Coming from a big heavy displacement yacht to a lightweight trailer sailer was always going to involve a bit of a learning curve. I’ve had the new Compac 16 for a few months but I haven’t had the time to get it out on the water. The Easter long weekend is here and it’s a chance to get out for a sail.
It took about 10 minutes to get the mast erected and rigging secured. Everything on a 16ft boat is toylike and lightweight in comparison to a 10tonne Westsail. I was really impressed with the stability of the little Compac, it wasn’t as tippy as I expected and was quite a stiff little boat. The build quality is also excellent with plenty of heavy glass mat giving a sense of security when out on the water.
I launched the Compac at the boat ramp and set sail for a run to Peel Island which is about a 10nm sail.
There wasn’t much of a breeze but it was enough to push the little Compac along at about 3 knots.
One of the first differences I noticed when compared to the big Westsail is a smaller boat’s tendency to stray of course quickly. Unlike a larger yacht with a long deep keel, these little boats have a very short attention span. If I’m not glued to the tiller it will round up in 2 seconds flat. The rig seems to have a lot of weather helm and perhaps a bigger headsail or a longer sprit would help with that.
They are also very sensitive to weight. If I had to hang over the back to play around with the tiller the back of the boat would sink in and slow the boat down significantly. Once it was sailing though and I was sitting toward the centre it was a nicely balanced hull.
The cockpit is really comfortable and is as large as the Westsails. Sitting in the cockpit it feels like a proper yacht which is really impressive considering it is literally the size of a dinghy.
A couple of hours later I drifted into Horeshoe Bay at Peel Island.
Normally on the Westsail I would be looking for a nice place to anchor for the day in at least 5 metres of water. I’d have to lay anchor and check my swinging room for the other boats in the anchorage. If I wanted to go to shore I’d have to prepare the tender and then motor in. Not with the little Compac. I just sailed right into the beach and hopped off.
Cutty was glad for the beach break and took the opportunity to explore the bay.
I stood back and pondered the little Compac and I love the concept. If I make a little boom tent, a cockpit platform for a bed and a BBQ on the back, this could be a lot of fun for weekend trips away.
Even in bad weather there are two quarter berths that can be squeezed into. The berths do resemble coffins, but if you aren’t claustrophobic, they will provide a dry bed out of the weather.
Below is a shot from the water. That’s me standing next to the Compac. The outboard engine on the back is a 3hp Yamaha 2 stroke which does a surprisingly good job at moving the boat using 1.5 litres per hour.
It was time to head back home and fortunately there was a little more breeze for the return trip.
I decided to take a different route home due to a long s/w tack and headed down a passage between 2 islands to the West of my home. I looked at the charts and there was half a metre at some points through the passage. It was also dead low tide. On a larger boat I would have been forced to go around the outer island adding an extra hour to the trip. No need with the shoal draft of the Compac. Below is an example of some of the shallow banks encountered through the passage.
My conclusion is that the Compac is a great little boat. It has its limitations as a bay boat and although it could very comfortably seat 4 in the cockpit I wouldn’t want to have more than 2 onboard.
When I was hauling the Compac out at the end of the day a bloke wandered up and commented, “that’s a really pretty little boat mate”. So it also passed the boat ramp test.
Given the build quality of the Compac and its “big yacht” feel, I think if Westsail had decided to build a 16ft yacht, it would have been very similar to the Compac.