Merlin Rocket for family sailing? & Whats a competitive specification ........

15/11/2011 17:29:55
Just looking for a boat to return to sailing after some years away. I would describe myself as a good basic sailor. I have two young kids 4 year olds. I have always loved the look (and performance) of the Merlin Rocket.
Is it a suitable boat for family sailing do you think? I don't want to put the kids off with something extremely tippy.
I have some friends who want to return to sailing also so hopefully will not be short of crew to go racing until kids ! (bet loads of people heard that before!!)
I have my eye on 3496 Ron Hall built on Apollo Duck. Looks good but can anyone enlighten me on the following with pro + con if applicable:-

Modified Canterbury Tales? Not sure what this means
SuperSpars Carbon mast boom + poles? Guess lighter and stiffer
P&B Sails? Are there many different sails allowed in the spec and which is better?

I would like to get back into racing(having just given up Road Racing!)and would like a relatively quick boat? Is there anything particular to look for or a must have list.
I'm sure the owner would answer these questions but would just like to gen up a bit before arranging to look.

Many thanks in advance.

15/11/2011 18:03:25
Chris Rathbone
Hi Justin,

I have finished a season sailing with my 9 year old son in Merlin 2266. Obviously, we only sailed when it was light but generally it worked ok. He preferred this boat (6 foot wide)to wider, more modern boats which he found tippy.
I suspect as he gets older it will be less of an issue.

15/11/2011 18:10:08
Chris M
3496 is sold.

Where are you looking to sail it?

15/11/2011 18:12:28
Geoff Wright
My first thought is you need a club with both a Merlin fleet and a good kid's training scheme.  Where are you based as many people on the forum have been there and done that?   

When looking at 'prime of life' merlins vs other classes the first question is do you have the time/ inclination to maintain a wood boat? You get a lot for your money with the best older merlins and they are beautiful boats but will need tlc.

Boats that have been sailed regularly and competitively and are well looked after (like 3496 which has been a regular on the Midland Circuit 2010-2011) are often a good buy as all the gear should be working so you can concentrate on sailing not tinkering.

3496 is one of a number of variants on the 'Canterbury Tales' design which is still with various small tweaks the basis of the newest (approx 17k) Winder merlins, although most boats since about no 3560 have been foam core plastic not wood.

The carbon rig is much lighter than and will respond to gusts better than alloy-definitely a major plus for a boat this age.

P&B has been consistently one of the top sailmakers in the fleet over recent years.

15/11/2011 22:20:07
Thats typical sold while I faff around! That'll teach me. Thanks very much for the comments and help though. The hunt continues! Intend to sail at Staunton Harold intitially which doesn't have a many Merlin Rockets but would be ok I thought to feel my way around the boat. I was always intending going away with the boat to race it. Maybe an Enterprise would be a better option particularly at SHSC just not the same though........
Thanks again

16/11/2011 08:45:54
Though heresey on Merlin site, maybe a National 12 would be better than an Enterprise, there are plenty of good single floor 12's in your budget, they are easy to sail with kids, with dangley poles, and they have similar ancestry to the Merlin ... you could look at a Merlin once you have cracked the 12.  A 12 can be very effective in a handicap fleet.

16/11/2011 11:34:32
Mike Liggett
I agree with David - there are some excellent 12's about. Child crews are common and can also be sailed single handed for fun sailing. Definitely a single bottom - perhaps a Crusader or Design 8 - very reasonable.

16/11/2011 18:54:46
rod & jo
Second, or third, that. We sail both Merlin and 12,- and others!. We like them all, but the 12 is a wonderful boat, great with a kid even in strong winds where the Merlin might be a handful. Very friendly class, many budget price boats for sale on their most informative website.

16/11/2011 22:14:38
Many thanks for the advice and help. Much appreciated. Doing some homework now! Crusader & Design 8 advice noted. What about the double bottom boats?
Thanks again to everyone who took their time to reply.

16/11/2011 23:36:15
3496s Former owner
Too bad Smokin sold on Saturday to the first couple who came to look and their family is much younger than yours.

I do take onboard the comment about looking for a stable family boat, but surely a 12 is also round bottomed so has little form stability like a Merlin, compared with any chined hull dinghy surely both will appear tippy?

Enterprise scare me downwind, huge main and nothing to balance it with....wiping out downwind is way more scary then getting blown over upwind!!

Where do you live? Blithfield and Staunton Harold are equi distance from Burton and the fleet at Blithfield is well worth travelling for, its a 1 hour 50 mile trip each way for me, but it is so worth it.

17/11/2011 07:20:37
Chris M
The Merlin is more suited to teenage crews than child crews, but unless the kids are going to sail in most conditions from day 1, depending on your proportions, a merlin will be easier to find an adult crew for.

Plenty of people do sail merlins with young kids in lightish winds, the only problem is getting the spinny pole on. If you're a reasonable sailor i doubt stability would be a major problem (In either class), and the Merlin is better than the 12 in this aspect. Things happen much slower than in a 12 due to the longer waterline.

What's competetive? To get a decent Winder you will usually have to spend at least £6000. There have been a couple of cheaper ones but they are rare, sell quickly and often need some work. They do clean up beautifully usually however and hold their value.

Assuming this is too rich for you, you ideally want a Canterbury tales, of which there are a number for sale currently. Wooden decks won't relish being outside in the winter without carefull storage though!

Club wise the fleet at Blithfield is booming, and would welcome new members!

17/11/2011 09:14:10
I would suggest that you ask any 12 questions on the National 12 forum.  I sailed a 12 with my daughter between ages 10 - 17 and this worked very well.  I know that she would have been put off by the spinnaker on the Merlin.  I wish I could interest her now (aged 23) in a Merlin because there are two new C-T's joining the Salcombe fleet.

I would also suggest that slightly older and less competitive in fleet racing N12's or Merlins are fine in Handicap fleets, because there are no other Merlins or 12s to beat them.

Finally, I wasn't selling a 12 against a Merlin, but it would be nice if he bought one or the other, rather than an Enterprise!

17/11/2011 12:23:20
Andrew M
I have sailed GP14's and Wayfarers in the past & like most Merlin sailors would not go back.  The Enterprise is a better shape and in some ways not a bad boat but not being able to change the layout of the controls to what suits you best is irritating & the jib fairleads are in the wrong place.  12's & Merlins are much more sensitive & responsive to sail.  Ellie was just 13 when we started sailing in Merlin opens.  The spinny was a  bit of a problem but putting a lower ring on the mast helped immensely & we also had an old rules small sail we used when it was windy, which it was most of the Looe champs in 2000, our 1st real experience of sea sailing.  With the twin pole system set up properly it's not difficult for crews even without much experience to set and drop the spinny, did just this last weekend at Hampton without any issues, though I wouldn't try it in a blow.  12's are just a bit small to have two ordinary sized adults sail them so they would suit your children better than the pick-up crews you are planning till they are old enough.  If your budget allows, there are a couple of the Jon Turner Canterbury Tales boats on the list with foam sandwich hulls & wood decks, which are still good enough to get you in the fleet if pointed in the right direction.

17/11/2011 13:40:36
I've got 2 sons, one 8 and the other 13 and both really enjoy club racing in the Merlin - more so than an Oppy or Topper.  I do have to be a little selective on when they crew as neither is very heavy, but I'd suggest inland in anything below a F3 the weight advantage of a small crew seems to outweigh the lack of a kite.
PM'd you with regard to Storm Cloud, and as I suggested, the price is very much open to negotiation. If you're undecided, can I suggest the best way to find out is to try one.

19/11/2011 16:20:18
Guy 3619
Hi Justin, Im the Merlin rep for Trent Valley SC, Long Eaton, based about 15 mins away from Staunton Harold, we also have National 12 class at the club if you come down to the club on a Sunday im sure we can point you in the right direction or alteratly give me a call on 07980 696665.



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