Schooner Boat: deeper, fuller hull

This design has reached its next iteration. The major changes are a deeper draft, 4′ – 9″, and a more burdensome hull.

When you move away from the assumptions behind a boat meant only to carry its crew and be made from petroleum and prioritize speed to windward the hull forms of the Nineteenth century no longer seem a phase superseded by “Progress” as much as a standard by which to measure a wholesome craft.

This project challenges current assumption/expectations. We begin with the need for a boat to be able to carry something. We leave it at that. Just that there be space and capacity to carry a certain volume and weight of stuff beyond its crew and their immediate needs. We add to this that the boat is built of timber. Not manufactured products made from wood or petroleum, but timber that carries the shape of the trees into the structure. Timber that cannot be purchased “wholesale” but must be gathered to fit this particular craft. And, in relation to that third assumption regarding windward speed and pointing ability, we look at all the trade-offs accepted to make this happen so as to view this one, and all individual characteristics, from a broader perspective.

Let’s start with this last point. Contemporary boats are designed to function at the end of many “supply chains.” Not only those that offer opportunities for leisure and materials and engineered items that can only be found at the end of an industrial pipeline, they also are expected to be a single cell-phone call or radio message away from rescue. It’s all fun and games until it’s not and then we expect a helicopter, or at least a high speed coast guard boat, to risk everything to get us home. This mindset has taken us to some incredible extremes of foolhardy behavior contemplated and taken on without any thought for consequences. On a spectrum of these stunts most sailing is a relatively sober affair with much thought put into how we can stay safe and do so under our own command and initiative. Still, we are immersed within a general atmosphere where self-reliance has become a shallow pose.

What if a boat and its crew does need to be self-reliant? After all, what quality better prepares us for the challenges of difficult times?

By self-reliance I don’t mean fantasies of the “rugged individual” with no need for community whether they be self-styled “job creators” or “survivalists.” Self-reliance is a more fundamental attitude. One that we can only approach by coming to grips with how deeply vulnerable we are and how much we need to find ways to function within broader communities, from those we forge among us and those we accept as necessary within the wider communities of life itself. Those that support and sustain every living thing. This sort of self-reliance comes as second nature to most people drawn to the sea and sailing. This is one of the reasons boats can be vessels of transformation.

Within this framework we need to asses and prepare a boat to meet whatever conditions it is likely to encounter. Every craft is mortal. No craft can be made to withstand all conditions. The expectation that such a craft can be built, or has been, leads to “Full Speed Ahead!” and “Unsinkable” hubris. But the term wholesome was often used in the past as a supreme compliment, not a euphemism for something that “should” have been taken to some further extreme. A wholesome craft will meet a wide range of conditions and will also treat its crew in a forgiving manner.

Most sailboats abandoned in storms by an exhausted crew that “just wants to get out of here!” survive intact and remain afloat. But they may have unduly exhausted their crews and exposed them to injuries because of their violent motion in a seaway. A wholesome craft is different. Since it wasn’t starved of displacement to keep its dollar-costs down and provide minimum wetted surface it has a much more comfortable motion without exaggerated g-forces. When hove-to in such a craft we can settle-in, taking comfort from a visceral sense that the boat will take care of us. A boat for difficult times must have these qualities.

 

 

 

 

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