Solstice ... Ocean Explorer
Solstice is a powerful offshore sailing vessel that is exhilarating to sail and manage in the open ocean. Her cutter-rig sail-plan offers the versatility to negotiate complex sea-states offshore, and is easily sailed with short-handed crew or single-handedly, which has serious benefits as a sail-training vessel for sailors seeking a lot of hands-on experimentation and practice. The hull of Solstice was inspired by William Atkin (America's foremost designer of small yachts) ... a fast, full-keeled machine that’s safe and comfortable to live-aboard on ocean passages.
Solstice carries a full quiver of sails to handle any wind condition … she’s an offshore machine that’s fast in light winds and heavy-air alike, capable of surfing down waves to leave her quarter-wake behind, and equally at home while ghosting along on a calm sea with gentle winds.
The running rigging systems of Solstice are smartly laid-out and appropriately sized for average human ergonomics; a full complement of Lewmar Ocean Series self-tailing winches are used for the primary and secondary winches in the cockpit, and on the mast for halyards and reefing. The yankee headsail flown from the bowsprit sets on the Titanium-based Pro-Furl furler, controlled from the cockpit. A Monitor wind-vane autopilot by Scanmar is superb equipment for helming Solstice on long passages as it only requires some apparent wind. Hands-on steering is made via a laminated tiller of ash-wood; Solstice’s helms-person can glean that extra sensitivity required to coax her into a perfect sailing groove.
A team of three, including Paul Exner, may be accommodated aboard Solstice. The main saloon provides a spacious interior for debrief meetings, and sleeping berths for two sailors in separate bunks of 4” foam and 6.5’ length. The forward cabin is ideal for one sailor amidst the sail inventory, and can be converted to a double bunk for a couple. A single head supports the crew underway and at rest. A 1,000 watt inverter provides AC power for a multitude of electric equipment including charging of phones, laptops, and camera batteries so the sailing action can always be photographed or videoed.
Built with passion and attention to detail, Paul Exner completed Solstice’s construction from a new Cape George 31 bare-hull with the help of a few close friends, and the guidance of master-builder Todd Uecker (President of Cape George Marine Works). Solstice was built over a 10-year period in a defunct dairy barn in Middleton, Wisconsin to a robust standard and stout stature making her a strong and beautiful vessel for ocean sailing; Solstice is virtually inflexible, and is as structurally sound today as she was when her hull was laid-up solidly of vinylester resin and woven fiberglass in Port Townsend, Washington in 1991.