is a thirty foot double-headsail sloop or “slutter”, a hybrid between a sloop and a cutter.
Built in 1971 in Rackheath, England by Aquafibre, Ltd. for open-ocean racing, and marketed there as the “Aqua 30”, a few hulls were transported here by the Sturgeon Bay, WI yacht building firm Palmer-Johnson. They added three feet to the mast, a teak-trimmed center hatch, and a 2 1/2 gal. holding tank (for the first year of the Clean Water Act), marketing it in the US as the “P-J 30”. Though designed by Sparkman & Stephens (the most famous naval architects of the twentieth century) nevertheless it was not a commercial success. Just as production began the foreman of the yard ran off with the wife of the yard’s owner! This delayed delivery of the first hulls by almost a year. Another problem was that this model was greatly overshadowed by the 34 foot version of the same hull design, which became very popular. Costing only slightly more money, the “S&S 34” was made famous by British Prime Minister Edward Heath, who in 1969 won the Sidney to Hobart yacht race in his “Morning Cloud”. More single-handed circumnavigations have been made in S&S 34s than in any other boat. The design is considered so timeless that they are still in production, on a custom basis, by Swarbrick and Swarbrick of Perth, Australia.
In our minds, the thirty-foot version is plenty large enough for Great Lakes cruising and offers several advantages over the 34:
1. It allows a very manageably-sized anchor, quite important since we anchor out so much. No need for an anchor windlass, which is too slow anyway when its 2AM, the wind has shifted direction and increased and now you’re dragging onto shore; in such cases the anchor has to come up NOW. The S&S 34 weighs almost 50% more and so requires a heavier anchor.
2. Its small enough to row. The longest white water rafting oars we could find fit perfectly and allow us to make progress to windward in anything up to 15 knots. We row standing up and facing forward (Greek fisherman style) either one or two abreast, depending on the horsepower required. Engines are engines; its not IF they fail, but WHEN. If there’s wind we can sail. Otherwise we row. Row an S&S 34?
3. Its cheap to keep. Virtually all marinas charge you for a 30 foot slip no matter what size your boat is. Prices go up from there. The 34 takes half-again more of everything: sailcloth, bottom paint, rigging wire, gasoline. OK, not toilet paper.
She’s very deep draft for a thirty footer, almost six feet, but this does allow her to sail to windward well (a hallmark of S&S boats). So we are limited in the anchorages and marinas we can enter.
The boat’s name EXEAT is Latin, the third-person singular present active subjunctive of the verb exeo (“to go out”), meaning “he/she/it goes out”. The vast majority of boats waste away just sitting in a marina slip. We were determined that ours would actually “go out” and sail. Its properly pronounced “X-E-yacht”.