Cape Horn 65

PMY Boat Test: Cape Horn 65
Cape Horn 65 — By George L. Petrie December 2000

Horn of Plenty
A world-capable trawler for world-class travel.
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Just four years after launching Hull No. 1, The Cape Horn Trawler Corporation has established itself as a builder of tough, safe, world-capable trawler yachts. In keeping with its motto, "First in Safety--Safety First," Cape Horn offers industrial-strength yachts for serious offshore voyaging. With handsome styling, comfortable accommodations, and first-rate joinery, these bluewater vessels have plenty to offer.

All of Cape Horn's trawlers are heavily built of steel to meet or exceed ABS standards for ships in commercial service, rather than the less-demanding standards established for yacht service. This includes a keel that runs the length of the hull, with a massive three-inch-thick steel plate on the bottom for protection in case of grounding. Beneath the hard chines on either side, hefty bilge keels extend to the same depth as the keel, protecting the active-fin stabilizers. Thanks to these features, the yacht can be intentionally grounded at high tide to expose the bottom at low tide, allowing you to do routine bottom maintenance without incurring a haul-out charge.

Baird Stephenson, a former naval officer and lifelong sailor, chose the Cape Horn 65 so he and his wife Sheryl could cruise to Alaska without worrying about hitting deadheads. They invited me to join them aboard Integrity (Hull No. 7) as she headed southward along the East Coast on an unhurried passage home to the Pacific Northwest. Coming aboard Integrity in Noank, Connecticut, we would cruise to Greenport, New York, near the eastern tip of Long Island's north shore. Though a stiff breeze blew out of the west, clear skies and bright sunshine held the promise of a relaxing, comfortable passage. The Cape Horn's leisurely eight-knot pace promised to offer a nice counterpoint to the catamaran ferry that took me across Long Island Sound at 35 knots earlier in the day. As it turned out, that promise was unfulfilled, and our cruise became a test of endurance.

From the time I stepped aboard until the moment we pulled away from the dock, there was nothing about the Cape Horn 65 that I didn't like. Design, craftsmanship, equipment, and layout were all top-notch, exceeding all my expectations. Once underway, however, she showed some traits that frankly surprised me. The negative aspect of the Cape Horn 65's full-bodied hull form (displacing about 200,000 pounds) and beefy keel structures became apparent the moment we pulled away from the dock. Response to the helm was noticeably slow, and until I got used to it, I tended to over-steer at slow speeds. However, at a normal cruising speed of eight knots or so, the yacht tracked steadily on autopilot, even in gusty winds and heavy seas.

My second criticism developed as we left Noank harbor and pointed the bow into a better than 20-knot wind. With waves in Fisher's Island Sound running about four to six feet, we were taking heavy spray over the starboard bow and had to run the wipers continuously. As we entered the notoriously tumultuous area known as "The Race," seas were eight to 10 feet, with an occasional 12-footer or higher. I expected the yacht, with its massive displacement, to punch through; instead, she pitched like a bucking bronco, sending white water across the foredeck, over the Portuguese bridge, and up against the windshield.

Next page > Cape Horn 65 continued > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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