There are dozens of little odds and ends about this boat that really drew me to it. Many of them seem small and trivial, but it's the cumulative effect. Moving from cat to cat at several boat shows, I would come back to the St. Francis and wonder why in the world every boat doesn't have this or that feature. Spending a few days on the boat at sea reinforced this. I thought I'd list a few here, mostly to vent my excitement. Also: I'll be on hull
#18 all next week down in the Exumas
, so if anyone has a specific question or wants a photo
of something in particular, or a measurement, let me know. I'll be picking over the boat with the new owner, who signed a contract
for his boat the day after I bought mine. We're both totally geeking out over our new purchases.
* Pretty much everything on this boat is built at the factory. They do their own stainless steel
work (rails, stanchions, seat supports, etc.), and they craft a lot of the little details that many yards don't tool themselves. One of the small things that you can't appreciate unless you look at several boats side by side are the bow seats on the St. Francis. You can sit on them either way, with your legs through the rails, facing forward (toward the dolphin), or with your back against the rail. Even better, they are wide enough for two. It seems like a small thing, but I spent a bit of time here underway. These seats feel like afterthoughts on some other models. I asked the builder
about this, and he beamed and bragged about being able to sit either direction, which meant something that I thought was just a happy accident
was actually planned.
* This one is really silly, but it blew me away: There's a built-in tray on the starboard side in the saloon, behind the settee, and kinda under the saloon window. It's probably 18" by 24" by 5" deep. There's an outlet in this open compartment. It's the perfect place to put all your loose items that normally clutter the saloon (sunglasses, binocs, cell phones, handheld electronics), and you can charge the latter while they're in there. My girlfriend went nuts over this space, as did I. Underway, I saw how it was used, and it kept the clutter down, but those important tid-bits at hand.
* The aft deck storage
. You know that raised coaming that forms the backrest of cockpit
seating? Along the sides of the boat and then along the aft? This is hollow fiberglass
on most boats. Nothing is left idle on the St. Francis. Along the aft, they put hatches on the back side of that raised coaming, and these compartments can take dive tanks
, fishing gear
, boat cleaning
supplies, etc. The coamings along the sides are accessed through aft hatches as well, and these long compartments are wide enough and deep enough for wakeboards, skis, boat hooks, gaffs, fishing
poles, or all of this. This doesn't mean you load the boat down with lots of extra stuff, it just means the stuff you have to have on a boat are all in a specific place, not buried behind other stuff. I'll take video of this next week to share it.
* Access to the rear panels
of things. This is a biggie for me. Fifteen years of living on boats and fixing all the things that break has me particular about mechanical space access. There are a handful of touches here that are just incredible well thought out. The entertainment center in the saloon, for instance. If you need to get to that, you go down in the aft port stateroom, close the door, and turn two latches
in the ceiling. A panel hinges down (no tools needed!). You stick your head
up in that space, and you can get to the back of your AV equipment
. There's a similar trick to getting to the back of the helm electronics
. I love these touches. All the wiring
is impeccable as well. Everything is crimped with numbers on both ends. And every boat comes with a manual for that particular hull (sail measurements, systems, plumbing
, valves, etc.)
* The bowsprit
is ingenious. It telescopes in with the use of a pulley, so you don't have to reach forward of the crossbeam to send it out. A video would be needed here to appreciate the system. Hopefully we'll get the screecher out next week, and I'll get a shot of how it works.
* The anchor
flies from the crossbeam, rather than back from the aft end of the trampolines. I was able to appreciate this after spending a couple weeks on a Fountaine Pajot
right before I got on the St. Francis. Getting off anchor
in a blow, it was easy for the skipper
to cross the anchor chain with one bow or the other, even with me pointing in the direction of the anchor. Because the pivot point is back at the windlass
, which allows the bows to cross the chain, even touching them if the chain is taut and you aren't careful. Sure, it's nice to have the weight of the anchor further aft, but not worth it when you spend time on two boats back to back with these different systems. One is just foolproof. And weather
conditions, fatigue, and repetition turn us all into fools given enough opportunity.
* Engines inside. I was really torn about this at the last two boat shows, when I looked at the St. Francis. All I could imagine, seeing the engine
placement, was the noise
and smell inside the boat. As we motored into the Miami
channel, I went down and sat on the bed
over the running engine
. The noise
in my old monohull
was ten times what this was. And checking the oil
before we motored off the dock
showed me how nice it'll be doing maintenance
without being in the elements. You can quickly take the mattress out of the stateroom, dismantle the bed
frame, and have access to the entire engine. And then work on it without bugs, sun, rain, etc. interfering. I can see doing preventive maintenance
during a shower
that has me pinned inside. And I didn't note any smell from the bilge
, or any hint of exhaust
. (Also, the weight forward is part of the reason I can carry a 13' RIB
with a 40 hp outboard
on the aft chocks).
enclosure. A full fabric
enclosure for the entire cockpit rolls up into recessed cubbies in the hard bimini
. I can see using the side enclosures underway in a blow, and at anchor for privacy. no storing these things away where they never get used. I was able to lower the enclosure by the helm
when it started spitting in the middle of the night on the Bahama Bank, then roll it back up when the cell passed. Nifty.
Tons more, but this is already too much for anyone to read. More of a log for myself, I think. Something to help the next five months hurry up and pass.