Tugboats have been a long standing theme in my life and I started my tug-affliction at an early age. When I was in kindergarten at the age of 5, I won an art competition with a tugboat composition and even though the medium was smeary crayon, it showed some promise of tug-work in my design quiver even at that young phase of my life. During my college years, I worked on several different tugs in Alaska, saving my money and helping to grubstake me thru school at the University of Oregon. The very first tug that I worked on was named the ‘Amak’ and a fine example of the type she was, home ported in Ketchikan, Alaska and as I recall, built in the late 1890s. She was wood, of course, nicely detailed (though she was a working tug), had a Cat diesel engine and after just a few days on board, I was hooked. The ‘Amak’ was to change my life. I read issue #1 of WoodenBoat magazine onboard her and made up my mind that boats, indeed wooden boats, were to be my life choice of hobby, avocation, passion, and career.
To celebrate the spirit of that first tug, I have named these models, in all their sizes, the ‘Amak’ series and I tell you this, in all confidence, that if my ship ever comes in and I reach a time in my life when I want to slow down just a bit, I would like to build one of these boats and do a bit more tugging myself. You can look at the designs and dream all the modifications you might want but always keep in mind that a tug needs quite a bit of weight, a big screw (propeller), and some old style horsepower to keep her happy. Enjoy! — Sam Devlin
The entire series is available in study plans. Contact Sam to develop your custom dream tugboat.
A fellow dropped into my office a couple of months ago with a novel idea. He is the owner of a Power Scow which is a type of boat I would expect only a few readers of my design write-ups to be familiar with. A power scow is pretty much what the name says; it is a powered barge on the water long used in the Southeast Alaska fisheries as buy boats which are boats that goes out to the fishing grounds, buys fish from the fishing boats and sells ice and other limited supplies to the fishermen. After filling their own holds with fresh caught fish, the buy boat heads off to the nearest town or cannery to offload. This chap has a particularly nice power scow built in the 1940s and he has done a yeoman’s job of keeping her in good shape and running condition. She has the latest fillet machines, flash freezing capabilities and vacuum packing on board and for these premium line caught salmon and halibut, she does an extraordinary job of keeping the fish fresh, clean, and ready for the freezer or the skillet.
But back to our visit — you see he is a visionary type of guy always thinking out into the future with a keen eye on the prize of keeping his power scow working hard and efficiently and also keeping several fish markets and a growing internet market supplied with his amazing product. These Alaskan fish are of such quality that anyone could provide them a place in their diet without fear or regret. But he had a new vision one that was just at the wee starting place of forming shape and that is where his visit with me came into the picture. He was thinking that there might be a small number of individuals who are in their late middle years, perhaps even retired from their first careers, but not yet ready to hang it all up. These individuals might also want a bit of adventure in their lives, ready to see waters and areas that they hadn’t the time to do earlier in their lives and careers. And so he was thinking that these hardy souls might be interested in setting up small fishing businesses built around the design that I am outlining here and built around his power scow.
With the power scow, he would have the facilities for the fishermen to drop off their catch on a daily basis, take a shower and have a hot meal each day, and maybe even a hand or two of cards before crawling into the sack. Up at dawn, or just a bit before dawn, to drop in on the morning bite and they are back to work. If a longer trip is desired to explore a little, the accommodations on the Kingfisher are compatible to the skipper and crew and anything from a couple of days to a longer trip might be possible, springing them only slightly loose from the friends and convenience of the power scow each night.
So let’s take a closer look at the Kingfisher design that I came up with. She is not a huge boat at just over 30 feet in length but with that utility of staying close to the mothership, she really doesn’t need to be much longer and therefore have good fuel economy and seaworthy comfort for the crew. She can be rigged for either hand trolling (non-powered gurdies which control the lines for bringing the fish into the boat) or she can be powered with a small hydraulic pump that would run off the engine and can be rigged as a power troller. There are twin 18 foot long trolling poles on either side of the single mast and these are lowered to about a 45 degree angle off the port and starboard sides of the boats helping to keep the fishing lines out of each other’s way. They can also be used to set small paravanes for running when the weather is really snotty and these simple gear additions can really make the difference between just a crappy day and one that could provide you with real story fodder. If you are anything like me, even though I like a good story, the older I get, the less I desire to experience those “really good” story days if you follow my drift. Anyway, the paravanes work very well at allowing the boat to continue into waters that might really blunt the progress of an unstabilized hull.
