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Beebe's Idea of Economical (WEB EXTRA)

Here we must face the fact that a vessel with all the desirable design features plus comfort and convenience equipment to make her a true home afloat becomes quite expensive—well beyond the reach of all but a fortunate few.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Voyaging Under Power, by Robert Beebe, 1st Edition (1975). 

In all the discussion of passagemakers in the previous chapters, the emphasis has been on taking our fund of experience and evolving the perfect next boat, if such a thing is possible! Here we must face the fact that a vessel with all the desirable design features plus comfort and convenience equipment to make her a true home afloat becomes quite expensive—well beyond the reach of all but a fortunate few. Can we lick this? Can we develop an economy model that will lengthen the list of owners?

Throwing all this into the pot and sticking to my preference for a minimum LWL of 40 feet, an economical passagemaker might look like the Beebe 42. Design 105 shows certain basics I would like in any boat. No overhang aft and very little forward seems indicated by conditions previously mentioned—economy, slip rentals, etc. The vertical stern offers two advantages: It is best for a stern platform, an item I would not do without, and it makes possible an outboard-mounted rudder so there is no hole in the hull and easy access for repairs. An anchor-handling bowsprit is also required. The heavy guardrail is needed not only for rough overseas docking but to protect the stabilizing-gear hinge.

Beebe 42’ Economical Passagemaker (Design 105).

Beebe 42’ Economical Passagemaker (Design 105).

She is 42 feet overall. The enclosed pilothouse is from amidships forward. It is long enough to permit a high bunk in line with the ports, recommended for single handing. When not used for this, it could be lowered and used as a settee, though there is also a permanent seat for the watch-stander. The engine will be under the pilothouse with nearly full headroom. Aft, right on the center of gravity is the galley and dinette for four, and abaft that, the owner’s quarters with head and shower. The mast, primarily for the stabilizing gear, rests on the bulkhead between cabin and galley. It is located forward of the ideal position but not excessively so. The mast can carry some sails to play with, but if sails are the emergency power it would be well to have more area. We must remember that a motorboat’s sailing rig is a touchy question. If large, ballast must approach sailboat amounts to prevent the vessel taking a knockdown from rig windage alone.

I prefer this layout to one having the pilothouse farther aft and the galley forward, as we have found it easier to put up with motion away from the center of gravity in the pilothouse, where everyone is or can be seated most of the time, than in the galley, where the cook has a stand-up job. It is also easier to provide a truly dark pilothouse for the watch-stander with this arrangement. The engine room is under the pilothouse with headroom of 5 feet 6 inches. With a displacement of 20.5 tons, she would have a D/L of 320 and need 650 gallons of fuel to go 2,400 miles at an S/L of 1.1. She could easily be made “French-canal capable”. She is well suited for world cruising and broadens the field of husband-and-wife long-range cruising for those without the experience, strength, or inclination to consider a purely sailing voyage.

The basic contract cost for Passagemaker, a 50-foot vessel weighing 27 tons, in 1962 was $40,000. We could have left the yard for this. But about $3,000 worth of extra work was done for improvements, such as the aft head and furniture generally. A 3kW diesel generator was purchased at a very favorable price in the United Kingdom, and was installed by ourselves two years later. Our plan was to upgrade the interior over the years as budget permitted.

During this period she continued her cruising. When she was sold the new owner accelerated this program, installing a deep freeze, refrigerator, larger generator, diesel heat, radio transmitter, and other assorted goodies; none of which impressed me on a cruise I made with him. As a result some 10 years later the cost has almost doubled.

(Note: The $43,000 Beebe paid for Passagemaker in 1962 was worth $314,157 in 2011, figuring a 4.14 percent annual inflation rate.)

I think our approach to improvements makes sense. We started cruising sooner than if I had waited till my funds could purchase a fully found vessel. We were just as comfortable in our bunks in the beginning as at the end, but the cook was happier when Passagemaker eventually acquired a bigger stove, refrigerator, and deep freeze. Our meals may have had more variety then, but I don’t think they were any better. Still, a happy cook is—or should be—a principal objective of any designer.

We certainly did less maintenance in the early days. Our navigation put us where we wanted to go, with only of couple of days using the RDF [radio direction finder] and no need for radar or Loran. These days, my wife and I are working up a new boat, and when we start cruising, she will be even more austere than Passagemaker.