Being bedridden has its benefits. feeling to weak to do anything physically fun, I pulled put my old journal that I used when searching for the worlds finest pocket cruiser. We all have a different set of persmters, so my list was for me. I can honestly say that while I have found a few minor anoyances with the FC 22, by design, she is without a single fault. Her quality of construction is far and away one of the finest sailboats ever built but that is really neither here nor there. Why pay for a blue water cruiser if your never going to sail more than 20 miles from your home port.
My first and most important criteria other than finding a boat that was easy on the eyes was a very low ballast ratio, Sookie carries 33% and it was one of the main selling points. Add 400 lbs of water and 3,000 lbs of personal gear and stores to a small boat and you are sunk. I loved my Flicka beyond words but we simply couldn’t load enough gear without a massive speed handicap. I would still sail that boat anywhere but it would be a solo endeavor or a painfully slow one, which would still be better than staying home.
Number two on the list was a good sailing boat. I would never call Sookie fast but she has surprised quite a few bay racers over the course. Nothing in the world is more miserable than a slow boat. My Westerly Cirrus Sport was the slowest sailboat on the planet.
Third on my list was what I call wandering self sufficiency. Basically a boat that I can maintain and work on anywhere in the world without having to haul her out. A stern hung rudder, a massive tabernachling mast step and a full length keel so she can be easily and safely careened. I also want a boat with a minimum of through hulls beneath my waterline, my Allegra had zero. Sookie has three which as far as I’m concerned is three too many.
Number four is a good comefortable layout including a very manageable galley, the largest berths available, and multiple opening ports which no matter how many you have will never be enough in the tropics. Sookies interior is near flawless with one huge problem. Her quarter berths were raised quadrupling the storage but also making it so you can’t sit back without whacking your head either on the corner of the dog house, or the under deck storage boxes behind. I have had plans to re do this since day one but I’m so greedy of her ample storage that I just can’t seem to bring myself to make the change. This is Sookies number one most annoying feature, she only has two. I’ve drawn a thousand different designs for her insides and can never find anything that beats lyles original drawing. I’m even in the process of making a huge athwart ship double nest in the main cabin. It pops in and out in 10 seconds and makes a wonderful playpen for lazy days like today.
5, Sookies cockpit is big and wonderful with a very high bridge deck and seaworthy foot well. Unfortunatly I’ve yet to figure out a way to make her cockpit comfy for long passages as she has no combing whatsoever. I’m working on completing her lifelines and lee cloths will be a big help, adding in good chill spots on watch but none of them will ever be protected from the weather. I have a kick ass pair of foulies and an offer for two new free sets so on a small boat like the FC it just goes with the territory. On the flip side, her decks are incredibly wide for a boat with only an 8′ beam and her transition from cockpit foreward is very safe and easy. I agonized over her stanchion design wanting the tallest ones I could add without detracting from her beautiful lines, my first 3 years were without any and I’m quite pleased with what I have come up with. Sookie has a 6″ raised deck from the back of the dog house to the front of her scuttle hatch. The double lifelines along this area are 22″inches and I’m adding a 48″ hight removeabke line for when at sea. In her cockpit and foredeck the stanchions are 28″ high. If I could do it over I think I could have snuck in an extra two inches but it’s such a fine line between sailing yacht and hobo on the water. I’ll never add a single thing that takes away from Sookies lines or sailing ability. Good clean uncluttered decks are safe and I like that feeling.
Last on the list is sail management and fittings. I will never own a boat that has deck plates, I prefer outboard mounted chain plates as they rarely leak and if they do can be renewed for 10 bucks with no interior water damage. I love roller furling but it has literally destroyed the performance of sailing ships in the name of saving a little work on the for deck. Rarely will,you ever have the proper weight or size sail or sheets for that matter. Cruising boats have what I call performance thirds. A third is design, a third is water line, and the last third is sail plan. Roller furling takes away 33 percent of you performance straight off. The lazy factor in all of us that has us rolling in our head sail because its easier than reefing the main is an adittioanl performance penalty. I’m not saying I don’t love roller furling but you still need just as many sails as Hank on, the only difference is that they are much more difficult to bend on.
Sookie is my elveth boat and I ve learned quite a bit over the years. Today I got an email from a girl I have been consulting for, she wanted a full keel pocket cruiser to sail around the world even though she’s never skippered her own boat. Today she closed on a beautiful Ericson 25 plus. It cost less than 5k, in the last 4 years the seller added new sails, a new furling system, new rigging, all new cushions in and out and a new motor, it’s the cleanest little boat I have ever seen and shows in pride of ownership. Best of all its in the marina only blocks from her home. In a few weeks we start her sailing lessons and I asked her what she was going to do with all the money she saved. Monday morning she is quitting her job and in a few weeks she moves aboard. She is taking 6 months off to see if she loves sailing as much as she loves reading all the sailing blogs. Her goal is the San Juan islands, small and beautiful just like her perfect little pocket cruiser.
I’m writing this because I’m bored and have cabin fever, every time I stand up I get dizzy so today is one of healing and rest. My time could have easily been over this week. The question is, how much time do you have. Stop dreaming and go buy a boat And do a little living while you can. If you love it enough to make the big plunge and buy your dream boat so be it. If it turns out to be more than you expected you can allways sell the boat, cross this one off your list and move on. The only way you will ever know is by diving in head first, see you out there.
“Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.” – Melville