There is good deck space and instead of a fixed cargo hold (which could be done but a simpler solution is available), we are using large poly plastic totes that are chucked on the deck and when offloading fish, a bag that is held in the tub can be hoisted to the buy boat and a simple cleaning of the deck and totes is all that is necessary to keep the boat clean and organized. Moving forward into the pilothouse, the cabin follows a couple of ideas that I might have tried to hit you over the head with in the past but without hearing much of a thud, I want to try them again and they involve two subjects that need addressing. The first is the head and how to keep the crew and the skipper happy and comfortable. While the Kingfisher concept is one that might involve a single fisherman on board, (and my first inclination was to reduce the need or desire to have anything like a private head compartment on board), upon presenting the preliminary sketches to my co-workers, I was told rather bluntly that the boat would need a head to have any chance at seeing the light of day as a concept. So let’s address the idea of how to deal with a head in a boat and have it be really be functional enough to allow some privacy when being used. One of the features I noticed on lots of working boats, fishing and tug, is that the head compartment is very often not common or connected to the interior of the boat. That is to say they are accessed from the stern or side decks of the boat with an entirely separate door to the deck. And with no common door to the interior of the boat, you have a chance to actually use the head with some semblance of privacy. Once a common door to the inside of the boat gets put in the design, those privacy features go literally out the door. If you use the head for a shower, then you have the additional problem of what to do after adding considerable moisture into the interior of a boat that might be operating in a high humidity environment and the problem of how to truly and easily dry out the boat, which leads nicely into the second thought of mine.
Heat is a problem in most boats that run in the Northwest coastal waters of North America (my favorite and most often frequented waters), and it’s not called the rainy northwest for nothing! It’s not unusual for a typical cruiser or boater to do a long trip up to Alaska and back and never once put on a short sleeved shirt in the whole summer. In fact, we occasionally have summers where wool shirts and jackets are worn every day as a hedge against the cool and moist climate. On virtually all Northwest Coast working boats they fix this problem with a simple and ingenious solution, one that anything from a 20 feet cruiser up to a boat well over a hundred feet in length can use. The solution is an oil cooking range. Some of the best of these and the ones most common in the Northwest are made by the Dickinson company of British Columbia just to the north of my own Washington State. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations and the idea is that they are lit early in the trip, even sometimes before the engine is started, the thermostat and heat control has simple settings and burning diesel or even a cleaner burn with kerosene fuel, they just sit there and heat away, letting the whole interior of the boat stay warm and dry. The cast iron top of the stove radiates the heat very well and a pot can be kept on one of the corners instantly providing you with warm beverage capability whenever desired. If you come into the interior of the boat with wet rain gear, the boat doesn’t instantly fog up with the added moisture and you keep your windows clear and warm your bones up very quickly. I call this the ‘haven of warmth’ theory, and if you ever try it, you too will realize that when you wrap your head around the idea that the boat is always warm and dry no matter what the conditions are outside, you will quickly think of your boat as being protective and a haven of warmth and comfort. So even if we are foolish enough to have the door to the head opening into the interior of the boat, we can still dry her out quickly after taking a hot shower and everything will stay smelling nice and sweet.
I say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to my eye, this design looks just about right with good utility and function and she is trailerable to boot. With her inboard diesel engine, the fuel economy is good and depending on how much horsepower you give her, the speed can be adjusted from anything in the full displacement range up to semi-displacements speeds. – Sam Devlin
The Kingfisher 30 is available as study plans and as a custom build from Devlin Boats.
