Why this boat?
My wife, Sally-Christine, and I love cruising. And we really enjoy product testing in exotic places! We have raced and cruised sailboats - from dinghies to a Santa Cruz 40 - in New England , Mexico, the Northwest and Hawaii. In 1995 we bought our first powerboat - a 42 ft. Duffy "lobster yacht" christened Explorer - and spent much of our summers cruising the waters of British Columbia and SE Alaska aboard her. Everyone should visit these beautiful waters at least once!
We liked many aspects of Explorer and considered a true trawler, and there are many good ones, for our blue water cruise. But being sailors at heart, we decided to search for a fast, sailboat that could be easily handled by one or two and still provide the comforts and practical features of Explorer.
Explorer has a roomy pilot house/saloon with interior steering for inclement weather. The settee is up, allowing us super views of the beautiful surroundings we cruise in. The galley is up in the pilothouse so the cook isn't isolated from the fun topside. She also has a spacious "walk-in" engine room that offers easy access on all sides of the diesel and a large work bench, a feature of most powerboats over 40 ft.
Crossing oceans is fun, but for safety and convenience we want to do it as fast as possible so we spend more time enjoying new destinations. We wanted to cover 200 or more miles per day under sail or power but couldn't find a production boat that met all of our requirements. So we collaborated with designer Tom Wylie - well known for his fast, innovative unstayed cat-rigged sailboats.
Sally-Christine and I worked extensively with Tom to come up with a fast, easy to sail hull and rig and an innovative interior design. We also collaborated with Lynn Bowser of Westerly Marine, the builder, to implement many practical design details.
The result is the Wylie 66 Convergence. A pilothouse/saloon up, ketch-rigged catboat that combines the interior luxuries of cruising powerboats with the simplicity and versatility necessary for shorthanded sailing and spirited performance under dacron or diesel.
The name Convergence was selected to celebrate the shared concepts of the designers - among them naval architect Tom Wylie, builder Lynn Bowser, and owners Sally Christine Rodgers and Randy Repass.
Our original design criteria:
- Rugged and exceptionally seaworthy
- Pilot house saloon
- Interior and cockpit steering
- Very easy to sail, handle and put away
- Fast under sail and power
- Traditional interior
- Easy to maintain, very little wood outside
- Large engine room
- Plenty of easily accessible storage
- Top quality workmanship
- Simple and reliable systems
- Convenient dinghy handling
- Capable of 3 or 4 months of sustained cruising anywhere in the world. First destination: South Pacific.
The resulting boat Convergence incorporates these elements
Hull and Layout
Wylie's design is based on an efficient, narrow hull that has little wetted surface and excels in a wide range of conditions under sail or power. A multi-purpose pilothouse with galley, saloon and interior steering station defines the topside profile. Panoramic windows provide lots of natural light and a view for diners and the cook. And an interior steering station - with a transparent overhead hatch to check sail trim - makes standing watch in dreary weather more comfortable.
Three staterooms forward, one aft cabin and two heads with showers comfortably accommodate the Repass family and guests. The large cockpit has plenty of seating, a raised steering station for visibility over the pilot house and a 54" wheel. The cherry cockpit table, the only wood outside, features two large leaves and lots of storage niches for sun screen sun glasses, bottled water, beer bottles etc. has a grab rail down the middle. Aft and three steps down brings one to the dinghy deck.
An aft dinghy/kayak deck accommodates an 11 ft. hard bottom inflatable powered by a 15HP 4-stroke and two kayaks - all of which can be easily launched and retrieved from the cut-away transom.
The 7' by 8' engine room under the cockpit provides unrestricted access for inspection and maintenance of the boat's 100hp Yanmar diesel auxiliary and also accommodates a seven-foot workbench.
The raised pilothouse creates lots of room underneath for water and fuel tanks, washer/dryer, equipment and a very large pantry!
Above deck, 33" high stainless steel railings were installed in place of lifelines to provide extra security for the crew when going forward. We love this feature and donâ€™t understand why other non racing sailboats donâ€™t use SS railing instead of wire or high tech life lines which can be wobbly and typically at knee height are too low.
Rig and engine: Fast cruising under sail or power
The most noticeable difference between Convergence and a traditional cruising sailboat is the rig. The only disadvantage I discovered in conversations with naval architects and offshore sailors is that it is not traditional looking! While we like traditional rigs, there are so many advantages to incorporating the Wyliecat rig that the decision was easy.
Advantages: Convergence is easier to sail. There's no jib sheet to crank and just two control lines for each sail - the outhaul (choker) and the sheet. There's little need to reef in heavy wind and reefing operations are identical to those on a conventional rig when necessary.
Sail performance is excellent. Since there is no backstay, the main has a very full roach, which maximizes efficiency. There's less block and winch hardware and no travelers, standing rigging, boom vangs or terminal fittings to fit initially or to maintain or replace. There's less weight aloft for more stability and a more comfortable ride for the same beam. (For a more complete description of the rig, check www.wyliecat.com.
