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Old 08-03-2016, 21:04   #1
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Flush Deck down sides?

I'm looking at a few S&S Nautor Swan models for a live aboard, circumnavigater. I know they are strong in high winds and make crossings shorter with moderate winds, but they sacrifice comforts. I'm OK with that though. Trusting the boat in high seas wins for me. Plus I like to go fast.

Problem I have is that I've never sailed or been aboard a vessel of any size with a flush deck. Is the lower head room too short? I'm six foot. Is it a head ache?

I really like the space and clutter free design of a flush deck though. And I imagine the wind crosses over the boat smoother and maybe quieter too? I know the swells would be less messy.

Any mentionables to be weary of? Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-03-2016, 22:29   #2
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

Flush deck sailboats larger than 30-ish feet will still have full headroom (aka 6ft+). They do it by having higher topsides and/or smaller bilges, lower cabin sole.
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Old 08-03-2016, 22:36   #3
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

Even in my twenties I felt a bit less secure outside the cockpit on a flush decker.

Not what you meant I guess - not everyone's a klutz like me

No, I didn't fall off before anybody asks...
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Old 08-03-2016, 22:40   #4
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

Exactly what I meant. Good point. Less to fall against. Sounds like a hip buster or a mob!

Thanks Tenchiki and unclemack.

What were you sailing in your twenties unclemack?
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Old 09-03-2016, 00:18   #5
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

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What were you sailing in your twenties unclemack?
Always just other people's boats. Life kept getting in the way of owning a boat until lately. Don't remember what the flush decked boat was, sorry. Only sailed on it twice I think, bit scary for a non-swimmer.

Crewing experience in return for repairs, started by helping an owner struggling with a job, got friendly.
He was good enough to let some other people know I was handy to have aboard. Mostly older boats, one or two gin palaces. Mostly nice people on the older boats.

Always admired the Swans, no experience of them that I remember though, sorry. Lots of others here will know them.
Hope you find what you want and soon
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Old 09-03-2016, 01:05   #6
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

Moving around on deck, & doing sail handling, etc. is a LOT easier. As is "tuning" the position of your deck gear. Such as finding a spot to build a chainlocker which ISN'T in the bow, & thus Bad Juju for the boat's handling. Or having room on deck for your "toys".
They're honestly my preference.

The downsides can be; Visibility & Lighting. As, unless you get something like an Ericson 39, or a Sundeer, with windows built into the cabin sides, then you have to go on deck in order to see anything.
And that's hard on some folks, especially those with weak stomachs.

Albeit, adding your own/more hull windows is an option. But you've gotta' keep up on the maintenance on their seals. Plus, they add a touch of drag. Though nothing worth fretting over, unless you're match racing.

But with a few deck hatches, & a couple of prisims or deadlights set into the deck, the lighting is actually quite good down below. And yeah, they feel pretty spacious as compared to boats with coach houses of the same size.

I LOVE those older Swans, & have done some Incredible racing, cruising, & deliveries in them. And would snap a good one up in a heartbeat.
You might want to look at ones which have had several taller masts added, as the S&S era Swans were heavy for the amount of sail area which they had. And much of their light weather performance depends overly, on jibs which overlap heavily.

Like I prefer to sail at windspeed, or 2/3 of it all the way down to 5kts or less. And my rule of thumb to be able to do that is to shoot ffor an SADR of 25, with your light air canvas... meaning, the upwind type.
Which, even on a heavy Swan, is doable, with a roachy main & a Code 0. And or a detachable sprit, for a light air jib that you have a sailmaker sew a Kevlar/Vectran/Spectra luff rope or tape into/onto. It's a simple job to do/have done to a light #1.

The only drawback on some of those Swans, is the companionway. As basically there isn't one. There's pretty much just a sliding hatch set into the deck, with a grab bar on either side of it.
Which can make entry/egress in heavy weather a much more physical chore. And require a lot more upper body strength & balance.

Plus, it's a good bit harder to seal the hatch completely. Be it via coamings & the hatch's build in rails. Or, via a dodger. Which can be tough, to impossible to rig on such boats. And best, you can do something akin to a pram hood, or a solid version of same.
Though Ann T. & Jim Cate came up with a good hard dodger on their flush decker, so it's possible. And I've got a few links & tips if you get to that point & get stuck/want more info.

