Caribbean voyage

Southerly 135 - "Seatern"

Since the launch of the first Southerly 135 series III, was shown at the London Boat Show, Northshore has enjoyed a continuous run of orders for the 45ft flagship of the Southerly range.

Designed by Rob Humphreys as a true blue water, world class cruiser, the Southerly 135 has become renown for her spacious interior, fast and comfortable sailing capabilities and of course, her unique Swing Keel system. Built to Northshore's standards of the highest quality, she is often referred to as 'the perfect yacht'. Barry Meacham, owner of the first Southerly 135 series III, 'Seatern' has completed over 8,000 miles in her. He puts his thoughts on paper during his latest 'Caribbean voyage'.

...Both my previous 37ft Southerly 115's were good boats, and substantially cheaper than a 45ft Southerly 135.

However, the length and hull configuration of a Southerly 135 provides a very considerable degree of extra space for storage, equipment and living, together with higher speed through the water and improved sailing qualities. The Southerly 135 does not pretend to be a racer, but with a Brunton autoprop propeller, twin spinnaker booms, lifting keel, and a 36ft waterline length, the boat sails comfortable at well over 7 knots, in the right wind and sea state conditions, even when heavily loaded for distance cruising. Furthermore, the boat has a very welcome stability in a wide range of weather conditions. (We continued to achieve hot three course suppers at the table during our 3 day gale).

However, the really noticeable difference to many other similar size boats is the well-lit ventilated spacious snugness of the saloon/galley/navigation desk areas. The pilot house windows give persons at the navigation desk and galley nearly 270° of view, and the pilot windows coupled with two levels of window ports in the saloon provide exceptional light. By contrast, the elegant sun blinds to the windows and deck hatches provide excellent privacy at night and protection from the sun during the day. In addition to the extra light, the pairs of opening Lewmar window hatches in the saloon, fore and aft cabins, enable a cross-ventilation draught which is very welcome in semi-tropical areas, such as the Caribbean in the heat of summer.

My Southerly 135 is quite successfully sailed by two experienced persons but berths can be provided (in theory) for 9 adults and one child although in practice 6 is a sensible maximum, with the corridor bunk/leecloth used for stowed sails and/or holdalls, and the aft cabin childs berth/leedoth used for easy access for foodbins. The pipecots are excellent berths (for men) with reading lights and 'silent fans' fixed fairly close to the face. The two aft quarter seats at the pushpit have provided much pleasure, both as an unusual and attractive viewing spot for the boat, but more especially as places where crew can gain 'space' from the others!

The teak decks add style to the boat. Together with the modem cabin styling, the boat has been mistaken for an Oyster by Americans (on at least four occasions).

I personally find the interior plan of a Southerly preferable to an Oyster, and the lower basic purchase price is valuable also. The Oyster endeavours to provide 'ballroom' spaciousness in the saloon. This wastes space, reduces snugness and sociability, and makes proximity of handholds inadequate in rough weather. The modem tendency to provide curved sofas also is undesirable as these are then no longer available for conversion to sleeping berths. The Southerly is quite comfortable and stylish enough without resorting to additional curves. The specially designed awning proved a great success. The sturdy but elegant stainless steel bar structure aft of the cockpit provided great strength. It also made a valuable pivoting/holding point for visits to the aft deck - especially in a sea. It also proved a comfortable back rest, and standing armrest when entering harbour or progressing upriver.

However, the distinctive feature of a Southerly is the lifting keel. This was invaluable in both the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Many of the more attractive areas of the North and South Bahamas have around 2 metres depth in many places, especially at low tide. We were often able to enter and leave shallow anchorages when other boats had to wait for the tide. In some spots, such as the French Wells anchorage or Bimini Islands entry to Alice Town, the off-lying sand banks move substantially from year to year. In some places a yacht with a fixed keel would be taking quite a significant risk, especially as we found it rare in the Southern Bahamas to see another boat at sea.

The pivot movement of the lifting keel is also a substantial safety factor against losing the mast in an unexpected grounding at speed. We grounded off Spanish Wells (expected) and more abruptly (and unexpected) in a connecting channel in the Fort Lauderdale waterways where distant markers did not make the shallow on one side of the canal at all obvious. With the pivoting/lifting keel, no damage was done and getting off was immediate.

The Southerly 135 is a fine boat and generates frequent appreciative remarks from both crew and interested informed passers-by alike.