Home - Project Just Right
Chapter 1 - My goals and Requirements
Chapter 2 - Choosing the Boat to Build
Chapter 3 - Preliminaries, What I Did Before Starting
Chapter 4 - Setting up Frames and Building the Hull
Chapter 5 - Interior
Chapter 6 - Deck and Exterior
Chapter 7 - Topside Details
Chapter 8 - Keel, Centerboard, and Rudder
Chapter 9 - Mast, Rigging, Sails, Outboard & Anchors
Chapter 10 - The Electrical System
Chapter 11 - The Trailer and Trailering
Chapter 12 - Sea Trials and Cruising Pictures
Chapter 13 - Future Projects ... When is a Boat Finished?
Chapter 14 - Useful Information... Sources and Links
Chapter 15 - Questions and Answers
Chapter 16 - Other Vagabond Builders and Aficionados
Chapter 17 - A Few Good Ideas
Chapter 18 - Chapter 18 - Specifications and Equipment

Chapter 1 - My Goals and Requirements

Requirements are a Starting Point

As an engineer, the first order of business was to specify requirements for what I was looking for in a small sailboat. Periodically, I went back and read the requirements to see if I had strayed from the original objectives. Now that the boat is finished and we have some sailing experience with her, I added comments about how well the Vagabond Plus met my requirements. I am very satisfied with the boat. It meets or exceeds all except a few of my original requirements.

My requirements

  1. Small, trailerable, performance cruising boat, fun to sail, reasonable range under power, occasional club racing
  2. Easy to rig and trailer
  3. Normal crew of one or two, occasional day sails with up to four
  4. Only two bunks needed
  5. Self sufficient for up to a week without re-supply (includes water, food, vino, fuel, garbage, propane, ice, electricity but excludes gray water and potti pottie)
  6. Floatation for full displacement (floatation in kayak style buoyancy bags may be counted)
  7. Normal storage on trailer in 20'x 8'x 6'10" garage
  8. Have feeling of "yacht" interior
  9. Sufficiently sea worthy to take on short offshore trips in reasonable weather (California Channel Islands, Baja, Pacific Northwest)
  10. Good human factors used in layout
  11. Target cost including materials, trailer, outboard, all other parts of $10-12,000

Were the Requirements Satisfied?

For now, I'd say the boat meets or exceeds all but a few. Comments follow.

