Someone posted a question about what is the best 55' to 65' cruising boat. I thought to post on that thread, but then lost
it, and then decided it would be best to start a new one. I have been actually thinking about this question a lot lately, having lived on my 54' boat (about 60' LOA) for the last four months and having sailed her 3000 miles this summer. This gave me plenty of opportunity to reflect on her virtues and shortcomings.
While we’re fantasizing, I actually have a list of qualities I would want on a boat of this class. To my knowledge no boat has ever been made which nearly fulfills them, although this class is crowded with beautiful designs built by Oyster
, Contest, Hylas
, Discovery, and others. This is based on considerable experience on board my own boat which is nearly in this class – 54 feet on deck
, about 60 feet LOA
– with all of her plusses and minuses. Here is the list of issues I came up with:
1. Dinghy storage
. The plague of cruising boats, I think. I have powered davits
which have been extremely troublesome. Plus they look like ****, add windage, etc, etc, etc. This is not the way. If one were designing a 60 to 65 foot yacht, I think a better solution could be found. I don’t like the dinghy
garages of Hanses and others, because (a) they occupy an enormous amount of hull
volume needed for other purposes; and (b) they require a big fat stern, which I don’t like and don’t think is best for seaworthiness. I think the best compromise for this is probably storage
in chocks– on an extended afterdeck with a deck crane. If the boat were designed for this, I think a really good solution could be devised which does not interfere with lazarette or swim platform access.
2. Walk in engine
room with workshop. With fully designed rational storage for a full complement of tools, spares, and supplies. Nice workbench with vice. With fully designed installation
, giving excellent access, for charger/inverter, fuel
, central heating
, and all the other gear
which otherwise gets stuck in inaccessible nooks and crannies.
3. Deck storage adequate for a decent sail inventory, ropes, etc. Modern cruising boats, especially for some reason large cruising boats, don't have any room at all for storage of any extra sails
-- this is crazy (result of maximizing living space at the expense of storage and technical space). Life raft locker in the afterdeck like on my boat.
4. A separate space with a couple of pipe cots and a small heads compartment where professional crew could live. This could be combined with (3) in a space between anchor locker
and forepeak cabin
, as I have seen on some larger Swans.
5. Much more storage below. Storage for linens. Plenty of hanging locker space. Storage for life jackets and safety gear
with plenty of storage for food
for a long voyage. Dedicated storage for grab bag and EPIRB
. If I started with my own boat as the starting point, I would gladly reduce interior
spaces by 20% and rededicate these to storage. For a boat 10 feet longer than mine, I would devote practically all the additional hull
volume to storage, increased engine
chain storage not in the bows, but lower down and closer to the center of the boat. Like in the Sundeers. Chain runs through a naval pipe. This prevents the bow from being weighed down by the chain like the situation I have now. One question, however – how do you then keep the bilges separate?
7. Deck storage in much larger proportion to what modern boats have. Enough to store bicycles, fenders, and all the other stuff we need on extended cruises. Thinking about my own boat – if there were a separate sail locker forward, and if my lazarette were lengthened by a meter or so (which might happen when the deck storage for dinghy is created), then this would be fulfilled automatically.
8. Watertight bulkheads and separate bilges in forepeak and lazarette. And maybe get all the through hulls out of the main hull volume like the Sundeers have.
9. Well-engineered electrical system
. My boat actually has this, very close to ideal. The main engine should have a high capacity, continuous-duty school
, and there should be a heavy-duty continuous-duty diesel generator
– ideally a Northern Lights
. All run through a charger-inverter or bank of them with functionality like Victron (but more reliable), and with all components highly accessible and with room for expansion.
10. Nav station not set down in a cave like mine, but on the contrary raised up higher than the salon
level so that one can see out over the bow from there and keep a watch from there. The Discovery 55 has this, but it screws up the salon
arrangement IMHO – a better solution than this should be found. Plus the Discovery nav station is far too small. On the contrary, we need a full-sized chart table, adequate storage for a large collection of full-sized paper charts
for convenient mounting of full complement of instruments, radios, electrical
and electronic controls. Panels
should be hinged, with latches
, not screwed in place like mine, with plenty of space behind them for future modifications to the systems. Dedicated wall space for handheld VHF’s in their own chargers, hand bearing compass
knife, etc., ready to hand.
11. Ground plane for SSB radio
bonded into the hull. I think the Sundeers have this.
12. Raised salon with excellent views from the main salon. Opening (!) front-facing windows which allow one standing in the salon to see out over the bow. As in many Oysters. Views from the salon are just extremely important – the designer
should spend a few days on some good catamarans for inspiration.
13. Excellent light and ventilation – six or eight large dorades and plenty of hull ports
and hatches. Every cabin
deserves at least one hull port (my forward cabins have only hatches), and cross-ventilation.