Thus, protection for the helmsman is a bit tougher to come by. But you can sit under the pram hood & steer with the AP remote. When she really needs "a hand on the wheel" in the bad stuff. Though they're enough of a dream to helm when it's like that, that often, you wind up reveling in it... for a while anyway, depending on the Sea temp.

Bottom line: IMO, if the boat's solid, & the price fits, snag one. They'll always be classics... for a reason. And they handle weather with aplomb. Especially as compared to 90%+ of everything else.


PS: Check out what she has for standing rigging, as the bill for new rod on one can be pretty stiff. If it's out of date/been sailed hard.
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Old 09-03-2016, 05:25   #7
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

The design/layout of our boat is very similar to the Swans of the same era (same designer). The near flush deck is not a problem. The one draw-back is that the combings around the cockpit are relatively low such that if one does take a wave (and at sea one will), its not uncommon for those to leeward in the cockpit to get a good dousing, and NOTHING is worse than a cold sea running down the back of one's neck on a cold, crappy, night. BTDT!

FWIW...
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Old 09-03-2016, 06:48   #8
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

The Contest 36s (mid 80s design) has a flush deck, raised... high freeboard.. huge head room.... high coamings surrounding huge cockpit. The bilge is shallow... The accommodation plan is excellent and working on the deck is easy.
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Old 09-03-2016, 06:58   #9
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

You can hold dances on the foredeck with a flush decker, but it sure can be interesting walking to the bow in a blow if adequate handholds aren't available. Especially if you can't touch your toes.

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Old 09-03-2016, 07:43   #10
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

If you're looking at flush decked boats be aware of the location of the hull/deck joint. The pic of the Contest 36 above, it looks like the joint is at the rubrail down some ways from the actual corner of the hull/deck. This is a very weak location for this joint. Contact with hard objects imparts more of a bending force at the joint, more easily damaged than when its actually at the corner of the hull/deck.
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Old 09-03-2016, 08:38   #11
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

@DBB:

Hi,

I have some experience with S&S Swans (possibly similar to what you are considering, say S&S 43 and similar boats of the same era). I also nearly bought one (not for sailing but for restoration and resale).

First, what I found as challenges:
- space under deck is no issue but you want a big boat if you are exceptionally tall (I am 6ft tall still plenty of space left overhead in a S&S43),
- they are dark inside, unless you add hatches,
- they dig a hole in the water,
- they are dogs to control running in heavy seas,
- they offer very short LWL given their LOA,
- they are poor genaker boats (important if you sh),
- they have deeper than average draft (forget Bahamas),
- they uncomfortably roll downwind,
- no provisions for cutter stay on most,
- they come with definitely NON singlehand deck layout,
- their original rigging/hardware is old and heavy.

Most of the above can be adjusted but some cannot.

Now my personal list of the positives:
- walking on deck is no problem, no cabin to brace your foot BUT plenty of garbage to kick your toe (or brace your foot),
- interior layout is very easy to live in - at sea, cockpit-side bunks are bliss, the galley is safe, nav area is where it should be, etc.
- the cockpit is small and easy to brace in,
- they sail reasonably well (not downwind though),
- they are very easy boats upwind and sail in chop well,
- they become very stiff once heeled to about 25 degs,
- they look awesome in the anchorage and at the dock (well, the fully restored ones).

All in all, not the best choice for the coconut milk run route BUT a beautiful boat that can sail places. I would buy one.

Should you buy one, PLS send me a PM - I may have some advice for you and you too will have some information that I am interested in.

BTW Which size are you after?

BTW Look up S&S design list and you will find very similar to Swan boats built elsewhere - these can be at times had at well below what the askings for true Swans are.

b.
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:32   #12
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

We have a Carena 40 which is a center cockpit ketch with a flush deck. The flush deck is what attracted me to her because accessibility and mobility. She gets light quite well via the hatches and the windows in the side of the hull. But the dark also keeps her cool in the summer.

The Carena 40 is made from steel with a long keel and beautifully round hull shape. Very steady and quite fast for 12 tons.

