Last week I flew north to inspect potential Figure 8 boats. Over four days I saw five steel and aluminum boats in yards that took me to Seattle, Poulsbo, Port Townsend, Victoria and Friday Harbor.
If I’d had the good sense to live nearer the Netherlands, I could have conducted this entire search without ever leaving the sales docks of De Valk, and fortune would have smiled similarly if I lived in France. But on the west coast of North America, metal boats are downright rare, except for one tiny pocket of manufacturing madness near Victoria, British Columbia. Here are (or were) the shops of Waterline Yachts, SP Metal Craft and Fastwater Marine, and all the boats I saw could be traced to one of these.
The next few posts will contain a quick review of the boats seen this trip, their basic specifications, brief thoughts on their suitability for the Figure 8 Voyage and some photos.
By way of reminder, in the previous post I defined the characteristics of “the right boat” as:
One could argue that these parameters are so general as to be unhelpful. So, to be a little more specific, I was also looking for boats with:
Simple as it may sound, the above represents a tall order when the field is so sparsely populated, and in the end my target boats for this trip comprised what was available rather than what fit the criteria.
The first boat inspected, the SK-42, was in Bainbridge, a pleasant 20 minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle.
Steel pilot-house sloop, nearly flush deck, extended fin keel with skeg hung rudder.
LOA: 42; LWL: 36; Beam: 12.5; Draft: 6.5.
Displacement: 26,000lb; Ballast: 8,000lbs. Sail Area: 900 sq ft.
Displacement to Length Ratio: 250. Ballast to Displacement (after personal increment of 5,500lbs): 25%. Sail Area to Displacement Ratio: 16. Capsize Ratio: 1.69.
Tankage: 115 gallons fuel; 105 water.
Engine: 70 hp.
Neither in photos nor in person does this boat impress as being a high latitude work-horse. This is largely due to her deeply transverse transom and overlarge cockpit, which give her a racey feel. That said, her lower freeboard and robust construction suggest a boat that can charge on in may weathers. Add to this her newness and, upon inspection, immaculate upkeep–cleaner bilges I have never seen–made her a boat worth consideration.
Positives where the Figure 8 are concerned:
Though a solid contender, concerns included a lack of below decks storage for such a long passage as the Figure 8 and no obvious locker-space for additional diesel tankage. The boat also felt too lightly ballasted and too powerfully rigged for a circuit of the Southern Ocean. Still, she showed extremely well, was strongly built and clearly blue-water able, having made two transits to Hilo and back with her current owner.
Next up, a Waterline 38…