This month’s design is the Camarone 40 (Spanish for “shrimp”), which is neither a full-on sailboat nor a full-on powerboat. I designed her for Spencer Duncan and Eric Letham, two biologists from British Columbia, Canada, planning a several-year journey around the world. Their plan was to conduct research, and they wanted a motorsailer as their base.
Letham had previously built two of my designs (a Dipper 17 and a Candlefish 16), and he knew the specific needs for this boat were different. This trip would involve plenty of motoring in remote fjords that rarely see consistent sailing winds, as well as passages where the sails could add extensively to the vessel’s range, stability and capability. For me, this was a remarkably interesting design commission for an experienced builder.
Giving each biologist a privacy cabin was one of my first challenges. I knew from my own boating experiences that good shipmates can be hard to find, and maybe even harder to keep. Duncan and Letham had roomed together in college and through their doctoral programs, which was a great start, but living together on a 40-foot boat is even more challenging. I wanted each man to have his own space and more than a modicum of privacy when desired.
On the other hand, forward and belowdecks in the main cabin, there is ample social room for comfortable evenings spent cooking and eating meals together. There’s also a proper table for research work, with a couple of diesel heaters allowing for warm evenings even in the high latitudes.
The two private cabins are set to each side belowdecks, with the headroom provided under the pilothouse settee to port and under the chart table to starboard. The starboard cabin has a couple feet of slightly reduced headroom at its after end that allows the area above it to be used as a wet gear hanging locker. (Space abaft that reduced headroom area becomes a hanging locker in the same cabin.)
Perhaps surprisingly, the head is one of the most interesting parts of this design, allowing for true privacy. From the portside cabin, one can pass through the main cabin belowdecks and into the forward end of the head area, but the primary entrance and exit to the head is from the cockpit. With this additional outside entry, there is a level of privacy that no head accessible only from belowdecks could match.
Both men strongly implied that most showering will happen in the cockpit, so there’s a small door that accesses a freshwater hot and cold rinse with a hose. It has a double function as a rinse station for diving gear. Bow and stern saltwater washdown systems will take some of the load off the freshwater systems.
The pilothouse has comfortable seats for long watches, and four translucent opening hatches to keep an eye on the sails and ensure good ventilation. Engine controls, electronic communications and charting equipment is in the pilothouse. There are also outside steering and engine controls. Indeed, her large cockpit would be a great space to spend time in with a sun/rain cover over the mizzen boom, giving either shade or cover in rainy weather. As an added bonus, the mizzen can be left hoisted in most anchorages and under power to aid stability and help to keep her head to the wind.
The chart table to starboard will allow for proper paper-chart display and calculations. Chart stowage is in wide, shallow drawers in this table, with extra room to stow books, tide tables, cruising guides and plotting instruments.
Duncan and Letham wanted a vessel large enough to be comfortable on cross-ocean trips, so the Camarone has to carry a lot of fuel. She also needs to be capable of sitting on her own bottom for scrubbing or underwater maintenance, which means a wide, flat-bottomed keel with a 1-inch, 316 stainless steel shoe running full length of the bottom of the keel. Ballast, fuel and water tanks can be fitted into this keel void. The setup has the added advantage of allowing the engine to be set much lower into the boat, so its shaft line is virtually parallel to the waterline for maximum efficiency.
The sail plan includes a snug ketch rig, and roller furling on the foremost sail and staysail, which is self-tending. There’s a total of 854 square feet of sail area in her four lowers. Get her into the Trades, and she would be a comfortable and economical sailer, but for lighter wind conditions and some of the high latitudes, the engine will be the best second mate. I selected a 125-hp John Deere 4045, which is slower-turning than most diesels produced these days, but it’s quiet and smooth with a good torque curve that’s a perfect match for this type of hull. The engine compartment is large enough to allow a thick cake of sound-deadening material, with access to the engine through hinged doors in each crew cabin or a hatch in the pilothouse sole.
A fantail stern looks right to my eye, has a great pedigree for heavy-weather work, and allows superlative performance running downwind. Access for boarding from a dingy or swimming will be handled with a small, inflatable dock that can float along either side of the hull.
Other features include: a recessed anchor well deck forward (with a hydraulic anchor windlass) to let rain and seawater rinse the rode and chain; whisker dingy davits fitted to the stern, allowing for a fair-sized sailing, rowing or outboard-powered dingy to be carried well out of the way; and a gaff rig that will let the boat keep those sails up far more often and longer than most sailboats seem to manage.
This vessel would be just as fine as a powerboat or as a sailboat. That’s its real beauty.
CAMARONE 40 Specifications
LOA: 44ft. 9in.
Beam: 12ft. 9in.
Draft: 5ft. 11in.
Displacement: 30,400 lbs.
Power: 125-hp John Deere 4045
This article was originally published in the September 2022 issue.