Morten Fogh, from Fogh Marine – Canada’s RS Distributor, shares his top tips for how to look for the ideal cottage sailboat.
Canada has a large cottage lifestyle where those that live in the cities head out to their cottage for the summer season. Whether you enjoy sailing on lakes or oceans, RS Sailing offers several sailboats that suit these locations and will allow you to maximize your opportunity to make the most of your sailing season.
Before you decide on what sailboat to buy for your cottage and recreational uses, here are some tips from small boat expert Morten Fogh, owner of Fogh Marine on which questions to ask:
One: Who is going to use this? Do you want the ability to sail it solo, yet take a second or a third person, or perhaps the entire family? A larger boat will handle more people, but it may be difficult to launch or sail the boat solo. Some boats are too heavy to manage by yourself.
Two: What does your shoreline look like? Is it a beach, or is it a steep rock cliff? Is it protected from waves? Is there a dock you can pull the boat up on or are you going to have to leave it in the water? It’s not just sailing the boat that you have to consider. Launching and hauling your boat, and any on land management (storage, both in season and off season) is important to consider.
Three: How good at sailing are you? Be honest and you will enjoy your experience more. Are you a type of person that learns quickly and is athletic enough to sail something that will challenge both your sailing skills and physical ability, or do you want something more stable and forgiving?
Four: Is your sailing area generally windy or calm? Calm conditions may allow for more sail area or a slightly less stable, but faster hull.
Here are some examples of what to look for:
- A wide boat is generally more stable than a narrow one, but with more added surface area touching the water, it will have more drag and be slower. For most recreational boats, that’s a small sacrifice to gain some stability. Look for a boat with a profile of a square rather than a rounded (think rowing shell) hull.
- Ease of rigging. The fewer adjustment there are, the easier and faster it will be to rig the boat. You want to spend your time sailing not rigging and derigging the boat. Fewer parts means the maintenance will be less, but you will have less adjustability of the rig, so performance is compromised a bit.
- Material. Wood was popular up until the 1960s, then it was fibreglass, and now it’s plastic. Plastic has been popular for many small sailboats since the later 1990s. Rotomolded plastic is a great product to make boats from. Its UV stability is excellent. It is extremely durable. It’s a bit more flexible than fibreglass so when it hits something (dock, other boat, rock) it will flex more than the fibreglass, which fractures and requires repairs. The plastic polyethylene will rarely need to be repaired. If it does, it is easily done with simple tools. Cleaning of the hull is easier, and you’ll never need to wax, so go sailing instead!
- Parts and service: A sailboat has many moving parts, and these can wear out and be lost. You will need a source of knowledge and parts, so buy a boat with local supply or help. It may be a great deal to buy a cheap sailboat, but parts are often custom. Once you need to replace a part for a boat that doesn’t exist anymore, your deal may cost you more in the long run. Plus, a brand that is popular is more easily marketed for resale in the future. For instance, in Ontario, RS Sailing is supported by Fogh Marine in Toronto and Quiet Waters Sailboats in the Muskoka’s. When you buy an RS Sailboat, parts are never far away, keeping you on the water all season.
- If you are sailing in shallow water, a pivoting centreboard and kick up rudder are essential or there can be a lot of damage to those parts as well as the hull. Look for a boat with a centreboard instead of a daggerboard. Daggerboards go up and down and do not move if you hit bottom. A boat with a centreboard is the best option for shallow waters and beach sailing. If you have deep water all around, including your launching area, then either daggerboard or centreboard is fine. The more questions you can answer honestly and accurately, the better your choices will be.
Here are some great choices from RS Sailing. I’ve given you a brief overview of the boat and some pros and cons. Just like everything in life, no one boat can do it all. Every design is a compromise in something else, but usually the tradeoff is well worth it.
RS Zest (11’9” long, 4’10” wide): New for 2018.
