Westerly Centaur – the best small yacht in the world – probably

The Westerly Centaur is the finest small yacht in the world.  At 26 feet and four tonnes it is small enough to be easy to single hand and big enough to take the rough stuff.  I am confident that a Centaur could handle almost anything the British Climate can throw at it apart from the truly bonkers day when only an arse would be out in a 26 footer .  The space below is genius. A miraculously large bog is  provided and  five good berths. . Five adults  lived on mine for for two weeks - it was bloody crowded but feasible as long as the weather behaved. These boats sail brilliantly on all points of sail.


Of course all boats go well down or across the wind and given the blow a Centaur can really get a good chat going. . Upwind, admittedly,  they are not the same as a single keeler but if treated properly they go well upwind.  Centaurs like to be sailed just slightly over from upright. Then those canted and slighlt toed in twin keels  start to suck you up towards where the wind is coming from. But if you let her heel too much then that uphill keel stops working so well - you can feel it misbehave long before you see it cavitate -  The rudder tells you when the flows are not right.

Upwind sailing in a Centaur

The boat demands slightly more of you than than the fin or long keeler. When the gust come for those lazy wallahs they just brace their feet against a handy bit of cockpit, take one more suck on their pipe and let the physics do the rest as the boat heels to the wind and stays on track. With twin keels a bit of dinghy experience help. When the gust comes s -  either ease the main through the puff, or if you can't be arsed tto trim the main then just stuff her into the gusts a bit. When you look at my son came aboard the fist thing he did was to length the tiller exrension. In the film below you can see him sailing her like a laser dinghy he played the main - in and out that cleat  all the time. It was good to see.



The first centaur , Harmony the one I bought for £1,  was built in 1979 - the year after Westerly revamped the design of the keels and added a skeg.  She also had a lovely mainsail - a real driving force . Harmony felt good on the tiller - upwind you could steer her by feel alone. The £1 was really a sort of loan agreement. I did her up, sailed her for a year and then split the final price with the previous owner - three months of hard graft though.


The second boat - Lily M  - which cost me £5,500 was a different kettle  of fish. She was built before they change. With good old dependable, easy to reef,  flat as a pancake small mainsail Lily M felt like stirring jam. But trim her right and keep an eye on where she thinks she is pointing as opposed to where she really is pointing and she would go along rather nicely.



When I put the big blue ghoster on her - she was a real pleasure to sail though





They were both excellent boats but felt entirely different. How much was the main and how much the changed  keels and rudder I cannot say.

Bloody good boats

What the Centaurs gave me was the freedom to know that if the weather turned  bad and, as long as the engine would run, then by switching on the engine and shoving that big powerful bow into the teeth of the crap weather she will probably take you safely to wherever you want to go.  The prop with 20 hp going through it  is not half hidden behind a keel - it is running in clear flow  - it grabs water from between the keels and shoves it backwards. That negative pressure between the keels makes her hunker down like a six tonner - she feels bigger under power.


With lots of yachts they feel smaller, somehow less certain about themselves  under power than under sail.  Centaurs handle bloody brilliantly under engine. They are also s also great in marinas. Bugger prop kick I reckon - it hardly exists.r. She is completely under control going forwards at almost any speed so coming into and out of marinas is a piece of cake. In reverse things are less certain unless you get some way under - then you have pretty good control and you can stop her on a sixpence with enough engine revs - she onl;y weight four tonnes after all.


However, reversing around marinas at high speed in reverse and doing what look like emergency stops is frowned upon. So steady and forwards is the name of the game. if you do clonk anything she only weighs four tonnes so aim for the pontoon and not the Beneteau. The pontoon will survive unscathed the Centaur will have just one more ding of many. Any boat 40 years old will have been owned by idiots or got too close to idiots who own other boats.

Centaurs  deliver all this and bugger me they don't fall over when the tide goes out.


I am from East Anglia - flat scenery and 20 feet of tide. They do not need boatyard cradles either which can be a great saving.  You can ground her so easily that antifoul paint is no needed.

I shall miss  sailing a Centaur. Fekkin brilliant little yachts.








This is about Dylan Winter's Blog, Sailing around Britain.

22 Responses to “Westerly Centaur – the best small yacht in the world – probably”

  1. 19 February, 2017 at 9:51 amNiall says:

    A mere speed hump for the adventure – you’ll be back up in bonny scotland in no time :)

    Noticed that you mentioned the next 12 films would be west coast ones – are you going to do the Forth, Tay and Moray ones after that?

