Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats
I think that Christian Hess's post# 4991 rightly gets to the heart of a bigger matter, namely the whole nebulous issue of defining what is an ocean going vessel, distance cruiser- and/or cruiser for that matter. It seems like so many of these discussions come down to individuals very narrow definitions of cruising, and therefore the 'necessities' that a cruising boat should include. And when an individual decides that his definition of curising is the only right definition, then any boat which does not meet that definition isn't a good cruising boat.
But in reality, we all define how we intend to use our boats, where we intend to sail, what we are comfortable with, the risks we are willing to take, the budget we can spend, and the benefits we demand. And it is within that collection of factors that the definition emerges and that a boat is suitable for its owner and that owner's useage.
And while there are a long list of boats that for any one of us would be very poor choice for our needs, tastes, and ambitions, many of these boats may be a perfect fit for some other person who ideally is the fellow who owns her.
So when I look at Frankie, I see a design which is precisely designed around that owner's needs, tastes, and ambitions and which seems to be precisely what the doctor ordered for that owner.
When the discussion shifted to whether FRANCIS could be a "trans-oceanic Cruiser", I would have to ask for whom. I would think that she could make a great trans-oceanic cruiser for someone whose primary interest was in the passage rather than grand accommodations once in port. Frankly, FRANCIS would be a far superior trans-oceanic Cruiser than the list of 50 year old Alberg-Tripp-Luders-Rhodes-S&S designs that seem to get dredged up everytime someone posts about going distance cruising. Certainly she should be a lot more seaworthy, seakindly, and faster, with more carrying capacity. She may actually be easier to handle in a broad range of conditions. People making long passages have chosen to eschew lifelines for all kinds of reasons. I believe that Pardeys did without lifelines for many years, as have many of the truly traditional and historic cruising boats that I have encountered in my life.
And for every owner who thinks his boat is perfect, and for every doubting critic, there is bound to be a major chasm formed by the way they see their own one true set of requirements and the way that others see their own one true light.
I saw this phenomina when I bought my own boat. When I bought my boat, my long term plan was to sail her for a decade or so on the Chesapeake and US east coast. Eventually I wanted to sail her to Europe and spend some years poking around the edges of the continent. I spoke to a collection of sister ship owners, quite a few had done major short-handed ocean passages and cruised long distance on sisterships. They descibed her as a bit spartan, not built for tall folks, and quite seaworthy and fast. They made a point that you have to be disciplined about not loading the boat up with a bunch of 'useless stuff', but that she had plenty of capacity to carry what was needed to feed, house and repair the boat and crew.
At the time that I bought the old girl, there was a lot of criticism of my choice. At one point, I read through the criticism and thought that they were right that Synergy's design could not do all the things these folks thought a cruising boat needed to do, but I only needed a cruising boat, which did the things that I wanted her to do, and she appeared to do those things very well.
It is the same for FRANCIS, she appears to do everything that Kim wanted her to do and more. If someone else chose her to make ocean passage, assuming that person was knowledgeable, they would size her up and say, she may not do everything that someone else thinks they they need, but she does precisely what I need. And if that person concluded that modifications were necessary, within reason the compromises and cost to make those modifications would make sense to that person even if they do not make sense to us, and might not have made sense to Kim or Bob when FRANCIS was conceived and constructed.
In other words, any problem with FRANCIS as an ocean cruiser comes from the mind of the person defining that problem from thier own point of view, rather than from inherent issues with FRANCIS herself.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay