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Thread: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

  1. #1
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    Default Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    OK, that might be a bit strong. However, I have been asked to get the ball rolling on a thread for the owners of cats produced by Solaris Yachts of Southhampton, England and have jumped at the chance. Even in this 'global village', scant information on the boats is available on the net as they ceased production in about 1995 (although a few of the designs, including my own, were continued in production for a period in conjunction with at least one model of Catalac, under the name 'Bluewater Catalacs').

    My boat is 1994 Solaris Sunstream 40, which was a stretched version of the Cherokee 35 that had increased aft cabin space and the rig moved aft to the companionway bulkhead, for a 'Prout-style' cutter rig. Although with the demise of the original Prout Yachts (and apparently now Broadblue), the rig has fallen out of favour, I could spend some considerable time preaching the virtues of this rig for an offshore boat.

    Certainly the Solaris yachts were well, if perhaps 'over'-built: mine was built to Lloyd's unlimited offshore standards. While the earliest Solaris models, the original 36 and 42, had what most consider to be inadequate bridgedeck clearance and a reputed reluctance to tack, their later boats have fine reputations as safe and comfortable, albeit not particularly fast cruisers. Indeed, the Sunstar 36, while not as roomy as her predecessor, had a reputation for a good turn of speed and a relative lack of pounding (like the Manta, she was an extended version of a smaller cat designed by Eric Lerouge, featuring his usual curved under-bridgedeck shape for reducing pounding).

    Anyway, I would love the opportunity to share some thoughts with other owners of Solaris catamarans. Mine is currently undergoing an extensive refit for a return to Isla Margarita in fall 2010 and, I have accordingly developed some considerable experience during the course of the project (one involves an attractive and permanent fix for the dreaded sagging vinyl headliners that were originally installed on boats built by Solaris, Privilege, Prout as well as various other cats of the era).

    Anyway, cheers and good sailing!

    Brad
    Last edited by Southern Star; 12th March 2010 at 02:01 PM. Reason: sp

  2. #2
    islandsailor58 Guest

    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Brad ---I own a 1977 Solaris that I purchased over a year ago in Hawaii. I am presently still in Hawaii. I am overwhelmed by the shear mass of information I am trying to learn about the boat. There is no info. Need info on operating manual. Any help with anything would be apprec. You can reach me on my e-mail islandsailor58@aol.com. My name is Gerhard Labay, Aloha

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Gerhard, what model Solaris do you own? I have the owner's systems manual (such as it is) for my Sunstream 40, but no comparable materials on other models. There are a couple of owners of Sunstar 36's on this site who may also be able to help, if you have one of those (although the vintage of your boat makes that unlikely).

    Brad

  4. #4
    islandsailor58 Guest

    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Brad- I have a 1977 ketch, that needs extensive work. I just had a survey done, and it is pretty extensive. Gerhard

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    OK, but which model are we talking about - the 44 or the 36? Both are a low on bridgedeck height and windward performance, but they are certainly solid and roomy. For what it is worth, I believe that the Prince of Monaco bought a 44 as a wedding gift for Caroline (or whatever her name is) when they first came out.

    I'm not sure what kind of advice you are seeking, but if the hulls are not extensively delaminated she should be repairable. Forget about getting OEM 'parts', as one would with a car. Really, the fact that the manufacturer is no longer in business makes no difference - they all relied upon hardward from outside sources and there was variance from year to year, if not boat to boat. Make a list of the rigging, plumbing etc. bits you need and start searching the internet for the best deals.

    If you need help in some specific problem area, I am sure that there are many here who can give some advice.

    Brad
    Last edited by Southern Star; 22nd October 2009 at 04:01 PM. Reason: sp

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Brad... I've met Solaris owners who have been living on their boat for the last 5 years. The only contact details I have though are through their username on Yachting and Boating World forum... mandlmaunder... http://www.ybw.com/forums/member.php?u=26542

    I know they have recently taken jobs working a crewed charter out in Panama and their boat is now on the hard here in the BVIs

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Thanks Mike - I am aware of a few others (including one couple cruising the Bahamas in their Sunstream 40 'Born to Cruise' and another getting ready to depart the US eastern seaboard in the same), but the numbers are quite small.

    Brad

  8. #8
    SteveElls Guest

    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Hi Brad,
    I am new to the group and am looking at a 1992 Solaris Sunstar. The broker says it needs work like, headliner, and soft cockpit sole. I'm sure there will be many problems with a boat sailed this hard. I hear you say this model should perform well. I have been in cats that can't tack and don't want that. Anyway I'll get a chance to see the boat next week.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Normally if you are in a cat that will not tack, this is more a question of lack of understanding of that particular boat.

    A lot of newbies on catalacs claim they dont tack (especially when they are flying a big genoa), but if you release the main track a good way as you harden up, they will tack perfectly.

    You just need to find the way
    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Steve/Talbot, I haven't sailed the Sunstar but suspect that it will tack quite readily: it was an extended version of an earlier Eric Lerouge design (much like the Manta) and has a reputation as sweet sailor. I do know that some of the earlier Solaris yachts (and in particular the 42) were known to be recalcitrant in that regard, however. And my Sunstream 40 will tack readily in winds as light as 4 knots.

