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Klick to enlarge  

The Sirocco 31 was designed by Angus Primrose, a renowned architect. She was designed under the half-ton class. Some further specifications:

  • L.O.A. = 31 ft / 9m60
  • Draft = 5ft 6 / 1m70
  • Beam = 9ft 3 / 2m86
  • Height = 10 m (mast) / 13m (bridge clearance)
  • Displacement = 6,500 lb / 3.000 kg
  • Ballast = 3.040 lb / 1.382 kg
  • Sail Area = 315 sq ft / 29,2 mē
  • Engine = Volvo Penta 20001, 9.9 hp inboard diesel

I'll try to give an objective review here. This is easier than it sounds. Being her owner, this gives me a rather biased view of her capacities.


Sailing Properties

As said before, her age doesn't affect her speed, on the contrary. The maximum speed we ever got out of here was an impressive 12.8 kts. Okay, I'm cheating here, that speed over ground, with the current spitting us out of the Solent at full blast, with the needles in full view. What a ride that was. She averages a good 5 kts, with a decent 7 as top speed. I haven't been able to try out the spinnaker, so there's still room for improvement there :-)

The Obi-Wan is a cruiser/racer. Which means you can comfortably maintain a decent speed of about 4,5 kts. If you want to go faster, start concentrating. It takes a good trim to get her going. She's well balanced, though. There's a groove in the middle of the underside of th traveller, which can be used to block the helm. With the sails properly trimmed, we managed to hold course for over half an hour. Who needs autopilots after that !

The Obi-Wan carries the following sail inventory:
  1. Spinnaker - Running, apparent wind up to 100°/1-3 bft
  2. Genoa 1 - 1-3 bft
  3. Genoa 2 - 3-5 bft
  4. Jib 1 - 5 - 6
  5. Jib 2 - 6 - 8
  6. Trysail - 8 and above (hope I never have to use this one)

The first reef goes into the mainsail at 5 bft, the second at 7 bft.

She's not the fastest boat through the tack, it requires practice. This is mainly caused by the rather long keel, and the fact that the helm can only be pushed to 32°, because of the layout. The helm is attached to the rudder at the bottom of the cockpit. The S-shape of the helm manages to give you some latitude, but there's no getting around the benches.


Manoeuvring under engine

Here's where it gets tricky. First of all, 9 hp isn't exactly overpowered. I now believe that you need at least 4 hp per ton of displacement. So a 12 or 15 hp engine would be better. The maximum speed under engine is about 5.4 knots. On the other hand , if you go faster under engine, you're probably more like to turn the thing on, and that's not what its all about.

Second of all, the propwalk is unbelievable. She's a leftie, which means she pulls to starboard when going astern. But if you know how to anticipate this, you can actually benefit. Using the propwalk I can turn her around on the spot. But mooring her to port takes a lot of seamanship.

The fact that she's powered by a one cylinder Volvo Penta 2001 doesn't improve the noise either. The engine causes quite a lot of vibrations. Checking the engine mounts is a annual job. But that goes for all engines.

On the other hand, the engine practically runs on drops. About 1l of fuel per hour.


The Cockpit

The cockpit has room for four people, five when in racing mode. The well isn't as wide as on yachts of a more recent design, but this just improves your ability to brace your legs.

The first thing you notice is the fact that the main genoawinch is situated in the middle of the cockpit bench. My first impression was that this is the worst place to put a winch. I immediately had visions of bruised shins. In fact, I wouldn't want it any other way now. Trimming the headsail is as easy a putting your magazine down, and giving the two-speed winch a few turns. No more having to go down to the leeward side, leaning out and running the risk of getting clobbered by a rogue wave. All is done from the safety of the cockpit. Racing is another matter, though. Since there is no dedicated winch for each sheet, the windward sheet has to be removed completely before the leeward sheet can be applied. Co-ordination is the keyword here.

The traveller was originally trimmed with stoppers. But this was difficult to regulate under heavy sail. So I replaced it with blocks and cleats. It now functions excellently.

