Leeward Boat Report

Leeward 18 (Enclosed Wheel House)


Picture from Amble Boat Company Ltd

By Rob
Length 6.0m (19ft 6in)
Beam 2.54m (6ft 5in)
Basic Weight 680Kg
Engine 40 - 100hp outboard or 120hp diesel stern drive
Fuel Capacity: Customer spec.
Country of manufacture: UK
Maximum Speed: Dependant on engine size
Configuration: Cuddy; Open wheel house; Enclosed wheel house
Manufacturers web site: http://www.ambleboat.co.uk/constr_leeward18.htm

Background
Two years ago, having moved fairly close to the coast and as I enjoyed sea fishing I decided I was going to buy a boat.
Since what I knew about boats could easily be written on the back of a cigarette packet I researched on the internet and eventually chose the Leeward 18 mainly because it looked right. There is a saying in aviation, "If it looks right, it'll fly right" and the Leeward 18 has a real workman like look about it.. a big ship look in a way.

The Leeward 18 is made by the Amble Boat Company, in Northumberland, and is available in a variety of wheel house and engine configurations. However being in the North of Scotland I was lucky enough to find a bare hull locally that had been moulded from the original moulds by a specialist company and was the last boat of a cancelled order. (priced to clear, I think is the expression!) The boat was subsequently fitted out by a local shipyard that had completed the previous five Leeward 18's. (This exercise was not so competitively priced!)

Build Quality.
The boat is strongly built with 4 longitudinal watertight compartments. The overall finish of the fibreglass work was excellent
The Leeward is (as far as I am aware) fairly unique in that it has a rear pod bolted to the transom onto which the outboard is mounted. This greatly increases the available space in the cockpit if you decide against the inboard diesel option. With the inboard there is quite a sizable engine cover which takes up some space in the cockpit, but it does double as a handy seat.


The rear pod - It also has a locker

The wheel house is lockable and is big enough to leave standard boat rods assembled in the cabin. I guess you could sleep in there at a pinch, but it would not be comfortable. There is good all round visibility and plenty of locker space for all your bits and pieces.

Wild Duck 2
Enclosed wheel house
Engine 75 hp E-tec
Fuel Capacity: 70L internal - 20L reserve.
Maximum Speed: 27 knots
Cruising: 18 - 21 knots

My boat, "Wild Duck 2" (named after my grandfathers boat) was moulded with all the options so that the customer could spec it to their requirements. Hence it came with a pod for the O/B and a recessed area for an inboard (with the inboard engine cover) and an under deck fuel tank position. After a good deal of research and comparing prices I opted to use an outboard, as an inboard & fuel tank would take up all the under deck storage and the cheapest 1.7L mercrusier (used) was £5k more than a brand new outboard.
I ended up choosing the Evrinude 75hp E-Tec engine due to
· Low Cost compared to an equivalent 4 stroke
· Light weight compared to an equivalent 4 stroke
· 3 year warranty and service intervals
· Low noise
· Good fuel consumption
· It should provide fair (but not speedboat) performance.
The engine has proved to be outstanding and does exactly what it says on the tin. Fuel consumption on a typical fishing trip (Blast out.. drift.. move… drift…move.. etc. back home) is around 9L per hour of engine running. Oil consumption has been minimal - around 2L in approx 50hrs of engine use

Layout
At the bow there is a small deck area in front of the wheel house. There is a bow roller, mooring post, an anchor locker and a raised section that could be cut open to provide a Houdini hatch from inside the cabin. I do not have bow rails fitted at the moment, although this is something I will probably invest in, in the future.


Small fore-deck with anchor hatch

Down either side of the wheel house is a narrow walk way with grab handles on the roof and the back of the wheel house. It's not a "walk - around" boat from the point of view of sending someone up front to fish, but it's quite safe to get onto the bow out at sea.. with care!
The wheel house is very distinctive, with its rearward sloping front windows. Although there is space to fit a wiper(s), I have not done so yet as water does tend to flow readily off the screen. Again this may be something I shall do in the future.
Stepping into the wheel house from the cockpit, you step down about a 1ft, which in rough weather means you need to hang on to something. However, once in, there is ample room for a 6ft person to stand without banging their head. The helm is on the starboard side with a fixed seat atop a bench storage locker. There is ample room for the basic instruments and electronic aids. In front of the helm position is another small bench locker, although with the bow deck above it there is no space to use it as seating.
On the port side is a ¾ bench seat with 2 lockers below and between the end and the rear wall of the wheel house is a space into which you could put a cooker / porta-potti / fridge; but I have fitted a 2nd seat.


