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The 44' Pelagic Voyager


Copyright 2012 - 2014 Michael Kasten

44' VALHALLA - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.

Shaded Perspective Above Aft | Shaded Perspective Above Forward
Clear Perspective Above Aft | Clear Perspective Above Forward
White Perspective Aft | White Perspective Above


Five Designs - Shared Characteristics

As with the 30' Ernest Shackelton, the 33' Freyja, 55' Valkyrie, and the 66' Asgard designs, inspiration for this vessel was drawn from Viking craft, as well as from Coast Guard surf boats and Whaleboats, all of which were double ended in their original form for maximum seaworthiness.

One whaleboat in particular, the James Caird was purpose-built for Ernest Shackelton to take along on the Antarctic voyage on which his ship Endurance was crushed by the ice. The whaleboat allowed Shackelton to sail from Elephant Island at the north end of the Antarctic Peninsula where his crew were marooned, to South Georgia Island where a whaling camp was known to exist, more than 800 miles distant. Shackelton's voyage in the whaleboat James Caird was one of the greatest sea voyages of all time.

The VALHALLA design shown here at 44 feet is of course much larger than the James Caird. But in keeping with the smaller 30' Ernest Shackelton design, a simple structure is used so that the vessel can be built economically. The goal has been to create an easy to build, affordable, easy to sail and easy to inhabit boat, but at the same time one that can be used in extreme seas in order to allow worldwide cruising in complete safety.

Being a double ended boat there is perfect balance when heeled. In other words, unlike a transom stern boat on which the heeled centerline shifts to leeward at the stern, with a double ended boat the centerline stays on center when heeled. On a transom stern boat, when rolling the shift of the CL astern (but not at the bow) induces yaw, which results in difficult steering control. By contrast, the inherent balance provided by a double ended hull shape does not induce any added yaw, therefore providing greater steering stability, and much less weather helm under sail.

Having a full flush deck at each end provides the ultimate in seaworthiness. This is the same configuration used by the original Coast Guard life boats which were intended for rescue work in extreme conditions. The raised fore and aft decks provide the maximum reserve buoyancy in the ends, and add considerably to the righting moment in a knockdown. The cockpit being amidships offers the maximum protection from boarding seas.

Aluminum provides an extremely rugged hull as well as light weight, allowing all structure to be fully welded, extremely strong, and water tight. At 44 feet, headroom is able to be a full seven feet in both cabins...! The center keel is quite low aspect, allowing safety when grounding and expanding the cruising grounds considerably. By the simple addition of approximately one foot of beam, steel is equally viable as a hull, deck and house material.

Whether Aluminum or Steel, the waterline length is 37 feet, taken as being the length of the canoe body of the hull not including the stem or the stern part of the keel. In both cases, draft is 4.65 feet to the Reference WL.

ALUMINUM VERSION: Beam is 12 feet. Target displacement is approximately 29,000 lb light, and 34,000 lb loaded.

STEEL VERSION: Beam is 13 feet. Target displacement is approximately 34,000 lb light and 39,000 lb loaded.

44' VALHALLA - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
Valhalla in Aluminum - Click for Larger Image


The framing is arranged in modules of 56 inches, which conveniently allows for flexibility with the interior layout. There are two bulkheads, one at each end of the center cockpit. Within each cabin there are three frames spaced 56 inches apart, plus one frame amidships. With two bulkheads and only seven frames, construction is made as simple as possible.

Ideally, the interior on such a boat will be arranged to provide maximum comfort for two to live onboard permanently, rather than to squeeze in accommodations for more. Even so, there are ample sleeping spaces for two, plus four guests - six total.

The two cabins are identically sized at 14 feet of length each. The galley is located just inside the forward cabin, occupying both sides at 56 inches of length. Forward of that is a settee on each side with a wrap-around seat forward and a table on center as shown in the drawing above. A large shelf is located right forward providing ample storage as well as a media shelf for a stereo or books or other entertainment options.

In the aft cabin, there is a head and shower to one side, with a chart desk on the other side, both of which are 56 inches in length. Aft of that is a bulkhead with a doorway into the owner's cabin. The owner's cabin is just over 9 feet in length, which allows plenty of room for the "island" berth on center right aft, plus a bureau / hanging locker on each side.

The amidships cockpit is just over 9 feet in length. Arranged with a long settee / berth on each side, there is ample seating plus sleeping room for two. With a table on center that can be extended, it makes a good outdoor entertainment area. It is also a functional cockpit, having a binnacle and wheel steering, with easy access to all the sheets and halyards. A canvas awning over the whole center cockpit area will provide excellent shelter from rain and sun. Below the cockpit seating on each side are a pair of truly enormous storage lockers for deck gear, fenders, spare line, docklines, and the like.

Mechanical Space

Below the cockpit sole there is quite a large engine room / mechanical space. The cockpit sole structure extends out to the side of the hull, and below it are large integral tanks located outboard. The tanks extend from the cockpit sole to the hull bottom the full length between bulkheads.

A John Deere marine diesel has been shown, with a Dong-i marine gear and a Nogva pitch control Servo. A three blade controllable pitch propeller is specified, allowing full feathering during sailing.


A simple Chinese Lug rig is shown. It is quite a simple arrangement, with free standing spars, i.e. having no shouds or stays. The spars are aluminum Schedule 40 pipe, which is considerably stronger than wood, and does not rot! Pipe has sufficient wall thickness to allow the fittings to be fully welded in place. This whole affair is very easy to build. Fabrication takes requires much less time than making similar galvanized fittings for a wood spar. In the long run there is far less maintenance than is required for a mast of any alternate material.

It would be equally simple to use a gaff rig - possibly including a bowsprit - perhaps something like the 42' Zephyr rig. Alternately, a very simple low aspect Bermuda rigged cat-schooner or cat-ketch would work very well, possibly using a wishbone boom arrangement.

The objective in general is to have the rig be as simple as possible, to have very low stress - possibly with free standing masts, to have the rig be self-contained (no bowsprit), and to have the sails be self-tending so there is no drama in tacking. The further objective is to create a rig that is very easy to reef so there is little or no need to venture out onto the house tops to tend sail. In this respect the junk sails are perfect, however the wishbone rig can also be quite good in this respect using roller furling along the luff.

The Concept

Having been originally modeled after the very capable Viking craft somewhat in the vein of Shackelton's whaleboat, we have the makings of a truly pelagic vessel - one that perfectly illustrates my ideal Nomadic Watercraft.

Other Designs In This Series

30' Ernest Shackelton | 33' Freyja | 44' Valhalla | 55' Valkyrie | 66' Asgard | 78' Schooner ODIN

44' VALHALLA - Kasten Marine Design, Inc