The Surf Runner 27 begins with the performance runabout (with cabin and berth tucked in) and extends it a couple of feet. What a difference those two feet make on a boat this size! The runabout style can extend into a pilothouse for rainy days, and the boat can sprout a flying bridge for those great views and the wind in your face when the sun is out and the air is warm. The diesel stern drive can maintain the performance of her smaller sibling without sacrificing the tight handling and smooth passage through the chop. If you need a little more space on a boat that is still conveniently trailerable, this may be a design that speaks to you.
Contact Sam if you would like to develop the Surf Runner 27 into the perfect boat for you.
With all the charm of generations of tugboats roaming the waterways, the Tugzilla 26 offers several paths to boating pleasure. First, she’s a real working boat, built with the rugged Devlin methods for a long lasting and easy to maintain boat. She will push and pull to your heart’s content. Second, she’s not a cruiser, but she has a comfortable forward cabin for short journeys into new places and is easily capable of endless day-cruising adventures. Third and perhaps most importantly, tugboats are fun. Devlin’s unique eye for traditional lines in modern packages will guarantee a boat that turns heads and strikes up conversations everywhere you go. If there is one things that makes boating special, it’s all those new friends.
The Tugzilla 26 is available in study and construction plans and as a custom build from Devlin Boats. Imagine the neighborhood scandal when you start building a tugboat in your back yard.
Sometimes I get asked what boat I would be if I really had to grow up. But the better question would be what boat I would be if my own ship came in and I could really afford to build the dream boat to take me on the journey that eventually ends up in Valhalla – presuming, of course, that I die in battle with my weapons (Scotch and cigar) in hand. As for me, I would settle for just pitching off the deck someday and hopefully from the deck of one of my own designs. Yes, all this is a little morbid and only points out that as I age, the ever-present gargoyle looming over my head is the limited number of days that we have on this Earth and the strengthening reminder that each day is precious and needs to be lived without remorse or regret. Now, back to what I would build if my own ship comes in. Hmm, let’s see, would it be power or sail? Would it be small or large? All good questions to ponder…
I think it would be this Sockeye 62, a real “man’s boat” if I can say that in this day of pussy footing around social correctness in our speech and writings. In fact, it would take a real man to tackle the tricky job of handling her with a giant propeller and while I might succumb to the temptation to add a big hydraulic bow thruster, with this hull shape, it’s tough to add a stern thruster to her as she is pretty much a double ended hull. So the Skipper will be forced to actually learn to run her, learn to walk the prop into the dock, and learn to become the master of the machinery around him.
Think of the pack of friends that could be invited to come along for the day — lots of tending lines to do and the Skipper needs to focus on keeping the boat in the channel. These drawings are pretty much self-explanatory and worth a walk thru the boat from stem to stern. A hull laminate of fully 2.25 inches of sandwiched marine plywood with a layer of Kevlar cloth embedded between each layer, this puppy will stop any bullet shot at it or blunt off any deadhead she encounters. Range would be something north of 3,500 nautical miles and the comfort level would be very high.
As for me, part of the dream is sitting around that stern with a pack of friends. The spirits are going to be high with the excitement of just starting a long cruise North into the Inside Passage. The boat’s loaded with good food, good friends, and the only option we have is to have a great time, in fact the time of our lives. The only hard part of this decision is whether or not to build the Flying Bridge model or the Bald headed version. This, my friends, is what I would wish given my own ship comes in. It’s not just about dreaming, it’s also a lot about taking action. Enjoy the viewing! — Sam Devlin
The Sockeye 62 is available as study plans, and as a custom build from the Devlin crew. Contact Sam to develop your own unique nautical path to paradise.
What can I say? I am smitten by the profile and use of these aft house cruisers, evoking for me the same emotion as looking at the Halibut Schooners that have fished the North Pacific for more than 100 years. These are very seaworthy boats capable of holding their own in just about any conditions the sea can dish out. The Oysta 62/Annie was designed in 2001 for the customer of the first of our Sockeye series powerboats. His family was expanding with a new marriage and he started down the path of dreaming about a boat that could handle this pack. Part of his dream was the lifelong goal to cruise to high-latitudes places with comfort and safety.
