Farr 500 Boat Review
Australian Seacraft Magazine May 1979
By Graeme Andrews
“With more than 50 afloat in Australia in less than one year, the Farr 6000 has made its mark but little sister, the Farr 5000 will make that figure look sluggish”. Graeme Andrews went to Auckland for the exclusive story of the four berth 16 footer.
With about 80 to 90 trailer yachts on the local market, readers may think that we need another like we (collectively) need a hole in the head.
Yet, when I saw the study plans of this new trailer sailer I felt it was important enough to the Australian trailer sailing fraternity to make a special trip to New Zealand to test it. Seacraft tested the 5000 before NZ magazines had done so.
During several days in Auckland, I met the builders, inspected the factory, talked to the designer and sailed the boat on the “Windy Waitemata” in gusts of up to 25 knots and I have no hesitation in saying that the Farr 5000 is the trailer sailer of the ’80s.
It is the small family yacht by which all others in the lightweight category will be judged end it will influence the type for years to come.
A smaller version of the well- known and popular Farr 6000 trailer yacht, the 5000 differs in having a more basic interior, an optional pop-top, rather than a pop-top as standard, and the ability to provide over-nighting for four and yet be towed for short runs by 1300cc and for Australia-style distances by anything of 15-1600cc’ upwards.
Our test boat, Uncle Seaweed, was the second from Sea Nymph Boat’s assembly line and was owned by Bruce Farr, who designed it. Bruce was using it as a recreational craft and as a floating test bed in order to refine any aspects, if needed. At the time we tested the boat, Bruce was suggesting some slight sail mods to the main to alter the draft.
In standard form the 5000 is fitted with four full size bunks, stowage under each bunk, a lifting cabin hatch, two removable side hatch panels, plus the centre insert, swing rudder, foredeck anchor locker with hatch, jib and main and trailer.
In Australia the trailer will be Australian made as import duties and costs make the excellent New Zealand-made trailer uneconomic. Options are simple, including a pop-top, pulpit and pushpit, chemical toilet (for which space is provided), guardrails, portable galley, spinnaker and boom tent.
The great value of the Farr 5000 for the Australian market is its ability to be towed long distances behind a car of medium to moderate power end provide comfortable sleeping accommodation for four in caravan parks along the way. With a little home handyman do-it-yourselfing, additional racks and shelves could be added in the cabin.
The expected price in Australia will be somewhere around the ? mark, including sails, trailer end bunks. This will be a little more expensive than any other 16 footer but there is no other boat of similar size on the Australian market which offers the standard of finish and those four comfortable bunks.
While the Farr 5000 looks very similar to the 6000, the boat is not a reduced version; rather it is a completely new design, using the same basic style of the bigger boat.
The boat is beamy, 2.25m (7ft 4in) and the beam is carried well aft towards the wide stern to support the average crew weight which will spend most of its sailing time in the cockpit. On an overall length of 5.09m (16ft 8in) with a waterline length of 4.62m (15ft 2in), the 5000 has a fine entry with relatively little flare. Two simulated clinkers, as in the 6000, add stiffness to the hull and break up the slab-sided appearance, which could come from this deep little hull. There is a gentle sheerline which reduces the heavy effect of the cabin. The hull clears away in an easy run aft, clearing the transom from the waterline when at rest.
Providing enough headroom in a small boat usually results in a chunky or boxy look for the cabin. In the 5000 the designer has avoided this by providing considerable camber to the cabin top and by using high coaming around the cockpit.
“Although I’ve made my name in designing racing craft, it is obvious to me that the design pendulum is swinging to family cruising-style boats. I’m now designing yachts of all sizes with the light-weight, fast cruising theme” … Bruce Farr.
Internally, the Farr 5000 is simple. The Farr 6000 idea of a settee surrounding the cabin is used again. Two full length bunks run along either side with the after being a quarter bunk for about two thirds of its length. The bunks all have bin stowage below and the bunk squabs are soft surfaced and very comfortable. Although its use might be somewhat difficult, there is provision for a marine head on the centerline, a facility very rare on any small craft this size. The cabin floors are moulded GRP with several small ridges which act as brace points for feet and places to restrain small objects. The mast support is a dual steel pipe, which a home handyman might well use as a base on which to build extra stowage if the toilet is not fitted. Non-skid is used extensively and the top of the swing keel’s case is covered with a sprayed furry coating of a type, which will probably wear through quickly as it is a natural step down point.
The cabin has sufficient sitting room for five or six adults and even with the optional galley in use, there is room for three or four others to supervise the cook.
The cockpit is almost as big as that of the 6000 and the same open access principle is used. Between the cockpit and the cabin three marine ply partitions allow the area to be opened up to varying degrees. The two side partitions are secured by shock cord. They can be removed when sailing or retained with access to the cabin still easy. In lighter conditions the jib hand can sit on the cross beam with feet in the cabin.
