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Sailing Boat - Boat Design Reviewed

Sailing Boat - Boat Design Reviewed

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Published by: fralgiugia on Aug 22, 2011
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A Masthead Yawl

— Design by Cyrus Hamlin -
Commentary by Joel White

anderer is a design that was ahead of its time
when drawn several decades ago, and it
remains one whose time has never come, for
no boat has ever been built to the plans. Cyrus Hamlin,
N.A., drew the design for a prominent sailor as a boat
that could race under the CCA (Cruising Club of
America) rule with some hope of success, yet be a com-
fortable, seakindly, safe, and good-looking cruiser. The
hull was extensively tank tested, which indicated that
the boat should do well racing with her calculated
CCA rating. As sometimes happens, plans change aiid
the boat was never built, so her potential as a fast and
handy cruiser is still waiting to be proven.
Hidden away behind the conventional sail plan and
outboard profile of this 48-foot yawl are a number of
quite unconventional features, particularly when it is
understood that the design was drawn in 1959. For
instance, her displacement is only 23,000 pounds, some
15 percent lighter than my 35-foot LOA cruising cut-
ter. The draft with the centerboard up is only 4 feet 3
inches, which makes most shoal-water cruising areas
available to this good-sized yacht. What makes the
light displacement of this design possible is her con-
struction, which is light yet extremely strong.
Cy Hamlin and Farnham Butler started developing
light-displacement cruising boats using glued strip-
planked cedar construction back in the 1950s, and per-
fected the system for the line of Controversys and
Amphibi-Cons built and marketed by Mt. Desert Yacht
Yard. As an independent naval architect, Cy contin-
ued to use and develop the glued-strip construction
with laminated backbone members, which are almost
a trademark of his boats. Continuous contact with
some of his designs over a period of years, as both a
builder and a maintainer, has convinced me that the
system works, and works well. The boats are strong

and light, and require less maintenance than those of
more conventional plank-on-frame construction.
Let's examine in more detail the unusual features
of this design. Her construction, which can only be
viewed as cold-molded, calls for lVS-inch by l'X-inch
glued-strip cedar planking (resorcinol-glued with
bronze Anchorfast edge-nailing), covered on the out-
side with a fore-and-aft layer of y^-inch by 2-inch
Honduras mahogany strips, glued and nailed to the
cedar. There are no sawn or bent frames, but rather
plywood bulkheads with oak and mahogany margin
pieces to which the planking is glued and screwed.
All interior joinerwork — shelves, bunk tops, cabinets,
counters, etc. — is to be considered structural, and is
securely glued and fastened to the planking as stiff-
ening members. The backbone is of laminated oak,
which makes a virtually one-piece centerline structure
to which all planking and floor timbers are glued. The
result is a monocoque hull of great strength, rigidity,
and watertightness. This construction is much less
labor-intensive than today's typical cold-molded con-
struction that often calls for four to six layers of veneer
planking, plus a substructure of longitudinal stringers.
The interior of this hull is smooth and clear between
bulkheads, and thus easier to keep dry and clean. Cy
writes that the only change he would make in the con-
struction today is to build the centerboard trunk of
fiberglass, rather than of laminated wood as shown.
Perhaps the most unusual — and best — aspect of
this design, however, is the way in which the interior
volume of the hull is used to provide comfortable quar-
ters for living and sailing. Look at the cockpit — it's
huge. More than one-third of the length of the boat is
given over to the cockpit and after deck.
The cockpit has a centerline island that contains
the worm gear steering unit and the engine exhaust


— 259 —








Draft (cb up) 4'3"

23,000 lbs

Sail area

934 sq ft


A Masthead Yawl

system, and provides a binnacle for the compass and
engine controls. There is a comfortable seat with
footrests for the helmsman; the mainsheet traveler
and winch are aft of the helmsman. The steering seat
is raised so forward vision is excellent, and the helms-
man is removed from the hurly-burly of the racing
crew at the winches. Yet everything needed to sail the
boat is near at hand. A man and wife could easily han-
dle the boat.

