Top Hat compared to Sunbird 25

Top Hat compared to Sunbird 25

Postby Troppo » Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:31 pm

I had been thinking perhaps a trailer sailer would be a reasonable option to meet at least some of my keenness for getting out on the water. Reason being, I could leave it at the river boat club and have easy access plus no need to panic during floods. So, more flexible for looking after and much easier during rainy season.

Anyone got any experience with comparing a Top Hat to a Sunbird 25?

I looked at a Sunbird 25. Certainly interesting comparison. Wider cockpit at the stern. More usable space with the tiller being over the back not in the middle of the cockpit. It had an outboard motor in a well.

What caught me out with this particular motor was that it was a lovely newish 9.8 4 stroke but fixed in the well. Could not be raised up. Had remote controls so that was nice. But with Windchaser I used to like to pull the motor up when anchored as ropes such as dinghy painter, seemed to like to get caught around the leg. And less corrosion if lifted up.

Inside, the v-berth seemed smaller than in Windchaser, although the cabin seemed much bigger. Some of the extra space came from the cabin roof being wider than Windchaser.

I found on top with moving from the cockpit to the bow, there was little space for my feet between deck edge and cabin side. I am not sure how it would go because in some of the rough water I experienced with Windchaser and moving up to the bow, I liked having the space to put my feet that was lacking on the Sunbird.

Obviously, the Sunbird has much less draught with a swing keel but I didn't go test the boat to see if I could run aground.

I came away from looking at the Sunbird thinking again, that Top Hats are a fantastic design.

Anyway, my situation has not improved enough yet for me to seriously consider getting another boat. I just like looking. And if I found something extra fantastic, I sure it won't hurt storing it at the club. : )

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Re: Top Hat compared to Sunbird 25

Postby Ianb » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:40 pm

This is the classic conundrum. The Sunbird is a nice boat, but you need a BIG vehicle to tow it. Don't know about you, but I dont want to drive a massive vehicle around for day to day driving. So you could end up like me, with two cars, a bigger one for towing the boat, and a little one for everyday. Then you look at the cost. Cost of running an extra car is almost as much, or more than, the annual haulout costs for a 25ft fixed keel sailboat. Sunbirds, being trailer-sailers, cost a lot more than fixed keelers of the same size.

The good thing about the Sunbird design, is that the swing "keel" is in fact more of a centreboard, and not a massive moving lump of metal, with critical hinges to be maintained.
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Re: Top Hat compared to Sunbird 25

Postby Troppo » Wed Jun 07, 2017 5:52 pm

Reading your post Ian, I think Classic Conundrum sounds a good name for a boat. Not for me though. If I have a choice, I like really short names I can spell without spellcheck.

What boat do you tow around?

If I can store a trailer sailer at the Rockhampton boat club or more expensive, the club at Roslyn Bay on the coast, then I won't need to tow it except from storage to the ramp, not even going on a road.

I am surprised how much trailer sailers cost compared to a keel boat. Even taking into account a trailer, they seem way more expensive.

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Re: Top Hat compared to Sunbird 25

Postby Ianb » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:52 pm

My mini long keeler is an Investigator 563. Weighing in at 1200 kg on the trailer, that is the limit I can tow with my Subaru Liberty.

Agree that the boat name should be short, simple, and easy to say on the radio.

Trailer-sailers are expensive as they are usually better preserved than the equivalent age keelboat. Also running costs are a lot less. Less pressure to keep up the maintenence. You sleep better in storms. Can potter anytime SWAMBO and life sets you free. On the other hand, for most, the overnight accomodation is limited. Also many, (unlike the Investigator 563 and Sunmaid/Sunbird), are not properly self-righting.
IMHO a trailer-sailer is good for those with busy, time poor, lives. Thats why I am waiting till I can retire before buying the keelboat.
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Re: Top Hat compared to Sunbird 25

Postby SeaLady » Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:35 pm

I am not familiar with the Sunbird 25 but I am familiar with other 25 foot trailer sailers.
Trailer sailers have a lot of benefits and I owned a few (when I was married)

My decision, for me as a single person, Keel Boat like a Top Has:
More stable
Able to sail in rougher weather and out at sea
Able to sail solo.
Picking up a mooring is heaps easier than putting a trailer sailor back on the trailer.


A trailer boat is very difficult to launch and rig solo.
Even more difficult to get back on the trailer solo.
Expecially when weather is non compliant.
Give one a try on your own when the wind is in the wrong direction.

With 2 people who know what they are doing - easy peasy. (Me and my then husband).

Will you ALWAYS have that competent second person?
ALWAYS?


For me the biggest advantage of a trailer sailor was the ability to use it as a caravan and drive it to all sort of fascinating places, then go for a sail.
I slept on board whilst on the trailer many times.
But you ALWAYS need 2 people.

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Re: Top Hat compared to Sunbird 25

Postby Troppo » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:20 am

IanB, that sounds a good plan: Quote "Thats why I am waiting till I can retire before buying the keelboat."

SeaLady, I find it interesting that as a solo sailor you have chosen a keel boat. Points worth considering. I was thinking about your point regarding a keel boat being more stable. Checking the displacement of a 25 foot Sunbird and a 25 foot Top Hat, the Top Hat is 700 kg to 900 kg heavier. In my thinking, that should make a huge difference in how each boat sits on choppy water. I tend to get seasick sitting in anchored fishing tinnies but practically never got sick in Windchaser even sleeping in the bow in light chop. The motion of the Top Hat on the water was kind to my stomach. I suspect that a lighter boat with its weight up higher than that of a boat with a deeper keel may not be so kind to my stomach. But then, a shallow draft boat has more options in my sailing area of where it anchors so may be able to find quieter water which a keelboat does not have access to. Or has access to on high tide but is uncomfortable at low tide as it lies over.

My boating is restricted at the moment to reading boating stuff, including advertisements. Perhaps it may seem odd for those who have no passion for boating, I enjoy looking at for-sale adverts for all types of boats, big and small. Boats, especially older style, I think are amazing in their variety and fit out. Very soothing.

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