Hapscut was designed to be a downwind flyer and she does it well. With the engine well added, Hapscut is 19'-6" long and about 5' wide on the deck and 4' wide on the bottom at its widest. Her motion is very comfortable and predictable. With the balanced lug sail plan she carries a main sail of 113sqft and a mizzen of 23sqft which were sewn from a kit provided by Poly Sail International. Our #3 reef reduces the main down to about 60sqft. During the 2011, Texas 200 we played with how much sail to hoist in the different wind conditions and when it came time to reef, we dropped the sail into its lazy jacks, sheeted in the mizzen and hove-to to reduce sail. To furl the mizzen we leave the sprit boom attached then wrap and tie the sail to the mizzen mast with a few sail ties.
We did have some annoying weather helm at the beginning of the 2011, Texas 200 and this was because we just had not had time to tune the rig before leaving for the event. After some discussions with fellow lug sailors, the attachment point of the halyard on the yard was moved 6" to push the sail forward. This provided a more neutral helm for the remainder of the cruise, but not all of it. I have since taken some of the mast rake out by modifying the mast base and the helm feels even better.
My wife loves the front deck and plumb bow so she does not have to get her feet wet when getting on/off the boat. She also loves the sun canopy with its space blanket reflective material. During the hot summer sun it can be as much as 15 degrees cooler in the shade. You can see the short slot cover unsnapped just in front of the mast that we use for spray protection and shade.
One of the interesting things about the flared hull design is as the boat is heavily loaded down with gear it becomes more and more stable. With a weeks' worth of gear, 10 gallons of water and food it's easy to sail the boat hard with full sail up. If the boat is empty she becomes much livelier and requires more attention to sail trim. For sailing in big water with big waves the boat has done well, spray is deflected by the hull flare and with a little heel, about 10 degrees, the hull slices thru the waves pretty well for a flat bottomed boat. Does Hapscut go upwind well? Yes she does! From the day we launched to just the other weekend we have not been disappointed in the boats windward ability. She can carry full sail in deep downwind sailing in strong wind and likes to have the #1 reef in high wind for reaching conditions. When the wind is light, I wish for a bigger sail, but when there is no wind we fire up the engine.
Cruising along with #3 reef and Rosa helming! This is a fully loaded boat sailing effortlessly with 1 weeks' worth of food, water and gear. To help balance the helm the mizzen is let out to ease the weather helm in the gusty conditions. Photo By: Eric Rybczynski
The design brief for Hapscut says the 18' bare hull should weigh 450 lbs. With the engine well added the bare hull should weigh just at 488 pounds. We weighed Hapscut at a truck stop at the Sail Oklahoma event and found out she weighs 1020LBS all finished and equipped for sailing. That weight is a fully loaded boat with all the rigging, rudder, leeboard, oars, engine, fuel and all the sailing junk that is tossed into a boat at the last minute. Even at 1020LBS the boat is easy to tow, launch, row, motor and sail. When fully loaded, our 4HP motor can push the boat at about 6.5 MPH in slightly choppy water without much effort. A 3HP could push Hapscut for maneuvering in flat water but the 4HP is a good all-around engine for adventuring.
After getting a free boat with a good trailer we made just a few modifications to the trailer so Hapscut would fit. Three bunks where built from some pressure treated lumber and covered with indoor-outdoor carpet. Each bunk was located under a bulkhead so not to stress the hull. The winch helps pull the boat up the last few feet when getting it back on the trailer. I also strap the hull down across the cockpit and at the front corners of the boat so it cannot shift around. Our biggest change was removing the rusty hubs and 15" rims and replacing with new hubs and 12" rims. The 15" rims required a small ladder to climb up into the boat when it was on the trailer. With the 12" tires only a small single step stool is required so my wife can climb in and out of the boat when getting it rigged for sailing or trailering.
Hapscut is easily towed behind our mini-van for long trips, but can also be towed with our small station wagon which has a small 1.8l engine. We use the station wagon when the boat is not loaded down with extra camping and sailing gear.
The front deck is a favorite place to hang out when traveling on Hapscut. This is Double Bayou a favorite local destination for winter or spring cruising. This was at the peak of our local Fall colors, yes 3 trees. When we started this trip there was frost on decks.
We also use Hapscut as a river-bayou boat with and without the sailing rig. We have taken a few overnight trips and left the rig at home just to make the trip easier. Hapscut does well as a low powered motor boat. With only a 4hp engine and an external 3 gallon gas tank we can cover a few days travel at about half throttle and not use up all the fuel. Due to the shallow draft we still need the leeboard down when the wind is blowing hard to keep the bow pointed in the right direction. Having an engine tiller extension with gear shift would make motor boating easier. Without the extension you have to reach back to the engine to get to the gear shift and engine throttle. We have experimented with having the rudder on or off while motoring. I prefer having the rudder on for better low speed steering but I have nicked the rudder with the propeller a few times. I now raise the rudder up just enough so the prop will pass under the rudder.
Taking a lunch break on the Neches River as Stan Roberts and Chuck Pierce discuss how EC Duck is rigged. It was strange sailing with a strong current thru tree stumps and log jambs during this river trip. The locals along the Neches River were are very friendly and came down to their docks to say hello as we drifted by.
It never fails, when you need the engine it won't start. The place, Hap's Cut had just claimed me in its famous belly button deep mud after I crash the boat on the lee side of the channel when the engine fails. Now in the waste deep mud I drag the boat up the small channel to get to one of the docks. I do hope everyone is amused. Rosa refuses to let me back in the boat since I am covered in mud. I wash off and wander off to go meet up with friends and say hello to some of the new faces that have joined the group. I return to find Rosa has washed the decks and cockpit down, sponged the interior clean and neatly coiled all the lines on deck. "Gosh the boat looks good." I say aloud. "Are you clean?" Rosa asks looking up from her book. Later, we hang the cockpit mosquito net under the boom and have great night's sleep under the stars.
Getting ready for a good night's sleep at Hapscut, the famous mud hole that Jim Michalak mentions in the boats design brief. On this star lite night we did not put up the cockpit canopy.
To be continued...