Let’s take a good look over the interior of this design. Starting from aft, you’ll find a giant aft-owners cabin complete with desk, full head/shower, an island queen sized bed, and enough room around the bed to be able to make it up in the morning without being a gymnast. Going up the staircase into the pilothouse, there is room for a proper charting area, separate double watch chairs, a dinette seating area, etc. Double doors on both sides of the pilothouse give access to the deck and the working area of the boat.
From the pilothouse going down a staircase on the port side, the galley, a true dinette area, and laundry are accessed. Lots of room to do all the chores that keep a boat and crew clean and well fed can happen here. Access to the engine room is done thru a large door at the aft end of this compartment. There is stand up room around the large single screw diesel engine, the fuel tanks are port and starboard in the shoulders of the engine room, and fuel management is easy and organized. Double generators round out the engine room with a 6kw providing backup to the 20kw main.
From the Galley/Dinette cabin, access to the Focsle is done up a few steps and there are two primary staterooms accessed in the bow. The Skipper’s cabin is to starboard with a double berth and a desk and locker area. Clear up in the bows of the boat are stacked double berths, port and starboard, and a diesel bulkhead heater keeps this whole area warm and dry. There is a very large head to port with full shower for keeping the crew clean and neat. Up a winding staircase is access to the foredeck of the boat allowing crew to exit both up directly to the deck or aft thru the galley/dinette cabin.
The rig, if set up on the Oysta 62, would be a large ketch rig set on aluminum spars. For my money, I would put a gaff on the mainsail keeping the mast lower and the whole center of gravity of the rig as low as possible. This is a true motorsailor with the rig only providing assistance to the engine and it is good to keep the sail areas down small enough that they will get set quickly and easily. Once one gets into the Tradewinds, the engine can just purr along with the assistance of the sails and the motion of the boat is easy and nice with the range being something North of 3,000 nautical miles.
Imagine an evening, with the anchor set hours ago, in some very secluded holding ground very far away from the maddening rest of the world. The crew has all gathered down in the galley/dinette. It’s shirt sleeves now with a bit of residual heat emanating from the nearby engine room and the huge diesel range/oven in the galley. There is a bottle of good rum on the table and glasses are being emptied to the accompaniment of lots of laughter mixed with good stories, music, and a brisk game of Mexican Train dominos spread out on the huge dinette table. With good friends at your elbow, mix in a bit of smoke from fragrant Cuban cigars broke out for the occasion and realize that life does not get any better than this! – Sam Devlin
The Oysta 62 is available as study plans, but this one really begs for a call to Sam, just in case you want to land a helicopter on it.
A design that we are working on this spring of 2008 and I have great hopes of this being the next large boat for us to build in our shop. The customer came to me with a rather unusual request of a long-distance trawler capable of passages in any waters at any time of the year, especially hi-latitude type conditions. For those of you not versed in the disciplines of geography, the definition of hi-latitude is cruising in the far north Arctic and the far south Antarctic regions. A crew of two would be all that is required to handle her in those conditions but she needed to be able to carry several passengers with comfort to those remote waters.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how this design evolves. The customer has a background of working in Alaska on tug and fishing boats in the early 1970s, experience very similar to mine, and our evolved boating “eyes” are very much alike.
She is very much a blown-up and enlarged Sockeye 45 type of hull, much deeper and heavier of course, but with the same fantail stern that I am so fond of. Her pilothouse is medium-sized and placed further aft and it has a great flying bridge for piloting the boat when visibility is of the greatest importance. The galley is below down in the fo’c’sle area and there is room in the pilothouse for the entire crew to sit in warm, protected comfort. Keep an eye out for updates to this design as I work on it… — Sam Devlin
I am happy to report the launching and sea-trials are completed on the newest of the Devlin fleet — the “Moon River 48” and she is living up to all our expectations and dreams. She runs thru the water with an amazing grace, cutting thru the waves like there is nothing in her way. She is smooth and powerful on the water and with her twin John Deere engines purring away quietly in the cockpit, there is an almost dreamlike quality to her motion thru the water.
