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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Workboat Layout

Photo by Joe Upton from his Journeys through the Inside Passage

Hard to forget first puppy love.
― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

A Workboat Layout

When Anke and I first went south, looking for a boat, we wandered the docks of Seattle. Even in '90 o' the previous millenium, wood and DIY were giving way to fiberglass and production lines. But there were still a few old salts dreaming along the edges.

I was recently elated to run across this photo of one the first vessels to win our hearts.

By the time we ran across it, in a small marina below Gasworks Park on Lake Union, it had been stripped of its rig. Grass was growing in the cockpit. No one we could locate had ever seen an owner. The marina claimed it had been abandoned. We could have the boat, but couldn't stay or make repairs at their dock.

We were attracted to its sleek, whale-boat lines and rakish house. The forward cabin was beautifully formed. Whoever had converted her had done so with skill, respect for her workboat origins and a sense of romance.

Her layout was intriguing.

The snug, steering cockpit is well protected by the house, with easy access to the galley and nav station. Sleeping quarters in the fo'c'sle cuddy had good lounging space and plenty of air. The large, mid-ships cockpit make a flexible work/play space that can be used for projects, cargo, a fish-hold, etc..

For working boats, this is a common arrangement (though far from universal). We see it on hulls ranging from about 26ft to the 70ft power scows in our area. I've used it as the basis for the layouts of Trilobyte CARGO designs.CERES (of the Vermont Sail Freight Project) used the layout successfully in their two seasons of operations.

Downside, for cruisers, is that living spaces are separated. This means potentially needing two heating systems, and traversing the decks through weather when switching cabins. Later, we came to savor the joys of one lying a'bed as the other brews coffee, chit-chatting in easy earshot.

It was the light, showing between planks within inches of the waterline, that finally disuaded us. We had few resources and fewer skills.While we sought a boat with a few problems from which we could learn, this one seemed beyond us.

But, oh! We still sometimes dream of her.


  1. Not to be a party-pooper or anything, but what does that boat have that your new boat doesn't, other than curviness?

    I'd take your new boat any day over that one!

    1. Hi Yoda,

      (Sorry, missed this comment!)

      Square boats have won my mind over, but those curves still light me up! 8)

      Dave Z

    2. On reflection, I really didn't answer your question!

      There are definite advantages to some curvy hulls, and particularly the whaleboat types such as this one.

      Having a lower prismatic coefficient (i.e., proportion of below-the-waterline hull to the rectangular, long x wide x deep slab), curvy dogs offer less resistance and are therefore easier to drive (generally faster).

      Double enders like this one take a following sea gracefully for generally easy motion. They tend not to get their fat heinies pushed around. On the other hand, they can dive or get pooped (green wave on deck) since they have less buoyancy at the ends to lift them up and over waves.

      Other factors in the design can exacerbate or alleviate either the pros or cons - whether curvy or 'square' - which is why I say 'generally' and 'tends'.

      For a trolling boat (such as this one), the pointy aft end eases the task of boarding fish over either side by shortening cockpit width. Typically, one need only turn, rather than take a step or three to reach the opposite side. In rough weather, you're much less likely to get thrown across.

      As usual, it depends on how one uses their boat as to which set of compromises they'll favor and/or tolerate.

      Dave Z