By Robert Ditterich - Melbourne, Victoria - Australia

This time we have a follow up article to Robert's earlier one on his Waller TS540.

To start here's a video.

One of the hopes that I had in choosing this design to build first was that it would add something to the way that my family could recreate together. It certainly did that during its first summer of use. The Waller seems happiest with a few people on board, and it provides a very roomy and uncluttered platform for sitting together and sailing.

Fitting the rudder
Tiller Extension

I've had wonderful sessions with various combinations of family, some who have been my sailing teachers, and some who have been intrepid learners with me. If we didn't spend enough time on the water it was because even the best boat can't organise schedules for 6 busy adults and their friends and partners to fit in with each other and the weather. She sails very confidently fully rigged, or with a reef, or with main alone, or with jib alone. Each reduction of sail has a different feel on the helm of course, but each has been a useful alternative for different reasons.

Tiller and extension fitted.
The cabin provides great shelter, storage and room to sleep two.

The boat keeps you nice and dry in a chop and has loads of useful storage spaces. The cockpit floor is a fabulous platform for swimming or snorkelling, and is very easy to get back onto. In fact of all the aims we set for this boat she has exceeded expectations in all of them.

The sail plan is generous and will particularly suit someone who likes a turn of speed, or likes to race, and I recommend her as a build for people who are used to larger boat sailing but who would like something more manageable, portable and easy to store. She points higher into the wind than I thought possible, but I haven't really done her justice downhill because we haven't kitted her out with a spinnaker yet. in short she has so much more potential than I have skills to make full use of, but it is fabulous to be learning and keeping the old brain from freezing over.

Cockpit Floor
View of stern

The cockpit arrangement has you sitting high and wide, dinghy fashion, so it is a boat to sail on rather than in, and she pays for her liveliness and portability by lacking the stability of heavy keeled trailer sailers, but that has its benefits too; most obviously in her ability to get up and plane beyond hull speed. Seated out there when a gust comes you feel the lift of your backside and the pull of the lines in your hands in a wonderful direct and interconnected way. I'll swear it made me feel ten years younger the first time three of us 'gave her some stick' close hauled, seeing what it felt like to sink the gunwales. She felt capable, dry and solid as a rock with three of us above the water. But I have to admit that I'm not very confident with her sailing solo yet.

  Ready for transport for her first sail.

If I had my time again I would try harder to find the time to learn to sail before I finished my first boat! In glorious middle age it is a lot to come to terms with in one season, in amongst life's other commitments. Launching and retrieving a sizeable boat requires a bit of thought, rigging and de-rigging is much easier when you've done it before (!), boat handling itself presents a few challenges, but particularly so when it is a new boat which has to be sailed.

She's not an awkward boat to handle, but there were a few times when under motor power, alone in the cockpit in shallow water with the centreboard up, negotiating a marina. these hulls don't steer very well! With crew to adjust the board (or the board line taken back to the tiller) these problems disappear and she becomes tractable again.

First raising of the sail - without its battens.

The 5hp motor fitted is bigger than we needed, it was one of those bargains that come along. and you use what you have. Under power there is very little fuss or wake, she just zips off along the top of the water at a moderate pace. The one accessory I still haven't gotten around to using is the fishing rod that I bought with the best intentions, but still haven't put line onto yet. But I have started another boat..

Motoring out of the Harbour
Our first attempt at beach sailing. She draws very little and will float over shallow bars, handling the shore break very well. Our sail was cut very short though by the loss of the bottom rudder pintle which had rattled loose on a long corrugated back road to the beach. This was a result of my mounting the mast rear crutch on the rudder mountings. I'm looking at plan B. Didn't sail much, so took rigging down and had a few trips out into Bass Strait just on motor power. She handles very well in a swell as a motor cruiser.

The completed Flickr photo set of the Waller build is here.


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