Indeed, Wanderer was designed for just that. There
is a coffee-grinder winch located on the after deck,
plus a pair of sheet winches on each side of the cock-
pit coaming. The life raft has its own locker under the
seat across the after end of the cockpit. The doghouse
roof extends aft over the forward cockpit seats, giving
protection from wind and weather, and the slanted
main bulkhead provides a comfortable backrest. I can't
imagine a nicer spot to enjoy the scenery, or a good
book, than the forward corner of this cockpit, protected
by the doghouse roof and side glass, yet available
instantly to trim a sheet or spot a buoy. Because of the
center island, however, this giant cockpit conforms to
CCA volume requirements for offshore boats.
One might think that Cy Hamlin had given away
too much of the boat to the cockpit, and that the below-
deck accommodations would suffer as a consequence.
Yet it would be hard to improve upon the cabin arrange-
ment shown. Spaciousness is the theme, with comfort
for a moderate-sized cruising crew, and enough capac-
ity to accommodate a larger gang for racing. There are
five fixed berths, plus two extension transoms. The
layout has the great virtue of considerable symmetry
about the centerline — a pair of V-berths forward, a
matched pair of pilot berths, and extension transoms

There is an incredible amount of walking-around
floor space. The cabin sole is all on one level, which is
certainly preferable to the split-level ranch-style
arrangements often seen with doghouses. The cook
has a truly bounteous U-shaped galley to port, clear
of fore-and-aft traffic to and from the cockpit. The for-
ward leg of the U is a large icebox (which today would
undoubtedly be a freezer-refrigerator), the after leg is
a counter with double sink, with drawers underneath,
while the base of the U is formed by the gimbaled stove
on the outboard side. Across from the galley, there is
an ample quarter berth, an oilskin locker, and a seat.
A large chart table to port and a hanging locker to
starboard separate the galley area from the main saloon
amidships. The navigator is given lots of space, both
flat surface for chart work and stowage for the nec-
essary gear and equipment. My only complaint about
the accommodations is that the toilet faces
athwartships — a fore-and-aft orientation is prefer-
able on a boat headed offshore. Hamlin gives credit

to the owner for much of the basic arrangement, which
was based on several previous boats. Both parties
deserve high marks on the layout.
A Graymarine 4-162 gasoline engine of 63 horse-
power is specified. This tucks away nicely under a
removable box that forms the first step up to the cock-
pit. The access to the engine for service and repairs
should be excellent — more than can be said of the
engine access on many modern boats, where it is often
difficult to even get a glimpse of the engine, let alone
work on it. Fifty-six gallons of gasoline are contained
in two tall, narrow tanks under the cockpit. This
arrangement allows for a big stowage lazarette in
between the tanks, reached through a manhole in the
cockpit floor forward of the helmsman's seat. There
are large sail and gear lockers under the cockpit seats
on each side.

The Wanderer is rigged as a conventional masthead
yawl. Because of her light displacement, the rig is small
for her length — only 934 square feet. Yet her sail-area-
to-displacement of 18.49 predicts good performance.
The aspect ratio of the rig is quite low; to my eyes she
would look better with taller spars and shorter booms.
The drawback to such a change is a slightly higher
center of effort, which would affect her stability, so
heightening the aspect ratio would have to be done
carefully and the stability recalculated. But the taller
rig would certainly improve the overall appearance
of the boat.

The lines are not shown, although I have a per-
spective drawing showing a bow view of the hull. The
shape is pretty much what you would expect — cut-
away forefoot, long, straight keel with a narrow cen-
terboard dropping through the ballast keel, and the
rudder hung on the after end. There is a total of 14 feet
of overhang in the bow and the counter stern, giving
her a waterline length of 34 feet 2 inches.
As you have gathered by now, I like this design a
lot. It offers truly outstanding accommodations and
cockpit comfort, and excellent sailing qualities in a
boat of considerable length, but very modest weight.
Since construction costs vary almost directly with dis-
placement, this design when built should prove to be
a lot of boat for the money.
Cy Hamlin writes: "It always disappointed me that
Wanderer was never built. She was one of those salu-
brious designs when everything comes together nicely;
not only did no large problems arise, but when the
design was completed, I was well satisfied with the
results. Usually, by the time I have finished a design,
I have a long list of ways in which I would improve it
'next time.' This has not happened with this design."
Perhaps someday the first Wanderer will slip into
Center Harbor at sunset. The owners, friendly folk,
will invite me aboard, and sitting below at the cabin

— 160 —

table, I will look around and it will all be just as I imag-
ine it — the feeling of space and comfort, soft high-
lights glinting off the varnished trim, the combination
of aromas that emanate from the interior of a choice
wooden vessel — cedar, teak, and tar, supper and rum,

and the accumulated wind and sunshine of a good
day's run.

Further inquiries about Wanderer should be addressed to:
Cyrus Hamlin, N.A., Ocean Research Corp., P.O. Box
67, Kennebunk, ME 04043.

— 161 —

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