Rig and hull design make her a very fast boat under sail. The cat-ketch rig's two carbon fiber masts and wishbone booms allow the boat to fly 2,000 sq.ft. of sail (1,500 main, 500 mizzen) which a shorthanded crew can manage with the help of electronic winches. With no standing rigging and no jibs to hoist or douse, complexity and maintenance are minimized.
In gusts, the flexible masts bend to spill wind, sparing the crew the constant work of easing and trimming the sheets. Sail shape is controlled by a choker that regulates the wishbone boom's position relative to the mast - much like a combined outhaul and vang. Lazy jacks catch the sail between the wishbone tubes to create a "drop it and forget it" furling system.
The boat's 100-hp Yanmar auxiliary diesel turns a three-blade Gori-folding prop, which propels Convergence along at 10-11 knots. Fuel consumption hovers around two gallons per hour enabling a powering range of about 2000 miles.
Watertight bulkheads foreward and aft help protect Convergence in case of an emergency. The hull uses foam Corecell sandwiched between laminates of E-glass and West System® brand epoxy. A layer of Kevlar cloth laminated on the inside of the hull is designed to maintain hull integrity in a collision. The carbon fiber/ West System® brand epoxy deck is cored with balsa.
The keel consists of a steel fin with a lead bulb poured around the bottom of the structure. The hull above the keel is strengthened with extra bulkheads so that a hard grounding will not damage the hull. The spade rudder built by ACC is designed to withstand severe shock and loading. There is an emergency tiller and rudder, which is affixed to the same sturdy fitting that support the dinghy roller and stern ladder.
Accessibility of Systems and Storage
All systems are easily accessible for troubleshooting and maintenance. A big benefit of a pilot house/salon up sailboat is the ability to use the space below the pilothouse. On the Wylie 66 we have part of two cabins partly below the pilot house as well as a 24 VDC 1000 amp hour battery bank, 400 gallons of fuel in three tanks, 300 gallons of water in two tanks and a spacious pantry/equipment room. The pantry has room for plenty of milk crate-type "Space Case" storage totes, as well as a washer/dryer, central vacuum system and several pieces of equipment.
The boat has a large (9 ft by 8 ft) engine room that includes a 7 foot work bench with standing headroom. Generally, sailboat engine rooms are very tight, making layout of equipment a real challenge and maintenance very difficult. It is critical that the engine is checked at least daily and more often when running, so easy access was vital.
Pilothouse, Salon and Galley up
One of our biggest design priorities was great visibility when "down below" - particularly when underway. Our interior navigation station is over four feet wide and has a four foot-wide seat for times when crew member s want to join in on piloting duties and enjoy the view.
The Galley is elevated as well so the cook is not left out of the action. There are 12 drawers in the pilothouse for storage of galley gear and food. And because there never seems to be enough space to store magazines, we built in a large magazine rack as well as two bookcases in the Pilothouse.
The windows in the pilothouse have a .090 layer of PVB laminated between two pieces of heat strengthened glass for a total thickness of 7/16". The result is a window that is hurricane rated. Glass of this construction proven able to survive the impact of a two-by-four striking the glass at 35 miles per hour!
Large fiddle rails are used in many places throughout Convergence to keep items on counters and tables and serve as hand holds.
Varnished cherry and ivory white painted v-groove woodwork is used extensively on board Convergence. We used varnished Cherry counter tops in the galley and heads because they hold up well and look great. We also sealed all end grains around sinks with epoxy to prevent rot.
The cabin sole consists of individual cherry veneer planks with relieved edges, which are laminated to plywood. 3/4-inch strips of non-skid material extend lengthwise along each plank.
Even on large sailboats, dinghy storage can be a compromise. The aft 10 feet of the boat are dedicated to storing an 11' hard-bottom inflatables with 15 hp outboard plus two kayaks. Both add to the fun and convenience when at anchor! The inflatable is easily launched via a roller through the cut away transom. The extra boat length also provides longer waterline, which increases boat speed.
We have seen this feature on other cruising sailboats and really like the solid feel it lends to crewmembers moving along the deck. One of the greatest dangers and concerns of open ocean cruising is crew overboard. One friend after returning home from cruising the South Pacific for a few years said that installing solid railing in place of lifelines was the single smartest preparation they made for the cruise and the peace of mind was worth the investment.