  2. 19 February, 2017 at 10:16 amdylan winter says:

    I confess that it is a bloody big hump Paul N – I have been forced to sell the filming platform and both cameras are knackered, corroded and out of date

    Humps for a filming sailor don’t come much bigger than that and finding a way back into the position I was in this time last year will be tough – really tough. Both Eleanor and I think it is likely to be impossible -0 but I am up for tryimg. Ten years into this thing. I get defeated but I seldom quit.

    THE BOSS has told me to focus completely on the west coast – sadly no-one cares about the east coast – her words not mine

    The solent films did well for hits (but not taps) because people have sailed there. Hopefully the west coast ones will get lots of hits – my job, says THE BOSS is to try to turn as many of those hits into taps as I can.

    No-one dreams about sailing up to Perth but they do dream about the west coast of scotland, the outer hebrides and st Kilda

    priorities – set by her I should say – and she is “THE BOSS”

    this might turn out to be a bump I damn I hope that is all it is – or it could be the end. I have no idea which it will be at this stage of the game. I aim to go down waving at the very least.

    On the bright side, So far everything she has told me to do has worked to one degree or other. I have met her targets. The strategy set by me s ended with me selling the boat – her strategy seems to be a good one.

    You will know what happened when I start blogging about sailing again rather than blogging about making films about sailing. I am sure you know what I would rather be doing – sailing.

    Back to the editing desk to make what may well be the 12th to last film


  3. 19 February, 2017 at 2:36 pmNiall says:

    Your probably right about the interest in the West coast, especially places like st kilda but on the other hand part of the KTL charm/USP was going to places well off the beaten track and unglamorous sailing areas as well as watching you work the tides to get up rivers that nobody else would bother with.

    Does seem a shame to not use the footage you got in 2015 – how about launching a KTLTV2 channel on YouTube where you could stick up rougher/shorter clips and keep the full fat ones on the main KTL channel? Could also be a good home for some of your vlogs that you used to do.

    Quite a few other youtubers do that and it means you can keep the interest high which might drive more visitors to here to keep tabs on things and hopefully be persuaded to chip in a bit….

  4. 19 February, 2017 at 3:13 pmdylan winter says:

    I will only do that if eleanor says to do it. I have a feeling she will tell me to concentrate on the 12,000 non tappers. There are some lovely films there, and the cornwall stuff as well. I have gone broke. I have to swim to the nearest shore – if I can mix metaphors that way. I have to dance to youtube’s tune until I drop dead from exhaustion. You are the first person to ask about that material N – what does that tell you. besides – KTL is unique – there is nothing like it on the web. A sailing series without tits – who would have thought it.

  5. 19 February, 2017 at 3:51 pmNiall says:

    i’m sure you (and Eleanor) are right – work the numbers so you can get the bish bosh to carry on must be the priority, i guess you can always come back and use the other stuff. Just thought that smaller, more regular bits might drive the youtube traffic – seems to be what other (non sailing) channels do these days.

  6. 19 February, 2017 at 5:21 pmJason Beall says:

    Dylan – I now spend fourteen quid going to the cinema in Colchester, and that’s not including the parking and popcorn. Say £14 for a 90 minute film, therefore I’m happy to chip in the odd £7 for 45 minutes of your hilarious commentary and cinematic-quality photography. So make your movies and the “taps will come”. Best, -Jason

  7. 19 February, 2017 at 5:33 pmdylan winter says:


    your wonderful taps may come – but I no longer believe in good fairies

    the fact is that 4,000 people a day go to the KTL cinema and around 3,990 people walk out without paying – most days it is worse than that. It has been averaging ten taps a day since I put the reminder up and people realised that I have sold the boat – before then it was about ten a week.

    I have been making these films for google to give away free for the past two years. The wet smelly stuff hit the fan with the selling of the filming platform – the cameras are rusty and out of date.. To get back in the game is a massive hill to climb. I have 12 chances to prevent the demise of KTL. The project is on life support at the moment. Eleanor and I are trying to pull something out of the ashes. I am hopeful but not optimistic. She is neither.

    If I can get just a tiny percentage of those 12,000 regular users to tap in then then I can start again. But to start again looks like a big pile of money to earn from 12 good films none of which have tits in.

    Two bits of advice – buy google shares and start downloading the films before they disappear.

  8. 19 February, 2017 at 8:56 pmBryce says:

    Raise the maximum tap amounts listed some more. Yes, I did see the suggestion somewhere to buy two taps, but it’s not obvious enough. There will be some people who micro payments, e.g. paetroen, works for, and others, like me, who would rather buy the occasional round.

