A Photo & Discussion Forum for Wharram Design Enthusiasts
The voyage of the SAUS UND BRAUS
When and how it started I don’t know. It seemed pretty logical sitting at home watching the atlas… and now I am watching the map again and it feels like sobering up from a wild intoxication.
But l shall begin at the beginning: it was in the heart of the alps, where there is no sea and lakes are rare. Nevertheless one day these wonderful parcel with the planes for a TIKI 21 arrived. A team of two motivated young men sawed, drilled, stitched, glued, sanded, sanded, sanded… and so on. We followed the planes pretty strictly and really learned to build a boat. After three years our lady of the seas was more or less ready. We named her SAUS UND BRAUS with both a bottle of champagne and a coconut, to be on the safe side. We did some testing on the nearest lake and found no leaks but the first lessons in sailing under our own command.
Then the adventure took its course. In early July we got the boat and a chaos of gear to Vienna by car and trailer. There we entered the river Danube at kilometre 1925 and set sail - or started the motor to be honest. Km 0 is at the river mouth so we knew the drill for the next three weeks. With a lump of idealism and countless manoeuvres we managed to do a quarter of the distance under sail but of course the outboard engine did the main job. We had some extremely relaxing spinnaker sails but most of the time the wind was very changeable and light so a lot of trimming, sails up, sails down had to be done; often in vain. Several powerful thunderstorms brought excitement. SAUS UND BRAUS negotiated four dams with their locks, three capital cities, the famous Iron Gate and a lot of deserted wetlands.
On the whole journey we avoided night sails and anchored and slept instead. The shallow draft of the boat made the search for the right place very easy if not a pleasure. Soon we did not take the fairway buoys too serious and explored many anabranches. The delta of the Danube is a story on its own: vast, wild, gorgeous. This beauty was a dignified milestone for the first third of the voyage. As we advanced into the maze and the meanders got narrower we took the mast down to reduce the amount of leaves and branches falling down on the deck. Sometimes we had to use the saw to open a canal for catamarans but somehow we cheated us around every obstacle in this wet wonderland.
1058 nautical miles on the Danube were a decent practice for slightly naïve boys from the inland. We got to know the boat and its functions because then followed the Black Sea. The first salt water came in steep waves all over the bows and platform. Quickly a division of labour was established: SAUS UND BRAUS took care of the waves and the sailors tried to make use of the wind. She did brilliantly and I watched her for hours riding and surfing up and down. It was clear from the very fist moment that this craft belongs to the sea and had long enough been kept under her potential.
The first day on the sea saw amazing 55 miles thanks to the fresh wind and a surprise. There was not an awful lot of havens in this area but a lee shore with steep beaches and surf. With the help of google maps (No, this is not like I learned it for the license.) and binoculars we found a short breakwater with a river/canal behind it. As so often this straight forward boat made life easy and all went perfectly. Under main and motor we slipped through the gap in the surf and were safe. However I would not like to enter this “anchorage” with any other boat. In my opinion the shallow draft is not only very comfortable it is also a big advantage when it comes to safety (or neglectful preparation).
We continued on the Black Sea to the Bosphorus. Istanbul is a one-of-a-kind place. To navigate through it with a TIKI 21 is something I would rather not do every day. Hordes of vessels in all shapes and sizes threatened to steamroll us. We were the smallest and the slowest but finally we made it to the Sea of Marmara. Istanbul is absolutely worth a visit. It is formidable in every aspect. Even my bureaucracy trauma caused by Turkish customs, police, harbourmaster… is spectacular.
Never mind! From Istanbul to Athens we had the girls aboard and the spirits were high. The Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles were easily traversed with favourable winds. Greece was great and we used it for recreation of body and soul. But first we had to do a serious crossing from the island Agios Efstratios to Alonnisos. The Meltemi blew with force 6 in the early morning and slowly went down during the day. It all was in the open Aegean Sea, so the waves were impressive. We logged some extraordinary things on this day. In the first hour we did nine miles! And it was in this hour that we reached our all-time topspeed of 15,7 knots on the GPS! This was surfing down a wave and fortunately only for a few seconds. We were running downwind under the full main alone and after this surf we instantly reefed. For my taste this was close enough to the limit and I try to avoid such speeds but I think the boat could take even more. Maybe it happens suddenly but I was never afraid of pitchpoling and saw no sign for any diving tendency. The boat was fully loaded and although we had a lot of water coming on the platform from behind caused by following waves we preferred the centre of gravity astern of the middle. This kept the bows light and out of the waves. The transom and the tilted motor slowed us down when we got really fast and the wake got higher, which was fine. I do not know how an empty, that is light, TIKI 21 would perform in this conditions but I assume it is better to have some weight aboard.
