This is the final segment of Scott and Mary Flanders' discussion of a new offshore cruising design that they hoped to launch next year in time for a Scandinavian cruise. To see their previous post in this series: http://bit.ly/Lightspeed41-Part4 —BillP.
I believe we should bring up something that is important. From what you’ve read so far you can see Mary’s and my focus is the voyage from North Carolina after sea trials, up to Nova Scotia to Norway via Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland, the Faroe Islands then on to Norway. We plan to keep the boat in Europe and cruise during the shoulder seasons as we mentioned before. This is our dream. Certainly not yours. Voyaging in high latitudes takes years of accumulating the skills to make the voyage. The voyage itself is difficult and quite honestly most folks prefer easier cruising. Easier always makes a lot of sense. However, if you can dream it, this boat will do it safely.
Let’s talk about boating skills for a minute. Think about your skills as I tell you our beginning. Mary and I had a number of boats before Egret, however I can promise you the difference between our 32’ former trawler and Egret was night and day. Ten tons with a deep forefoot and flat aft that spins in its own length is very different than a 30-ton, full keel boat and an anemic bow thruster. Particularly in wind or current. Oh my. Docking was always an adventure*. So what I’m saying is, the learning curve of every aspect was vertical. We took delivery in the Bahamas. Getting off the dock was traumatic because the tide had swung. The next day we lost our dinghy in route to Nassau. Bashed a dock in Nassau, ran aground in the Exumas and so on. We learned from every mistake.
*Docking this boat is very simple because it’s like docking an outboard. Simply turn the wheel toward the dock, put it in reverse and walk sideways to the dock. Touch up with the bow thruster if there is any wind or current. Simple and it works every time.
Once back in Ft Lauderdale and things settled down (we were liveaboards for 6 months winding down our careers) it took hours with Mary in the pilothouse turning breakers on and off so I could label which pump did what. It took days to begin to get a handle on all the systems. It took 2 years of full time liveaboard to get super comfortable and confident. We worked hard at it and continually pushed ourselves to learn how to become competent cruisers. Anyhow, that’s how we learned and we both were better for it.
Over more than a few years we learned the difference between want and need, large and small, complex and simple. Egret had less square footage than our former bedroom. She was also very complex. We became reasonably skilled fixing things because we had to. Labor was expensive and many times it was non-existent. It became tedious at times but it was still worth it and we don’t regret any of it. However, at this point in time we prefer to have a simpler life and not be mister %#$#@ fix-it.
Speaking of small and simple, toward the end of cruising aboard Egret, we lived in the back of the Bubba truck for 7 months straight while Egret was wintering in Iceland. Bubba was like living in your bathroom. One lesson we learned in Bubba was the importance of having a comfortable place to sit and read or use the computer because Bubba’s seating was not comfortable. Bubba was simple because we custom ordered the pop-up camper to be simple. We built it like a boat with fiberglass sides, LED lighting, extra battery, solar and extra propane. We like simple. All we ever did to Bubba was replace the batteries after a few years. Done. Loved it. Didn’t fix anything, ever. Did I say, loved it? You get the picture.
While we are on lessons learned, remember we spent 10 weeks on a 22,000km swing through Australia sleeping in the back of a van. The biggest lesson there was how important it is to be able to stand up to get dressed. A portion of the trip was cold at night so every time we had to get up to answer nature, we had to get dressed lying on our backs. What a pain that was. That’s why the head and shower on the new boat is on centerline so we can stand and take a shower. The area between the berth and the head is high enough to stand and dress. It’s not an accident. It was a design consideration because of peeing in Oz.
Our plans now are to use our boat twice a year for a total of 6 months. This means she will sit over the winter and the summer. Usually when boats sit they don’t do well because the systems degrade. They shouldn’t, but they do. Modern diesels can sit if they have clean oil and fuel and there isn’t any reason they shouldn’t. So to eliminate system rot, we got rid of the nice-to-have but unnecessary systems. Our boat is so simple there is almost nothing to fail. Hmmmm, let’s see: fresh water pump, salt water washdown pump, head intake pump, water jet bow thruster pump, a shower discharge pump and a holding tank macerator pump. That’s it. Any of those can be repaired or replaced in less than an hour. The only spare pump we intend to carry is a fresh water pump that can double for a saltwater washdown pump in a pinch. We will also carry a spare raw water pump for the diesel, however I don’t consider that a systems pump. Calculating weights and balances, I only allowed 50 lbs for spares to be carried under the settee not including a 5 gallon pail of oil and one gallon of hydraulic fluid stored in the engine room. We had at least 300lbs and tens of thousands of dollars in spares aboard Egret, not including things like spare anchors and chain, heavy dock lines, fuel bladders, etc. This boat is simple beyond simple because we want simple and simple works every time. So what we’re saying is, this boat can sit on the hard when we aren’t using it and not rot.
Because of its design utility and construction, this is also a boat a person may keep forever, just like the small flats fishing boats we built before. Many still have their original owners like one of my best friends. His was built in 1995, it is on its third engine and it still performs and looks as good as the day he took delivery because it was built out of vacuum bagged composite, carbon and Kevlar blends and taken care of.
*Actually, our boat will be resin infused composite that is the current highest possible standard of construction. However, that’s another story we will explain in detail as construction begins.
To highlight what all this means; simple works every time and the vertical learning curve of a complex boat becomes a shallow slope with this design. Anyone can learn how to handle and cruise this boat easily because of its simplicity and it’s remarkable handling for such a capable boat. They may go where they will with confidence and have fun. In the big picture, having worry free fun is what its all about.
Now you’ve been privy to our voyaging dreams, as well as the initial design of the ideal adventure cruiser from concept to closer to reality. If Mary and I had three times the budget we would still build exactly the same boat. We don’t compromise safety or purpose and don’t believe someone who is into adventure cruising should either. Now it's time for the few of you with the same vision to take the first step and contact Jim Gardiner, my former boat building partner and move forward. Jim and I will be beside you all the way. Jim’s contact information was in the previous post.
We would wish you good luck but in actuality, you make your own luck.
Scott & Mary