Slinger is coming along.
As regular readers will know, I tend to change my mind a lot in the course of each new design, trying always to optimize the design for its primary purpose. When last I talked about the boat, I was gung-ho to have comfortable little cockpits, in attempt to emulate the very comfortable seating in Slider, which is one of her greatest virtues.
However… I’ve thought a lot about this, and I now have the additional experience of working inside the first hull, so I have a clearer picture of how the interior space lays out.
Slider, an open boat, is primarily a day sailer, although much thought went into making her more suitable for short cruises. Still, cruising on Slider is much like camping out– in order to be comfortable in bad weather, I have to pitch a tent on Slider’s deck. The idea with Slinger is that we want to live aboard for several months at a stretch, while making extended cruises, such as to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The functions are very different.
So here’s a view of the new cabin profile:
You can see that the cabin now extends almost to the aft crossbeam. This means that a lot more of the cabin is accessible and usable as living space. One of the things I’m trying to avoid is the “tunnel hull syndrome” associated with trailerable cats. The worst example of this I ever saw was a MacGregor 36 I once went aboard. The interior was accessed via a glorified manhole cover. The inside was dark and claustrophobic. I don’t think it has to be that way.
One thing I can do is have lots of portlights on each side of the cabin– so that the cabinsides are more window than solid wood. It’s also helpful that here’s good sitting headroom over both bunks almost to the foot, which helps to prevent that closed-in feeling you get when you have to eel yourself down into a bunk with low clearance, as is the case in the quarterberths found in many smallish yachts.
By extending the cabins aft to cover most of the living space, and by making the main hatches open onto the center deck, rather than aft of the cabins, I achieve several useful goals. One is that instead of four-foot deep cubbyholes under the cockpit, the space is actually much more usable as living space. A galley can be built that is will be very luxurious for a 24 foot cat. In the other hull, a navigation station with room for charts and electronics becomes possible. A real companionway ladder is possible, instead of the stepping from shelf to shelf that would have been necessary with aft-facing main hatches.
There are tradeoffs, as there always are. For one, the inward facing main hatches are more likely to leak in heavy weather than aft-facing companionways. Our old Wharram Tane had inward-facing hatches, and she did drip a bit going to windward in bad conditions. But this may have been partially due to the way her hatches folded up, so as not to extend past the cabin roof line. The hatches were weatherstripped where they were split, but spray always seemed to find its way inside.
On the positive side, the hatches will be aft of the bunks, so that any spray that finds it way inside will not drip on the bedding. There are few worse discomforts than damp bedding aboard a live-aboard boat. The galley and nav station will be more vulnerable to unexpected jets of water, but in the sort of storm than might see green water on the decks, the electronic will be locked away in Pelican cases, and the galley won’t mind being dripped on much.
The great sticking point with this new approach, for me, is that exterior seating will not be quite a wonderful as it is with Slider. The cabin tops are only 17 inches above the center decks, so are at a good height for sitting. I could even set up a bass boat chair on the aft corner of the cabin on a swivel plate, and get pretty comfortable. But the visibility won’t be as perfect, since the helmsman’s view point will be above the bottom of the sails, and the helmsman will be vulnerable to getting whacked if the boom jibes over unexpectedly when wung out for a run.
But all things considered, I think I’d rather have the interior volume. When cruising for extended periods, I’ve always found that we spend more time at anchor than actually sailing from place to place. So for that purpose, comfortable interiors may be slightly more important than perfect helmsman seating. I tend to rely on self-steering a lot on longer passages, so helmsman comfort may be even less of a factor in a boat meant for extended voyaging. That doesn’t mean that I will accept an uncomfortable solution for the helm, but I won’t make comfortable exterior seating the centerpiece of the boat, as I did with Slider. For an offshore boat, interior comfort is more important.