I love your design concepts of fast cruising sailboats designed to be handled by a couple. I have a few questions that, if you have the time, I would love to get answered.
I have read your design paper for BEOWULF and it looks like a terrific boat. How is the water ballast working out and do you ever worry about having all that ballast on the wrong side in the event of an accidental jibe? What do you think of the use of carbon fiber, particularly in masts? And have you considered the use of a free-standing mast? What do you think of the Fox 50 concept of converting an Around Alone Open 50 design to an ultra-fast cruising boat? I think they were to be built by TPI and Lyman Morse, although after the initial hoo-ha I have not heard anything about them. They seem to take your concepts a step farther, but perhaps too far.
Hi Pete: The water ballast is great! We use it about 70% of the time when we are on passage.
As for the accidental jibe scenario, given BEOWULF’s very high initial stability without the water ballast, this does not pose a problem. When we are offshore, we normally only pump in 4500 pounds of ballast (out of a potential total of 7500 pounds). This gives us about five degrees of heel. If it is on the wrong side, it is a little uncomfortable, but not an issue safety wise.
Should we take a knockdown to the wrong side, we still have a substantial positive range of stability.
We considered carbon fiber spars for BEOWULF. They would certainly reduce the pitching moment upwind, and add a percent or so to pure boat speed due to the lower center of gravity. However, given the cost premium (around $150,000) they did not contribute enough speed for the money.
I saw the preliminary plans for the Fox 50–a friend was interested in one. I think for a local cruising boat–glorified day sailor–it would be cool, as would some of the really hot sport boats. However, I think there would be some long term cruising tradeoffs which would be painful–unless you were prepared to go in a very spartan manner, in which case the boat would have been great fun!–Steve Dashew