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Pelagic 77

2020 June 1

This expedition schooner has the right stuff for high-latitude sailing

Every month I pester my editor Greta, “Find me something interesting. Find me something I can sink my teeth into.” Well, this month she has outdone herself. Thanks Greta. I think the most fun for a yacht designer is designing a boat that has a very well defined purpose. Production boats are fine, but they have to appeal to a wide spectrum of sailors. With a custom design targeting a specific purpose the designer can pull out all his tricks and skills and design to a higher level of detail. This 77-footer designed by Tony Castro is an excellent example.

Skip Novak has been taking guests on high-latitude expedition voyages for some time. He has used two boats, but now he wants a bigger boat. Skip has used his experiences with the two current boats and his countless miles of offshore sailing to present Castro with a long list of detailed requirements. Some details are lifted verbatim off his older boats and some details have been redone by Castro. The result is a synthesis of what they know works and what they now think will work better.

Let’s start with the hull. It’s unusual in that the bow features an overhanging knuckle to help the boat ride up and over the ice. I like this look. The sheer is almost dead straight and freeboard is on the high side to allow for all that flush deck forward. The transom is cut off vertically to max out the deck area aft. Aesthetics were not part of the design brief on this project. This boat is about function first. But to my eye it’s a good-looking boat­­, it’s all business.

The D/L for this design is 210. The L/B is 3.72. So, it’s a medium displacement boat on the narrow side of normal. There is a low-aspect-ratio stub type keel that houses a centerboard. The draft with the board up is 7 feet 1 inch and board down 14 feet 2 inches. Max beam is carried to the transom. There are twin rudders aft but they are not as far outboard as you see on racing boats. I suspect the rudders line up with the props of the twin engines so they get some protection. All in all this is a fairly unique looking hull shape. 

The accommodation layout is interesting. Forward of the pilothouse there are staterooms for 12 guests sharing two heads. Each stateroom has a hanging locker but stowage for crew gear will be tight. I don’t see specific shower stalls, but the heads are big. I’m not sure what that area forward is. Could be just a general stowage area. Maybe that’s where the crew’s seabags go. The fo’c’sle itself is huge. The pilothouse has an inside steering station and nav station to starboard. Aft of that there is a wet locker. Given the need to circulate air to dry foul weather gear that locker looks on the small side to me for 12 sets of foulies. To port there is a settee. It’s a spacious pilothouse, but it won’t hold 12 crewmembers. 

Going aft and down from the pilothouse you come to the “great cabin.” For me this is the focal point of the layout. Here you can seat the entire crew and maybe even some extra guests. I like the symmetry of the settees. The galley is big. With 12 people to feed three times a day it has to be big. Just inboard of the galley counter is the fireplace. To port there is what I assume is access to the engine room and outboard a small dinette for those crewmembers who chew with their mouths open. There is full standing headroom in the engine room. I can imagine sitting in the great cabin at night, fireplace blazing away, telling your tales from the day’s adventures. You’d be there, doing that. I’d be banished to the deck so I could smoke my pipe in peace and quiet.

I think of this design more as a workboat than I do a yacht. This boat has a variety of jobs to do and be done in an environment that can be very harsh. There are two large dinghies stowed on deck, ready to go at any time. Note the pedestal coffee-grinder winch just aft of the foremast. Not sure what that’s for but I doubt it’s for headsail sheeting. The configuration of the foredeck provides a safe, protected work space between the forks and gets the hatches up off the deck. There is overhang on the pilothouse top and there are settees port and starboard under that shelter. I see the single wheel in the cockpit but I’m not sure what the other features are besides all the hatches. Winches are lined up on the coaming tops. It looks to me like a step down to a boarding platform level on the lower deck aft.

Who doesn’t love a schooner? “Thar she schoons!” as the legend goes. Schooner rigs are a challenge on a boat like this. Now you have two masts piercing the accommodation plan. But Mr. Castro has handled the challenge well. The SA/D of this design is 24.38 using the upwind sail area. I had to calculate that three times before I believed it. The rig did not look that big to me. Both mainsail and foresail are identical. It looks like all three headsails will be up permanently on furlers. That’s a lot of windage when it’s howling and you have to dock the boat. Maybe there’s a bowthruster for help.

Construction is aluminum. Considering the area where this boat will operate ice will always be an issue. A thick aluminum hull is the toughest way to go. With aluminum you can leave the paint in the bucket and go au naturel. I like the look of a raw aluminum boat.

It’s nice to review such a carefully thought out, unique boat for a very experienced client. I can see this boat getting some hard use on sailing adventures. What fun.

LOA 77’1”; LWL 68’10”; Beam 20’9”; Draft board down 20’9”, board up 7’1”; Displ. 154,000 lb.; Sail area 4,381 sq. ft.; D/L 210; L/B 3.72; SA/D 24.38, Axillary twin 150-hp.

Our best estimate of the sailaway price: $3.5 million

Tony Castro Yachts

76 Satchell Lane

Hamble, Southampton

SO31 4HL, England