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What initially attracted us to the Seaward boats were their lines

2011 Seaward 32RK By Bob Stumpf


hat initially attracted us to the Seaward boats were their lines. They are just beautiful boats. In 2009, we were looking for a trailerable cruiser with better sailing performance than we found in typical swing-keel boats, including our former water-ballasted Hunter 23.5. As soon as we saw the Seaward 26RK online, we tried to learn as much as we could about the boats, especially the vertical variable draft concept. We looked at several used 26RKs, finally visited the Hake Yachts factory in Stuart, FL, and ordered a new 26RK in September 2011. After more than two years of extensive use, including a 1500-mile mini-odyssey from Pensacola to Key West and back, we decided that, because we liked the boat so much, we wanted the bigger model, which led to a nationwide search of newer model Seaward 32RKs. In January 2013, we sold our 26RK to a family in Oregon. The dad drove his Toyota Tundra to our homeport in Pensacola and towed her back. After looking carefully at five 32RKs, all in Florida, we settled on a 2011 lightly used boat on a lift in Punta Gorda, which we christened Dreamtime. We picked her up in April and sailed her back to Pensacola. We opted for no trailer this time, because the 32RK requires a much bigger vehicle for the 10,000 pound load. “RK” stands for retractable keel, perhaps the most prominent innovation of this lightweight cruiser, and a feature that suits her ideally for the shallow waters of the Southeast and the Bahamas. The keel system consists of a vertically retracting fin, a 2100-pound lead wing at the bot38

June 2014


tom of the fin, and a robust electric winch and cable apparatus that lowers and retracts the keel with the flip of a cockpit-mounted switch. Maximum draft is 6.5 feet; minimum, 20 inches. We generally sail with the keel at about four feet and lower it for better upwind performance or more stability. Likewise, on an extended downwind or when gaining a shallow anchorage, we’ll raise it appropriately. Designer and builder Nick Hake insists that when able, less is better and faster, due to reduced wetted surface. The rudder, too, is vertically retractable with an easy manual lift system. We usually sail with it at the next to the lowest notch, about 8 inches from full down. In stiff upwind situations, lowering the additional notch significantly reduces weather helm. Also in tight maneuvering situations, more rudder is better. Raising the rudder that last notch to all the way out of the water is hard on my back, so I opted to paint the bottom eight inches and leave it in the water. The vertical nature of the foils allows the boat to remain in balance no matter where they are set or moved. Incidentally, there are a couple of manual backups for raising the keel in the unlikely event that the winch fails. Dreamtime performs very well on all points of sail. She can point up to 35 degrees of apparent wind off the bow. She goes well in light air with her relatively light displacement. We use the 135 genoa and rarely roll it in to shorten sail. With the mainsail on the first reef, and the full genny, the boat remains nicely balanced. There is a second reef point on the 32RK although we haven’t used it yet. If we need to shorten