We all left with stories to tell that will undoubtedly grow and serve us well in years to come. But as we stepped off this all-new Seawind, I think we all felt humbled. We had put the Seawind 1370 through conditions harsher than most boats will see in their lifetime (sensibly). We’d made forgiven mistakes and navigated some of the world’s most chaotic waterways. But more than anything else, I just felt like getting back on and doing it again! What a ride.
We’d never sailed together, and this was the 1370’s first-ever sea trial, an entirely new design, not just a new boat. The only real “known” was the forecast for 30-plus knots of wind, seemingly being produced precisely from our destination and the predictable gnarly sea state.
The Helm of the 1370 is light yet offers intuitive feedback.
We shot down the Saigon River at 10 knots SOG with a following 4-knot tide on one engine, with our Gori prop set to overdrive and our Yanmar 4JH57 sitting on a comfortable 2,000 RPM. The river is lined with commercial ports and trafficked by 300-metre monster-carriers doing 15 knots alongside barges ladened to the gunnels doing a knot if they’re lucky. I welcomed the light and responsive helm as we sliced through the traffic on passage to Vung Tao.
Reefing the Seawind 1370 is simple and can be managed single-handed, particularly when you get as much practice as we did on the voyage to Nha Trang! We tucked in reef one as we left the labyrinth of traffic separation lanes of Vung Tao Port in our wake and hardened up. John of Doyle Sails had been out with me the week before, and we discussed the importance of maintaining sail shape when reefed. Having tuned the B&G autopilot, it soon became evident that it was the better helm. I settled on a wind vane set-point of 43° off the apparent wind, and we held a boat speed of 8 to 9 knots. Full marks for John on reefed sail shape.
The following 72 hours would provide me with some of the best sailing I have ever had the privilege of experiencing.
With sunset came clear skies, a full moon, and steadily building winds.
On passage to Nha Trang, we shifted through the gears from reef one to reef three but mostly maintained our course and speed of 8 to 9 knots at 40° to 45° off the apparent, in true winds of 25 to 35 knots steady, gusting 40-plus.
Powered up, the 1370’s helm remained light and responsive, fore and aft were well balanced, there was no hobby-horsing, and we had a comfortable 2 to 3° heel, just enough to keep the windward helm station out of the sea spray.
I could easily slip from the helm seat up to deck level and sit alongside the coach roof. From this vantage point, I could take a good look over the sails and rig, get a 360° view of things and catch a bit of sea spray to keep me from dosing off. Plus, a bit of sea spray gives me that salty crust that makes me look the part.
We left the salon door up, and the entire cockpit and salon remained dry. We were comfortably out of the wind at the steering station, yet visibility remained good through the salon windows, aided by the odd wave washing the salt off.
We were greeted with much fanfare at Ana Marina, Nha Trang. Being the first foreign registered vessel to enter the marina, we were met by the head of, seemingly, every relevant Government department and presented with a large bouquet of flowers, which I promptly handed over to Nick!
The SW1370 had passed the test of harsh sailing conditions with flying colours, but this next test: passengers, and non-seafaring passengers at that, was a new challenge.
Over the next three days, we would spend one day getting this SW1370 looking lovely and then head out on the protected waters of Nha Trang for a two-day film shoot. Sadly, the weather and the Port Authority were not communicating well. Our limited designated sailing area left us with nothing but lee shores and a 25-knot breeze. So, day one was the day for those big sailing shots from drones battling to keep up. It wasn’t easy to de-power the 1370 and still have those sails looking just right, enough to pass the scrutiny of the discerning sail trimmer inspecting every detail of a moment captured in time in a still shot.
Bar an hour so, when our lead talent fell to “the sickness”, all went well. At times we had upwards of ten passengers aboard, all moving about freely, and no injuries, as we pushed along, reaching at an effortless 10 knots. We put the sails on that side, and then on the other, we got the sun a bit more over there and handed the helm to the talent (and the B&G autopilot), as we ducked down out of sight as the cameras rolled. After several attempts, we were forced to abort our efforts to get a beach shot. For that, we’d have to hope for better conditions tomorrow.
On day two, we had less wind, yet still from an uncooperative direction, so we threw caution to it, and breached the port authorities imposed boundary in search of a protected anchorage and a postcard sandy beach.
Our passengers came to life in these conditions, 10 knots of breeze and flat water. Champagne glasses and canapé in hand, we cruised along under Screecher & full Main. We easily held windspeed down to 120°, and as we dodged a net here and a high-speed ferry there, we came up to a tight reach of 60°, and with a tight luff and sheeted hard, we held the screecher and sailed on nicely.
As the day drew to a close, the wind died, and we motor-sailed back to Ana Marina under a setting sun where we returned for some further internal shots in the fading light.
Picture perfect, which was what these two days were all about. Mission accomplished, and the 1370’s passenger test passed, again, with flying colours.
Phil Harper is based in Pattaya, Thailand where is responsible for all factory deliveries, handovers and local customer service.