  1. Small is obvious but considering "small" this boat has lots of features. The boat sails well. We enjoy sailing her. The boat is easily driven and light air performance is good. We have made good passage times when cruising. The outboard provides about 20-30 mpg at 4.5 to 5.3 knots depending on sea state. With two gas tanks totally about 9 gallons, the range under power could approach 200 miles. Our only informal race was the Small Craft Advisory Challenge Race in Oakland. The Vagabond was faster than all the other similar sized boats that entered the race.
  2. The boat takes longer to rig and launch than I would like but we are getting better at it. The rigging is a little more complicated that I originally thought but I wouldn't be happy with anything less once on the water. We are still debugging the trailer.
  3. We cruise with just two of us. We have had no problems sailing or launching and retrieving the spinnakers with two. We have day sailed with up to four people.
  4. The two bunks are midship. We have 3 inch medium firm foam and Sunbrella covers.
  5. We recently took a one week cruise to Santa Cruz Island, one of our new National Parks. The park has no facilities so it was a chance to test this requirement. The 8 gallon built in water tank was supplemented with an extra 5 gallons in a separate container. We had plenty of water including two sun showers for each of us. When the water is fairly clean, we do try to rinse dishes in sea water before washing and rinsing in fresh water. Food storage was not a problem. We had lots of extra space. A six liter box of vino was more than enough, we brought 25% of it home. We used a little over one, one pound container of propane. I carry three containers, one in the stove and two in a container in the open air hatch aft. The trash compactor waste basket smashed the full week of trash into one bag. We used a fair number of cans which could be manually compacted if we were to stay longer. I loaded the ice box with 30 pounds of ice the day we left. I chilled the box the night before. We still had about a pound of ice after eight days. While stored in my garage, I keep the battery charged with my portable smart charger. The battery stays charged and the charger doesn't burn the water out of the battery. The charger on the outboard seemed to provide enough charge to keep the battery up for the whole trip. I have a solar panel but only plugged it in once during the trip. Out electrical load is pretty low. I run the GPS, VHF radio, fish finder near shore, interior lights for perhaps 3-4 hours a night, and my new Sitex SSB receiver for an hour or so a day. I did inadvertently leave the running lights on all night on one occasion and even that didn't seem to run down the battery noticeably. We plan on about one roll of toilet paper and one roll of paper towels for a week trip. We do not store gray water in a holding tank. We did have to dump the potti pottie half way through the trip. To last a week, I think a 6 or 8 gallon tank would be needed.
  6. I haven't completed buoyancy calculations. The boat floats on her lines without us on board. Depending where we are, the trim changes as you would expect in a boat this size.
  7. The boat fits in half of my garage. The 26 foot mast is stored along the garage wall. I cut a hole in the wall into my furnace room to accommodate the extra length. Because the mast is stored off the boat, the mast has to be completely de-rigged each time. This extra rig/de-rig takes time and is part of the reason that the boat takes a while to rig.
  8. You'll have to judge this for yourself from the pictures but we think it passes. There is no varnished wood trim outside. The interior is painted a semigloss cream color. The varnished trim inside is once again a semigloss, hand rubbed finish. Each piece of trim is removable if it needs refinishing. There are lots of lockers that we have gradually assigned to particular uses. We keep heavy stuff low. We even have a shoe locker which comes in handy.
  9. As of this update, we have spent about 58 days on the boat. We have yet to be concerned about the boat. The boat gives the impression of being very solid. There is something about the bow shape that seems to keep the deck much drier than I had thought it would be. With the fairly shallow keel and generous working sail area, the boat is fairly tender compared with a fin keel boat. We tend to put the first fairly small reef in the main at about 10-12 K. The second reef goes in at about 15-18 K. We like to sail the boat at about 10 degrees of heel which is just about the angle where the first chine is nearly straight in the profile axis. The keel and chine seem to give the boat the capability to point high. We have sailed in winds up to perhaps 25 K with good control with the double reefed main and roller reefed 130% jib. We have yet to sail in really large waves. The boat doesn't pound and seems to have enough weight to carry through light chop. Another surprise was that the roll period at anchor in a rocky anchorage was pretty smooth. The boat has a continuous roll, without sharp jerks.
  10. We tried to layout the interior so that functions could be accomplished sitting down. We have sitting headroom in the main section. We have had four people sitting below. The windows are at just the right height to see out from a seated position. The head is usable underway. It lacks privacy. The storage areas beyond the foot well have proven to be invaluable for storing bedding during the day and deck gear and luggage at night. With a little wiggling, It is possible to get out of the forward hatch. The off center anchor roller has made breaking out the anchor real easy. The one central light in the saloon lights the entire interior. We have good light for cooking, eating or reading. The cockpit works just fine. Because of the sloped deck sides, hiking out just doesn't work. I bought slightly large winches and have enough purchase on the traveller, mainsheet, and backstay. The vang could probably use another part but it can always be set with the mainsheet. We launch and retrieve the spinnakers from the cockpit or the halyard can be hoisted at the mast. Our two slab reefs in the main work like a charm. We reef by letting down the main halyard to a preset mark. The Boom Kicker holds the boom up. I go forward to the mast and hook the tack on a reef hook on the boom and then cinch in the reef line. I return to the cockpit and tension the main halyard and we resume sailing. I haven't tried reefing singlehanded yet. The skirt has proven to work very well. Because the motor mount is very solid, I just tilt the outboard up and leave it on the transom. From experience, I have found that a 58 pound motor is very awkward to lift off the transom to store below. The boarding ladder on the starboard side can be used to board the boat on the trailer or after a swim. The skirt is also a good way to enter the dinghy.
  11. It is hard to say what items should be included in the cost. Much of the increased cost resulted from upgrading the trailer to add brakes. I'll comment on cost and completion time later.

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