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Boat of the Month

June 2024 Hihi

By Rob and Maren Prince

“Hihi” is a Robert Tucker Beagle design built in Birkenhead, England, by Andy Ball and was launched into the River Mersey in 1981.

She cruised the Mediterranean and the Caribbean before arriving in New Zealand in 1996. We were fortunate to buy her from the first owner/builder in 2019.

Although Hihi is only 9 metres long, her beam of 3.5 metres gives her great stability and plenty of room down below. In our opinion she is an ideal cruising yacht.

When we purchased her she was rigged as a cutter, had 11 sails and 10 winches and was crying out to be converted to Junk Rig. Fortunately the boat came with a sail plan with the centre of effort for the cutter rig clearly marked. Once we decided on a split junk rig we moved the proposed sail plan with an area of 40 square metres (7% more area than with the cutter rig) around on the drawing so that the 2 centres of effort were matched. This gave us the position of the mast. Since “Hihi” is made of steel, the partners and mast step were easily made without any reinforcement.

The wooden mast came off “Pacific Spray” and was modified to fit. With a crane, in less than 1 hour, we lifted the old mast out and the new mast in. We made the sail according to the excellent instructions written by Slieve McGalliard and available on the website. Once we had cut out the panels, we stuck the appropriate bits together with double sided tape and handed them to a squab maker, along with the thread, to sew them into a sail. It was the first sail she had ever made, but she did an excellent, cost-effective job.

In addition to work on the junk rig conversion we painted the boat inside and out, built a new wooden forward hatch, removed the rotten wooden dodger, replaced the stove, installed a fridge, a compost toilet, a little wood burning fire, a galley sink, solar panels, an electric anchor winch, a new switchboard etc., a canvass dodger and a bimini.  It was a complete refit. After the initial sailing trials we fitted a sail catcher which has been a huge improvement in keeping the sail under control when reefing or lowering.

Over the last 4 years we have really enjoyed using the boat and have cruised the North Island coast from the Bay of Islands to Auckland and Coromandel. She is easy to handle under sail and of a size that is manageable to maintain.

“Hihi” is probably the last boat that we will own but in many ways she is one of our best.

Our "Boat of the Month" Archive is here, and the forum discussion for comments and candidate suggestions is here

Recent Posts

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       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
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