Friday, September 2, 2011

Letter from Dudley Dix

Hi Justin,

I had the Kiwis Nigel and Genie Watson in my crew on "Black Cat" for a few years. Nigel said he always had the opinion that if you could sail in Auckland then you could sail anywhere in the world. Then they moved to Cape Town and he realised that he was wrong. After that he said that if you could sail in Cape Town you could sail anywhere in the world.

You might remember Barry Viljoen from RCYC, owner of the maroon Farr 40 "Santana". He lives in Fort Lauderdale and laughed off their first few hurricanes as puny compared with Cape Town weather. Then Hurricane Wilma went over them in 2005 as Category 3. After that Barry said that he would not stick around for any future major hurricanes, he said it was very frightening.

I was staying with friends about 10 years ago, when a hurricane was forming in the Atlantic. Dehlia told me on the phone that Cape Point had recorded 100 knot gusts that day, which also happened the day that we took "Black Cat" from our Hout Bay home to RCYC. I told them about it and also about the Easterlies in Hout Bay and fighting boats on the marinas in pitch darkness when you can't even stand on the marina. They said that they now realised why I was fairly unimpressed by their talk of hurricanes. I told them that many of the wooden houses here would have blown down in Cape Town.

You can use my email on the HBYC website. I would let you use the material from my talks but they are not in a suitable format. They were talks backed up by graphic-rich PowerPoint presentations. My Friday dinner talk was about growing up as a surfer and sailor in Cape Town and how I was influenced by the geographic, climatic and political idiosyncrasies of South Africa. I tried to explain to them that the conditions that petrify circum-navigators are taken in stride by local sailors and are a lot less dangerous than pirates in the Indian Ocean. I don't think that I was successful with convincing them but they did enjoy my talk. I also gave this talk to the local branch of SNAME (Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers) a couple of years ago.

My Saturday talk was a brief primer on sailboat design and the implications of choices made about hull shape, rudder, keel, rig etc on the behaviour and performance of the resulting boat. I also did this one as a 4 hour lecture at one of the local yacht clubs earlier this year. It is based on a series of articles that I wrote years ago for SA Yachting. I have recently updated these articles and turned them into chapters for my book "Shaped by Water". I think the articles are probably too long for use on the HBYC website. I think that I must also write a chapter based on my Friday dinner talk; it will work well as an introduction to explain my origins in boat design.
Sunday was a panel discussion, answering questions from the floor. The panel was myself, designer John Simpson and two boatbuilders, Pete Silva and Brian Russell. Most of the questions related to rudders, engine installations etc.


P.S. Dudley will be in CT later this year and has promised to pop-in and visit us at the club. Maybe we can entice him to a Thursday Fireside Chat, and a bit of a sail?