Alastair McLean takes Theo Stocker for a brisk but bumpy ride aboard his 27ft Baltic keelboat Eider
What’s she like to sail?
Alastair’s face was plastered with a grin as he gripped the tiller and stared at the log reading. ‘Seven and a half, come on!’ he yelled as we surfed another wave. There’s little doubt that this is a really fun boat to sail. Her racer-cruiser pedigree has been well proven over the past five decades, with a rare combination of elegance, excitement and the sea-keeping ability of a much larger boat.
That said, she isn’t big enough to offer ‘caravanning at the coast’, tending more towards the ‘camping’ end of the spectrum, and not everyone will enjoy feeling quite so close to the grey wobbly stuff.
Eider has been out in 50 knots, with three reefs and a storm jib. ‘She was fine.’ said Alastair. But with her large main and powerful battened jib, she’ll get going in as little as 5 knots of breeze and show a clean wake to larger contenders.
Her large foredeck and wide sidedecks make deck work a pleasure and the cockpit feels safe, even at steep angles. There are a few foibles such as the operation of the outboard, the lack of a furling headsail and the wet ride, but all could be rectified with a moderate investment.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
Eider is easy to handle in port, her deep fin and short waterline helping her to spin quickly in response to the helm, though the current engine arrangements don’t make it easy to control. The large Danforth anchor is stowed in the lazarette aft and the chain is kept in the bilge for weight distribution, so anchoring is a bit of a faff. She does have deck mouldings for a windlass and hawse pipe which could be reinstated for those wanting easier anchoring.
Below decks, Eider could be described as spartan, though on closer inspection, there is everything needed for a comfortable short cruise. The small coachroof and low freeboard mean that there is sitting headroom, but not standing. Generous cabin lights and a large forehatch make the interior feel bright and airy.
The fit-out isn’t up to modern new-boat standards, but this could be updated if desired – she is, after all, more than 30 years old. The ‘bucket and chuck-it’ heads with modesty curtain requires a certain amount of intimacy between crewmates.
Would she suit you and your crew?
Alastair usually enjoys sailing by himself or with a crewman of similar ilk. A more spacious 27-footer might do more to entice his wife, who isn’t a sailor, on board from time to time.
With a metre and half of draught, Eider is not going to get up the shallowest creeks or be able to take the mud – unless it’s very soft mud indeed. But this little boat has much more to offer than that. If you don’t have a bulging bank account but love sailing that you can get your teeth into – be it competitive club racing or fast, enjoyable passage-making – then you could not ask for much more from a boat, particularly if you don’t mind going ashore for a bite to eat.
For a couple or a posse of mates, there is enough space for a comfortable weekend away and a hot meal at the end of the day. A rainy weekend at anchor with a crew of four might push your patience, though, as you would have to take turns to move around. If you want a boat that will shoot along in light airs, put a grin on your face when the breeze picks up, and will still look after you in the rough stuff, all for less than £10,000, then this secretive Baltic beauty could be the boat for you.