We have had a ton of feedback on the subject of crew quarters – both via SetSail and e-mail – and we’ve worked up what we think is as close to crew Nirvana as one can get on a small yacht. The process has also lead to several other enhancements in the FPB 78 layout. Our own thoughts have come full circle and we will tell you our decision for FPB 78-1 at the end of the post.
To begin with, we have not by any means abandoned the concept that we (and most of our clients) prefer to cruise on our own, without crew. But as the business demands have grown, and we have matured, we find ourselves cruising part rather than full time. In this scenario, having someone to look after the boat while we are away simplifies our lives – at least that is the theory. Some of our owners look at this in the same way. So they, and we, want the option of having crew. Hence this long search for an ideal interior solution— which we think we have found.
Here is a list of what has driven the creative process to what you see above:
- As an owner, you want the best crew. Good quarters help attract and keep good crew. All of our owners agreed that having really nice digs for crew is important.
- The crew needs a space off by themselves in which they can relax, without bumping elbows with the owner or guests. The same applies to the owners, who need to have their privacy.
- Proximity to the engine room was considered essential if possible.
- Separate entrance(s) for the crew is desirable.
- An area in which to lounge, aside from just the bunk.
- Good storage space.
The rendering above is pretty much self explanatory. This is a very substantial space, larger than the guest suite on the FPB 64s. The head/shower has a large locker outboard, there are drawers and hanging space under the double bunk, there is a small fridge under the vanity, and a shelf unit above with room for a microwave, coffee maker, etc. Opposite the lounge seating area, on the aft bulkhead, there is room for a 42” TV. The port side steering gear cover will serve as a work surface and/or desk. And there is a pilot berth outboard to port, shown here folded up, which can provide an extra sleeping spot if there are two crew who are not co-habitating.
There is an entrance off the swim step and another from the deck. The deck level entrance can be covered with an awning extension off the house roof. And, if required, access can be gained via the engine room.
There are trade-offs, of course. The workshop now moves back into the engine room. But there is still plenty of space there, including room for the grinder or belt sander, drill press, and bearing press that is so ardently desired. This also gives up aft lazarette storage. To offset this, a pair of lockers have been added to the swim step, primarily intended for flammables. The balance of gear will move back to the forepeak,where it has always been carried in the past.
If the FPB 78 finds itself in service without crew, it will be easy to convert this space back to general storage, if that is desirable.
Now comes the existential question of what is the best use for the “Annex” forward. This could be another guest cabin, an office or workout room, or it could be a laundry/pantry area. In which case the washer and dryer would live up here, along with a pair of top loading freezers (which will also work as fridges), and a large volume of lockers for general storage. There is also a huge amount of storage available below the cabin sole.
The forepeak is shown in this rendering, and this will give you an idea of the volume available for ship’s gear, roughly three times what we have with the FPB 64 and twice that of FPB 83 Wind Horse.
Now it gets interesting. If there are crew aboard, who need to access the facilities forward, how do they get there without disturbing the owners? You see the answer above. There is now a hallway outboard down the starboard side. The forward suite is just a touch smaller, but still voluminous by yacht standards – significantly larger than that on the FPB 64.
And if the occupants of this forward suite do not need the privacy? The bulkhead folds away. There is an intermediate position where the aft section is extended to isolate the office area. This allows night owls to work at their computer without disturbing the occupant of the adjacent bunk.
The second FPB 78 is being built with extra accommodations forward. The layout above works for guests, extra crew, or as storage. And a very large forepeak is left for ship’s needs.
We have the benefit of a great group of very experienced owners with whom to bounce around ideas. In discussing the subject of crew and how to best use the space, we realized we do not really know what we are going to do, or what the final answer is for our own boat just yet. And we don’t like giving up our original idea of a workshop. So we’ve come up with an approach that fits our needs today, and allows for easily changing to a different mode if we find it appropriate.
To begin with, we are assuming if there is crew they will live in the aft starboard stateroom. Private access is available through the engine room if desired. This make sense for us since a majority of the time we’ll have at most the need for a single guest stateroom.
The aft end, shown above, has the aforementioned workshop area, two starboard side folding pipe berths/shelves, one of which is shown above, and a large TV. The pipe berths can be used for crew on a temporary basis, overflow guests, or storage.
And if there is crew aboard, they will have a separate lounge area here, but the amenities, for now anyway, will be simple and temporary. The accoutrements shown above–i.e. folding lounge chairs– are easily mobile, so will also work elsewhere aboard for owners and guests. If we are without crew, we also like the concept of having a workshop with a few amenities in which to escape.
Now the forward end. Once again the same logic applies. We want maximum flexibility to remodel as our ideas change. So we are going with the open plan – one huge space. The washer and dryer are up here, and there is room for extra top loading refrigeration units (not shown). Bulk storage is available under the sole and we will probably fit a shelf unit somewhere. Otherwise, for now, nothing. The most probable use for us is as an on board gym, with a compact Pilates Reformer and an exercise bike (which can be lifted onto the deck on nice days).
To put the preceding in context, a plan view of the entire lower deck is above.
As owners we are very pleased with where we are at now with the FPB 78. Thanks to all of you who took the time to give us your feedback. It has helped us tremendously.