She also has 2nd forestay for a storm sail or can be used as a cutter rig with a hank on sail.

So far I have been very pleased with her.
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:50   #13
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

Carena 40 is a lovely looking boat!

Would have thought the wood (laid teak?) deck and whatever insulation is under the deck would have more influence on temperature below than darkness of interior?
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Old 09-03-2016, 12:55   #14
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deep Blue Blues View Post
I'm looking at a few S&S Nautor Swan models for a live aboard, circumnavigater. I know they are strong in high winds and make crossings shorter with moderate winds, but they sacrifice comforts. I'm OK with that though. Trusting the boat in high seas wins for me. Plus I like to go fast.

Problem I have is that I've never sailed or been aboard a vessel of any size with a flush deck. Is the lower head room too short? I'm six foot. Is it a head ache?

I really like the space and clutter free design of a flush deck though. And I imagine the wind crosses over the boat smoother and maybe quieter too? I know the swells would be less messy.

Any mentionables to be weary of? Thanks in advance.
In 2010 I crossed the Atlantic on a S&S designed Swan 48 with flush decks.

In general, the boat was beautiful below, but half the "space" of a modern cruiser. S&S often integrated very useful sea berths into the designs, which are excellent on a passage. There was no issue with head room...6'+.

I found the flush decks to be awful and dangerous. When going forward there was almost nothing to hold on to. So either you crawled (much to the entertainment of the rest of the crew), or you took a leap (walk) of faith. The other issue was water and spray from the bow. With nothing on deck to stop the flow, the full deck area was constantly awash. The deck leaked ferociously below in a hundred places (teak decks). The crew that slept/lived in the main saloon complained that it was like living in the rain forest...everything was soaked all the time.

We closed up all the dorades before we left, so there was absolutely no air below either. By the time the butter melted, some of the crew refused to go below at all due to the combination of unbearable heat and constant wet.

I slept in the aft cabin, which I thought was delightful. Except that my bunk was next to the only functioning head. And also almost on top of the engine. And with the exception of a tiny opening port into the cockpit, stiflingly hot and unbearable as well. Whenever a fish was caught, it was slaughtered on the cockpit sole, with blood and guts flying onto my bunk if I was too slow to shut the port. Occasional cigarette butts, still alight, would sometimes find their way through the open port as well. Fortunately, my bunk was soaked with sweat, seawater, and fish blood, so there was little chance of fire. Still, I recall coming below and finding a butt with 2 inches of ash intact on my pillow.

But the worst was the motion of the boat. The crossing from Gran Canaria to Antigua was all downwind, dead run, wing on wing. As you know, the boat rolls in a sickening manner on this point of sail, especially with the large ocean swell. The deep keel acted more like a pendulum, with a relatively narrow beam...so little to offset the motion. We rolled from scupper to scupper for days on end. The motion caused a general lethargy among the crew. Moving about took a huge effort. I recall choosing to burn, rather than go below to get sunblock or a hat. The skipper was unable to sleep...and just got grumpier and grumpier. Very little food was prepared or eaten. The rest of the crew found their only comfort in getting very very drunk every single night. Many a night I would come on watch to find many bottles rolling about the cockpit..wine, beer, liquor...whatever they had been drinking that evening. I took the graveyard watch, since I didn't trust anyone else not to fall asleep.

If you are interested, the boat was put up for sale shortly after the crossing, and is still available to this day:

Swan 48 - KARA MIA - Nautor's Swan USA East

As for speed...we often hit 9 knots, and stayed there with the trade wind. The crossing took 20 days. Another 6 days previous from Almerimar Spain to Las Palmas...where we spent 12 hours provisioning for the crossing and getting a few hours sleep. I think the skipper was concerned some crew would jump ship if they had a chance.
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Old 09-03-2016, 13:23   #15
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Re: Flush Deck down sides?

Thank you for this input hamburking, make my day and barnakiel, Sounds like you've all gathered real experience on the flush deck design.

I'm looking at a swan 40. A very well maintained '72. #29.

The info here. On the poor maneuvering under motor during high seas has me concerned. Hard to sail at night during a storm...
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