Aesthetically pleasing feature packed modern design ideal for one or two, with a smaller third person. Very stable hull design with a reefable mainsail makes this a safe and easy boat to sail. The sail can be reefed or furled on the mast without having to remove the mast or sail from the boat. It has a pivoting centreboard and rudder, so any unseen objects in the water won’t harm the appendages. A flaring gunnel reflects the waves so any water that comes in is minimal and will drain out of the self-draining cockpit. Two-part mast for easy storage and transportation. Hull weight alone is 150 lbs, so it can be transported on a roof rack (check your specifications if your vehicle has factory included racks or railings). Optional jib is easy to set up for two people or leave ashore for single handing.
- Stable and reefable makes this a safe boat to use
- Ideal for one but room for two, and even a third, smaller person
- Can leave sail furled on mast for storage and quicker rigging
- Offers a “bench” seat for the crew to sit facing forwards.
- High boom allows plenty of headroom and added safety.
Things to think about:
- Built for stability and ease, so a bit slower than other boats of similar length
- May be too easy and simple for some.
RS Neo (11’5” long, 4’6” wide): New in 2018
This is the first ever rotomolded polyethylene hull with a high-performance Carbon Fibre mast and boom and durable Dacron high-performance sail, this boat is game changer! The sailplan on the hull makes for a lively boat with a very durable hull and the blades are extruded aluminum, which makes them resistant to any chips that traditional fibreglass blades would have. This boat is a great substitute for someone looking for the performance of a boat such as an RS Aero or Laser but with no intention of racing. The Neo is less expensive than many performance boats because of the rotomolded plastic material, and it will have less maintenance than traditional fibreglass hulls but will still have some great performance and an adjustable rig.
- Performance without the higher maintenance costs
- “Techy” looking. This boat isn’t a cute toy
- Remove sail from mast without taking mast out of boat
- Ideal for racing at your local lake against other types of boats.
Things to think about:
- No national or international racing class.
- Less performance (not as fast or tender) than an RS Aero.
RS Quest (14’1” long, 6’ wide)
Family day sailing and instruction make this boat ideal for a broad range of uses. It is very stable, can handle up to 4 comfortably and is well balanced for ease of use and safety. The high boom makes it comfortable and safe. The mainsail reefs, even while on the water and the jib furls, so you can go from full sail to reduced sail in only a couple of minutes. Optional asymmetric gennaker or symmetric spinnaker and trapeze available. Due to its size it is heavier than a smaller boat and will be more difficult to move around on land, so a dolly or trailer is recommended.
Despite the size and weight, it sails like a dream with a well-balanced light helm (easy steering). Like other RS Sailing boats, it is made from roto-molded polyethylene material. It’s very durable, can be repaired and will never soak up any water, so the boat will not become heavier over time. Compared to some of the smaller boats, this is a drier ride, although there will still be some waves that splash onto the sailors. With 118 sq. ft (main and jib) the sail plan has just enough power to allow for an exciting sail. As the wind increases, the mainsail can be reefed, and the jib can be furled allowing an exciting ride but one that is under control in any conditions. This is a recreational boat, so it’s been designed for ease of use, durability and safe (stable and manageable in most conditions). It’s one of the few dinghies in the RS line that can be moored but removing the boat from the water at the end of the day will reduce the wear and tear over the years.
- Room for up 4-5 sailors.
- Stable and easy to sail
- Durable for many years of virtually maintenance free use
Things to think about:
- Being a bigger boat means it weighs more making it more difficult to manage on shore
RS CAT14 and RS CAT16 – Club, S, & XL: (Premium, high quality, recreational 14’ and 16’ catamarans)
Premium, high quality, recreational 14’ and 16’ catamarans that have the durability of the plastic cats but with a refined performance. This is an upgrade in performance from most catamarans on the market, it will be more exciting yet still very manageable and forgiving to sail. Wave piercing hulls allow the boat to go straight through the waves instead of an up and down motion. Unique beam attachment so that no bolts go into the hull. High volume hulls allow for carrying more sailors without sacrificing performance. No boom protects against head injury and reduces clutter when rigging and derigging. Jib has a furler for quick sail area reduction and quick derigging. There are no centreboards or daggerboards to worry about. Both rudders, made of very durable aluminum, kick up independently if they come into contact with anything floating or the ground (beach). An easily adjustable single or double trapeze and asymmetrical spinnaker (gennaker) will make this an exciting boat to sail, but with main and jib only, it’s a fun and manageable ride. The club version comes with mainsail only. The “S” version comes with jib and single trapeze and the “XL” version comes with single trapeze and asymmetrical spinnaker for the ultimate ride. Double trapeze is available for both the “S” and “XL” versions. The RS Cat 16’ offers a roller furling jib, the RS Cat 14’ does not.
