Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pipe Dreams...Yachting Fantasies


I keep slogging away at the ever-growing list of things that come in front of spending quality time with/on the people/things that matter to me. It occurred to me the other day that I am spending far too much time working and not enough time enjoying what I am doing (or being compensated). Everybody in the New England yacht service industry says, "You made a lifestyle decision when you chose this as your career path." I LOVE what I do, but not eating is not a quality lifestyle decision.

I have been wracking my brain to come up with alternate ideas. I have had a few in my day. Some of them are actually workable, unlike my "cement-tires-and-rubber-roads" scheme.

I submit one that is marginally applicable to the subject at hand here: I once had an idea for a "Shit-box du Jour" desk calendar. Like most of my ideas, it got absolutely no traction. It was going to be a page-a-day calendar with a photo of a not particularly collectible car accompanied by factoids associated with that particular vehicle. Debatably a cool concept, but how many car geeks are there out there who would actually use a desk calendar, and how many of them care about the fact that Milton Berle drove one of the most beautiful and ostentatious shit-boxes in history, a 1962 Chrysler Imperial convertible, in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World?"
My niche marketing ideas extend far beyond plywood faerings. By slightly tweaking the Shit-box du Jour model, I have come up with something I'm going to give an honest shot.

How does this tie in to what I bitched about in the first paragraph? I don't exactly know. That's up to "my public."

Drum roll, please...

"14 Million Boats To Build Before I Die (and the unquestionable reasons behind building each and every one)" I know - it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it's exactly what it says - A blog posting of a yacht design from a bygone era and a flimsy justification for it to be built today along with my pithy, if ill-informed, commentary. God knows I have spent more than enough hours with my nose buried in the musty pages of old boat books, and there are SO MANY of them that I want to build.

The plan is to set up a stand-alone blog page for this endeavor, but here is a preview of the first posting:

"Haven," by William Atkin. Here is the link to the Atkin & Co site for the study plan with the designer's commentary:

My In-Laws have recently retired. My father-in-law has been talking, in a very what-if kind of way, about building a boat to travel the canal system in New York state, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. He has done a nice job building the fleet of boats that we currently enjoy, but this would be his biggest build. Further clarification of the "mission" is needed but I think Haven could be the perfect boat (with some alteration). She was designed during World War II for aircraft rescue service. Her dimensions are: LOA 29' 9", beam 8', draft 1' 10". Mr. Atkin intended her to have 175 hp (they measured it differently then) and an estimated speed of 35 mph. In the commentary that accompanies his design, he states that the planking is to be two layers of 1/4" plywood. It looks do-able...

As drawn, the open arrangement won't work for an extended trip, even for the most intimate of couples. A simple, rectilinear deck house could transform this easily driven hull into the perfect craft for the task at hand. Something like you'd find on a pre-Depression cruiser like Mer Na.

Clearly one couldn't travel the canal system at 35 mph. Even if you could you wouldn't get to see much along the way, and the fuel costs would put a trip that is already a fantasy squarely in the realm of ridiculous. By installing a 60-80 hp diesel you'll get "lobster boat" speed and she'll sip fuel, not guzzle it. You'd have to build her on a strict diet to keep weight down, particularly in the house. I think I'd build that from something other than teak. As pretty as it is, it's heavy and pricey. Plus, varnish sticks better to mahogany anyway. Plywood could work here, too, but I don't know whether I could go that far. The look is the look. I think bevelled-edge glass is mandatory.

The rudder shown will need re-thinking. As drawn, it looks perfect for a planing hull. At displacement/semi-displacement speeds, she'll need more area. Many of Mssrs. Atkin's power boat designs show an outboard, transom-hung, rudder. I don't think that would be out of place here. There are other advantages that come with this arrangement: simpler (cheaper) fittings, one less hull penetration, easy service without hauling, etc. Scaling off the drawing, it looks like he shows a 14 or 15" prop. I don't know whether we'll get enough out of a wheel of that size. There's another change.

I like the plumb transom, but maybe I'd curve it. I think we crossed a line some time ago - we aren't really talking about the same boat anymore. Let's just call it what it is - a "new" design based heavily on the the work of a master from another day. All of these changes add up. If they work well together, then we have to share the credit. If they don't, then we take all of the blame.

Even if you worked a miracle with the interior arrangement, I doubt you'd be able to cram in anything more than a head compartment, two comfortable seats (long and wide enough to nap), and some stowage. With only 4' 5" of headroom, a galley down there is out of the question. Is there enough room in that wheelhouse for a galley? Perhaps. The engine box would make things difficult.

In short, if Haven is the answer to the un-asked question, then the voyage will have to be structured around the above-noted limitations. Day-trips from B&B to B&B will be the key to success, comfort, and marital bliss. An occasional overnight aboard can add some adventure.

Will any of this happen? Highly unlikely. Will I be excited to help it become a reality? You bet!!! Will it take care of the paragraph 1 issue? No. I wouldn't charge them a dime.

So ends the first of what I hope to be many postings like this. They will get a home of their own. Stay tuned.

BTW - If you see the "Shit-box du Jour Calendar," it was my idea. Fat lot of good it did me...