The reincarnation of the legendary yacht has recently been launched! What kind of boat is this and what awaits it? Saecwen in the spotlight - how is she different from the progenitor?
Owner Saecwen has created a true modern classic. Having crossed childhood memories and modern ketch, it turned out to recreate the beauty of a classic boat with advanced technologies.
“Look at this piece of oak behind you. I first saw this tree when I was a child. Grew up in New Forest.
Ten years ago, the tree was blown away by a storm. Luckily, I was able to buy a piece through a forest ranger friend. This is a 400 or 500 year old piece of oak - exactly the same tree from which Nelson's fleet was built.
He is now the centerpiece of Sekwen. On the other side are carved the names of all the people who worked on the boat, ”says the owner, Charles Watson.
We are squatting at Saecwen, the latest design by Nigel Irene. The yacht is presented at the Elephant Boatyard.
Charles Watson goes on to talk about the boat's origins. This is a very personal and at times emotional story. It goes back not only to his childhood, but also to three generations of his family.
Even before his maiden voyage, Sekwen already had a rich history.
Charles points to a massive wooden post between the galley and saloon. This is the only piece of oak in the entire boat, and it seems like it does more than just support the weight of the boat.
It feels like he is a bridge between the past and the present, the new and the old. In many ways, it is the heart of the boat.
Saecwen: a family business
Charles comes from a family of famous sailors. Among them is Charles' uncle, Mike McMullen, a lone sailor. Mike, unfortunately, was tragically killed at sea with his boat Three Cheers on the 1976 OSTAR.
Mike's father and Charles' grandfather were Colin McMullen, a former Royal Navy captain known for his colorful adventures, including tow rope climbing from boat to boat while on the move.
When he retired from the Navy in 1972, Colin bought the Saxon class Saecwen. This is a 35ft racing boat designed by Alan Buchanan. On this yacht, he sailed a lot on both sides of the Atlantic.
One of the team members was young David Barry, whom he taught to use the sextant. This made him and the boat featured prominently in Barry's 2014 book The Sextant.
By the way, for more than three decades, three generations of the family went on the boat: Colin, parents of Charles and Charles.
There were many adventures, and Charles and his then-wife Fiona were awarded the Goldsmith Exploration Award from the RCC. =
But, inevitably, as Charles' career progressed, he had less time to take care of the boat. It was sold in the late 1990s. For the next 20 years, Charles traveled the world by plane, not boat.
However, the memories of the family's beloved family yacht remained deeply rooted. By early 2019, Charles was ready to don his yellow anorak again and was only interested in one boat.
"Return" Saecwen to home harbor
“I grew up on a wooden boat and could not imagine that I did not have a wooden boat. It's like an incurable disease that I contracted,” he says. "I knew I needed to spend more time keeping them working. The idea of creating a new classic was really exciting, but I had no idea how to do it."
Fortunately, one of Charles's old friends was the famous marine writer Tom Cunliffe, who knew exactly how to build a new boat. He recommended that Charles contact Nigel Irene.
Nigel, Charles was assured, was the man who could develop "something classic in concept but with a modern twist."
The meeting proceeded properly. But when Charles handed Nigel the Saecwen model and said he wanted the same thing, but a little larger, the designer at first seemed reluctant to say, "I don't make replicas."
However, he agreed, perhaps "inspired" by Buchanan's design, and after scribbling some initial ideas on the back of an envelope, he left to work on the design.
Charles's summary was clear: he needed a boat capable of going anywhere in the world. “I am aware of what is happening in the world,” he says. “The weather is much less predictable and more extreme. If you are going on a cruise, you have to be prepared to withstand any kind of bad weather. "
For the same reason, he wanted to equip the ketch with two foreships to divide the sail area into convenient pieces, instead of coping with a lack of hands, with a huge mainsail and genoa.
Saecwen's new shape
When Nigel returned a few weeks later, he did not bring plans and drawings with him, as Charles had expected. Nigel presented a child-sized model of a boat carved from balsa.
Charles was shocked by the new, fully formed creation he held in his hands.
“It was a sea boat with long keels, comfortable to sail, but it was clear from the shape of the hull that it would be fast. I liked the feeling: the transom connection had work boat elements, with high bulwarks and a lifting keel, there were many different genres in the design. I just looked at the model and thought, “Awesome. Let's do it!"".
