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19 November 2013


Some are too small.
Many are too big.
ONE is juuuust right!

Small is beautiful.  - Leopold Kohr


How much space do we want? Do we need? Can we manage? Each chases the other's tail. Like Goldilocks, we're looking for not too small, not too big, but juuuust right!

Anke and I lived on ZOON (ex Bolger LONG MICRO at 19ft6in x 6ft6in x 10in... ~2000lb displacement), with our dog, Scups, for two and a half happy years. Minimal galley, with all-purpose, on-the-floor living. The only complaint with the space was that our raingear hung in the bunk.

Small was beautiful!


Easy to work -- No more than double purchase required, anywhere. We could stick out a leg, safely, to fend her off in most situations. Light anchor gear.

Easy to heat -- A tiny box stove took her to 70degF in all weathers in five minutes. Any condensation released with warm air when we opened her up for the night.

Easy to maintain -- Relatively little surface area, with few cabinets or 'tucked away' stowage.

Inexpensive -- To run, maintain, berth and, if ever necessary, to replace.


To make a very small boat work for long, one must be a natural-born minimalist. Few possessions. Hand-to-mouth living from the land. Treading light in every way. If not, one is ever compelled to break up the drift and head for town for provisions. And the margin of safety in sustenance in case of illness or incapacity is passing fine.

Going larger works against all those pros, however. Everything takes more material, gets heavier, grows surface area and complexity. Everything costs more in time and energy. We want the benefits of increased footprint, but have to weigh them against the costs. It's easy to get crazy!

SLACKTIDE (T26x7x1 at 7300lbs displacement) got the raingear out of the bunk. We can carry enough provender and tools to stay out as long as we like, virtually indefinitely. But the galley is still tiny. Many of our older friends find sitting on the floor to be uncomfortable (will we stay limber with use, or not?). And for the long term, the foodstuffs we can carry are supplemental to only small-scale forage; handfuls of dried goods, diminutive rock cod, a jar of this or that.

So, while we dabble with minimalism, it ain't us. We want to put by some stores. We like our books and pots and pans. We want to process some big fish and game (well, salmon, halibut and deer); smoked, dried or canned. Buckets of dried greens. Vats of fermented this and that (did we mention that we're making wine?).

What we want is a SWAB (SWissArmyBoat... like the knife). One we can fold out into any number of configurations. A BOATyard, a fish / hunting / processing camp, a guerrilla garden center!  One that can carry tools of preservation and the larder gained!

LUNA (AS31ft x 8ft x 13in at 8300lbs displacement) came the closest. If we'd insulated her, and made her another 5 or so inches deeper, we'd be sailing her, yet. 

LUNA's footprint gave us a large galley, useful for indoor processing of wild foods. Her mid-ships stowage made the most of a salon-style layout (dinette/settee), and allows a dedicated bunk. Her longer hull allowed higher speeds for faster transits. She has enough stowage space (volume) to carry the tools to support living at large in the SE Alaskan archipelago.

But not the displacement.

In part, this was due to overestimating her ballast requirements (about 20%) and heavier gear required by a larger vessel, but also to loss of displacement and volume to her sharpie curves. These cut almost a quarter away from a barge on the same footprint. In fact, we sailed LUNA about 3in low on her lines... roughly a ton overloaded.

One solution is simply to increase draft (increases displacement but leaves maximum beam and length the same). But we do so love that ultra-shoal draft! Every inch is a loss of cruising opportunities, and we begrudge it.

Another is to go longer. Hmm... we might come back to this at a later date. 

Or wider. Not without leaving easy ply dimensions.

But it just so happens that a box barge on the same footprint adds a whopping third again as much volume over the AS hull! 
And SLACKTIDE showed the box barge to be a sufficient sailor for our needs (wants, schmants!).

Translating LUNA's AS31x8 shape to a T32x8 pretty much does it.

NOTE: Both are four, 8ft sheets long. The plan view curves of an AS are 32 feet, measured along the curve, but only 31ft and change, measured along the centerline. In construction terms, I consider them to be the 'same length'.

Our conclusion is that a T32x8x1, weighing in at about 10500lbs (plus a reduction to 10 to 15% ballast) gives us ample volume and sufficient displacement on a reasonably small footprint.

We got us a baseline!

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About Me

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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, our T32x8 ketch. We sail by wind, tide and muscle in the waters of mid- to northern Southeast Alaska. We try to maximize the joys of life, and minimize the chores. ........ We live between the communities of SE Alaska, but drop in to visit with friends. Lately, we've worked, every other winter, care-taking Baranof Wilderness Lodge in Warmsprings Bay. This has given us a window on Web. ........ We're working toward a subsistence lifestyle, somewhat impeded by addictions to coffee, chocolate and cheese. ........ We think TEOTWAWKI is looming, and while we won't be ready, we'd at least like comfortable seats.