I have sailed the Hobie 17 for 16 years and this is great news for the best solo catamaran that I have ever sailed. There is an opportunity for the makers and owners to make some non-performance modifications to make a great boat even better . Lets begin with things on the boat that have failed on me and the possible remedies.
Cross Beam inner gunnel securing bolt bearing plate .
Fault - It's small size and relative fore and aft alignment of the bolt hole and pop rivet securing holes causes the cross beam to crack around its underside at this point. Remedy - Make this plate " U " shaped , wider and longer to separate this hole alignment and give the bolt more support .
Boom failure .
Fault - When the mainsheet hanger was allowed to be moved forward , the increased strain at this point causes the boom to break at the hanger . Remedy - get a couple of feet of broken boom and with an angle grinder cut longways either side of the " Sail " track . If you have cut it right then the piece left over will slide snugly down inside the boom . Remove the hanger and centre the insert on the hanger , drill the pop rivet holes through it and reattach the hanger . NOTE - The above procedure can also be carried out with old ( straight ) sections of Cross Beam and be driven in past the inner gunnel inside your current Cross Beams before the larger plate is installed ( just make sure that they are driven at least one inch inside the beams at the ends to ensure that the outer gunnel " knuckles " will fit properly .
Cross Beam outer ends .
Fault - The Cross Beam ends wear at the point that they fit into the outer gunnel " knuckle " and also wreck the fiberglass farmings outboard of the Beam ends . Remedy - These ends can be set in epoxy and if you wish , low profile round head screws can be drilled through the Beam ends and tapped into the " knuckles " .
Trailer Rollers .
Fault - If the seller has supplied a trailer with boat rollers on the front end of the trailer then the round hull section of the hull sits at 90 degrees to a round roller on the trailer which means that there is only one point of contact , at almost the centre of the boat and I can assure you that if you trail any distance you WILL punch a hole in the bottom of your boat . Remedy - Remove the front rollers and install foot long " Skids " that are well padded and capture the whole round section of the bottom . If the distance is a long way , put a large piece of foam under the rear rollers .
Trampoline sides .
Fault - The trampoline where it exits the forward and rear ends of the inner gunnel track , tears itself to pieces because the front and rear beam securing points do not keep the sides apart as they leave the tracks. Remedy - Install large brass eyelets in the trampoline around one inch forward and behind these tracks and install small rounded aperture saddles through the gunnel opposite these eyelets ( put s / steel washers onto the saddle pop rivets under the gunnels before you pull them up ) , then with whipping twine , tightly lace these eyelets to the saddles .
Centre Plates . ( US = centerboard )
Fault - As the lifting rope knots tighten , the blade protrudes below the keel line when retracted and eventually wearing the leading edged flat . Remedy - Put a small rope sized s / steel spring above the lower knot and put them inside the " knot hole " inside the Cenreplate/Centerboard then install the plate in the usual manner . This little spring will take up the slack caused by the tightening knots and keep your plates from dragging along the beach .
Fault - When you come off onto a close reach with a wide mast rotation and a tight mainsheet , the gooseneck can dig into the front beam . Remedy - If your gooseneck fitting has only one pin support ( the lower sheeve pin ) get an upgraded one that is also supported by the pin that takes your lower downhaul pulley .
Mast Raising and Lowering.
Fault - We all raise and lower our masts over the front by taking off the downwind side shroud and pushing the mast gently backwards to keep one forestay tight , and lowering until we are at the mast's centre then moving the mast slightly forward to allow us to remove the step from the ball and then laying the mast across the wings . Solo rigging is no trouble at all using this method but the mast rotation lever's mounting bolt comes awfully close to the cross beam . Remedy - I'd thought of having a new mast / dolphin striker rod made an inch longer ( it would make the world of difference ) .
Outhaul attachment to the boom .
Fault - The fitting on the aft end of the boom fits into the large boom cavity but in no way retains the smaller upper cavity which houses the outhaul car and as a result when the outhaul car is pulled out to it's maximum travel , it can burst out of its cavity . Remedy - install a s/steel worm drive clamp ( ie. radiator hose clamp ) of suitable size on the outer end of the boom extrusion to stop the car from bursting out .
Mast Rotation " Thingy "
Fault - The 17's sail will not stay rotated in light winds or when the mainsheet is loose ( one side is better than the other and I suspect that the side of the sail that the battens are on has a little to do with this . Remedy - A rope containing a pulley is tied from the rear of the mast rotation lever , around the front of the mast and back to itself . Then shock cord is taken from the forestay mounting on one foredeck , down to pull the pulley forward and then back to the opposite forestay mounting . When the mast rotates , the pulley is pulled to one side and forwards and thus holds the mast on lock. They work great but are a pain to rig every sailing day and get in the way when hauling up the beach solo , so I hope the makers can introduce a more permanent modification ( I'd buy one ! )
Fault - The rudders are not retained at the extremities of their travel and as such the castings beat the living daylights out of the edge of the hull / deck lop at the rear of the boat . Remedy - Some rubber glued to the boat or castings at the point of contact will do the trick . It would be easy to redesign this area to prevent this problem .
Wing corrosion .
Fault - Water invariably gets into the wing bar ( possibly through the inner bar support casting fixing rivets ) and corrodes the bars from the inside out and it's too late once the corrosion breaks through to the outside . Remedy - Get a very long 3/16 to 1/4 drill and drill holes up from the bottom and at least the wings will drain when you reverse them for transport
Wing Matt wear .
Fault - The tiller extension rubs along the upper surface of the inner wing bar and eventually wears the cloth through . Remedy - Have additional layers of cloth sewn over these affected areas and reverse your mats ( to the other side of the boat where they will be upside down for a while ) .
Masthead Halyard retaining mechanism .
Fault - The ring that engages in the hook will flatten and burr the hook and prevent the release mechanism from dropping down to allow the halyard to be lowered . Remedy - File or grind these burrs away regularly to allow the moving mechanism to move into place to allow the halyard to lower .
There are many other faults that are not so specific to the Hobie 17 and another article on general beach cat maintenance would be in order at a later date .
Pinjarra, Western Australia
Australian Correspondent, TheBeachcats.com
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