    Talbot, I agree with you to an extent about 'finding a way'. However, even authors with extensive experience in varying designs of cats have commented about the fact that in certain conditions some cats refuse to tack without the aid of the engines. Should you let off on the main? Absolutely. Should you backwind the jib in light air? Of course. Nevertheless, some designs are more reluctant to tack than others.

    What are some relevant factors? All else being equal, here is a partial list that comes to mind:

    1. Narrower beam improves the ability to come about.
    2. Ackerman effect in the steering improves the ability to come about (permitting more rudder movement on the inboard rudder during a turn).
    3. Short keels/boards are better than long keels.
    4. Boats with a larger proportion of the sail area in the foretriangle are typically better.
    5. Boats with less windage/freeboard will come about more readily.
    6. Increased displacement will help maintain momentum through a turn; however, entering a tack at a higher rate of speed is always better than slower (which, all else being equal, tends to favour lighter cats in light wind).
    7. Larger rudders/rudders placed further aft will also assist.
    8. Proper sail trim (as you have already mentioned)/ steering imputs.

    However, back to your original question: the Sunstar 36 should tack readily with proper technique (maintain speed into the tack, let off on the main, backwind the jib in light air, bare off on the new tack until the boat is back up to speed). As to the particular boat that you are considering: if you have any specific question after seeing her/sailing her, please post them. There are (at least) a couple of owners of the Sunstar 36 on this site.

    Interior headliners are a problem with not only the Sunstar (and other Solaris cats), but many other cats of that vintage that made extensive use of glued on vinyl. Eventually the glue fails and the headliners start to sag. I am in the process of replacing all of mine with emobssed FRP panels that are removable in any area where there is deck hardware. A permanent fix that is, in my opinion, not only more practical but more attractive.

    Brad
    Last edited by Southern Star; 12th March 2010 at 02:03 PM. Reason: sp

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    PS Of course, another significant factor in the ability to come about is bridgedeck clearance - slamming in the middle of a tack is decidedly unhelpful!

    Brad

  12. #12

    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Steve,
    We also have had no problem tacking our Sunstar in 3-4 kts. of wind,
    with flat seas, just a slow process. Once the seas pick up you need a little more power.
    A.J.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    For years I searched for a Solaris 42 to buy and travelled to Gibraltar and Greece to view boats. As a result I've collected quite a few pictures and some printed details. Although we ended up buying a Prout and are now about to upgrade to something larger I still have a fondness for the Solaris 42, the Rolls Royce of cats in her day, and would be happy to share what I have with any lucky current owners. If anyone's interested e-mail me.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Thanks Trevor and Jo, the Solaris 42 certainly did have a reputation as the Rolls Royce of cats (as I recall, the Prince of Monaco purchased one as a wedding gift for his bride). Unfortunately, they also had a bit of a reputation for being difficult to tack and for extreme pounding upwind. Did you find any tests that tend to confirm, or refute that notion?

    Further, if you have any articles that provide information generally about Solaris yachts and their construction, etc., they would obviously be of great interest to all Solaris owners.

    Brad

  15. #15

    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Brad,

    Until I found this forum I thought I was the only Solaris fan in the world. Nice to know I'm not alone.

    As it happens I went on the Solaris bought by the Prince Rainier of Monacco for his daughter when it was in build at Southampton. At the time I was thinking of buying one - but sadly it proved to be out of my price range.

    I'll sort through my old files and see what's there that may be of interest to current owners. I can scan articles and pics but they may be rather large files so grateful for advice where to upload them for general access. Anyone got any bright ideas how to share the material?

    Trevor

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Thanks Trevor and Jo (and sorry for the delay in responding, I was on Margarita Island for 12 days until this morning without my laptop). I am not the one to ask about technical issues, but somebody should be able to assist.

    Brad

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Just logged in to the Solaris website - we bought a Solaris Sunrise 36 in Scotland last December - currently in the Mediterranean. We are delighted with her!

    Claire + Peter

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Trevor and Jo, Jeff 'Tyrntlzrdking' has kindly put a post in 'The Members Bar' on a simple method of posting articles, including a link. I'm sure all Solaris owners/fans will be interested in whatever you can dig up.

    Thanks in advance!

    Brad

  19. #19

    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Hello fellow Solaris fans.

    We have now installed a new scanner and will shortly be scanning all the Solaris 42 data we have which includes original spec sheets, reviews and some pics of boats we looked at. It looks as if pdf format will yield the smallest file sizes and as soon as we have scanned the material and fathomed a way to upload it we will share with everyone.

    Incidentally, yes the reports are right. Prince Rainer of Monaco did buy a Solaris for his daughter, Caroline. I went on board during the build at Southampton and was stunned by how much space there was, by late 70's standards and also by the strength of the lay-up...Lloyds +100A1 .. almost certainly over spec'd. I've since tried to contact the designer, Terry Compton, who now works in the US but e-mails have been ignored.

    Trevor.
    Fair winds.

    Trevor.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Solaris Owners of the world unite!

    Thanks Trevor, we look forward to whatever material you are able to post. And yes, you are right about build quality - very strong, if a little heavy by modern standards. Still, the quality and strength of the original construction (and the lack of exotic materials/construction techniques) make many used Solaris yachts a good choice for a DIY refit.

    Brad

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