Civil engineer Nigel Wrigley shows Dick Durham the nuts and bolts of his centre-cockpit 41-footer as they cruise overnight from Poole to Weymouth
What’s she like to sail?
With her semi-balanced spade rudder and 3.5-ton fin keel she will tack through 90 degrees and her low-aspect coachroof gives good line of sight forward. The helmsman can reach the sheet winches from the wheel and all halyards and running rigging are led aft into the cockpit. Her rig is masthead sloop, with a single pair of cross-trees on a deck-stepped mast with cap shrouds and aft lowers. Nigel has converted the mainsail to take full-length battens, both to hold the shape of the sail and stow in the new stack-pack. ‘The cars have ball bearings so it was easy to convert,’ he said. The backstay splits into two lengths, 12ft above deck level. ‘The things I love most about sailing this boat are the two-metre cockpit benches, where I can enjoy a good nap while my non-sailing wife Sandy stands a watch,’ says Nigel.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
For a boat of this size, the Westerly Oceanlord doesn’t have excessive freeboard and is thus not prone to be being wind-rode at anchor. Nigel is planning to have a fabric cockpit enclosure made to capitalise on the benefits of the centre-cockpit when the boat’s anchored in wet weather. It will need to be custom-built to accommodate the mainsheet traveller, which sits on the aft cabin coachroof. When we joined Nigel at Parkstone, Paul Lees, the boss of Crusader Sails, was on board dropping off a new cruising chute, and he measured and quoted £2,000 for such a cover.
Thais has a rigid windscreen, on top of which is a sprayhood. You’ll hear purists criticising such structures because they increase top hamper, but in later life there is an important pay-off – staying a few degrees warmer while on watch.
Down below, her sea-kindly qualities include very good bracing for the sea cook between the sink unit and the fridge unit in the galley. There’s also loads of cupboard and shelf space.
The boat has a well-considered door in the aft cabin corridor that provides access to the engine. Her furniture throughout is comprised of high-quality joinery, eliminating any plasticky feel and giving the accommodation a warm, inviting glow.
Would she suit you and your crew?
Nigel is disappointed with the wet locker space behind the companionway steps: ‘By the time you’ve got one set of wet salopettes hanging, there’s not much room for anything else.’ But he loves the ample space available just about everywhere else all over the boat, from the broad decks, through her deep and lengthy centre cockpit, to her roomy accommodation.
These boats are a terrific buy for a committed long-distance cruising family. In fact, you could pay four times as much for a modern Scandinavian equivalent. Bernard Clarke, formerly the Westerly Owners’ Association commodore, who lives with his wife Jean in Chichester, sailed his Westerly Oceanlord, Golden Eye of Chichester, around the world in 2005. He said: ‘We saw bigger, more expensive boats suffering all kinds of failures and being given a real beating by conditions that we came through unscathed. Her design, rugged strength and sea-kindliness were superb.’
One interesting caveat to this testimony was Bernard’s dismissal of the aft cabin double bed. He said that even in a slight sea he could never use it, as it was too big for security. Instead, he preferred instead to curl up in a sleeping bag on the floor!