My Boat – July 08
Seerauber: a pocket cruiser
You don't have to have a big boat to have big dreams, says Tony Fountain, who had chosen a 7.26m pocket cruiser to fulfil his sailing ambitions.
Pocket cruiser.” While that term evokes memories of WWII German naval ships such as the Graf Spee it also satisfactorily sums up what Seerauber is all about.
Ever since I was a youngster growing up in rural NSW in the town of Grenfell, I had wanted to own my own “little ship” and sail to another land in her. As the words of the Jimmy Buffett classic “A Pirate looks at 40” go:
Mother Mother ocean,
I have heard your call,
Wanted to sail upon your waters,
Since I was three feet tall
You've seen it all, you've seen it all.
Since that time, I have owned three yachts: Blue Baron (Compass 28), Tringriz (Roberts Spray 33 and which featured on a CH front cover back in 1995) and HaCienda (Hans Christian 43T). Yet I find the one that looks like being my “little ship” is, in fact, Seerauber, a Roberts Tom Thumb 24.
Seerauber is 7.26m long and built like the “proverbial” with a 10mm steel keel, 5mm steel hull and 3mm steel deck. She has sufficient headroom for me (185cm) to stand easily and comfortably in her cabin.
With a displacement of 3900kg and 1360kg of ballast in her keel, she carries 397sqft of sail with two reefing points for the slab-reefing.
Auxiliary power comes through a 22hp Farymann diesel, and she carries 100 litres of fuel and 190 litres of water. Battery charging for the two 90AH batteries comes from an Ampair wind charger, and this will soon be joined by two 30-amp solar panels.
Below decks she sports two quarter berths aft, a gas stove and oven, a sit-down table for four, an enclosed head and a V-berth double bunk, under which is a converted icebox for additional food and drink storage as well as ample storage for other items and food.
Her “brakes” come in the form of a 30-pound Manson CQR and 100m of 10mm chain. Additionally there is a Flook kedge anchor and 50m of 16mm anchor rope.
She was built by a Kiwi to sail to the Antarctic (hence her strength and yellow colour), but sadly he suffered ill health shortly after her completion and had to sell her. She was sold to Adelaide yachtsman Don Modra (and from whom I purchased her from in 2005), and he and his son sailed her back from Port Phillip to Adelaide.
Then called Striking Viking, she first caught my eye on the internet for sale in Adelaide and, as is the way with yachting tragics, I saw her “home port” as a positive sign or omen, for both Tringriz and HaCienda had their origins in South Australia.
It was love at first sight. Consequently, after the negotiations were over, I became the proud owner of this yellow pocket cruiser.
All-Boat Transport brought her to Sydney and on her first sail from Taren Point to Cronulla I knew I had made the right decision, and it was not long after that I sailed her from Burraneer Bay north to Little Lovett Bay in beautiful Pittwater, where she lies at anchor in the same area that Tringriz had years before.
First thing was a name change from Striking Viking to Seerauber but in deference to “the Gods”, her new logo (see above) had Striking Viking incorporated into the shield.
In the meantime, my nautical ambitions had taken hold and I laid down plans to sail her, with my daughter Kylie, from Sydney to Nelson (New Zealand) and back the following December.
Accordingly improvements, such as the addition of boom gallows, a new set of sails ð including a storm trysail ð HF radio, Fleming Minor windvane, storm trysail track and some other internal changes, were undertaken and the dream seemed attainable.
Sadly, that was not to be the case; because of gear malfunctions we made it only as far as Ulladulla, where we made repairs and then turned around to head back to Pittwater.
Humbling as that experience was, it nonetheless served to show just what a great little sea boat Seerauber is with her handling of the strong wind conditions and where we belted north again for Pittwater at a respectable 8.5 knots with a reefed main and headsail. With her long keel, she tracked like a train and even allowing for the seas that were running in “strong wind warning” conditions, she was a “dry ship” and entirely predictable.
She is easily sailed and handled by one person and while in 2007 I had little time aboard her due to business commitments, hopefully 2008 and 2009 will see that position reversed.
Why her name?
When I was a young bloke, my uncle Carl Massy, who owned a property at Cooma in the NSW Monaro region, had a German immigrant by the name of Helmut working for him. I became very friendly with his son Gunther, and he tried to teach me German from a little red English/German dictionary he had for himself in order to learn English.
I was talking to him about sailing my own ship around the word and I wanted to call her Sea Rover. He looked up the dictionary and told me that was Seerauber in German so the die was cast.
Certainly with her yellow hull and deck, combined with her tan sails, she stands out, so if you see us sailing by, please give us a wave.
My dream to cross an ocean still remains with me, so it looks like either New Zealand or New Caledonia are still on the radar. I'd love to be able to sail her north each autumn from Sydney to the Whitsundays and then sail her back with the winds in November.
While this cruising passage has altered dramatically since I first undertook it in Tringriz in 1996, it seems to me to be a great way to once again appreciate what life has to offer and break the bonds of what Sterling Hayden, in his wonderful book, Wanderer, called “the bankruptcy of purse or the bankruptcy of life.” Anyway, as the old saying goes, “gentlemen always sail with the breeze.”
Tony Fountain has sailed the East Australian coast in his two previous yachts and has more than 15,000 cruising miles under his keel. He now resides at Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands and conducts an auction academy as well as his auctioneering, writing and professional-speaking activities. Seerauber is currently moored in Little Lovett Bay in Pittwater.
Ballast 1360kg lead sheeting
Construction .. 10mm keel, 5mm hull, 3mm steel deck