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Preview: FRANCIS LEE: The Ultimate Sailing Machine, Part 2 – The Boat Tour

November 11, 2015

Eric’s tour above and below decks shows Bob Perry’s sharpest pencil at work in the design of FRANCIS LEE.

Drawings by Robert Perry Yacht Designers, Inc.   Drawings by Robert Perry Yacht Designers, Inc. Drawings by Robert Perry Yacht Designers, Inc. Drawings by Robert Perry Yacht Designers, Inc. Drawings by Robert Perry Yacht Designers, Inc.Drawings by Robert Perry Yacht Designers, Inc. Drawings by Robert Perry Yacht Designers, Inc. The Build of FRANCIS LEE at the Northwest Wooden Boatbuild School (Photo by NW Wooden Boatbuilding School)

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– Kim, can you take us through the deck layout here? I know that a big priority of yours is wantin’ to single hand the boat. But kinda take us through the deck layout and how the boat works for ya.

– I knew I wanted a tiller, because I just like tillers way better than I like wheels. And I asked Bob can I have a tiller. And he said yeah, you can have a tiller. So he designed the rudder. The rudder was designed in such a way that is very, very light. Even in heavy air, it’s really light.

– [Narrator] Well it’s very rare that you see a 62 foot boat steered with a tiller.

– When I sail by myself or just with my wife, it’s nice to be able to fit everything. So originally, we put these three winches on. This one’s electric. It’s kinda handy on occasion. Especially for hoisting the main. But we put these three Harken 53s on and then the first time we went racing, the whole damn crew was back here with me. And that’s when we realized we needed a couple of more winches in the cockpit so we went and managed to source. Harken was kind enough cause that’s the current winch. They found one in Italy and one in Wisconsin and sent ’em to me. So we put crew winches in so at times when we’re sailing with a crew, we can have the crew up in the forward cockpit.

– So kinda, race, race mode, you’ve got your crew forward trimming sheets and so forth. And then more in single handed mode or day sailing mode.

– Then we use these guys.

– They’re right here.

– Yeah.

– So a traveler breaking the cockpit in half here and that’s all just a purchase system to these cams.

– Yep.

– Main sheet running to this through your stopper here. Incredibly high aspect ratio rig, I mean.

– [Kim] She doesn’t seem to be lacking in sail area. We have 1185 square feet of sail area. That seems to be more than enough.

– [Narrator] Better to have than wish you had is what I always say.

– Reefing’s easy.

– Right.

– We put a couple of nice deep reefs in it.

– Right.

– We’ve only reefer her once, but.

– [Narrator] So this beautiful kinda stern deck and a little bit of of a lazerette to stow fenders and docklines I’m imagining.

– Well, actually we stow that here, that’s empty. We’ve tried to keep the ends completely empty just to keep the boat, you know, nice and keep all the weight centered in the middle.

– [Narrator] Obviously a self-bailing cockpit here, a pair of ’em.

– So you can get to the engine nicely through the cockpit seats, there’s lots of room down there.

– Kinda nothing that doesn’t necessarily need to be here.

– We like simple.

– Right, simplicity of float is the surest guarantee of happiness.

– Well if you’re going for the, well yeah, L. Francis Herreshoff, of course is big on simplicity. And in as much as, he’s kind of one of my heroes. I mean simplicity is just something I’ve really bought into. It makes it a lot easier to have that pure pleasure of sailing if you keep everything simple.

– They’re just finishing up another 63 footer. I designed which is the antithesis of this. The boat is so complicated. I know it’s gonna diminish the owner’s enjoyment of the boat because at any given time, there’s gonna be something on that boat that’s not working. Whereas this boat, paired down to bare bones, there’s very little to fail. So it means, you sail.

– [Narrator] Right, it means you go sailing.

– Go sailing right.

– [Narrator] Kim, can you talk us through the rigging on the housetop here?

– I wanted to bring everything back here to the cockpit because the boat’s nice and narrow. We don’t hike when we race, everybody sits in the cockpit. There’s no sense in hiking up on the rail. The boat doesn’t care, she’s got so much stability with her deep, you know, bulb. About the only thing you gotta do going forward is just hooking up the asymmetrical kites. We send the young guys forward to do that.

– [Narrator] Sure.

– [Kim] Us old guys, we stay back here in the cockpit. So that was the whole idea of this was just to bring everything aft.

– [Narrator] So we’ve got our Vang and Cunningham controls for the main sail on the starboard side deck. Spinnaker halyard pole and the main halyard comin’ down.

– Over here we’ve got a couple of reefs. We’ve got the mast head spinnaker halyard. And then we’ve got another fractional spinnaker. So we’ve got a frack spinnaker on both sides. We’ve got the extra jib halyard. The jib halyard we use because she’s on an under deck furler, goes down the far 40 and comes out the far 40 main halyard which is down below.