14. Hull form should be oriented to performance with bulb keel
and spade rudder
or at least partial skeg rudder
, but should not be too beamy, and should not have the fat stern which many modern boats now have. I imagine something like my hull, except 10 feet longer, without any increase in beam (I’m 54 feet on deck and 16 foot beam). Should be an easily driven, somewhat narrow, fast shape. Forefoot not too flat to avoid pounding. Should have nice spring to its sheer and a highish bow for a dry deck, but without excessive freeboard midships. Keel
should be deep enough for really good upwind performance (about which more below) – up to maybe 2.80. Keel should be lead, and hull should be fully cored with encapsulated balsa blocks and skinned with Twaron or Kevlar, for very, very high strength, impact resistance, and lightness, for performance and strength. I imagine an easily driven hull with D/L ratio of around 200. Structure should be very massive with particular attention paid to chainplates and bulkheads.
15. Rig should be designed for enough performance to allow the cruising sailor to make meaningful progress dead upwind in strong conditions. This for me is now the sine qua non, after sailing 3000 miles this summer, mostly upwind. The boat should not be overcanvassed – SA/D about 16.5 would be about right for the easily driven hull. Maybe a little more if the rig is carbon. The boat should be designed with extra headsail tracks to allow a blade jib
(maybe) to be sheeted well inboard. The boat should be capable of at least 5 knots VMG to windward in any conditions from 12 knots to 30 knots true wind
, which means it will need to be capable of plenty of boat speed in a wide range of conditions, and will need to have a tacking angle of well under 100 degrees. This is beyond the capabilities of normal cruising boats, but if I ever buy or build another boat, this will be a firm requirement.
16. The rig might be a lot like what I have now. Towable jib
cars (but there should be alternative tracks), wide range mainsheet traveler with dedicated winches. End-sheeted boom. In-mast furling
, but with electric
or hydraulic furling
. Eight to ten cockpit
winches with at least four powered. Self-tacking staysail but with some way of shaping the sail – multiple clew attachment points, alternative regular sheets
or barber haulers, something. Jumper stays so that running backs are not needed in moderate conditions. Chainplates for code zero
or furling gennaker
. Carbon whisker pole.
17. Getting around the deck safely at sea should be thought through thoroughly. There should be granny bars at the mast
. There should be jack stays in positions which allow one to clip on short enough that you can't fall over the side. Side decks should be wide enough to crawl down safely.
18. Much thought should be invested into livability below on long upwind passages on a heel. No smart-ass remarks from cat sailors here -- we know cats are far superior on this particular point. Bunks should all be arranged with long lee cloths. Handholds everywhere. Maybe a gimballed counter in the galley
. Maybe a curved seat at the nav station, with cushioned bracing points or foot rests or something. I have never seen a boat where this was really well worked out. A Swan 90 I spent some time on was a disaster. My own boat has superb handhold rails in the salon, and the galley is well designed to allow you to wedge yourself in, but getting to the heads is a disaster.
should be designed so that sailors can sail, and guests can lounge, without interfering with each other. Not like mine. A Swan-like dual cockpit is ideal for this, but eats up afterdeck space, so would be incompatible with a good dingy storage solution, I guess. So I don’t know how this would be solved
, but the designer
should work on it. Maybe dual helm
stations would help (on my boat, you can’t get around the wheel
in the cockpit without walking over the seats).
20. Glass windshield like a Hallberg Rassy
, with a windshield wiper. My boat has a plastic one, which is ok, but not as good as glass. With a large spray hood
over that creating a place of shelter in the cockpit.
21. Glass counterweighted sinking washboard and glass scuttle. My boat has this and it is fantastic. Adds a significant quantity of natural light in the salon.
should be designed to be practically fail-safe, in every regard. Should be actuated by rods, maybe, or a chain, rather than with cables
. Redundant hydraulic rams and pumps for autopilot
. Massive rudder bearings, that non-binding spherical type (forgot what they’re called). Probably a partial skeg is required for total reliability
, despite performance hit compared to spade (have to think about this tradeoff). Easy access to all steering
components. Wind vane
incorporating backup rudder, with well-designed control mechanism. Designer should write a manual with detailed emergency
procedures for various steering problems.
23. Heavy-duty horizontal windlass
with warping drum. Massive Samson
post. Proper fairleads for shore lines. Massive cleats
and plenty of them. All this is contrary to modern practice to make all this gear sleek and cool looking, but usually undersized and poor in operation. The foredeck on my ideal large cruising boat will not be sleek and chic and cool; on the contrary, it will look like the foredeck of a fishing
24. Central hydronic heating
system capable of using and storing waste heat from main engine and genset as well as from a hydronic diesel-fuel powered furnace. Central heating system should also have an electrical
resistance heating element powered by a separate shore power
connection (which can be used for AC too if that is fitted).
25. Chainplates for Jordan drogue
OK, well, we can dream, can’t we?