  9. 19 February, 2017 at 11:44 pmjohnny green says:


    Is this any good? £10 grand cheaper, new (ish) engine, hard top (sort of) and will sail better.

    I am sure that you can see past the fact that she’s a bit in need of a scrub up. You can do a lot with £10 grand.

    Just a suggestion.


  10. 20 February, 2017 at 12:19 amAndrew Wilkinson says:

    Didn’t realise you had film of the East Coast & Cornwall in the can. I would be a real shame not to see this material. I believe your original concept of sailing as close to the coast and up each river to be a sound aim. Who else has done that and rewarded us with great footage and tales of how people lived in these less well known places. Although a little reluctant at first to accept that you need a more suitable & expensive boat for Scotland, I am with you on that decision.
    We got into sailing because of you and the idea it was something we could do on a limited budget in retirement (having not sailed before). Like you have significant costs traveling from Yorkshire to the IoW to sail, so we go for longer to compensate. One downside is we can’t just go for short breaks when the weather suits. The heated & dry cabin makes good sense particularly for two on board. It’s no fun being cold & damp, we might have put up with this when younger, but you have worked all you life for a bit of comfort! I do love your positive commentary while wearing 6 jumpers, a real pro!
    The next film must be drawing closer, looking forward to that. Your bank balance should improve by not forking out marine fees so that’s a positive. Oh and it would be interested in the issues with cameras on board, how you decide what to replace them with etc. Scotland 2018 and those islands will happen

  11. 20 February, 2017 at 2:49 pmHans Valk says:

    Dylan, okay the Scottish west coast.. I’ll probably won’t ever sail there myself.
    Instead I still hope to do some sailing on the east and south coast of Britain in the near future. So those earlier films were an inspiration in themselves. I’m obsessed by visiting Wainfleet, for instance, get up the creek and on my bike to Wainfleet after that, to visit the local Brewery (Bateman’s)
    But I already was wondering whether it was time again to show some appriciation. So let’s see those 12 films and surely I will “bestride the foothills of niceness like a colossus among men” (your words!)

  12. 22 February, 2017 at 2:37 pmDavid J says:

    You might resume writing and editing film for Small Boat Advisor and other publications or video outlets in the U.S. to raise awareness of your journeys. That might help, but you really need a significant long term sponsor. International liquor, beer, wine conglomerates might be likely targets. You would have to sell your personality–not difficult. You would have to be filmed downing shots or pints or whatever of their products in pubs, bars–not difficult. We Yanks, who don’t know a firth from a forth, or anything, really, about the west coast of Scotland–or care much–respond to colorful personalities. So this tuppence worth from someone who began watching in the time of the Slug and the Beast but who has lost his way in the intricacies of Centaurs and such.

  13. 22 February, 2017 at 2:41 pmJim Everiss says:

    Hi Dylan.

    I have bought several books (on fishing) from a company where the author does not publish until the required amount of people have committed to buy. It seems to work well with books on a variety of subjects only get published once they are a financially viable proposition. If, as said in a previous post, you publish a tickler on youtube but hold back on the full length film until the required cash is committed I am sure that the’freeloaders’ will feel more inclined to tap the button. Good luck young fellah ! (I will log on and give another tap or two for luck !).

  14. 22 February, 2017 at 5:06 pmdylan winter says:


    I did column on small craft advisor – and PBO – they pay terrible money – $100 a thousand. There is also no real movement from magazines to the web – THE BOSS says that print media is on such a slide that it counts for very little.

  15. 22 February, 2017 at 5:18 pmdylan winter says:


    the problem is that the youtubers would soon learn that all you get from KTL is a teaser – so they don’t click on it. I think that putting the witty reminders in the films seems to work – well it did for round 1 anyway. If they object they can come to this website and watch it with no reminders in but they might have to catch a glimpse of a pay pal button

    THE BOSS says trailers do not work – bloody hell – working under a dictatorship here. You will also note when the films are re-posted about a third of them will have my jowly ugly fizzog on them – as per instructed by herself

  16. 22 February, 2017 at 7:52 pmNiall says:

    another move that another youtuber i subscribe to does is release films a month early to subscribers – could you do that maybe? Upload them to a private link and email that to folk that tap a wee while before the go live on youtube. Not sure i agree with the boss about teasers – again, other subscribers i watch do teasers for their paid content and it’s certainly worked for me.