- More exciting than other rotomolded catamarans
- Refined performance in a durable package
- Sharp looking
- Can add double trapeze and asymmetrical spinnaker
Things to think about:
- The upgraded performance costs a bit more than other rotomolded catamarans
RS Venture – S, SE, Connect, & Connect SCS (16’4 long, 6’8 wide)
This is a large day sailor. It requires a trailer as it’s too big and heavy to move with a dolly. It can accommodate up to 6 adults but sails better with 2-4. Although it is heavy (by dinghy standards – 436 lbs. for the hull only) it steers very light on the helm and is well balanced. It’s very stable and can be moored. Most dinghies need to be pulled from the water at the end of the day, but the Venture is designed to be left in the water for the season, if desired. Bear in mind this will accelerate the wear and tear and weathering of the boat. A furler for the jib comes standard.
All models of the Venture use the same optional asymmetrical spinnaker kit. The Venture S comes with a regular centreboard. The Venture SE is the same boat, but with a ballasted centreboard. It is adjustable like the regular centerboard but adds stability. While difficult, both the S and SE can still capsize. The Venture S and SE cannot convert to a disabled boat since you need the weighted keel of the Venture Connect
The Venture Connect is the same boat as the Venture S and SE, but with a lifting keel that can be pulled vertically up with a supplied winch for transportation. With the keel, this boat will not fully capsize and will eventually right itself. For this reason, this is the ideal model for mooring. This model comes with twin aluminum rudders to allow complete control even when the boat is heeling over.
The Venture Connect SCS is the same as the Venture Connect, except it comes with the Seated Control System (seats) designed for Adaptive sailors, though many sailors find they enjoy the seats. While seats, you can’t hike out, so the sails are smaller to reduce the healing. This boat also has twin rudders and a joystick system for Adaptive sailors to sail the boat. There is even an option for a fully electronic steering system with an electronic joystick or steering by breathing in and out of a mouthpiece which would allow even a paraplegic sailor to sail the boat. The SCS is essentially a modular kit so as the demand changes you can add to make it the right boat rather than buy another boat that fits. The actual Connect SCS kit takes only about 5 minutes to convert back to a standard Venture Connect, removing the seats so the boat can be sailed as a normal Venture Connect.
After reading this, you may find you have more questions than when you began. That’s normal and good. You’re thinking!
Go talk to a dealer and ask these questions. There may seem like there are far too many choices of boats to choose from, but after answering some of the questions from the article and talking to your dealer, you’ll quickly narrow your choice to 1-4 boats usually. Price is always a concern; however, it’s not the most important part. Getting the right product for your needs is. And sometimes it can be more or less expensive. There is no point buying something that fits in your budget, but you aren’t using or enjoying. That’s a waste.
The recreational sailboats mentioned are just a few of our many boats offered, other models may suit your needs more than these, but these are our most popular recreational boats which are ideal for the cottage lifestyle to simply enjoy sailing by yourself or with your family.
RS Sailing strive to provide the best support from their HQ in the UK – all the way through to the local dealers, so if you’re out there sailing and something does break, we will do our very best to get you back on the water affordably and as fast as possible. Visit your local RS Sailing dealer to learn more – www.rssailing.com/dealers/northamerica
There’s a boat out there for you. Ask and educate and you will have the boat of your dreams. Good luck!
Morten – Fogh Marine
Canada’s RS Distributor