Foredeck Design Trends in New Sailboats
Much as a blind person runs fingers over strangers’ faces to get to “know” them, I always feel that I can run my hands over the stem fitting of any vessel and with only that cursory knowledge still “know” the true nature of the craft. Is it traditional or modern, robust or flimsy, or prioritized toward fashion or function?
Aside from the fact that the foredeck takes the lion’s share of punishment at sea, many of the essential tasks of sailing occur at the sharp end of our boats. Little has changed in terms of the general functions performed there: docking, anchoring, and changing or furling the headsails. But much has changed in the general design, layout, and equipment found on the modern yacht’s foredeck.
Long, traditional overhangs have receded incrementally to the point that near or actual plumb stems are now the norm. While these eliminate the potential issue of long bowsprits piercing expensive topsides, they do present a new problem. If the bow roller is too short, serious damage to the stem can be prevented only with a stainless-steel flashing, an addition that’s apparently aesthetically anathema. If the anchor roller extends far enough forward to protect the stem from a gouging anchor, then it becomes subject to side loads beyond its design capabilities. Especially if the roller isn’t gusseted, care must be taken to avoid being “short scoped” under coral or rocks.
Photo 1: Bavaria 50
A growing trend in modern foredecks is recessed windlasses mounted in an externally accessed rode locker. The arrangement allows sailors to clear fouled lines and chain overfalls without the need to go below.