The 14mm sheet is run through a 4-to-1 purchase.

On the starboard side a large locker which contains the sail inventory and the warps. The port locker is half it size, because of the bunk layout (of which more later). It contains the safety equipment: flares, fire extinguisher; and the fuel jerrycan. Keeping the fire extinguisher next to 40l of fuel isn't exactly a great idea, but on a 31ft boat, the fuel will always be close to the extinguisher. Behind the traveller is another locker. This provides seating for the mainsheet and traveller trimmer. It used to house the liferaft. But, being a 1973 original it was in a rather sorry state, so I took it out. It now contains the extra anchor warps and chain. This balances out the nose. The Sirocco 31 has a tendency to put her nose down as soon as you put some weight in the forward cabin. To port and starboard of the stern locker are the spinnaker winches.



There used to be a full wind instrumentation, but that kind of died during the years. I removed the mast mounted sensor, and used the free space to install a tricolour nav light. In 2001, I replaced the Seafarer sonar with a digital depth sounder. The Seafarer could only be installed inside. So if you were sailing in shallow waters, you had to keep one eye inside, and one outside. Difficult, to say the least. Now there's a digital readout on the dash. I also removed one of the defective wind meters, and replaced it with a GPS repeater. So COG, VOG, bearing and distance to waypoint are immediately accessible. Before that, I kept my handheld GPS in the cockpit, unprotected from the elements. I went through two handhelds like that.


The Deck

The entrance is slightly offset to port. This shows the attention that Angus Primrose paid to the ergonomics of living aboard. Had the entrance been spot in the middle, the central winch would indeed have caused a lot of bruises.

To starboard of the hatch are two winches for the halyards of the headsails and the spinakker. To port are two cleats, for the cunningham and the boomlift. The mainsail halyard is tensioned on a mastbase winch. Just behind the mast is a skylight. In front of the mast is a hatch, which leads to the fo'c'sle. Ideal for taking down the spinakker, and sleeping under the stars on a summer night.

Forward is a anchor winch, installed by the previous owner. Originally there was a central clamp. This was removed to make room for the winch. Because both anchor lockers are in front of the winch, the anchor rode has to make a 180° turn to end up in the locker. This leads the chain to clog every two feet. Not the most efficient installation. To make matters worse, the previous owner never replaced the clamp, using instead the winch. This was quickly amended. A sturdy clamp now sits to the right of the winch.

The headsails are hanked on. No furling reef for this boat. Agreed, it is more work, but it improves the speed, and I always have this fear of furling reefs, that they'll unroll themselves in a gale. Thousand of sailors will probably disrepute this, and point to the dangers of crawling across a wet deck, but that's my choice. Besides, I'm the skipper. I have a crew to that job :-)

The Interior

The rather steep stairs hide the engine. Removing these give you perfect access to the engine for maintenance. The gearbox and propshaft can be reached via the starboard cockpit locker and the port berth. Immediately to port of the stairs is a bunk. This also doubles as a seat and the nav station. The chart table faces outward to port, and swings into three positions:

  1. folded against the hull = bunk
  2. folded vertically = back of the seat
  3. locked in the upward position = nav station


I usually leave the card table locked in the upward position. In that configuration you can still use the bunk by crawling underneath the chart table.

Further forward, on the port side is the galley. A two pits alcohol stove, a sink and running cold water are all the mod cons the ships cook (yours truly) needs.


The starboard side of the main cabin is taken up by the folding table, and a seat. The backrest of wich can be removed, and placed beteen the seat and the table, thus turning it into a double berth. Again, hats off to Angus Primrose.

Going forward from the main cabin, you'll find a wet locker on the port side miships, and the bathroom on the left. The bathroom is equiped with a head and a sink. The faucet doubles as shower. No hot water, but excellent for washing of the salt after a summer swim.

The fo'c'scle is a wall-to-wall double berth. Several lockers provide plenty of space for the books, so the fo'c'scle doubles as library.


I hope this has given you a good impression of the Sirocco 31. You can find more images in the "lookout"-section.