The cockpit has no lockers other than a fuel tank space with a hinged lid, which has no catch. While unlikely to ever accidentally swing upwards, this lid should have some simple form of catch and, in the test boat, there was no hole cut to allow the fuel line to run to the engine when the lid was closed.
Non skid surfacing is used extensively in the cockpit end on the side decks as well as on the cabin top. The foredeck has a lidded side-opening locker for ground tackle with the foredeck cleat recessed aft of the locker, thus keeping it closed while at anchor.
Varnished timber handrails are mounted on the cabin top. These should be moved aft a few inches to allow a third crew hand to hand brace on them when leaning out to the maximum.
The rig is approximately 5/8 with a smallish jib and a four-battened main. All sail controls are led to the cabin top except the spinnaker sheets to a coaming jam block. A jib sheet track is situated within arm reach from the cockpit and the mainsheet traveler is across the bridge between cockpit and cabin.
Outhaul, cunningham, vang and other controls are used with jam or clam cleats as needed. The swing keel is controlled by a winch with removable handle and the same window for checking degree of keel cable as in the Farr 6000.
The moulded GRP rudder swings clear of the water when not needed, using an aluminium box frame for stiffness and leverage. The tiller is a square section extrusion with a solid timber ending – just right for a good hard grip. The usual twiddle stick is fitted.
We launched from the 6-8 boat ramp in the Westhaven Marina and marveled at this government-run marina and mooring area many times bigger than the combination of all the marinas in Port Jackson. It seems that here boat moorings and berths are not dirty words and sticks with which ecologists and psuedo-environmentalists can beat those with whom they do not agree.
An even bigger marina area at Half Moon Bay has been recently completed while Westhaven is to be doubled in capacity – this will give Auckland with about 700,000 people, about four/five times the boat moorings (and launching ramp) capacity of Sydney – population 3,500,000 or thereabouts.
Bruce Farr came along to sail his own boat and we slipped casually through the many moorings with 10-15 knots to get us going. Outside in Waitemata Harbor the winds were from the west from 10 to 20 knots with an occasional gust to around 25. Waitemata Harbor provides a greater average wind speed than Port Jackson and with less shipping, the waters become a mass of sailing craft on weekends.
Most of Auckland’s cabin boats are used for overnight or longer cruising and Fridays see squadrons of them heading out of Auckland for the nearby islands between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsular. Anchorages abound and much of the area is a maritime park, which allows visitors to enjoy themselves with certain reservations.
A craft such as the 5000 allows a medium-income family – one which cannot afford a big boat or high car costs to enjoy the benefits of coastal and lake cruising at modest cost.
With Sea Nymph partner Kim O’Dell on the helm for most of the time, we first ran across the harbor and then jibed in around 15 knots, to reach back to the main shipping area. Waves of around 0.5m slopped along the sides but none came over the lee side and isolated spray on the windward side only wet the pants of those sitting high up.
Puffs heeled the 5000 quickly with Kim easing and then taking in the main quickly to keep her moving. One heavier-than-normal puff forced her into a round-up but with three aboard Uncle Seaweed was never worrying.
Many families buying the 5000 will be first-time sailors and some, if not all, of the crew will be nervous. In this situation, it is worth realising that the main has sufficient power to easily sail the boat alone and owners have a very forgiving craft, which will let them gradually absorb its capabilities.
The jib is small and light enough to be handled by young teenagers or even younger and the whole boat is planned to act as a sort of floating maritime primer until skills improve.
When the crew has the system weighed-off, the 5000 has the hull, gear and ability to race and fast cruise. Farr came second in his class on the boat’s first outing end felt that he’d have come first with a few small sail modifications which Hoods were to do after Seacraft finished with the boat.
If the 5000 suffers a knock-down, she is designed to self-right and floats high enough to keep the cabin clear of water, even with the hatch boards out. The cockpit is self-draining and the heavy swing keel, combined with 180kg (397lb) of ballast will quickly bring her up and pointing into the wind.
On the way back to the Westhaven moorings, after running past the Devonport Naval Base, we sailed several miles. The heavy Waitemata tidal flow was running out and we stayed out of the main flow until above the marina entrance. A short tack saved enough distance as we reached into the marina and worked through the moorings. One wrong lead had us going about in the confines of the berths and then we headed easily to the ramp. Few local TSs use their motors into and out of the ramp and we saw forty footers leaving and entering berths under sail – unusual in Australia.
The Farr 5000 is the standard by which all small trailer yachts will be judged for the next several years. In one compact, good-looking and not- to-expensive package, it offers an average family a small cruising yacht, able to cruise for a weekend, at a price less than the average car that will haul it. It will appeal to clubmen, families and those who want to get Farr in front of the others in club racing.
The test boat needed some minor sail alterations to slightly improve flow, modification of the cabin handrail placing, a more durable top to the foot-fall on the swing keel case in the cabin and a catch and fuel line hole on the fuel tank locker. Provision of a push and pulpit would almost be a must for most crews.