My wife and I recently did a camping trip. It was a nice break from being around the home acres, with the normal tending to the garden, the grass to mow and all the constant chores that life has for us these days. I work from my home, so I tend to be pretty darn busy running the boat shop, and keeping projects and coworkers fed and watered amid the buzzing hive of small-business activity in the midst of a pandemic. We typically work at several boat shows in the late summer and early fall, but those are all canceled. With time on our hands, we decided to dip our toes into the RV world.
We had a great trip with old friends we rarely see these days. We saw some great country and lots of wildlife. But we quickly found the Achilles’ heel of camping and RVing: It is terrifically difficult to truly get away from people. No matter where we went and no matter how hard we tried, we always had too many people around us.
The experience made me think more fondly about my years of being on the water, where it is quite easy here in the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound to find boating adventures with good social separation. No matter how busy the waters, the swinging arc of a boat on anchor provides enough separation that you do not feel like you need to go to extra lengths to isolate yourself.
Living in Washington state with almost a thousand miles of largely sheltered waters between our home in South Puget Sound and the northern edge of Southeast Alaska, we enjoy virtually unlimited cruising grounds. Yes, we are spoiled to the max. But with the Covid-19 pandemic raging, we now have a closed border with Canada creating a large hurdle to our boating explorations. While there is still an amazing amount of water to explore in Puget Sound, my mind is starting to drift to other areas.
What about the thousands of freshwater lakes and rivers between the two coasts? These bodies of water do not require passagemaker-type yachts. A smaller, micropassagemaker boat might be just the ticket.
The MugWump 22 is my flavor of the month dream machine that would make these types of freshwater explorations possible.
The MugWump 22 would act much like a towed RV, but with the option of launching and exploring everything from high mountain lakes to rivers and reservoirs. And with the towed boat acting as a land yacht while not floating, a whole bunch of options start to appear.
On her trailer, the MugWump 22 measures 28 feet, 2 inches length overall (from the tongue of the trailer to the end of the outboard and swim step extension) and 11 feet tall to the top of her roof (from the road base to top of the boat sitting on her trailer). If you add my Micro Petrel dinghy upside down on her housetop, then she measures 11 feet, 6 inches to her highest point above the ground. Her beam is 8 feet, 6 inches, so she can be towed without any special permits at all hours of the day, in every state, and in Canada and Mexico.
Her boarding door to starboard opens and has a telescoping ladder that allows stepping aboard from the ground without an additional ladder. The cockpit is covered, and her companionway door aft brings you into her interior. Most boats this size have a companionway nearly 2 feet wide between the port and starboard sides, meaning that if one person is moving forward past the other, a deliberate shrinking into the side is necessary for passing. I made the MugWump’s center companionway width 3 feet wide to eliminate this problem, and the aft door is a full 30 inches wide to allow easy entry with groceries or duffel bags in hand.
There is a head to port just as you enter the cabin, and a galley is to starboard. The head has a cubbyhole to allow showering without getting the whole space wet. A curtain keeps the head dry, and the top of that compartment from the cockpit side is 3 feet in height—perfect for a countertop.
The countertop measures 20-by-26 inches and can be used for food preparation or cooking—the perfect place for a barbecue. Dual function is the rule for many features of the MugWump.
In the galley are a sink, a bulkhead propane fireplace heater above it on the side wall, a cooktop and a below-counter refrigerator. At the galley’s forward end is the helm chair, upholstered with a slide and swivel adjustment to suit the skipper’s body. Opposite is the dinette, a space that works for dining, working or reading. When the table is telescoped down, this area turns into an extra berth. Again, convertibility is the rule.
Forward under the hinged hatch in the dash is the stateroom, with twin berths fully 7 feet long and of proper width for shoulder comfort. A filler can turn the berths into a larger-than-queen-size berth, but I find that twins allow the skipper and mate to rest more efficiently. If one or the other needs to get up during the night for anchor watch or to view the night sky, he can do so without disturbing the other person.
Under the berth is a 65-gallon freshwater tank to keep the crew happy and clean. Fuel is in a single 27-gallon tank, which, coupled with a high-thrust, 60- to 70-hp outboard, will run the MugWump many nautical miles before refueling. Batteries are twin 180-amp 4D deep cycles. With a couple of solar panels on the roof and the built-in alternator on the outboard, the MugWump should never require extra generator power (unless air conditioning is needed).
As this boat’s dream involves exploration of waters large and small, deep and shallow, speed is not a primary concern. I opted for a design that can run without a huge outboard engine and the amount of fuel it would require. The idea of cruising more patiently with far less noise and wave-making really fills my dream.
For even thinner-water exploration, the MugWump’s tabernacle mast can assist in launching the dingy or kayaks. And a small, steady sail can be used to help keep her head into the wind if things pipe up while on anchor. Swim steps should make exploration trips to shore easier.
Towable behind a half-ton truck or SUV, and a very versatile design, the MugWump 22 would be capable of exploring much of America with pleasure.
LOA 23ft. 7in.
Beam 8ft. 5in.
Draft 1ft. 9in.
Displacement 4,300 lbs.
Propulsion 60-75 hp outboard