"Cape Athena", Sweden Yachts 45 lying Hants
THE STANDARD SWEDEN 45
The standard 45 has a high reputation, world-wide. With its robust construction, beautiful lines, lead keel, keel-stepped mast, teak decks and superb joinery down below it compares well with any quality yacht on the market. There was, however, one important feature which we needed to modify: the standard yacht had a blade jib, self-tacking, and a mainsail with single-line reefing - giving only two reef points.
THE MODIFIED SAIL PLAN
We were aware that, for very good reasons, most ocean-going yachts of this size were rigged as masthead cutters. We took advice from Sweden Yachts, Hood, Selden and others, and decided that what we really needed for ocean sailing was indeed a masthead cutter, with a mainsail that could be flexibly reefed and easily stowed. Naturally the yankee and staysail would also be on furlers. We expected to be short-handed much of the time; so reefing had to be simple and all done from the cockpit.
For ocean sailing, the well-known advantages of the masthead cutter are:
centre of effort is lower, reducing heeling effect
We looked carefully at several possibilities for the mainsail arrangements, and eventually adopted the well-proven, Selden in-mast reefing system.
With this sail combination we felt well equipped for short-handed ocean sailing - and so it proved.
When the time came for us to move up to a yacht in the fifteen-metre category we did not have a difficult choice. Over a period of ten years we had owned a Sweden Yachts 36 and a Sweden Yachts 390. Our experience with both yachts had been rewarding, and we had developed a friendship and mutual understanding with the builder's admirable designers and staff at Stenungsund. In the 390 we had made a number of successful ocean voyages, including a season in the Caribbean.
This is not to say that we set off immediately to Stenungsund for a 45. A careful study was made of all possible candidates, and we entered into talks with some of them. However, this detailed comparison merely had the effect of confirming our natural inclination towards the Sweden 45.
'Cape Athena' was launched at Stenungsund in April, 2000. After the usual time devoted to trials and commissioning we set sail to the south via Copenhagen and the Kiel Canal. During the summer of 2000 'Cape Athena' was based in Jersey, cruising locally.
The original intention was that the yacht would be based in the Mediterranean; so we took her south in October, 2000 and spent a happy winter in Gibraltar. Early in 2001 we obtained a permanent berth near Marbella; VAT for the European Union was then paid in Spain. A few months later circumstances changed (as they always do!) and it was decided that we would bring the yacht to England.
Since then she has remained, cherished, and sailed on the south coast and across the Channel to France and the Channel Islands. Thus she has not yet fulfilled her destiny of voyaging on the blue oceans. Doubtless that is still to come - but in different hands.