Virtual Design - part 2

Our first project will be a cruising sailboat around 27'

The first job of the designer is to clearly define the program of the boat.
One boat can not be all things for all people. Clear choices have to be made from the start.
What the boat will do, what is expected from it must be defined in one or two explicit sentences.

In this case, we know what is expected: builders have asked us for years to design a larger boat in the style of our Vagabond.


Vagabond 20, see complete study plans at bateau.com


Serpentaire 22 (replaced by VG23), see complete study plans at bateau.com

The requirements are for an offshore capable sailboat with accommodations for 4 maximum and blue water cruising capability for a crew of one or two. Ocean passages are not excluded. Trailerability was mentioned a few times, headroom very often, the style had to be close to the two boats mentioned above. The building method, material, cost and ease of construction had to be similar to them too.

Based on those elements, let's describe the boat. We know from experience that we will need at least 25' to satisfy those requirements. Here is the boat definition:

"An offshore capable sail boat for max. 4, with good performance and modern looks. The 25'+ boat must be easy and economical to build in epoxy-plywood composite."

That's enough: we'll see later if we can integrate features like headroom and towing capability.
As the designer, I noticed that nobody mentioned draft or weight but those are implied as a consequence of some of the other requirements.
You can not easily tow a boat with a deep keel and the Vagabond and Serpentaire each show an optional centerboard keel. We will assume that shallow draft was implied.

Warning: be ready for some strong opinions and feel free to disagree. Commenst are welcome on our message board.

Modern cruising designs, like those two boats are medium light: no Flicka or mini Spray monsters:


Flicka 20 healing heavily in a 5 knots storm . . .


Spray 27, only a Spray by name . . .

Those boats are exceedingly heavy, making them expensive to build and maintain: twice the sail area, twice the mast, twice the engine etc. means twice the cost.
The 20' Flicka cost $ 60,000 and sails with all the elegance of an obese manatee.
Their sea keeping ability is vastly over rated: they are slow and resist the sea with their weight. This can become dangerous. Speed is a safety factor when you have to make port before the storm hits or if you want to avoid that nasty depression coming your way. Caught in bad weather, a light to medium displacement boat will behave like a seagull, not a submarine. It will also be easier to handle.
Anyway, the requests were for boats in the style of our previous designs which are medium to light displacements.

The project is well defined: from now on, we will not alter to our definition of the boat unless there is a major reason.

In the next step, we will examine and compare characteristics of other designs that fit our description and make some choices based on that study.

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