Up and At 'Em
A California couple's voyaging dreams see the light of day in New Morning, the cruising sloop designed by Chuck Paine and built by Lyman-Morse to take them anywhere they want to go. "Yachtstyle" for our September 2009 issue
I also noticed the complete lack of brightwork. Instead, the deck layout has an almost workboat simplicity, enhanced by what Russ calls a "shark cage" aft pulpit-it surrounds the cockpit with three stainless-steel rails that wrap around the stern and flow forward to the lifeline gates and 30-inch-tall stanchions located nearly amidships.
"I don't want to spend my time sanding and varnishing," said Russ, who once owned an all-mahogany sailboat with a bright-finished exterior.
Stepping aboard through the open transom and between the twin wheels, I could easily put a hand on either, and I noticed as I moved forward that the cockpit sole seemed narrow for a boat with 15-plus feet of beam. Again, there's no accident in these details. Looking forward to many solo watches and offshore miles, Russ and Fay wanted a secure cockpit with working area just big enough for the two of them. They'd gladly step out of each other's way when moving about at the dock as a trade-off for safety and practicality while offshore.
They told the story of the first sea trial, when New Morning headed down the river from Thomaston, Maine, with a dozen or more people on board. It was in May 2008, 31 months after the project was started and 21 months after building commenced. The wind was blowing 25 to 30. They had two reefs in the main and the nonoverlapping jib unfurled, and everyone seemed to be in each other's way on this boat built for a couple. Alone, though, Russ and Fay can tack the boat in a snap-think synchronized sailing: Russ, standing at one of the two wheels, hits the auto-tack button on the Furuno autopilot and releases the jib. Fay winches her sheet home from the other side. When it's time to tack again, they simply repeat the process, she releasing, he winding in. As they sit under the dodger, out of the wind and eating sandwiches, I try a couple of tacks on my own to get a feel for it. It's a breeze; I put the wheel over, release a sheet, walk a couple of steps, straighten the helm, and sheet in.
Russ tells me I'm working too hard and says that's not how it should be done. I should use the autopilot to steer. That's what it's there for.
Admonished, I sit and listen while he and Fay explain the theory of the space they've created under the dodger. They tell me how the extent of its roof and the length of the benches on either side are both designed so that when Russ is relaxing with his back against the cabin in the hot tropical sun, shade covers his body to the tips of his toes. But when Fay and Russ sit at the other ends of the benches in the evening, they have a full view of the nighttime stars that's unfettered in any way by the dodger.
Overhead, the solid fiberglass dodger and carbon-fiber arch provides a beefy anchor point for the midboom-sheeted main and doubles as a platform for six solar panels; with four more mounted on deck just ahead of the dodger, New Morning's electrical system can harvest a theoretical 568 watts when the sun's out. The solar panels, coupled with a Superwind 350 wind generator on a tower on the stern, allowed Fay and Russ to anchor off Grand Case, St. Martin, without running the engine for 10 days. Add in a pair of engine-driven high-output alternators and there's power-generating capacity aplenty for the 12 gel-cell batteries that make up the 1,000 amp-hour house battery bank. It fuels a 24-volt electrical system, which includes an inverter and 12-volt power for navigation electronics.
Why do they need all that power? Well, Fay and Russ are decidedly not camping. Though they've tried to hold down consumption by using LED lighting wherever possible and seeking out other low-draw appliances, they still like their toys-Apple computers with big display screens, in particular. And then there's the air-conditioning in the forward cabin, the Spectra Newport Mark II watermaker, and an Espar heater for when the nights turn cold. Russ acknowledges that he and Fay likely make-and consume-more juice than other cruisers.
And why not? New Morning's interior is as plush and comfortable as her exterior is tough and no-nonsense, so why not enjoy it? Woodwork throughout is a matte-finished light maple and comprised of a mixture of solid wood and veneer-covered foam-cored panels. The sole is teak.
Fay's love of turning local provisions into sumptuous hors d'oeuvres and meals is aided and abetted by an in-line galley to port of the companionway. When I looked, both fridges and the freezer, all in a line inboard, were jam-packed for the trip south. Outboard there's lots of counter space, deep double sinks, a stove and oven, and, at the very aft end, a stainless-steel portion of the countertop that can fold out to double as Russ' workbench.
At home in Sausalito, Fay enjoys a kitchen that's near to where Russ has his computer, so they can talk while working separately. Ditto on the boat, where the hexagonal shape of the main saloon keeps the chef close to Russ, a.k.a. Mr. Gadget. Forward, the computer station/nav desk blends into a curved settee with a sharp-angled hexagonal dining table. To starboard, there's a pair of comfortable chairs with a small table between. Metal artwork by Fay's sister, Evy Rogers, of Jacob Rogers Art, is incorporated into the end tables, one of which doubles as a wine rack.
To starboard of the companionway, there's a guest head; farther aft, a guest cabin has a fold-down berth that awaits the off-watch partner or friends who might come calling in port.