– Right.

– And then when we do have to adjust it, that leads perfectly to that winch. Doesn’t take any blocks, any train of blocks or anything. It just leads perfectly from a big pat eye down there, right to that winch. And so we can tension the halyard and right from here while we’re racing. Generally when I’m day sailing, I just, you know, crank it to a nice medium setting and leave it alone. One thing I wanted to do was I wanted to be able to hoist the 125 pound main by myself. And so we set this thing up so that every line on top of this cockpit but primarily, the main halyard leads nicely down to the electric winch. Now, when we’re racing, of course, I’ve got young kids where they just…

– Hoist it up.

– Rip it right on up there.

– [Narrator] Can you talk me through the sail inventory the boat carries Kim?

– [Kim] This’ll be a short story. We have a main and we have a jib. It’s about 105% jib I think and then we have heavy masthead asymmetrical and a light masthead asymmetrical.

– Right.

– That’s it. Well, oh wait, I do have a storm jib. But the boat has so much stability and we basically day sail it on Puget Sound, I’m not sure we’ll ever use the storm jib.

– I think if there’s anything about the performance of the boat that surprised me other than the speed, it was I was ready for a boat that felt more tender. And when we first got out, the first race, it blew pretty good and the boat’s as stiff as a church. I mean, we can race easily with five people. And we’re sailing with boats of 20 guys on the rail. Six is almost a crowd.

– [Kim] Six is the max we like to race with. Five works, we’ve done it once with four. You’re a little busy with four. Because our stay is so far inboard, because our bow is so much farther forward, we don’t need a sprit.

– I drew a sail plan and in my wisdom, I drew one of those old 30 square meters mast it exaggerated, hooked to the top. Sail maker, and spar makers looked at it and said, “That won’t work”. And then one of the sail makers said, you know, the overall dimensions of the rig of the rig are very close to the far 40. So we got the drawings from the far office and put ’em on the boat, damn, it was a pretty good fit. And there were a couple used masts available. And we knew we were getting a great carbon stick. It meant that there might be some used sails available. So there was some appeal to it and the yard did a beautiful job of refurbishing the stick.

– [Narrator] Shall we have a look forward on deck Kim? Kim, I love the detailing on these, these metal handrails kinda go with the theme of the maintenance, low maintenance, no fuss, no muss, kinda today not yesterday theme of the boat.

– Yep, we gave up on the teak handrails at some point.

– [Narrator] Comin’ forward, just a great big fore deck here. No handrails, can you talk us through that?

– Well, there’s a handrail right there. What are you talking about?

– Is that what the fore deck guy hangs onto up there?

– Well if we ever race the boat seriously, we’ll obviously put jack lines and make everybody wear a tether. I believe in tethers way more than I believe in life lines anyway. And she’s so gentle as she goes through the waves, that it’s pretty easy to just deal with it.

– Is the big fore deck hatch here to set spinnakers in and out of?

– Yeah.

– Yeah.

– This is over the queen size berth. And this one right here just goes down to a big sail locker. So basically from here forward is all just sail locker. And we just got a couple of, just the A sails are in there and that’s basically it.

– Sailing machine, I love this bow light.

– [Kim] That was Bob’s idea. Bob said he wanted me to go find a classic. So that came off of a ChrisCraft. And we, of course, refurbished it and changed it to LED cause all the lights on the boat are LEDs. But you know we managed to find that on eBay.

– [Narrator] Beautiful.

– And as I mentioned before, you can see there’s a lot of distance between the fore stay and the stem head and so we just put a line around the roller. We actually planned to anchor off the stern cause it’s nice and close and that electric winch is there which we could use as the windlass.

– Right.

– So this is really just for the asymmetrical.

– [Narrator] Fair lead on deck to shoot the line aft to the line clutch on the starboard side.

– Yep.

– But again, this is your bowsprit. You know above this light, the sail area isn’t comin’ right out to the stem head. You’ve got this tidy high aspect ratio rig and really clean. I love this kinda, very classic, almost Concordia Yawlesque house with lots of camber. But then this kind of eyebrow trim and just paint. Again, no fuss, just a really, really nice.

– You know, I gotta give the eyebrow credit to Bob. All kinds of people involved in the boat said, oh you don’t want an eyebrow, it’ll be old-fashioned, whatever. And Bob insisted on the eyebrow. And obviously he was right.

– It’s a really nice detail.

– Yeah, it works great.

– It just gives the boat another line and helps reduce the weight of the house.

