Bob Perry comments on Dave’s Perfect Sailboat
Designer Comments for Dave’s boat
Dave calls his new boat “the perfect sailboat”. I think of it as “ the perfect sailboat for Dave”. The fun of custom design is bringing to life each individual client’s idea of the ”perfect boat”. My job is to produce a well balanced design that reflects the client’s approach to life on the water. The objective elements of the design are relatively easy to deal with. The subjective elements are always a challenge and one that I thoroughly enjoy. “Form follows function” for me is just a cop out. That’s only half the task. I take that functional form and make it an individual and personalized expression of design.
Dave, his wife Bokhee and I go way back to the days of the “luxury tax”. My business fell off a cliff. I was working by myself, no staff and I was scrambling for work. But I was very fortunate and landed a few nice jobs. These included Dave and Bokhee keeping my busy as we worked our way through a number of potential “perfect boats”. Dave and Bokhee would spend half a day in the office once a week as we explored design options. We became good friends. So when Dave called me about 2 years ago and said he was ready to start a new project I was not surprised. A custom boat has been Dave’s dream for years. But now he had experience with his prior boat a Lancer 36 designed by Bill Lee and his current boat an S&S Tartan 37. I knew both boats well and I have always considered the Tartan 37 a modern classic. Dave had made sketches based on taking the best from both of those boats and turning them into a new 38’er. This will be Dave’s “last boat” and will be designed to be the kind of boat that an old man can comfortably sail. I can well relate to this. All design features are in keeping with this requirement.
As is usual, 38’ became 40’ and 40’ turned into 43.56’. Lots of preliminary drawing was involved. But LOA is cheap as long as you don’t keep adding new components to the design. That’s the trick. Let the LOA grow to fit the basic layout without adding to the layout. It takes some will power on the part of the client.
Dave’s “sketches” were done on the computer and pretty thorough. My job would seem to be easy. But having thorough sketches to work from in fact ties my hands to some a great degree. From time to time I would have to stare down Dave and say, “I won’t do that.” But Dave is very patient with me and our friendship allows for honest and blunt discussions when we don’t agree. Dave calls himself “the client from hell” but he’s always fun to work with and we discuss all manner of life’s mysteries while we hammer out boat details. The important thing is my dog Ruby and my cat Pumpkin like Dave.
Dave was rigid on freeboard. He doesn’t want to have to leap to the dock from a great height. I’m totally with him on that. I’m 68 and while I can still leap , thanks to my knees I have trouble landing with any panache and grace. Dave and I both want to be able to step off the boat onto the dock with ease and no gymnastic maneuvers. Dave wanted a traditional transom and some bow overhang. I was fine with that.
Dave was after as narrow a boat as possible given his intended interior layout. This took some back and forth and I finally pushed Dave to make the boat slightly beamier than he had in mind. This gained me side deck width. Side decks have pretty much been whittled away on modern Euro styled boats and I value broad side decks. That’s another thing. Dave did not want Euro styling. Dave wanted a conventional, classic looking American yacht profile with a lean and simple, nicely contoured cabin trunk. Our tastes in this area were the same. Our final hull form is moderate with moderate displacement, moderate beam and moderate overhangs. The boat will be a very good sailing boat with enough displacement to give it a solid feel in a breeze. Displacement buys stability and everyone likes a stiff boat. We tucked the stern in on the deck view to give the boat a pretty transom and to get away from the box look you see in so many modern designs. I struggled with the sheer for a couple of months but I think I have it nailed now.
We were working on the rig proportions. Dave wanted good power for light air. We have a lot of light air here in Puget Sound. Dave feels the Tartan 37 is under powered and I would agree. The new boat would have a fractional rig so big, overlapping genoas are out of the question. This boat would be easy to handle and easy to sail. While running through some rig numbers one morning with Dave, he still comes up once and week and camps next to me while I work, it occurred to me that the rig size was very similar to the rig on Kim’s 62’ double ender FRANCIS LEE. Displacement was about the same and Kim’s rig just might fit on Dave’s boat. The importance to this is that Kim’s carbon rig is right out of a Farr 40 Class boat. This class has gone through some rig changes and there have been used Farr 40 rigs available at attractive prices. I dropped Kim’s rig onto Dave’s boat and the fit was near perfect. We will look for a used Farr 40 carbon mast for Dave’s boat. There is one available in Seattle now.
I’ll leave the description of the interior layout to Dave. It’s personal and a bit idiosyncratic in that the galley is forward. I suggested that we should draw up a more conventional layout in case we get a potential buyer for a subsequent boat off the molds with more conventional interior requirements. I also suggested we draw up a pilot house version of the boat with inside steering. It’s not for nothing they call Washington The Evergreen State. It rains here, a lot. Looking around there simply is not a good sailing boat in this size range available today with inside steering. I fixed that. We now have three interior layouts a fourth with inside steering and a pilot house. I feel we have all reasonable bases covered to satisfy potential buyers. However, any subsequent boats after Dave’s will be semi custom projects and any buyer who steps up can have the details he prefers. This is not a “production” boat.
In Jim Betts we have a great builder who I have worked with before. Jim is close by me and I will be able to make frequent trips to the yard. This will up the fun factor for the project. I very much look forward to seeing this build get underway.
Robert H. Perry
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