With this rig, more kids might take to the high­ways and high seas

Soundings - - Contents - BY SAM DEVLIN

The lat­est de­sign to come off Sam Devlin’s draft­ing ta­ble was in­spired by his de­sire to cre­ate a cool boat that mil­len­ni­als can love.

Icar­ried a Swiss Army knife for many years. It had two blades— one large and the other small—along with a bot­tle opener, a can opener, a punch awl, scis­sors and a corkscrew. You could buy knives with lots of other blades at­tached, but some­thing about this knife fit my sen­si­bil­i­ties. Af­ter re­turn­ing from the Wooden Boat Fes­ti­val in Port Townsend, Wash­ing­ton, and Lake Union Boats Afloat in Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, I thought of that knife and won­dered what its boat­ing equiv­a­lent might be. What gave me the idea was the di­ver­sity of the boats dis­played at those two events. A topic of con­ver­sa­tion com­mon to both shows was how to en­gage younger gen­er­a­tions in boat­ing. I was think­ing about what boats might ap­peal to those peo­ple.

I also was think­ing about an old and dear friend, Char­lie, whose son was com­ing back to live with him and his new wife in the North­west. This news was a “spe­cial sur­prise,” ac­cord­ing to Char­lie, as he had re­cently re­mar­ried and the son had not even both­ered to at­tend the cer­e­mony.

Char­lie, I thought, could use a Swiss Army knife-like boat that his son could live on for as long as nec­es­sary. The house­boat idea might have been a win­ner, but I started on an­other path of thought, try­ing to solve the dual dilemma of find­ing a home for Char­lie’s son and a flex­i­ble plat­form that mil­len­ni­als might en­joy.

The boat shown here is a small ver­sion of what I en­vi­sion, and it’s us­able for a mul­ti­tude of ap­pli­ca­tions. Imag­ine hav­ing a teardrop-type trailer (see next page) that you could park in the yard, camp your son or daugh­ter out in for as much time as nec­es­sary, and, if de­sired, put atop a cata­ma­ran hull and cruise into the sun­set.

I’ve drawn a cou­ple of ver­sions of this de­sign, with the ba­sic camp­ing box com­mon to both ver­sions. On land, you could place the box on ce­ment blocks on the ground for use as an ex­tra bed­room, or mount it to be used like a con­ven­tional teardrop trailer. For the sea vari­a­tion, a cata­ma­ran hull mea­sur­ing 20 feet long and 8 feet, 5 inches wide would make her trail­er­a­ble with­out spe­cial per­mits at all hours.

Mov­ing from land to trailer to sea could be done with a gantry crane made of bolted-to­gether tim­bers from the lo­cal lum­ber yard, with the whole camp­ing box weigh­ing just un­der 400 pounds. With built-in lift­ing eyes, the gantry crane and a chain hoist could lift up the box and load it onto the trailer or cata­ma­ran hull with­out much fuss. We older sailors could go to a ma­rina and use the lift­ing eyes and a hy­draulic boat lift.

Hav­ing used a teardrop trailer my­self for sev­eral years, I’m a fan of “sim­ple is best,” with high-per­for­mance cool­ers and ice for re­frig­er­a­tion, or a cooler-size elec­tric model plug­ging into shore­power or the tow­ing ve­hi­cle. On the front of the trailer or cata­ma­ran is a gear­box made of wood and epoxy, or alu­minum. It has two func­tions: stow­ing gear and be­ing a great seat for ad­mir­ing the view un­der­way or at an­chor.

I have es­chewed the nor­mal gal­ley aft on the teardrop, as it re­ally does not get used like a gal­ley in real life. In­stead, there’s a hinged flap that, com­bined with gas shocks, will give a weather or rain break to ac­cess­ing the stern. This space has room for a cou­ple of cool­ers and a mul­ti­tude of stowage boxes.

Ac­cess into the body of the pod is through two side doors that open to port and star­board. Four 24- by 24-inch hatches are wa­ter­tight and open for ven­ti­la­tion, and af­ford rea­son­able light in the pod. Screens can be fit­ted in buggy haunts.

In these days of low-con­sump­tion LED light­ing, the pod’s elec­tri­cal needs are quite sim­ple. One could mount a deep-cy­cle bat­tery in the stowage area aft. The ad­di­tion of a flex­i­ble so­lar panel on the pod’s roof could keep the bat­tery charged.

The in­te­rior holds a queen-size mat­tress, and a fold-down ta­ble hinges into the in­side wall. For heat, I would think about a wood stove, which also has the po­ten­tial of heat­ing wa­ter. For any­one near shore power or an ex­ten­sion cord, a ce­ramic elec­tric heater would be the best op­tion

for in­te­rior heat­ing. For meal prep, I’d choose a lit­tle bu­tane cooker (pretty much the same units that restau­rants use for crepes or ba­nanas Fos­ter at ta­ble­side). The marine ver­sion comes in stain­less steel and could be used in­side or out. For san­i­tary con­cerns, a cou­ple of op­tions could work, one be­ing a com­pact com­post­ing toi­let. An­other op­tion is a Porta Potti whose tank could be pe­ri­od­i­cally emp­tied ashore. Sim­ple, propane-pow­ered camp­ing show­ers could com­bine with a daily swim or us­ing the fa­cil­i­ties on shore.

On the wa­ter, power for the cata­ma­ran could be any type of out­board from 5 to 20 horse­power, with speeds to match. A tiller with an ex­ten­der would be the sim­plest steer­ing so­lu­tion, and a wheel could be fit­ted. Each hull in the cata­ma­ran could have ac­cess hatches for stowage con­tain­ers. Who knows? With a rig like this, maybe more mil­lenials will choose to take to the high­ways as well as the high seas.

Imag­ine a teardrop-type trailer that can be placed on a cata­ma­ran hull.

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