It was right in the middle of hot, muggy weather in July when we would have given anything (except our air conditioners) to be out on the water. We had been riding a seesaw with the weather all week waiting for the perfect time to test the new Mirage 275 in Whitby, Ontario.
First it was the rain, then gale force winds and thunderstorms. Montreal was flooded. Toronto was hot and sticky. At last, Thursday looked like the day. It was hot but not so humid and not a drop of rain in the forecast. Rendezvous 5:30 p.m. with the owner, photographer and CY editor.
So far so good. Lots of sun. We fire up the engine and head out to the lake. Boat speed is a casual 4.3 knots, apparent wind 4.3 knots. We increase the rpm 2,500 and speed climbs to 5.4 knots, apparent wind 5.4 knots. Astute readers will realize the impending problem. Yes, we optimistically hoisted sails, put the engine in neutral (wisely, we didn't shut it off) and coasted to a cool zero knots in zero knots of true wind. Others were on the glassy surface of the lake with us, enjoying the quiet with an occasional slap of a halyard against a rocking mast-the mast movement caused by someone going forward for more ice, not by waves.
This might seem to negate the possibility of a sail review, but in many walks of life one has to be resourceful. I have to tell you honestly I have not yet been on board a Mirage 275 propelled by the wind.
But don't leave us now, we still have some good stuff for you. I have always cruised through the Mirages at the boat shows just to see how their philosophy of construction changes over the years. Are they using lots of wood or fiberglass? Are they trying to appeal to the first-time buyer or the experienced sailor? In the past, Mirage has made extensive use of fiberglass liners inside, which means an interior that is fairly white with not a lot of teak but excellent value.
The Mirage 275 was a very pleasant surprise. There is a lot more teak down below, which gives it a warm feeling. Although it is not yet a Swan, a vast improvement over earlier boats has been made. Linda and Dave Pediger, the owners of the first boat to come to Ontario, previously owned a Bob Perry-designed Mirage 26. They wanted a larger boat, but what really sold them on the 275 was its performance. Designed by Frenchman Philip Harle, the 275 was significantly more stable and, with a go-fast elliptical keel, was just a joy to sail. They looked at boats from other manufacturers at all price levels. The Mirage was near the top of the group they viewed as far as price, but they felt it far outshone the rest for value: interior volume, finish, sailing ability, quality of fittings and the amount of storage.
The interior tour started in the quarterberth, where a double quarterberth on the starboard side tucks under the cockpit and aft of the engine. The section of the berth that you first see upon entering the cabin is large and long, but the section under the cockpit is narrow. I am an average five-foot, 10 inch male and the length of this section is tight to my head and the soles of my feet. If your sailing group includes two large people who want to sleep together, you should check this one out yourselves. But the testimony from Linda Pediger (who normally is a little squeamish in small spaces) is that she has no problem with the berth. She is a little shorter than I am and feels quite comfortable. Just about every surface you look at is well-finished, the interior liner is nicely textured and is continuous through all the inside lockers. The owners installed an optional opening port in the aft cabin for increased ventilation. A large hanging locker finishes off the owners' cabin. In the main cabin, Mirage has started using extruded aluminum corners for vertical joints where bulkheads meet. The anodized edges are very attractive and structurally sound-they provide a nice soft corner as you leave the aft cabin.
The galley is equipped with an alcohol stove and nicely detailed sink and icebox. For those of you who have trouble keeping a yacht neat, all the storage areas under the side decks have sliding doors on them. You can stuff all kinds of junk in and just zip the door shut. As I stood back near the companionway and surveyed the boat, I was pleased with what I saw, but I questioned two things slightly. The teak, although nicely fitted, was not finished. With the difficulty of pleasing individual taste, Mirage has decided to leave the choice of oiling or varnishing the teak to the buyer. The Pedigers love satin-varnished interiors and although the company will finish the teak for a fee, they are quite willing to do the job themselves. The other small detail involved the drain for the anchor well. It is right at the forward end of the V-berth: amid the lovely teak ceilings on the topsides is a square hole with no cover and a piece of green hose connecting the well to the through hull. I suspect future boats may have a cover over this area. The interior has a very open feel. Since the head is aft there are only partial bulkheads forward of the cabin table and nothing to obstruct your view of the front of the boat. The aft part of the berth has a clever arrangement to add seating around the table. A hinged piece of plywood flips up to form a backrest for people sitting facing aft on the berth. The springs holding it up aren't quite up to the job, but it would be a simple matter to add a better locking device. Under the forward berth is a 15-gallon water tank. Again, I am impressed with the cleanliness and detail of the installation-the interior liner is molded to receive the water tank. The aft head is big. At the risk of sounding somewhat offensive, we need to talk about removing one's pants. It is a necessary part of using the head, but many boats do not provide enough room -- either you head or backside or both make contact with surrounding bulkheads. Not so in the Mirage. Not only is there lots of room to take down your pants, but you can also remove your shoes, change your shirt, put on your bathing suit and do some exercises. It is a luxury for a boat this size.
The standard engine, a Yanmar 1GM10, is a single-cylinder nine-hp-diesel. A company-recommended $500 option is a two-cylinder Universal diesel. There is no insulation in the engine box but noise didn't seem to be a problem. The engine was smooth running up to 2,500 rpm, vibrated a little around 3,000, and then smoothed out again at 3,500 rpm. My guess is that 2,500 to 2,800 rpm and 5.5 to six knots will be normal cruising speed. The test boat was equipped with wheel steering and just one genoa halyard. The Isomat spar is set up for more halyards and spinnaker controls, judging by the extra exits welded into the spar. The main and genoa halyards and the mainsheet are led aft along the cabintop for easy access from the cockpit. The boat is much prettier than I expected it to be from the drawings. With the cockpit pushed right aft to the back of the boat, the cabin is nicely balanced in proportion to the hull. The cabin height has just squeezed in the headroom required for most average sailors. We measured a maximum of six feet, 1/2 inch under the sliding hatch, decreasing to five feet, 10 inches at the spar.
And now I have to tell you about my favorite place on the boat. The port cockpit hatch is huge. When you open up the top and jump in, there is room to sleep, read a book or just survey the back end of the boat. I spent quite a while in there, pretending I was examining the rack and pinion steering system and engine controls, but most of the time I had my eyes shut. As the first Ontario owners of the new Mirage 275, the Pedigers are certainly happy with its sailing performance, and have found it worthwhile taking the step up from their 25.
LOA 27 ft. 6 in.
Beam 9 ft. 10 in.
Draft 4 ft. 4 in.
Winged Keel Draft 3 ft. 6 in.
Ballast 2,400 lbs.
Displacement 6,800 lbs.
Sail Area 330 sq. ft.
To see if this boat is available, go to http://www.boatcan.com for listings!