  17. 22 February, 2017 at 10:17 pmAndy Davis says:

    Hang on a minute! I dream of sailing up to Perth. It’s part of my 2017 plan. I was waiting for you to post the instructional video :-)

  18. 22 February, 2017 at 10:27 pmdylan winter says:

    we got to the bridge of earn as well.


  19. 23 February, 2017 at 7:34 amPeter Steen says:

    I was about to pay you “because I think it would help you to take a future boat to a future place”. Instead, as you suggest, I will watch the next 12 films and pay on a film by film basis. I am so sure that the films will not disappoint us that this should be a good deal for me and many of us.
    Probably not for most of the freeloaders. So, if for a moment you forget about them, what do we non-freeloaders need to tap per film to get your project going again? I’m sure you can do some math with expected tap numbers.
    I suggest this because I cannot believe that all of us MOBs will stand by, just watching your project go down the drain.
    Btw cheer up about your age. I am your age, I know you can’t count on it and you must do things while you can and while you don’t know how long it will last, but I just met a guy who sailed solo across the Atlantic twice at 61 and he’s still sailing at 74.

  20. 23 February, 2017 at 8:51 amdylan winter says:

    Thanks Peter,

    well not all films are equal. Not all films hit the right note with everyone – some love the marina tours – some say they make them feel sick. Some day they loved it most when I was sailing solo in the slug – other said it is much better with jill, jake, Danie and Eleanor around. Some even want to know about the dog. So pay according to how much you enjoyed each film. If it was a pile of crap and a waste of your time then pay not a penny. If, on the other hand, it was as good as your last trip to the cinema or box set you downloaded then that gives you an upper limit.

    I think the film by film blokes average $5

    I very rarely get a $1 tap – but that is better than nowt and I do not know the man’s circumstances

    I do get bigger taps but those are generally from blokes who hav downloaded them all to their hard drives so some of them chip in the value of a complete set of 8 seasons/double DVD sets.

    I used to get paid $25 per four hour DVD, That was ten cents a minute, Now on the films, more people are watching them, but with the past low tap rate I was averaging 0.004 cents per minute watched.

    which is why I ran out of money. things are very different.

    Now then, if you have read any of the previous discussions THE BOSS says that you have to get into the mindset that you are paying not for a future uncertain supply of films but on the pleasure what you have just watched brought to you – and how much you would have paid for that as a game of thrones box set or netflix.

    pay a price for the entertainment you have just had – were you there with me, did it make you feel more relaxed about Trump and American Democracy.

    When you watch and maybe enjoy and pay for need for speed 6 you are not paying in the hope that a bloke in england will buy another boat.

    That is what she says – what I say is….. fek I will blow every penny on sailing and cameras – you know I will.

    But right now there is no way of guaranteeing that I will ever raise the cash to buy that fisher.

    So whatever you decide to pay please pay for what you have just seen – not for what you hope to see,

    That way if you go back and start watching the old films and you find one that you go – bloody hell that was good then send me $5 and a note saying why you liked it.

    It will make me feel good, you feel good and I will do my best to make films in the style you really enjoyed.

    you are an exceptionally good man for asking.

    I am learning a lot about the difference between the Americans and the Europeans

    for us Europeans money is embarrassing – the yanks are much more relaxed around the stuff for some reason. This is a first for me. never done it this way…. made a film, got people to watch it and then say – pay me what it is worth to you.

    For about 5,000 old blokes who watch everything I make on youtube it is not worth anything other than the time they “donated” watching the films. Lots of them are old sailors who would not know a paypal button if hit them in the face. But who could resent an old now shorebound old sailor sailor coming for a sail down the west coast of scotland with an “agreeable old englishman in an unexceptional boat”” – not my words

    Anything you pay will be greatly appreciated

    and thanks

    My plan is to do the dutch side of the north sea when I am 72

  21. 25 February, 2017 at 11:35 amPeter Steen says:

    Very well Dylan. These are good indications for tapping for all of us. If you have seen a film that you like, new or old: the average bloke taps $5.

    And finallly, you name a date for going over to the dutch side. You’ll love the Wadden Sea. Gives both of us an incentive to keep sailing at least until we’re 72.

  22. 15 February, 2018 at 1:24 pmTom Wheeler says:

    Incredible! Harmony was our childhood boat! Sad to see how neglected she got but fantastic to see you bring her back to life. Where is she now out of interest? Would love to see her again. So many things still on her that we put on. Lovely memories of the boat and completely agree with your comments.


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