Lockable wheel house

I should have specified a sliding window by the helm position. It can get quite warm in the summer! Again, this is on my wish list when time and cash permit.
Moving from the wheel house out to the cockpit you have around 50sq ft of working space. On my boat, because I have opted to keep the raised inboard engine cover, some of this space is lost but there is still ample room for 4 people to move around.
There is just over 2ft between the deck and top of the gunwale and I have additional stainless steel safety rails that give another foot. This security plus the relative stability of a cathedral hull boat means that the cockpit is a safe place to fish from.
The battery, with isolation switch, is in a side locker just behind the wheelhouse.


Working cockpit showing raised inboard engine cover - doubles as a seat


Where the inboard engine would normally go, now provides loads of extra storage

Performance
My normal trip out is just my wife & myself (+ dog) and the Leeward goes like a rocket, lifting quickly onto the plane. Correctly trimmed she is stable and you can have a conversation without shouting! However with 4 people and full fuel, she takes longer to get on the plane but provided you have a calm sea, she gets there in the end. Using a bigger engine would reduce this problem (if it is perceived as a problem) but you would have the additional cost, weight and so on to pay for. Speed does not come free!

Handling
Moving out of the harbour, it quickly become apparent that the Leeward is a very stable boat, thanks to its’ cathedral hull design.
On the plane it skims over the chop and produces a dry ride for any passengers sitting in the back.
However, like any boat, when the weather is bad and you are heading directly into breaking waves, you need to throttle back to a speed suitable for the conditions, to avoid flying off a crest and slamming into the next wave!
It is when on the drift that the real benefits of the Leeward hull become apparent. A mate & I went out last year, in a really lumpy sea with a stiff wind (F4?) and a mess of white horses. We plodded slowly (about 8 - 12 knots) out to an area of rough ground and drifted. I had my doubts, but with the engine off we drifted side onto the wind and as the waves passed under us the boat rose and fell, but without that wide rolling that makes it so difficult to stand up.
I was amazed at how stable the boat was even when the 2 of us were standing on the same side of the boat netting a 6lb cod.


Just been antifouled - Clearly shows the Cathedral hull

In the confines of a harbour, the boat is extremely manoeuvrable and is very easy to use single-handedly.
Given how I use the boat I feel that the 75hp option provides an ideal combination of speed and economy.

Improvements
Having lived with boat for 2 years, if there are any faults / omissions it's not the manufacturers fault, it's because I did not fit them (eg: Bow rails).
However there is one thing with the original design I have changed - The arrangements of the self draining deck.
The boat has 2 drain pipes running out of each corner of the transom. The original design has "elephant trunks" attached to these pipes which are raised or lowered by a bungee cord. This arrangement, I would imagine, works well when the boat is on a trailer and being day launched. However when the boat is moored, like mine, these are a bit of a pain.
1. When moored, having left the trunks down in the water (and rain water does flow away fine), you tend to get a trunk full of water back into the boat when lifting them up.
2. After a while they get covered in weed, barnacles, etc and they do start to perish which makes them leak.

To overcome what I saw as a problem, I designed and had built a hinged plastic cap that fits over the end of the pipe and allows me to operate the drain caps from the front of the boat. I think it looks smarter and they work better.


Old style Elephant trunks after 9 months in the water


My new drain caps

Conclusion
As with any major capital purchase, how you plan to use the boat dictates what type of boat is best for you.
I wanted a boat that was first and foremost Seaworthy and Safe. I reasoned that as it was mainly my wife & I going out, we did not need a boat that could carry 6 - 8 people. The Leeward can fish 4 (bit of a squash - bear in mind I still have the inboard engine cover in place), but is better with 3 and ideal with 2 people.
I knew that I would be berthing the boat during the summer so a locking wheel house was important to enable me to leave all the clobber on the boat. It had to be relatively economical to run. It had to be around 6m as the berthing fees increase with size. It had to be trailer-able for ease of winter storage. Finally, last but not least, as I said earlier…. It had to look right. Moored in a small Scottish harbour next to working creel boats would a Mediterranean style day cruiser with tinted windows look just a little out of place?
To my mind the Leeward 18 is an ideal day angler and unless the way I use a boat changes, I see no reason to change


Disclaimer: Everything written in these reports are based on personal experience and the individual's opinion only. I have tried my best to present the facts correctly, but I/we take no responsibility for any mistakes or omissions.

 

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