– Actually, you know a lot of the details on this boat were absolutely Bob Perry cause, he likes to really have control over the details. And he visited the project rather often. At least once a month and he’s a pretty much a stickler to various different shapes and the way things go together. And they all turned out good.

– I’m anxious to have a look down below. Can we, do you mind if we have a look?

– That’ll cost extra. So what you see here is all Bob Perry. He laid all this out and the proportions just work perfectly for us. My wife is just tinkled pink with the way this whole interior came out. Lot of people are really surprised at how much room she has cause she seems so narrow on deck. People think she’s gonna be really tiny below. But when you got 62 feet to spread it over.

– Right.

– You know, there’s plenty of room.

– [Narrator] So this beautiful galley aft, trimmed in cherry?

– Yeah, it’s all cherry. Cabin sole is cherry and ash. Which is the same as the tiller. So all the wood you see is cherry and ash. This is ash here, we have another leaf so we can make it full-width. Or the other leaf has legs of its own and it can sit in the cockpit.

– And then these, I’m assuming, just halyard bags.

– Yep, hey, most people don’t get that right. All kinds of people say why do you need two trash bags? Well, yeah, these foam core composite drop boards are just fabulous cause they, as you can see, they don’t weigh anything, they’re strong, they’re easy, they’re light.

– Drops in, something I love is how soft all of this kinda detailing is, you know, there’s no real hard edges to bang your head into. And nice sitting headroom underneath the side decks.

– Well because it’s basically a day sailor and a weekender, we put in a little non-pressurized alcohol stove, works great. My wife likes deep drawers so we put a bunch of drawers in. We do have pressure water. The boat carries about 40 gallons. We do have a diesel furnace. We have no shore power on the boat, it’s all 12-volts, we’ve got pretty good size batteries. All the lighting is LED.

– The main propulsion? Diesel?

– Three cylinder Yanmar, diesel onto a sail drive.

– Sail drive.

– With a four blade max prop so it is a feathering prop.

– [Narrator] So going forward, there’s just a head of port ships.

– Yeah, it’s a simple composting head. It’s got a sink, no shower.

– See all these little G-10 backing plates and acorn nuts for all your deck hardware. I mean everything is just… simple.

– I like structure.

– Yeah.

– Some people said well why don’t you hide this. And I said, well I like seeing it.

– Sure.

– You know when they did the, these panels, they put some reinforcing in spots. And if you look closely you’ll see some little reinforcing. And people said you want us to make that flat. And I said no, I like to be able to see the structure of the boat.

– [Narrator] Sure.

– I mean, part of what’s interesting to me is the way the boat’s engineered. So I like to be able to see that.

– Right.

– So I didn’t cover any of that up. We have no ceilings, and because the entire boat is tabbed together, you’re basically looking at one structure.

– [Narrator] Sure.

– This is all basically one piece. Our engineer, Tim Nolan, just did a fabulous job on engineering the boat. Let me show you how the keel is held on the boat. Stainless steel floors that go to four and a half girders. And that’s just half of them, the other half are underneath your feet back in the salon. So those are 3/16 stainless steel keel floors. And they tie into these fore and aft girders that go all the way from the galley, all the way to the other side of the double berth. And that’s all knitted together to all the bulkheads, the cabin, there’s a big Douglas Fir shelf right here for the hull-to-deck joint. And so it’s tabbed both inside and out. So it basically is leak proof. So the entire, you know, monocoque structure of the boat contributes to holding onto the keel so she’s really stiff. When we pumped up the jacking mast, we never heard a creak. We pumped it to 5000 pounds, just to test it. Didn’t hear a creak, no dimension changes. The boat is really strong.

– We’ve sailed it hard, as hard as we can.

– Some serious load, I mean a boat this light and that draws 10 feet of water, you’re talking some serious loads on that keel. It’s a big cantilever arm.

– It needed some special engineering because the loads on the keel bolts were such that the red cedar couldn’t take that kind of compression. The idea was to get all that load off the shell. And tie it into the structure.

– Originally I was saying let’s do laminated wood floors and our engineer went not strong enough.

– Yeah.

– So we ended up doing those, stainless steel eye beams. Which were fabricated for us by a guy here in town.

– I love to be able to look right through to the stem of the boat basically. Right clear through these ring frames forward. You got this great forward cabin which is just very airy. I love that about this boat, it’s very light down below.

– [Kim] Yeah, ventilation. We’ve had very little condensation problem. Here we are in the Pacific Northwest where we have a lot of, you know, drizzly weather. We have virtually no condensation problem down here, even during the winter.

– [Bob] The boat is so close to my idea of the ultimate boat when you can relate to what the client wants on a personal level.

– [Narrator] And completely, like you said, not what I expected at all.


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