My Centaur Story and Afterwards by Roy Procter

After building myself a Wharram Tiki 21in 1992, (wonderful sailing but not enough accommodation), changing it for a Freedom 21 in 1997 (more wonderful sailing but can’t stand up inside), then for a Husky 24 Motor sailer in1999 (wonderful accommodation, good motorboat, poor sailor and uncomfortable ride in rough seas). I finally bought a Westerly Centaur after joining WOA to find out all about Westerlys before searching out Asticot in 2003.

I found Asticot for sale on the WOA website. She was built in 1971 and had been owned by a delightful old gentleman for 27 years. She had been lovingly looked after, had new headlining and a brand new Bukh 24 HP engine as well as other refinements. A major attraction was the existence of a purpose built road trailer. Thus she could be taken home for winter maintenance. The Tiki and the Freedom always went home for the winter, but the Husky was kept at the yard for the winter. This was very inconvenient when doing major jobs.

I made many improvements to Asticot over the years. These included making mast-raising gear. (This is described in an article in the technical section of the WOA website) I built a fixed windscreen with glass windows and a windscreen wiper. (Described in Practical Boat Owner) This involved a new, two-part, sprayhood/cockpit cover and immeasurably improved the comfort and joy factor. Wind and log instruments were added, as was upgrading the VHF, and installing a chart plotter. The gas system and cooker were removed and replaced by a Wallas paraffin burner. (See description in WOA magazine)

Asticot has given much pleasure and we have had many good trips along the central and southwest coasts. She has always performed beautifully. Our farthest west was while joining the WOA ‘ARC’. We never quite made it across the to France, despite preparations on two successive years. The first cancelled due to illness of an ancient relative and the second by appalling weather.

Asticot had been based on a swinging mooring in Portland Harbour. She was taken home (40 miles) on her road trailer for each winter. The mooring only permitted an April to Sept season in the water and with advancing years, day sailing and having to use the dinghy was becoming more onerous. With the increasing crowds at the Portland Sailing Centre, the peace and quiet was reducing. This would only get worse as the Olympics wound up! So I had been on a waiting list for a mooring in the river Frome for some time as the boat could stay in the water for 12 months if needed and dinghying would be much less weather sensitive. There was also access to Poole Harbour for day sailing and much shorter access to the joys of the Solent. I was able to obtain a winter only afloat alongside or on the hard space last winter for Asticot at Ridge Wharf. So I moved Asticot there expecting to return to Portland in the spring.

As the effort in packing and moving Asticot back and forth to home each winter was also becoming a bit much, but to be balanced against having to go to the yard (80 miles round trip) for maintenance work, I was considering moving to something smaller on a trailer. Not having found quite what suited me (a Red Fox or Shrimper) I decided to keep Asticot for one more season at least. I also decided not to engage in the hassle of bringing Asticot home last winter, but do the work in the yard at Ridge Wharf.

While doing the maintenance work over a number of visits, I kept walking past a Hardy Pilot on a trailer with its for sale notice. Eventually I walked round the stern to discover an inboard diesel instead of the usual outboard, so my interest was aroused. Having some experience with a friend’s Hardy 36, I have always thought that if I ever had a motorboat it would be a Hardy. So I inspected this one inside and out. The previous owner had completely reworked the interior to a very high standard, added many refinements and pieces of equipment. She was almost indistinguishable from a new boat. So I bought her. She came with a private alongside berthing jetty and I have been very pleased to have her this past season.

So unfortunately Asticot had to go. She has been sold to a gentleman in France, via the WOA website, and has been sailed across the Channel to her new home by her new owner. He sent me the following by email after he had arrived:-

Asticot is well arrived in France (Cherbourg), after an energy navigation, in strong winds and in rough sea. We leaved at 9 30 am, under force 7 NW wind, that was announced by the forecast for going lower in the afternoon (that it would never do). We put on a part of the mainsail and the front sail, and use 5 liters fuel during the entire trip! The wind stay force seven all the day and the evening, with some gust a little more, but Asticot seemed to be very happy and was very fine with the big waves coming back. The average of speed for all the journey (79 Nautical miles) was 5.3 knots.

I found that with Asticot, and her predecessors, one used the engine about 80% of the time if going anywhere, so from that point of view a motorboat made sense. We have found that the accommodation in this small Hardy more convenient for living in than in the longer Centaur. Fuel consumption is not prohibitive at around 4 l/hr. The trailer is virtually new and in excellent order. Maintenance will be very much less. No sails or rigging, no paint cracking on the deck, an all round rope fender, with a rubber rubbing strake and only four wooden cabin top handrails to keep varnished.

The only downside is that with the unblown 59 HP diesel, she will not really plane as she is too heavy with all the extra refinements that have been installed. But I like the refinements! I might look into the practicality of converting the engine to the turbocharged version, then she should go faster when asked perhaps.

So if you see a small Hardy with a WOA burgee, come and say hello!