ALL PHOTOS LATITUDE / RICHARD
Spread; Steve Schmidt at the helm of the SC70 'Hotel California, Too', which he races relentlessly in the Caribbean, often singlehanded. She's the only 'cruising' SC70 ever built. Inset top left; Compared to most boats in the Caribbean, 'HCT' is sleek and simple. Inset bottom; Her big back porch.
they could last for as much as 10,000 hours? Schmidt has used this original, 17-year old, turbo-charged Yanmar 76 hp diesel almost exclusively for charging the HCT's batteries at relatively low rpms. "I've only used the engine for propulsion about 4% of the time," he says. And it's not as if he's taken the best care of it. "Ten years ago I stopped cleaning the breather and turbo. Eventually it got so clogged that the engine couldn't combust the fuel and we had to clean it out." Despite both kinds of diesel abuse, the Yanmar now has 17,000 hours, and continues to run fine! Most cruising boats lift their dinghies out of the water with davits. Schmidt has a LATITUDE / RICHARD
without a crew. Secondly, his boat has all of 25 feet of anchor chain, about one-tenth of what would be considered prudent. And the anchors are none too big. Furthermore, HCT doesn't have a windlass. Yet Schmidt frequently sets and raises anchors by himself. He does, however, get a bit of an assist from an electric winch. If anchoring a 70-ft boat by oneself seems pretty tricky, consider the fact that for a two-year span, during which Schmidt actively cruised and raced, his boat didn't have a transmission and, thus, no diesel propulsion. So he had to set and raise anchor under sail, often in crowded anchorages. You know how you're supposed to run modern sailboat diesels at high revs and, if you take care of them, Yanmar claims
special flopping 'ramp' on the transom of his specially designed short rig SC 70 that allows him to drag his 12-ft dinghy onto the boat's huge 'back porch'. There are several common ways to heat water for showers on a boat. There are electric and propane water heaters, heat-exchangers from the engine, and even plastic Sun Showers. HCT's hot water heating system is even more basic than a Sun Shower. Schmidt runs a regular garden hose filled with water around the deck. "If you use the water in it before 4 p.m. in the tropics, the water is so hot it will burn you," he says. "If you wait until after 10 p.m, it will be cold." Unlike most water heaters, a hose needs little maintenance. Since Schmidt has mostly singlehanded his 70-footer for decades, you'd think HCT would have a slick and sophisticated deck layout. With all due respect to Schmidt, it's pretty complicated, and not all controls are easy for a man at the helm to reach. Furthermore, the rig has running backstays and the mainsheet winch is manual. The amazing thing is that none of it seems to bother Schmidt, who, if we remember correctly, says he races about 70 races a year, many of them solo. It's a little bit funny, because when he came to the Caribbean, he really hadn't done much racing, let alone singlehanded racing. He did it in order to meet people. When Schmidt got to the Caribbean, he wasn't much interested in diving, either. But the more he did it, the more he became fascinated by it. He now spends about an hour a day in the water. He doesn't dive for fish north of Guadaloupe because of fears of ciguatera. But he has dived on most of the points and reefs on the race courses he sails. No matter what age Schmidt is, he'd Singlehand a 70-footer in lots of races, maintain her, and dive an hour or more a day, and you'll be in great shape, too.
The March 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.