The Perfect Sailboat
In 2012, my wife and I approached Bob Perry [jump to Bob’s comments] with our dream of a custom sailboat for our retirement. I told him that we wanted the biggest, fastest day-sailor and the smallest weekender/summer cruiser for sailing around our home waters of Puget Sound that I could handle by myself. I wanted it built to offshore scantlings in case I wanted to do some cruising or whoever acquires it after my death wanted to go offshore [I plan to leave the boat to my grandson if he wants it]. It had to be a boat that my wife would enjoy as much as I would. I demanded that it be the most beautiful boat in any harbor I happened to visit. Lastly, we were very concerned that we be able to handle the boat in our later years [I am 60 years old at the time of this writing].
So why am I creating this web site? I thought it would be fun to throw our [perfect] dream boat out onto the internet in case anyone wants to comment on it’s rational, design, or construction, or to make any suggestions as to how to improve the boat before I start to build it. This sailboat is still very much a work in progress. I am wide open to input, particularly finish details. If you already have a sailboat and think that yours is the perfect sailboat, and you think I have insulted your boat, drop me a line, I would be interested to hear from you. I plan to update this website as the boat is being built.
Our new boat is to be named LUCKY GIRL, named after my wife and daughter, and also as a tribute to one of my favorite designs, YANKEE GIRL, designed by Sparkman and Stephens, featured in Francis S. Kinney’s revised book of “Skene’s Elements of Yacht Design”. I have almost worn out my copy over the many years since I bought it. YANKEE GIRL is also featured in “You are First”, the history of Sparkman and Stephens, by the same author.
I was inspired by one of Bob’s best designs, STARBUCK. The basic boat I wanted was a 3/4 size version of this boat.
I just had to figure out how to reduce this to 3/4 scale and keep the beauty while fitting in my requirements. Since I was designing a smaller boat I ended up with a conventional transom to increase the deck space. We did add a walkthrough transom to make accessing the dinghy as easy as possible. This walkthrough will be perfect when I back the boat into the slip for the winter months.
[These images are from Bob’s great book on yacht design and construction-“Yacht Design According to Perry” 2008 International Marine/McGraw-Hill. In addition to his website Bob has a great blog on the history and some inside stories of his designs]
There were several unique requirements that I would not compromise on that are an integral part of this custom sailboat design. These features set our boat apart from any production or custom sailboats available, new or used. In the final design here I think Bob has succeeded brilliantly in capturing exactly the boat I had visualized from the beginning of the project, The Perfect Sailboat [for my wife and myself for sailing around Puget Sound]. In addition, he has made the entire process one of the most fascinating, enjoyable and educational experiences of my life. Just the design process itself and working with Bob has been a lifelong dream come true for me.
The number one priority in this design was for a watertight, air-tight, smell-tight engine compartment that is completely isolated from the living quarters of the boat. My wife, and most women I have talked to about boats, say they cannot stand the smell of diesel fuel. In LUCKY GIRL the engine is accessed from two watertight hatches in the cockpit sole, plus access from the seat locker on the port side. The forward hatch directly over the engine is a bolt down hatch, the aft hatch is a lift up type, which also provides access to the steering gear. The engine compartment is going to be as sound proof as I can make it.
This requirement for an engine compartment dovetailed neatly with my desire for a large cockpit, a day sailing type of cockpit rather than an offshore cockpit. I plan on doing a lot of sailing with non-sailors, and I have noticed that they feel more comfortable just sitting in the cockpit rather moving around the deck. The cockpit seats are 6’5″ long and there is enough room to be able to walk around the wheel. There is a walk through in the stern, but not a swim step, as I did not think that necessary in a Northwest boat. The water is too cold year round for any swimming.
I refuse to have a bridge deck. For sailing around the Puget Sound area there is no need for a bridge deck, and for the way I intend to use the boat I want to be able to duck below with only thee companionway steps to the main cabin. The first hatch board will be permanently attached to the cockpit and hinged so that it can be folded up or down in a second.
I told Bob that I wanted a fast boat, one that would be fun for some friendly racing. We decided on a hull form that was long, light, and lean. Since I was not going to require a condo sized interior, we were able to design a hull with minimum freeboard and minimum beam. This boat is different. Instead of starting off the design process by trying to fit the maximum beam and freeboard into a sailboat hull, we tried to design the best hull and sail plan we could and then fit the interior to the hull. Sailing the boat came first at all times. Not to mention that I wanted the lowest freeboard I could get so it would be easy to jump on and off the boat when I go sailing by myself. I was shooting for 3’3″ freeboard amidships, but the reality of light displacement and 6’5″ headroom pushed the freeboard to 3’5″, which is still low for an almost 44′ boat.
The layout is a little unusual these days. I insisted that the head be aft and the galley forward. For the way that I intend to use the boat, I only wanted one head, and it made sense to put it aft by the companionway, with a big hanging locker inside. This puts the head close to the cockpit for single handling, and in the place of least motion for rookie sailors who get seasick when they go below. Look, I know that every one says you only use the head 1% of the time, but that 1% is pretty damn important. However, there is not a separate shower stall. That is one feature that is used 1% on a daysailor. The head is big enough to be used as a shower stall if needed. I plan on a heated fresh water shower in the cockpit to wash off with.
Putting the galley forward allowed me to spread it out to both sides of the boat. I won’t be cooking gourmet meals underway while day sailing or cruising the San Juan islands, but I might while I am at anchor or tied up to a marina. This arrangement allows for copious storage and counter space. I told Bob that I wanted a “performance dock cruiser”, since I plan to spend a lot of time aboard just tied up to the marina.
I wanted a max displacement of 19,000# dry. My current boat is about 16,000# and I feel comfortable with a slightly heavier boat. I plan on a half load of about 1,000# for fuel, water and food, so my sailing displacement should be just less than 19,000# [my target sailing displacement is 18,888#, with 8888# ballast, and 888 square feet of sail area [eight is a very lucky number in Chinese culture, so I designed in as many as possible]
I planned for a very comfortable forward cabin, with an inner spring mattress just like you have at home. There is a fold up seat so I can sit down in the cabin to get dressed.
My boat has about 7′ of overhangs, a little unusual these days, but I wanted reduced wetted surface for speed in light air, a dry bow for comfort, and ease of anchoring when sailing by myself. In the old days this was called a “reaching bow”, in that it picked up a little LWL when heeled over.
We will be using [for my boat] the carbon fiber mast off a Farr 40 One design http://www.farrdesign.com/374, with a Schaefer in-boom furling system. http://www.boomfurl.com/.
[jump to next page] Robert H Perry Comments on his lastest design