!

      1. HI Jason
        Looks like your old boat Sword is back on the market… I’m planning to take a look at the boat this weekend. I was looking for a more modern boat but have been drawn to these graceful well built old boats particularly after seeing the video of Windchat sailing in testing conditions.

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