Outbound 44/46: Suspended and Alive
The Carl Schumacher-designed Outbound 44/46 is a voyaging boat that deserves a second look. A boat review from our April 2004 issue.
Of a small sailing craft, E. B. White wrote, "It is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of man-a home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than a fish or a girl, and in which a homeowner can remove his daily affairs as far from shore as he has the nerve to. Closehauled or running free-parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive."
The restless minds behind the Outbound 44 belong to Phil Lambert and Craig Chamberlain, founders of Outbound Yachts.
In Annapolis, Maryland, last October I said to Phil, "There are so many cruising designs already available to choose from; why go back to the drawing board?"
He told me he came from a racing background. "I was convinced we could develop a boat with the capacity required for serious cruising, with sufficient comfort to encourage living aboard, and with the added safety that comes with performance and handling," he said. "But too often, that quest for performance led me to vessels that were too exotic, expensive, and uncomfortable. I wanted a solid-glass hull-heavy, yes, but safe, and well suited for hard offshore work. I felt we could still achieve high performance through sophisticated shape, a powerful rig, and by keeping the weight well away from the ends."
Phil admits that his choice of designer, Carl Schumacher, who was known for squeezing every last ounce out of his creations, was at first reluctant when approached with these design parameters. After reviewing Chamberlain's original drawings and lengthy discussion, however, Carl felt challenged to find that coveted speed without compromising hull integrity or the seakindliness that can only come from displacement.
And rise to that challenge he did, for one of the last designs to come off Schumacher's board before his death in early 2002, is an elegant blend of sensibility and sophistication. For a slippery underbody, he combined long waterline length (40 feet 3 inches) with moderate beam (13 feet 6 inches). This is steered with a high-aspect spade rudder with a standard 4-inch stainless-steel rudderstock, or a carbon-fiber upgrade. For power, he balanced a high-aspect solent rig of 1,151 square feet with the righting moment of a 6-foot-6-inch, 10,000-pound encapsulated bulb keel.
To convert concept into craft, Lambert sought a yard capable of constructing vessels of consistently high quality yet at an affordable price. In 1999, he chose Hampton Yacht Building Company of Shanghai, China. While no one disputes that the quality-to-cost ratio of Chinese craftsmen represents good value, Phil concedes that public perception of Chinese yards may yet be tainted by the irregular quality control from the industry's nascent years.
Still, he says, "The Chinese industry has matured. They now recognize that to remain competitive, they must establish rigid standards. To further ensure absolute consistency, we decided to source the entire boat from the United States.