- Designer: (Hull and Rig) Tom Wylie 86 Ridgecrest Dr, Canyon, CA 94516
(Dinghy deck, cockpit, interior) Sally-Christine Rodgers and Randy Repass
- Builder: Westerly Marine, Costa Mesa, CA
- LOA: 65' 6"
- LWL: 57' 6"
- Beam: 14' 9"
- Draft: 7' 6"
- Displacement: 37,000 lbs
- Ballast: 13,500 lbs
- Mast height (main): 77'
- Sail Area: 2,000 sq ft
- Top cruising speed (engine): 10 kts
- Speeds under sail: Top 23 knots surfing; best 24 hour run – 240 miles, 10 knots; Average day run 200 miles, 8.3 knots
- Rig: Cat-ketch rig, freestanding carbon fiber masts w/ wishbone booms
- Aux. Engine and propulsion: Yanmar 100 hp turbo w/ Flexofold 3-blade folding prop
- Tank capacities: Water: 300 gal, fuel: 400 gal (105 in keel, rest in tanks)
- Interior: 4 cabins, 2 heads w/ holding tanks, 2 showers
- Plumbing: Two holding tanks for the heads, two gray water tanks
- Electrical: 24V DC system
Outside the box: A new boat for Randy Repass
American Yacht Review Magazine 2003/2004
West Marine founder Randy Repass is getting ready for a new boat, an unusual one that will fulfill his dream of leisure-cruising in beautiful and fun places. The chosen platform is a 65-foot Wyliecat ketch with no headsails or standing ringing. That's right. No shrouds, forestays, backstays or runners. And no straight booms either, but two curved wishbones, line on a tandem sailboard rig. While Repass' boat is being built at Weterly Marine in Santa Ana, Cailf., and is expected to be launched later this year, the vessel's prototype, Derek M. Baylis, has been sailing on Monterey Bay. Baylis, outfitted as a working boat for marine biology and research, was built by the Wyliecat shop in Watsonville, Calif., under the watchful eyes of master boat-builder Dave Wahle. After a few leisure sails, Repass, who is also a financial partner in the project, talked about the boat, his decision to go with something that fits the out-of-the-box platitude and his own cruising plans.
AYR: Why did you get involved?
I think there is an application for a modern working sailboat in the charter or marine research/biology field. The unstayed carbon rig make s a lot of sense regarding the ease of sailing, the low maintenance and performance. Plus I respect the designer Tom Wylie and builder Dave Wahle and wanted to help turn their dream into reality. The great thing about sailing the Derek M. Baylis here is that her concept and her rig are the same as on our boat, although we will have a much more cruising-oriented interior. But it is great to see how the concept works and gain some experience.
AYR: Why do you apt for a cat-rigged boat?
We did quite a bit of research. We looked at Wauquiez, Oyster, Hylas, Stella, etc. before deciding on this rig, because we wanted to make the right call. We asked many respected and knowledgeable designers and sailors what was wrong with the unstayed cat-ketch rig, The only comment we got from anyone was that the rig is not traditional; it looks different. Most of the people we talked with mentioned many positives about the rig. Someone pointed out that the most efficient rig, and in fact the rigs that hold world speed records, are single-sail rigs without jibs. Someone else said, "They stopped using wires to hold up airplane wings over 60 years ago." With today's materials standing rigging is not needed. Bob Perry observed, "Things usually look more normal once they are proven successful." After all, when it first came out, the Marconi rig looked very different than the traditional gaff rig. Today, Maconi rigs are called traditional.
AYR: What is your first impression of the boat?
The boat is very easy to sail. There are only four control lines on the entire boat: the main and mizzen sheets, and the main and mizzen chokers, which are outhauls. To tack or jibe, one only needs to turn the wheel - no jib sheets to grind. Our boat will be used with light crew, typically two. And on passages, one is normally single-handing while the off crew rests, reads or prepares a meal. In answer to one of the most asked questions about this rig, this boat is slab-reefed, just like a stayed rig with conventional boom. But the lazy jacks are under the wishbone boom, so they catch the cloth that is reefed away.
AYR: You are saying that less is more. Isn't that counter-intuitive to West Marine's business?
True, the unstayed cat rig requires less hardware; e.g., there are only four winches on our boat and no standing rigging. Most sailboats of that size need eight to ten winches and lots of heavy standing rigging, which also needs to be maintained over the years. Less weight aloft means a more stable boat and better righting moment. Why would I want to promote a rig that uses less hardware, which is an important category of West Marine's sales? My rationale is that this boat will be easier to sail and simple to handle, which will attract sailors who otherwise may have dropped out of the sport. So it is good for sailing - and - in the long run - for boat builders and the entire industry. Getting more people sailing is good for our business.
AYR: What do you like best about this particular boat's concept?
The rig is the most obvious difference, but the layout with a gigantic pilothouse is another important one. With this setup, you can see your surroundings while having lunch or dinner. We want to fully enjoy the beautiful places we plan to see on our cruises. Compare this to the view from most. In addition, one will be able to run the boat from the large inside steering station. The helmsperson can be inside with the rest of the crew when the conditions outside are unpleasant. The galley is also up in the pilothouse, a bonus for the cook and the crew! A large pantry and area for fuel and water tank age is created below when the pilothouse is raised. With the available fuel, we can motor a distance of more than 1,000 miles at cruising speed. Yet, even with all this space down below, the hull is moderately light, an efficient performer, which is beneficial to both sailing and motoring.
AYR: How do you plan to use this vessel?
We plan on cruising to fun places around the world. We will be able to get there fast under power or sail and live comfortably aboard for a few months a year. In between, we'll leave the boat in a safe marina or a safe boatyard when we return home. Based on what I experienced with Bails, I expect our own boat to sail very well, be easy on the crew and address the wants of sailors that otherwise would pot for trawlers or a set of golf clubs. Usually, this shift in interest occurs around the sailor's 50th birthday, plus or minus a few years.
American Yacht Review Magazine