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.
The hull is built of hand-laid fiberglass, reinforced with brawny stringers, longitudinals, and bulkheads bonded to the hull while in the mold. High-stress points receive additional laminates. Knytex biaxial fiberglass enhances impact resistance, but attentive to the potential dangers of an increasingly littered ocean, a watertight crash bulkhead is added 7 feet aft of the stem. This laudable safety feature doubles as a sealed and spacious locker to hold sails and rodes. Outer layers of vinyl-ester resin keep blisters at bay, while Valspar ISO-NGP gelcoat ensures long luster.
The decks are Baltek balsa cored for stiffness. The hull/ deck joint is bonded with 3M's indestructible 5200, then mechanically fastened with stainless-steel through-bolts centered every 4 inches. The two structures are still further fused by adhesion to interior bulkheads perimeters.
No area of the vessel is more central to safety, comfort, and convenience than the cockpit. The Outbound's aft cockpit is enormous yet won't wallow under the weight of boarding seas, for it's self-bailing aft through a wide, open-ended sole. Still, the companionway is protected from flooding by a 9-inch bridge-deck and two forward scuppers.
The cockpit sole extends out onto the swim platform via a box containing the life raft. This allows deployment and entry from the safest part of the boat without exposure to swinging booms or boarding seas and doesn't require the cumbersome raft to be hefted over high lifelines, as in deck-mounted rafts.
The main hatch slides smoothly and is tight. But it could use a two-way latch to firmly secure it yet allow access from above or below. The companionway is well protected by swinging doors backed up by three Lexan washboards securely slid into parallel grooves.
Ergonomically designed with high, comfortable backrests, the cockpit seats are long and wide enough to sleep on yet aren't so far apart as to allow bodies to be dangerously pitched across. Manual bilge pumps are located strategically at both the helm and the navigation station below.
Ironically, one of the Outbound's best ideas may also be the worst. The port cockpit seat opens up to a massive stowage locker and workbench below. With the locker lid up, even the tallest person can stand up straight over a spacious workbench with a vice and all tools readily at hand. The workspace becomes well lit and cool, while isolating noise and dirt from the cabin interior. Bravo-but such a large opening exposes the interior bilge to flooding. It therefore should be gasketed, not just guttered, and all hinges and latches need to be thumb-thick and fastened with backing plates. These are quick and affordable fixes; I note them only because there were so few other faults to report.