Pocket cruiser cabin headroom

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Sobell, May 19, 2018.

  1. Tiny Turnip
    Joined: Mar 2008
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    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

    Thanks, Sobell.

    It may be helpful if I explain my reasons for selling the Winklebrig, and buying my current boat.

    I *loved* the Winklebrig - the cutest boat in the world, a tiny, cosy cabin. Like you, I preferred to cook on the beach, or in the cockpit. Carbon monoxide, smell and grease from cooking in a tiny, rather vapour sealed cabin not good. It was ballasted, and displaced 650kg. Which meant a trailer launch every time. Faff. Plus maintaining a trailer with bearings and brakes which got dipped in the water, sometimes salt, every launch.
    You can see from the drawings that it is a very tubby little boat. It had twin bilge plates, which drew up under the benches, reduced draft to 1'3" and left the cabin clear, but offered poor upwind performance, partly due to the lack of a foil profile. In an effort, I presume, to get it to sail faster, it carried 172 sq ft of sail. A lot in a tubby 16 ft boat with not much keel, and it could be quite a handful in strong or gusty conditions. And despite this, its hull shape limited its top speed to a shade over 5 knots at the very best. Plus, sleeping on board, on such a short boat, in any sort of chop, was uncomfortable. I am not prone to sea sickness, but on one occasion, tied up to a jetty on a (relatively small, British) lake, I had to disembark and pitch a tent on shore as I was so uncomfortable.

    On the Winklebrig website, if you go to >resources>winklebrig drawings, you can see the size of the sail plan and some detail of the rigging.

    My current boat is a 16ft open plywood cruising trimaran. it weighs just 90kg, which means two people can carry it, fully rigged, and it is roof toppable on a large vehicle. You can drag it up a beach and feel secure, camping on dry land, with a fire, rather than worrying about the anchor dragging and feeling uncomfortable sleeping in a small boat. It carries just 79 sq ft of sail, yet will sail at 12 knots with ease. This also improves seaworthiness. The lee board leaves the hull clear, but is a high performance foil, albeit fashioned from a single slab of ash, which gives good upwind performance and manoeuvreability. The rigs are modest, very simple, and reef easily, rolling around the mast.

    Some video of the little tri here, if you're interested:

    I sail this boat more, faster, easier, and more comfortably. It cost half the price of the Winklebrig. Though I was sorry to see the Winklebrig go, I am enjoying more, lower stress sailing than before.

    In summary, I fully understand the allure of the small cosy cabin, and have enjoyed it. But I enjoy sailing more now, having let it go.

    A slightly larger design, like PAR's attractive Rocky above, will ease a number of the disadvantages of the Winklebrig. And I have to confess I have been drooling over a slightly larger trimaran with a cabin, the Astus 20.5. But that's a very different, much higher tech boat again, creeping up the scale of complexity again.

    When I bought the Winklebrig, I was told, among the many amusing sayings there are about sailing, that it didn't matter which first boat I bought, because it would be the wrong one. Some wisdom in that.

    Best wishes

    Doug Lord likes this.
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The issue I have with most of the pocket or mini designs is they can't cruise, at least not very far. Ask any real cruiser for honest answers and two things pop right up, the amount of motoring time and the amount of stores they can carry. If your design choice can't motor about 50% of the trip, you're in a world of hurt, so the design needs to have a reasonable engine, that isn't going to pop out in every swell and enough fuel to motor for a lot longer than you think. The other thing is stores. You have to eat, shower and drink, so storage space is paramount. A gallon a day for each aboard, per day, likely considerably more in the tropics. These two things make the vast majority of the mini's and pocket cruisers unsuitable except as weekend warriors.

    To compound these issues is the usual demand for a truly sea worthy, ocean going craft. I have a design for this too, but it doesn't look like the bubble top, over grown dinks I've seen, that tout this potential. Again, you have to have the storage for serious passage making. A few weeks at sea will kick the crap out of the heartiest crew, if they can't sleep, because its motion is too unpleasant in a rough slosh, you can't carry enough fuel, water, etc.

    It's one thing to think you can make a passage, but another to actually do it and have a boat that will bring you there and back, with a level of comfort, safety and ability. This is why a serious cruiser picks a bigger boat, comfort mostly, but also because it's faster, more capable and can carry all the stuff you need. My ocean ready pocket cruiser has a 15' LWL, but the accommodations of a 20' boat on an 18' on deck length. It has a 139 degrees of righting stability and I like to see the stability curve for the majority of the mini's and pocket "cruisers" that suggest they're serious, ocean capable craft. I'd bet only a handful at best, would come near 139 degrees. FWIW, Rocky (above), though quite capable, isn't ocean ready, except for coastal cruising.

    My point is there are serious designs, with all the capability's, and then the play things that might have a coy look or seemingly cozy cabin, just to find you can't tolerate a single day aboard in a modest storm aboard one of them.
  3. Sobell
    Joined: Jan 2017
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    Location: Florida

    Sobell Junior Member

  4. Sobell
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    Sobell Junior Member

    Yes, I've had several people tell me that. I'm considering it.
  5. Sobell
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    Sobell Junior Member

  6. Sobell
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    Sobell Junior Member

    Gracious, it's a little hard for me to imagine that out on the water....
  7. Angélique
    Joined: Feb 2009
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    In 1993 small boat sailor Hugo Vihlen stepped ashore at Falmouth in Cornwall, England after a solo Atlantic crossing from St. John's on Newfoundland in Canada, which lasted 105 or 115 (?) days at sea in his boat Father’s Day of 5' 4" LOD, he had lost 34 pounds of his body weight on the trip, and could hardly walk . . . :eek:

    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  8. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Beaufort, SC and H'ville, NC

    philSweet Senior Member

    On the really tiny size , there is Reuban Trane's Peep Hen, Dr Segger's Trailer cruiser, and Adelie 14 and Scamp. The basic rule for headroom is "either 4' 6"(sitting) or 6' 4"(standing), nothing in between makes any sense." In these tiny boats, if you try to push the headroom any lower, there isn't anywhere for your knees and feet to go.

    I personally think the pram style hull works best in the 12-15 range. A mostly open boat with about 4 feet of enclosed bow for weatherproof storage and a canvas tent for camping (which is left at home for day trips or beach camping) is a bit more versatile and can be a much better performer than one with a built in cabin. My two prams were basically open boats, and dad's old X-boat had a removable hardtop.
  9. Dolfiman
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    Dolfiman Senior Member

  10. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Thank you! My first production design.
  11. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Oh, I like that one PAR. It's pretty and looks like it would sail well.
  12. Steve W
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Steve W Senior Member

    A Jarcat 5 catamaran trailer sailer at around 16ft offers a 4ft wide island berth, a luxury not found in many sailboats under 40ft,in a nice bright airy cabin and a couple of quarter berths, as well as a decent cockpit, fast under sail and power, of course level sailing only a cat can provide and easy build in plywood. The 6m version even better. I think the catamaran configuration in this size has a lot to offer and I think would fit your SOR quite well.
  13. Sobell
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    Sobell Junior Member

    Thanks, Steve. I searched it, but Google is uncooperative about showing interior shots.
  14. Sobell
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    Sobell Junior Member

    Very futuristic! Looks like it sails well. Alas, I'm a traditional ol' broad....

  15. Sobell
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    Sobell Junior Member

    Yes, it will have to be big enough to accommodated both me and my husband....
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