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Southern Cross

1975 October 10

Gillmer 31-foot cutter

Thomas Gillmer has been one of my favorite designers for years, and it is with pleasure that I review this handsome design from his board.
Let me add that Mr. Gillmer was considerate enough to include a set of the lines with the design package I received. This will make an evaluation of the design much easier, as I will not have to speculate on the hull form. Publishing the lines of yachts is common practice in Europe, but, with an eye to protecting their work, most American designers guard the lines closely.

The first thing that impresses me with this design is the overall good looks of the yacht. I can not think of a Gillmer design that I thought was ugly. Southern Cross is certainly a beautiful design. There is a careful balance in the sheer and the overhangs which makes it look very "right."
Most readers will recognize the type as from the Colin Archer genre, but there are certain distinct refinements from the classic model. Giving the yacht a tight turn at the bilges, Gillmer has given the yacht good initial stability and much flatter and easier buttocks than the true Colin Archer type. There is also more buoyancy in the ends of the yacht to ensure a dry ride and plenty of reserve stability as the yacht heels. The flatter buttocks will make the yacht faster and reduce the tendency the Colin Archer type has to hobbyhorse.

The Southern Cross should be an able performer and an excellent sea boat. The large outboard rudder will give good maneuverability and help offset the resistance of the deep fore foot in turning. The quite full keel sections allow the designer to place the ballast and fresh water tank very low, again resulting in an increase in stability. I suppose if I were asked to find a feature of the lines I did not care for, I would take exception to the deep fore foot. I would like to see this slightly cut away. But, that would be "nitpicking;" I really like the design.

The interior is quite standard with the exception of a rather nice forward stateroom arrangement. I would prefer to see some sort of wet gear locker handy to the companionway. The main settee berths are 6'6" long as are the forward berths. This is a feature slighted by some designers. The berths also seem quite wide. I can not scale them, but they appear to be about 30 inches wide. This is indeed a comfortable size. There is 6'2" headroom throughout. All the interior wood is Bruynzeel, the best you can buy, and Honduras mahogany. It is oil finished. The ice box is huge at 12 square feet; this is unusual in a yacht of this size. The standard stove is a gimballed two burner Shipmate.

Hull construction is hand laid up fiberglass with a molded in stem and sternpost. This will give the vessel a traditional look. The hull laminate has a half inch Airex foam core. This is an expensive detail, but the end result is a very stiff hull with good insulative qualities. The lead ballast is bonded inside the hull and is 4,100 pounds lead.

The sail plan shows a nicely balanced cutter rig. This is my "pet" rig, although I must admit the overriding quality of the cutter, which endears me to it, is purely aesthetic. Of course, it balances better than most sloops and does offer more options in sail reduction, but I like its looks.
Gillmer's rig is a little short, by my standards, and results in a sail area to displacement ratio of 12.57. In light of Southern Cross' displacement to length ratio of 388, which is rather high, I would like to see a sail area to displacement ratio closer to 16. The rig as designed may be fine for ocean passages, but for coastal cruising in most areas I think a large genoa should be carried.

Even adamant bowsprit haters will probably find no fault in the short platform which serves as a bowsprit. In this case you can consider the sprit as almost additional deck space. One feature of the cutter, which is often overlooked, is its ability to be very close-winded. Consider this, a large genoa needs to be sheeted outside the upper shrouds and results in a wide sheeting angle, not at all suitable for close windward work. But the yankee jib on a cutter can be sheeted inside the upper shrouds. This gives a reasonable sheeting angle without resorting to inboard chainplates.

Auxiliary power is a Westerbeke Pilot 20. There is a 70 gallon fresh water tank. I do not know the fuel capacity.

Reading over the list of standard features, I am impressed with the complete state of the standard boat, considering the attractive price quoted. Standard features include: bronze opening ports, almost all the required deck gear, reefing gear, sheets, main and working jib and self contained marine toilet.

The Southern Cross is a beautiful addition to the growing fleet of series built double enders.
For more information write C.E. Ryder Corp., Dept. SG, 47 Gooding Ave., Bristol, R.I. 02809.

LOA 31'
LWL 25'
Beam 9'6"
Draft 4'7"
Displacement 13,600 lbs.
Ballast 4,100 lbs.