Although she was still absolutely seaworthy, four adults plus gear is the limit for the SAUS UND BRAUS in many regards. Life down below got really cramped and also the platform seemed to shrink. So we made holidays from the sailing thing for a week and then had the boat for another week as a couple.
Unfortunately the girls had to leave us in Athens and two lonesome mariners continued their way home. And home we wanted after having two thirds under our belt and only 1000 miles to go…
The canal of Corinth was no problem, we were more or less sucked through it by the wake of a tanker. The Gulfs of Corinth and Patras followed with their notorious NW-winds (wrong direction for us). But young and motivated as we were in those days we finally saw the back of them. And another prize was there to appreciate our efforts. In Missolonghi we could set foot on “our mother ship” the SPIRIT OF GAIA and meet Hanneke and James. I never thought that they once would be on board of SAUS UND BRAUS but it was pretty simple, we just had to sail her to them.
Another remarkable story happened in the Strait of Otranto at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea. We had fresh wind from behind which was good since we had to do 60 miles on that day. But naturally the wind does not come without waves. It is very hard to estimate the height of the waves but I would say we experienced a set of three waves that were as high as the boat long and alarmingly steep. I did not like the situation at all and intensively thought about a phrase in the design book: “more than a million deep sea miles without a single capsize by wind or wave action”. Nothing dangerous happened, SAUS UND BRAUS took this watery mountains seemingly unimpressed. Very good boat! But it was not over yet. We altered course into the bay of Vlore. The peninsula that forms the bay sheltered us from the waves and we calmed down a bit. The wind was still fresh and we reduced to the main in the second reef without headsail. This was a brilliant idea because then came the down-gusts from the slope of the peninsula. We did not have an anemometer. I can only say, that the water was blown horizontally from the wave crests. The cat accelerated impressively, we got wet to the bones… and that was it. Surprisingly marginal heeling (we both sat on the windward hull), we could even steer a beam reach course without problems. Having said that it was far from pleasant and I was very glad when the wind calmed down half an hour later.
In the next two or so weeks we had extensive motoring in the beginning and gentle following wind for a forgiving finish. The last 60-miles-crossing from Istria to Italy was sweetened with dreamlike conditions. After 98 days we arrived in Venice! At the slipway the log showed exactly “3000” miles.
In the end the story boils down to: boat building and sailing are wonderful things to do.
There are some things about the boat that I noted and that might be of interest for others. This is only my experience, I have to admit that I am strongly biased and do not know much about other boats.
My confidence in the design only increased with the miles. It is true that Wharrams are the Landrovers of the sea, even the motion is similar. We interpreted the idea of “costal trekking” rather liberally but still the boat was not challenged to the limit. It can surely get uncomfortable on a TIKI 21 but I think one must overdo it badly to reach the dangerous sphere.
I said it before and I will say it again: a good boat must have a shallow draft. It is safe, it is cheap and it is comfortable. We carried an inflatable “tender” but we never used it. It was absolutely needless since one can reach everything that could be reached by a dinghy on the TIKI 21 herself. Furthermore we saved some money and had our privacy by going where nearly nobody else can go.
I strongly advise against a short shaft engine on a TIKI 21. We used one mounted as deep as possible with a cut out transom and it works fine as long as there are NO waves. But even very small waves, especially head on, bring the boat to hobbyhorsing and then the propeller will suck in air or come out of the water completely. Nerve wracking! This is why we hate light headwinds. Too much waves for the motor and to less wind to sail.
Speaking of windward performance I have to say that this was the only disappointment. We surely do not know the most effective sailing techniques but we tried and never managed a tacking angle below 110°. Going to windward is simply not the strongest course for our lady. After having discussed this matter with Hanneke and James we will maybe add some slender rectangular (not rounded) keelstrips to hinder the waterflow sideways. Anyway I suspect the wing-sail-rig, which I adore for other reasons, is the main cause for the large tacking angle.
I would be interested in other opinions and hints how to increase windward performance.
A different drawback of the design are the main hatches. They are easy to make and work well as long as the waves stay small. But if the seas wash over the hulls everything underneath the hatches is soaked. This will not flood the cabin but decreases comfort and morale badly
It is easily recognised that the SAUS UND BRAUS and other small sailboats attracted the interest of many people. In quite a few harbours we were the most popular photo motif. As James Wharram said: “The people can identify with you.” The unusual look and the small size separated us from the average yachties and brought us closer to fishermen and the majority.