Before going to the shipyard, Charles knew what he wanted. Unlike the general clientele of the shipyard, Charles aimed for maximum durability rather than overall lightness.
This meant heavier structures on all sides, including 35 75x75mm mahogany laminated frames. In the end, Project Manager Damian Byrne estimates that the hull is 20% stronger than ABS standards.
Another big difference was the lifting keel. This keel is one of the key elements of Irene's cruise boat philosophy. However, the boat already has a solid lead keel weighing 7,500 kg, so the bronze centerboard is neatly hidden in a slot in the keel without affecting the living quarters at all.
The hull was fused in December 2019. There is a video on Facebook showing two cranes spinning a 15-meter structure in the air. Alas, the process of equipping the hull was soon stopped by COVID-19 and isolation
Overnight, the number of employees dropped from 15 to zero, and then six went back to work. A small team was allowed to start working again in social distancing conditions.
Complexity and design
The creation of the wooden boat presented the creators with interesting puzzles, as the stock of masks they usually used for dusty jobs ran out. And when they became available again, their price quadrupled.
Brexit exacerbated existing complexities as it left their supply chain in disarray. Particularly hard hit by the trade in goods from Italy.
By the summer of 2020, work has resumed in full swing. Most of the skilled carpentry work was still in progress.
“Elephant's craftsmen and shipbuilders brought a new dimension of creativity to this project,” he recalls. “So I was able to say, 'I want a table, but I don't want it to fold.'
I want to be able to seat the carriage around it without opening it. And then I want to sit around him with ten men when I have friends on board. "
By the way, this artisanal approach can be seen throughout the boat. From simple black plexiglass hatches with locks operated from the outside by winch handles, to a wooden compass binnacle inlaid with a compass and dorado boxes with their intricate dovetail corner joints at each corner.
Even the stainless steel posts have been shot blasted and passivated (a chemical process that removes shine and protects the metal from corrosion) to give them a more classic look - somewhere between galvanized steel and titanium.
The boat was finally launched in May 2021 and was named Saecwen, the Anglo-Saxon name for "sea queen". Charles seemed to be in awe of Saecwen's latest incarnation.
“There is always a lot of controversy in boat design,” he says, taking refuge in the boat's cozy cabin. "You have performance on the one hand, and comfort, aesthetics and seaworthiness on the other."
“Alas, there are times when aesthetics are supplanted by comfort, or driving performance goes against the smooth running. The genius of what Nigel has developed is that it covers everything.
Of course, if this were the Beneteau 50, there would be cabins and bathrooms everywhere. We have a large enough space to have everything you might need. "
Indeed, while the Saecwen is only 12ft 6 "(3.8m) wide, compared to about 15ft 6" (4.8m) on the 50ft Beneteau, the cabin is not cramped at all.
The salon is moderately large with ample headroom and seating for 10 people. The finish is a classic combination of white painted grooved and grooved bulkheads with lacquered wood trim. And in the corner is a lovely wood-burning stove.
There are many small personal touches, such as the custom-made tiles around the kiln depicting every seabird in the British Isles (courtesy of local potter Jules Carpenter), and handmade wooden plates, bowls and mugs - some made from the same the same piece of cedar as the table.
By the way, there are separate berths for at least four crew members (ideal for a wide aisle).
A double bunk aft, a skipper bunk in the saloon, a mini-cabin opposite the headboard and a double bunk in the bow - all with their own lockers and USB charging ports.
On deck, there is a mix of modern and traditional, black Harken winches alongside a beautiful collection of winches from the Classic Winch Company and vintage deck gear from Daveys.
Saecwen Driving Performance
During sea trials, both Nigel and Charles were surprised at how well the Saecwen performed, considering that it came out a little harder than expected, reaching 7.5 knots at 10 knots.
“I am truly amazed at its driving performance,” Charles said. “Especially on all four sails set. We only reef when the speed is over 20 knots. ”
“Saecwen's record so far is from the Lizard when she reached 13.5 knots at 20 knots in close hauled - not something you would expect from a traditional 23 ton wooden boat. I'm starting to conclude that this guy Nigel Irene is really very smart! "
Charles may not have gotten his old Saecwen back. But he has something better: a new Saecwen that better suits his needs and the current era.
There are suspicions that the life of this boat will be as interesting as that of its predecessor. Over time, it can become a family heirloom.
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