Everyone who has ever owned a boat has heard that old adage. No, not the one about how a boat is a hole in the water that we fill with money…I mean the one that says all boats are a compromise. Comfort versus utility, performance versus economy, coastal cruising speed versus long offshore range, dockside livability
versus seakeeping practicality-there really is an endless set of opposing criteria.
If you factor in the variations of owner intentions, it’s easy to see how difficult it is for a designer/ builder to satisfy everyone with a single boat. Instead this balance of opposing characteristics must sway in whatever direction makes the most sense for a particular boat and owner.
With the sale of his thriving computer business, Peter Sever decided it was time to go cruising. Having built a business that required years of total commitment in terms of time and attention, it was now time for a change-and a chance to explore the world.
Looking For The Right Boat
Peter went to boat shows, and talked to lots of people. He spent time aboard most of the currently available trawlers and ocean motorboats. He was particularly fond of an older Romsdahl, but the price for the boat was more than he wanted to spend for a 30 year old vessel. In all his research and travels, he got lots of advice and opinions, but he never found exactly what he was looking for.
You see, Peter was looking for a vessel that was no-compromise in one aspect-safety. A boat that would take a grounding without damage. A boat that would not sink, even if it were holed in a collision offshore. A boat that could handle the ultimate storm, even a knockdown. A boat that defined redundancy in systems and gear. A boat that didn’t exist-at least not in the eyes of Peter Sever.
He approached Bob Johnston, a Canadian naval architect with many years of commercial, coast guard, and military design experience. Peter discussed his concept
with Johnston, and together they outlined some possible ideas that took advantage of Bob’s expertise in designing commercial and coast guard vessels. Feeling that he could get the boat he wanted, Sever agreed to proceed with a new design project, and what evolved over the next several months was a yacht that satisfied Peter’s safety interests, along with conventional requirements of comfort, range, economy, and finish. The Cape Horn 58 was born.
In the interest of sharing his concept of the ultimate motor vessel with others, Peter Sever started The Trawler Corporation, which now offers the Cape Horn series of trawler yachts in two models between 58 and 68 feet.
The Construction Of Hull #1
We visited Peter Sever in Ft. Lauderdale aboard Eden Bound, Hull #1 of the Cape Horn 58 series. In some ways Eden Bound is a prototype vessel, although the finish and level of detail suggest the boat is indeed well thought out. Over the past year, Sever has made several changes to the systems and components aboard this first Cape Horn 58, in the interest of finding out what works-and then how to make it better. Being a successful businessman, Sever is not shy about spending money to try and improve the breed, and the Cape Horn is no exception. It is loaded with ideas and elements borrowed from industrial-strength commercial and military applications, wrapped in a yacht-finished package.
The construction details of the Cape Horn 58 and 68 are similar-both should be considered small ships rather than trawlers. Built of steel and aluminum alloy, they displace 130,000 lbs. and 160,000 lbs. respectively. The heavy full displacement, double ended hull form is best for an offshore vessel, Johnston told us, and allows the boat to stay out there regardless of conditions-safely.
Safety First – Everything Else Second
Each boat is built with a double bottom of steel, which gives the protection of a double hull as well as a convenient place for significant fuel storage. It would be hard to imagine the Cape Horn being holed with such construction. Icebreaker anyone?
Should the unthinkable happen (remember the Titanic?), there are five watertight bulkheads, some with heavy doors with dogs that can be sealed tight, to allow compartments to be isolated in the event of flooding. Again, this is a pleasure boat-but this kind of thinking is much more akin to a commercial application.
Bob Johnston designed the Cape Horn boats to survive a roll-over, self-righting from a capsize in a matter of seconds. All compartments can be sealed watertight, with Freeman watertight doors on the exterior. Ports and windows are commercial units rated for submersion, so it is unlikely that water will compromise the interior and seaworthiness of the boat.
Having such ponderous doors and ports can be a bother in normal use, but form follows function on this boat, so the compromise of perhaps all else is exchanged for the ultimate safety of the boat and crew. Call it overkill, but then, have you ever been caught in a hurricane? (Actually, the interior compartment watertight doors are complemented with regular privacy doors much more in keeping with the yacht interior. The watertight doors can be kept out of the way except in mergencies.)