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Launching and Sailing the Tiki 8M

By James Wharram

I should have been writing this web letter a month ago. Subject: 'the Launching and Sailing of the Tiki 8m.

"Man proposes, God disposes" is an appropriate cliché. We officially launched the Tiki 8m with a quiet ceremony on Friday July 22nd, off our local Devoran village beach, then in gathering drizzle and gloom moved her down the creek to her deeper water moorings off the 70' seagoing barge 'The Miller', home of Ernald Pearson, a Wharram sailor for 30 years. (The Tiki 8m had a brief wetting on a tiny lake at the Beale Park Boatshow, but this was her first taste of seawater.)

The end of July it rained and blew, it was made even more miserable by us trying to unravel the bureaucratic convolutions of Europe's Recreational Craft Directive, on behalf of all the small boat sailors of the past, and hopefully the future. A Directive made law in 1998 (with threats of fines of up to £5000 or 3 months in jail) purely for the benefit of the big Industrial GRP boat manufacturing companies of Europe. I will discuss this serious and depressing issue later.

Assembling the Tiki 8m
The launching of Tiki 8m, 'Frygga' at Devoran July.
James Wharram at the helm
The 4hp Mercury 'saildrive' outboard pushes 'Frygga' easily against a force 5 wind and tide.

After 2 weeks of rain and high winds, the weather 'improved'. Hanneke and I climbed on board the Tiki 8m for her first sail.

I would prefer to forget that first sail on 'Frygga' (that is the name we gave her, you can think up your own reasons why). Sailing is not all fun, we all make stupid mistakes, we all have to adapt ourselves to the personality of the craft we sail. To me, after sailing the 63' by 28' wide Spirit of Gaia for 13 years, the Frygga looked very small, but it is Hanneke's boat. She has put love and affection into her. She is responsible for her rigging, the sheet leads, the clutches, the winches etc. She told me to sit by the tiller, she would do the rest. She grabbed at the two main halyards at the foot of the mast and up went the mainsail, great! Then the gaff stuck part way up the mast and would not come down!!!

In her eagerness to demonstrate, Hanneke forgot to unwrap a turn in the halyards she had previously tied away from the mast to prevent 'frapping' (that pile driving, maddening noise that destroys the peace of so many anchorages and marinas), so the turn in the rope had jammed half way up the mast. "Don't worry James, I will climb up and free it". Unfortunately the mast is only 5" in diameter, Hanneke was never trained as a pole dancer (a great pity, families should train their daughters in pole dancing). After various struggles, I ended up embracing the mast, with Hanneke climbing my body to stand on my shoulders. I must point out that at my time of my life, having a 10 stone (60kg) woman wriggling on my shoulders is not the pleasure it once was. I reflected that between the two of us we had approximately 80 years of sailing experience, how had we ended up like this?

Tiki 8m sailing
Skipping along at 7-8 knots.
James and Hanneke sailing a monohull yacht
Sailing on the 'Tumlare' design, the first time Hanneke and I sailed on a monohull for at least 10 years.

After that embarrassing problem solved, we hoisted the mainsail, cast off the moorings and headed for the entrance of Restronguet Creek. This creek is a shallow tidal estuary; the only deep non-drying area is at the narrow entrance of the creek, an area that has always been filled with keel yacht moorings. As we shot through the moorings with a following wind, I did wonder how we would get back.

Outside in Carrick Roads Frygga began to sail, the GPS registering 6 knots +, she tacked easily, so I went below to make a cup of tea. During the tea making the weather started quickly to deteriorate, with squall clouds and drizzle coming over from the land, so we 'hove to' to drink our tea. Heaving to worked, but the local tourist ferry/boats had never, I suspect, seen a yacht hove-to. By passing close down wind of us, they gave us some near frights. Then the squall front hit us and even more frights. Our new design shot off at 8 knots plus, passing all other bigger yachts. As the wind increased more, we dropped the mainsail, then under staysail worked our way back to the entrance of Restronguet Creek.

It looked hopeless, wind and drizzle blowing strongly down the creek entrance with an outgoing tide. We had several choices; sail up the estuary, beach the boat and hitch hike home; telephone Ernald and ask him to tow us back with his motor dinghy; or beat to windward, against wind and tide, through the rocky sided narrows and tight moorings to our own mud mooring up creek.

Two people in yacht cockpit
'Frygga' sailing along under fully reefed sails.
Tiki 28 in harbour
Tiki 28 'Image' in Falmouth, her lifting cabin top has been replaced with a small fixed cuddy.

Then the wind dropped just a little and Hanneke insisted on beating back through all the hazards. Mad, but she is a Dutch woman, all I could think of was the costly damage we could do if we hit a moored boat. Well Hanneke and her boat threaded their way through the moorings without damage. I just cowered and did as I was told.

I have written at length about the problems and apprehension of this first voyage, because we as designers are also sailors and we can make the same mistakes that anyone can make. It is important for first time sailors to realize that we ALL have bad days. For the next trip, I ensured we bought a 4hp outboard motor.

On our later sails the Tiki 8m has amazed me by her speed and windward abilities, i.e. we sail faster and as close to windward as bigger, fast looking cruiser/racer monohulls. Our last sail was in weather conditions force 5 gusting 6. By this time, we had fitted reef points. With 2 reefs in the mainsail and 1 in the staysail, Frygga looked ridiculously under canvassed.

The fast boat we were planning to sail against was a famous 1930s design by Knut Reimer, a 'Tumlare', owned by a friend of ours. It is a boat of incredible sleek beauty, no accommodation by modern standards, but sails like a witch. Our heavily reefed Frygga sailed as fast and as close to the wind as the 'Tumlare' (with single reefed main and partially rolled jib). In the Tiki 8m, which is a re-designed Tiki 26, we had introduced several hull refinements; they worked!

Two Tiki 28 next to each other
The two Tiki 28s in Falmouth
Tiki 28 sailing
Tiki 28 'Leonardo'

For some months, Hanneke has been resisting my next small boat design (she has to do the hard work), but after this sail she opened her ears and design brain to this new design. With strip planking, we hope to get a beautiful sculptural shape, with elements from the Tiki 8m.

As I write this, George Gritsis, owner/sailor of the Hecate (Pahi 52) charter cat is on the phone, "Can we do a Pahi 60 design for charter??" At this moment, the sun is shining, the clouds moving quietly across the sky. All we want to do is to go sailing!

- James Wharram

Post Script:

The day after James wrote this piece we had a surprise visit from two of our 'babies', who came home to Devoran creek. The babies were two of the Tiki 28s built here at our yard in the late 80s. There was 'Image'; she was the prototype that had been ours for one year. Since, she has been owned by a psychiatrist in the West of Ireland, who pushed her to the limits and now by an English couple, who sailed her to Falmouth to get married next to their boat.

The other Tiki 28 was 'Leonardo' from La Rochelle. She has had two previous owners (both French) and is now sailed by two charming Frenchmen, who made a 'pilgrimage' to Devoran. The boat is still exactly as when she left here 15 years ago, the epoxy work still in good condition.

We took Frygga to Falmouth to sail with them. It was another blustery day with winds of force 5-6. At first, we had just one reef in the main and we registered 10, 11 and briefly 12 knots on the GPS. We decided it was time to take some more reefs. With 2 reefs in the main and one in the jib, she sails steadily at 6 - 6.5 knots hard on the wind and 7-9 knots freed off.