In an area of the North Atlantic that offers diverse conditions at the best of times, particularly during the spring season, our route (turn right off Gibb’s Hill Light, Bermuda) was a challenging test of our yacht’s potential. Some Nice withstood the test. Except for the intervals of rail-side gyrations, my intrepid crew including the owner, also survived.
I have sailed on most of C&C’s recent production yachts on the Great Lakes and offshore. Most passages were routine: there were only a few problems that could be attributed to inadequate design or sloppy craftsmanship. Mind you, there were instances when it was prudent to wear foul-weather gear below decks to insulate against the onslaught of seawater gushing into the cabin from gaps in the hull-deck joint.
But that type of quality-control headache appears to have gone with the receivers at C&C. Since new management took the reins in 1986, the quality of product appears to have improved substantially. And the old C&C philosophy of building high-calibre, attractive, comfortable yachts that appeal to both the clubby and the aspiring racer appears to be alive within the company.
The C&C 44 is not a "new" product. It started out as a sluggish IOR custom project under the old management. The first production models were manufactured at C&C’s old Rhode Island facility in 1985 and first appeared in Canada in 1986. The design has undergone some interesting innovations.
Prospective owners have a choice of four keel configurations. C&C designer Rob Ball offers a ballast package for all regions. Available are wing, centreboard, deep-fin and elliptical keels. Some Nice sported the deep-fin version—all 8 ¼ feet of it, dressed out at 9,850 pounds. The fin is OK for the depths surrounding the Virgins, but a disaster if the Bahamas is your choice of sailing grounds. The centreboard or wing keel would be a more prudent choice for shoal-draft cruising areas.
The fin keel is bolted onto a deep sump (a hollow extension of the hull) to maximise stability. The thicker lower tip adds additional weight down deep, thereby lowering the centre of gravity of the ballast. This is great for stability but lousy for draft.
The lines of the 44 do not seem as convoluted as its sister ships, the 38 and 41. Yet, for rating advantage, the yacht retains the same bevelled bow, flat forebody, ample midship sections and creased stern. The cockpit is large and fairly shallow. Two shallow lockers adorn either side. At the stern, however, two deep lockers extend down to the transom radius—great for fender storage and bric-a-brac.
The mainsheet track spans the width of the forward cockpit. A great deal of cockpit seating space is sacrificed because of its positioning. Here of course, is the rub. The yacht is a racer-cruiser. This configuration is necessary for racing—less than great for comfortable cruising. Considerable seating space could be reclaimed if the mainsheet were relocated above the companionway for the cruising enthusiast. This would seem a reasonable option on a yacht offering four different keels.
Which brings me to my next point: the helm seat. I know it was designed for racing and I am aware of all its attributes, but could cruisers not be offered a real soft seat? The designer of that contraption should be forced, at boat hook point if necessary, to sit upon it for hours until the tears begin to flow—then the cruiser would get a soft, comfortable seat. I don’t mean to pick on the C&C 44—this applies to all yachts using that design.
I liked the bridge deck entrance to the companionway, especially the stainless steel rail on either side of the companionway. All running rigging was collected from the spar and run aft to the stoppers into the cockpit. The aft genoa sheet track placement puzzled me. I never did get a fairlead through the deck car to the turning block.
Out 44 sported a two-spreader off-shore, spar rig, with rod rigging throughout. A three-spreader version is available. Although the system seemed more than adequate, we did experience rig "pumping" a couple of times, and I would prefer to have running backstays installed for future voyages.
Below, the yacht is nicely appointed. The starboard settee can be folded out into a double bunk. The aft cabin sleeps two fairly comfortably, but if one is contemplating any offshore passages, request leeboards. Otherwise, you will end up sleeping on the wood side-panelling. All yachts with aft cabins toss their sleeping crew to and fro while underway unless leeboards are properly installed. Idyllic showroom conditions are seldom duplicated on any passage.
My only complaint with the aft cabin was the poor ventilation. There are five opening ports servicing the aft cabin but even in cooler climes, the cabin was still stuffy. A portable fan in temperate climates is recommended.
Two heads service the yacht: a large aft unit featuring a full shower ensemble, and a forward unit adjacent the spacious v-berth area. I liked the moulded head interior. Rather than having a stainless sink, the 44 incorporates a complete moulded head unit with a hot and cold pressurise water system, shower head and electric sump pump. Some Nice carried four plastic freshwater tanks. A bank of fool-proof tank shutoff valves was conveniently located under the cabin sole.
The l-shaped galley features a three burner propane stove, double stainless steel sinks, huge refrigerator chest and plenty of storage space above and below the galley counter. A handy garbage slot leading to a bag below was cut into the countertop chute, but we eventually threw the garbage chute away when it fell undetected into the garbage container.
There seemed to be ample natural lighting carried through the side sky lights, companionway and bow hatch cover. Artificial lighting was adequate, although for the life of me I cannot understand why interior designers think Velcro-fastened ceiling light covers are substantial enough to withstand heaving sailing without falling. They are not.
Powered by a Yanmar 44-hp raw-water-cooled-diesel, the yacht moved along at a good clip. Fuel consumption at 2,200—rpm was less than a gallon per hour. With the large 40-gallon tank, the ship has a good power range. Engine access for simple maintenance is through the side panel at the galley area, or by removing the lower companionway steps. The ship’s electrical power combined a 12-volt system with 110-volt shore power. The navigation area was typically C&C—well thought out and functional.
Is she fast? You betcha. C&C has a history of designing and manufacturing tough, fast racer-cruisers. Some Nice is no exception. After 1,600 miles and 10.5 days at sea, we roared into Virgin Gorda. Not bad for a yacht equipped with a sail inventory consisting solely of a cruising mainsail and a number two genoa. The C&C 44 is a splendid sea boat—dry, kindly, strong and seaworthy. Her hull is built from a sandwich construction of triaxial fibreglass cloth laid on each side of a ¾ inch end-grain balsa core.
On a reach she smoked and was easy to steer. In 15 to 20 knots of wind on a beat, she power through heavy seas without any hobby-horsing. During the trip, Some Nice showed her stern to 15- to 20-foot waves without incident. We weren’t pooped once.
I rate the C&C 44 up there with the best of them. It is an impressive yacht to sail. It is strong and capable, and well designed for safe offshore passages for comfortable lake cruising. At the drop of a flag this design is ready to take to the race course. LOA 44ft 2in. LWL 35 ft. 3 in. Beam 13 ft 3 in. Draft: fin 8 ft 3 in. centreboard 5 ft. 6 in.(up) 8ft 6 in. (down) wing 6ft 9in. Displacement 20,800 lbs Ballast 9,850 lbs Sail area 909 sq. ft. Fuel 33 gallons Water 83 gallons Base price $239, 500
LOA - 44ft. 2 in.
LWL - 35 ft. 3 in.
Beam - 13 ft. 3 in.
Draft: fin - 8ft. 3 in.
centreboard - 5 ft. 6 in. (up), 8 ft. 6 in. (down)
wing - 6ft. 9 in.
Displacement - 20, 800 lbs
Ballast - 9, 850
Sail area - 909 ft. sq.