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Cruising Journals - Randy Repass

Sightings - Convergence Put to the Test

Readers — West Marine founder and chairman Randy Repass launched his Wylie 65 cat ketch Convergence last spring. Some of you may have visited her at the Sail Expo show at Jack London Square in April. A few months later, he took off with his family for the South Seas. The plan for the next few years is to cruise for several months, then return home to work for several months.

Recently, we asked Randy if he would file a report on his trip, how the boat was holding up, and what gear he liked and didn't like. Here's his response.

Overall the boat was great and our trip was delightful — the realization of a dream. However, we had enough product/installation issues that I spent too much time as a repair man!  For the first 7 weeks of our 3 1/2-month adventure, the crew consisted of Linda Moore Foley and Jim Foley (Jim has built five sailboats including the one that he and Linda circumnavigated on 10 years ago), their twin 4-year-olds Dana and Trevor, my wife, Sally-Christine Rodgers, our 9-year-old son, Kent-Harris, and myself.  The first stop after California was the Marquesas, then the Tuamotus. We spent about two months in the Society Islands.

As far as Convergence herself, she is easy to sail, steers easily, goes fast and is very comfortable. We averaged 200 miles a day going to the Marquesas, with our best day's run 240 miles. The boat is definitely capable of more speed and longer daily runs although we were happy to have averaged 200 miles per day. There were several extended periods when the boat sailed along effortlessly and comfortably at 10 to 11 knots. The boat is also very responsive in light winds.

For comfort, we put a single reef in at about 15 knots and a double reef at about seas were pretty confused much of the way, and several crew suffered from motion sickness.) We did not push the boat as one would on a daysail or even moreso on a Beer Can race. We were even more conservative at night. The rig ( both masts are freestanding, unstayed carbon spars with wishbone booms — Ed.) worked very well with no problems other than some easily remedied chafe and balky sail cover issues.

There is great visibility from the inside nav and steering stations, and the latter has proved to be the popular place to stand comfortable night watches. The spacious engine room makes maintenance and repairs user friendly. The dinghy/kayak/beach deck aft served as a "convergence zone" for activities when at anchor. With a 400-gallon fuel capacity, we did not need to refuel along the way and still had 100 gallons aboard on arrival at Tahiti — even though we motored much of the way after the Marquesas due to light winds.

As far as what worked and what didn't, in hindsight I would like to have been better informed about motion sickness — and armed with some proven remedies. Fortunately, I was not affected, but some of our crew was seasick along the way. According to John Neal, this is a pretty common issue and very unpleasant for those afflicted! It causes some people to not want to do more passages. Bonine and the earpatches did not work for two of our crew. We have heard excellent reports on three seasick remedies. Explorer ReliefBands are the wristwatch- looking zappers sold at West Marine. A charterboat skipper friend says that they work 80% of the time, and that may be proven out by how few product returns we get on this product. Then there is Stugeron, an over-thecounter (in the UK, not the US) antihistamine. This is recommended by several authorities including John Neal and Kent Benedict. They also recommended the suppository Compazine, which also contains an anti-anxiety med. Kent refers to Compazine as a "rescue drug," since it works even if one can't keep food down.

We did have an unacceptable number of product/ system failures, non life or cruise-threatening. They were primarily in the categories of plumbing and electrical. They were due to either product failure, inadequate or user-unfriendly instruction manuals or - in the majority of the cases - inadequate installation.  In discussing these issues with other cruisers, the most common comment was "It's a new boat, that's what to expect." We've probably all heard that before, but that doesn't make the experience of dealing with these challenges any more fun! I don't mind fixing a few problems along the way, but I don't want the majority of my spare time to be taken up fixing what should be working. It takes some of the fun out of cruising. I'd like to have more time to read, swim, snorkel, relax and have fun with my family and friends!

As a result of our experiences, West Marine has set up a product reliability task force in Chuck Hawley's group, with me as a chief advisor. We will be requesting comments from sailors and powerboaters — product/system unreliability is not unique to cruising sailors — on:1) Products that work especially well and reliably; and 2) Products that have been unreliable or hard to use. There will also be a section for instruction manuals that are especially user friendly or not user friendly. We will publicize the positives. For the items with problems, we are in a very good position to help manufacturers put out more reliable, user-friendly products and better operating/instruction manuals.

We want to raise the level of attention paid to product reliability, which will result in boaters having less hassle and more fun! We have set up an email address: for comments from boaters. We will be heading back to Raiatea — where Convergence is presently hauled out — late next spring. From Raiatea, we'll head for Western Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand for more "product testing." After all, someone has to do it. — randy repass.

Randy Repass - Founder

Randy Repass

Founder & Chariman

  • West Marine was founded by Randy Repass in 1968 in his Sunnyvale, California garage.

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