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The 50' Motor Sailer "LUCILLE"

50' Schooner - LUCILLE - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
Drawing Copyright 1999

Lucille Aft House Sail Plan | Lucille Aft House Accommodations | Lucille 'Midship House Sail Plan | Lucille 'Midship House Accommodations

As Kelly Wright said when he received the final sail plan and interior profile and arrangement drawings for Lucille, "I got your latest prints yesterday, and I must say I'm stricken like a young man with a cheerleader. I don't see how you can much improve."

Named after BB King's guitar, the gaff schooner Lucille is very much in the vein of classic styling, designed for construction in steel, and every bit a 100% qualified Motor Sailer. The conversion to aluminum construction would be an easy matter, and would afford slightly greater carrying capacity due to the lighter structure.

Power and Range

A Lugger or John Deere six cylinder diesel and 900 gallons of fuel are located within a spacious engine room. This combination gives Lucille the ability to function as a true displacement motor vessel. A controllable pitch propeller and gear are planned - in this case a CP gear from Sabb Motors in Norway. The CP gear provides both gear reduction and pitch control. The gear is mated to a Helseth Controllable Pitch Propeller. This assembly is sold as a package by Sabb, and they will ship anywhere in the world.

In terms of range, being also a sail boat, Lucille is not limited by her fuel capacity. Still her fuel tanks are generous. With the longest Pacific voyage leg being less than 3,000 miles between fuel stops, her tankage will provide trans-Pacific capability under power. With a boost from her very generous sail rig, range is just not an issue.

Hull Shape

Lucille has been given a true rounded hull. Here again, practicality rules: the hull shape is one that is designed so that around 75 to 80 percent of her plating can be applied using flat sheets.

Regarding the notion of a rounded metal hull, I think they are excellent. A close sister to Lucille, also with a rounded metal hull, is the somewhat larger 55' schooner Josephine, named after Mighty Joe Young's guitar...!

The trade-off with a rounded vs. chine shaped hull is purely a matter of cost. The least expensive shape in terms of labor is a flat bottom boat. Next, a "V" bottom boat having a single chine. If there is extra money in the budget, and extra patience during the build process, you can introduce multiple chines. After that, you need very little more fooling around to make use of a radius chine. At that point, I believe that you may as well go half a notch further and build a true rounded hull!

With Lucille, there is no "reverse" curvature at the keel. There being no need when using metal to create a large rounded garboard area for the sake of strength, as would be the case with a wooden or GRP hull, the keel is attached as an appendage, allowing the keel additional efficiency for windward sailing.

Is a rounded metal hull a crazy idea? Good question!

As with Lucille and Josephine, if the hull is designed with ease of plating in mind, it need not be any more trouble than a multi-chine or radius-chine shape. In other words, if the hull shape is created with attention to what will be easy to plate, and there is no reverse at the garboard, a rounded hull form will be very nearly identical in terms of cost and effort to a radius chine hull form. In my view, it will also look immensely better.

For ease of fitting the metal, one of the most practical approaches to plating a vessel of this type involves making use of "joggled" plate seams. An offset is pressed in along one edge of the plate. The offset is just enough to take the thickness of the plate below it. Each plate is a strip about 12" to 18" wide at the smallest, varying to several feet of width for the expanse of the bottom plating.

Many fine boats have been built with this method. In the Netherlands, they are very commonplace. If "lined off" nicely, as one would do with wooden planking, they look very "right." As an added benefit, the plate overlap creates its own longitudinal reinforcement.

Just as with aesthetics, I feel the question of chine vs. radius vs. totally rounded hull comes down to a personal choice, which cannot then be argued one way or the other. What ultimately defines a good boat is not whether she is one type or another, but whether the boat has been well designed.

The Rig

As far as cruising on a motor sailor goes, a simple and somewhat traditional sail plan has much to offer. No fancy stuff. As an example of this sort of thinking, I have designed the vessel we see here. She is the 50 foot steel motor sailor - schooner, Lucille, a very elegant, fast, robust and simply rigged steel passage maker.

Regarding the choice of rig, Lucille's schooner rig also makes good sense. Why would I propose a rig so seemingly outdated? Another good question...!

Basically for simplicity of materials, ruggedness, reasonableness of cost to build and maintain, and the sheer fun of sailing a classic yet simply arranged vessel.

By comparison to more traditionally rigged gaff schooners, Lucille is a thoroughbred. Where many older types may seem sluggish, Lucille will be lithe, responsive and fast. Where a highly traditional rig may often be overly complex, Lucille's schooner rig is simplified in the extreme.

For example, the arrangements of shrouds and halyards are simple, offering no confusion of rigging and far less windage than a traditionally rigged schooner. Lucille's higher aspect sails offer better windward performance, yet still provide off-wind performance without having to resort to big genoas and spinnakers, as do many of the more modern rigs.

On a traditionally rigged schooner, a spring-stay ordinarily extends from main lower masthead (just above the mains'l gaff saddle) to fore top mast head. A spring-stay arranged that way makes handling the fisherman a true pain, as it is then necessary to dip the peak of the sail, or even both the peak and the throat of the sail with each tack or jibe.

The specific rig layout and the materials used to create the rig for Lucille make the spring stay unnecessary and make handling the fisherman a delight. The fisherman is simply tacked back and forth like a genoa, except that it is up where it can catch the wind and really do some good!

Spar and Rigging Materials

The mast 'doublings' so often found on nearly all tops'l schooners are not needed here. These are aluminum spars, so there will not be added-on metal mast bands or other complications. All the various bits and pieces of hardware will be in the form of robust tabs welded right onto or right through the aluminum pipe spars. In the case of the hull, fittings are welded directly onto the steel deck during fabrication of the boat.

Deadeyes are forgiving in terms of being flexible, but certainly are not a requirement. Galvanized rigging, parceled and served, lasts a halva long time. If you hire the splicing done, and do the service yourself, there is not anything mysterious to learn.

The materials are extremely basic: galvanized wire, anhydrous lanolin, friction tape, tarred nylon seine twine, latigo leather with waxed thread to sew it up. With a serving mallet set up to handle the spool of twine, the service is nearly automatic.

Rigging of this type is kind of fun, actually...

The rounded roach to the foot of the sails on Lucille is taken largely from both the sloops of the Caribbean and from the Dutch sailing rigs (though there are many fine American examples, too). I prefer the loose-footed sails for an additional reason: The sails do not then impose a side load on the booms, and therefore permit the booms to act purely as struts. With that, the booms can be a bit less heavy, so are more easily handled.

What About Single Handing?

As we've seen, Lucille is streamlined in all the ways a single handed sailor would require, and will have much improved performance over a more traditionally rigged gaff schooner.

Is it completely out of hand to think of Lucille as an ideal single-handed vessel?

Absolutely not.

Though large, she has ultimately simple rigging that has been arranged for maximum ease of handling. These rigging changes are very much in line with the East Coast pilot vessels, which not only had to be rugged, but also had to be handled short-handed.

Two Versions

Lucille successfully carries the aesthetic aspect of a traditional vessel, providing simplicity during building, ease of maintenance, plus excellent performance when sailing, with or without the engine!

Two versions are offered here, having been the result of no small number of changes of mind by the original client. One version has the pilot house aft, the other amidships. The aft house is a little smaller, and provides the best view of the ship and the sails. The 'midship house has quite a bit more space, and allows for greater privacy in the aft owner's cabin.

In either case, the engine room is a real one! Full standing room, and a walk-around engine.

A true motor sailor, Lucille would be an equal delight, whether under power or sail.

What's the Ideal Sailing Rig...?