Top speed with the twin John Deere 315 hp Diesel engines is 23 knots at 80% of the power curve. That means she has a bit more speed potential in her but she would need to be operated above the 80% line and most boats don’t get run that hard. Cruising speed of 18 knots is easy, smooth, and quiet with the engines just sipping at fuel and you really think you’re moving at a slow pace but if you look aft, you can see she is marching along at a much faster rate.
She is also very docile around the docks and in tight quarters as she has the maneuvering ability of her twin screws to help the skipper out and with proportional bow and stern thrusters, you can really make her do virtually anything that you need. The 360 visibility from the helm is extraordinary and with tiny little adjustments to either the props or thrusters, it really is a low stress way to be on the water. One of the great virtues of a sedan type cruiser like the Moon River 48 is that the windage is low — there is plenty of boat in the water and not so much area above the water that the wind can push on. Really, she is a very pleasant boat to use.
So let’s take a written tour through her and see what she has for space and accommodations. There is a floatational swim step on her rear with the level being just perfect for stepping onto the boat from a dock or from a dingy. There is mid-calf height 2” diameter stainless steel railings (staples) on the back of the swim step to help keep you centered but this is a 36” wide step and there is no lack of room or any feeling of insecurity when you step aboard. The cockpit is entered thru a door that hinges on the back of the transom and stepping up into the self-bailing cockpit is easy and secure. Stepping up into the cockpit you will notice the large cockpit area is half covered with a roof extension of the house with a couple of wide seats in the immediate back of the cockpit that allow the sun worshipers to stay happy and two almost 7ft. long seats port and starboard under cover of the roof extension for those passengers preferring shade. These covered seats are really the tops of the two engine boxes and with electric motors to raise them it is just the matter of pressing a couple of rocker switches and the engines are exposed. Between the engine box seats on the centerline cockpit sole is a flush hatch that if opened exposes a larger area between the engines. All access for checking oil, checking the water strainers, changing oil, and shifting fuel from one tank to another is done from this area. There is a ladder leading into it and everything is here from tool box stowage to spare oil soak rags, right at hand and well lit from a total of 8 lights — easy to get into and back out.
Moving forward is the centerline door to the main cabin with the galley immediately to the starboard side of the boat and on the port side is a large bureau top cabinet with hatch and door in it. This is the access to the second stateroom and by opening the hatch and swinging open the door, a ladder can access this area. There is a generous berth outboard in the space, locker room for duffels and hanging clothes and just below the cabin sole on the centerline of the boat is another single berth. This aft stateroom has a generous almost 7ft. headroom and is painted in white paint with mahogany wood trim and it looks clean and comfortable. Ventilation is provided by a larger hatch that opens into the cockpit of the boat just above the top of the engine box. There is also access to the main systems area of the boat either from the single berth under the centerline or thru another flush hatch in the main sole of the salon. Located in this space are the pumps for potable water, blackwater pumps, centerline water tank, inverter, Glendinning shore power cord basket, battery charger and more. This space is well lighted and completely finished with our traditional Devlin finishes. In fact, one of the things that we are most known for is our finishes with every part of the boat being an example of our simple but elegant finishes with all construction done to the highest level of quality and finish.
Back up in the main salon, the galley is to the starboard side and has the shape of a large “U” — the freezer and refrigerator are below counter, drawer type units and a trash compactor, sink, and a 4 burner range with oven complete the suit plus there are gobs of drawers for dish, silverware, pots, pans and all the other items a modern boat need to stow away. All drawers have sea-locks on them — simple swiveling tabs that lock the drawer into closed position and hold tight even in a tough sea-way. Opposite the galley is a “U” shaped dinette that can seat up to six with comfort with a varnished table of Bubinga wood that finishes out the dining area. Forward of the settee is the co/helm seat with the back being convertible from either the use for the settee or the use for the co/helm. Electronic instruments are on both the helm and the co/helm sides with the co/helm person able to help monitor the progress of the vessel or scout ahead for safe anchorages or obstacles. Lots of counter space behind the front windows allows the spreading out of charts or tide tables while underway. On the starboard side is a large helm area with full instrumentation and a helm seat that can actually seat two side by side if desired. More drawers and stowage spaces are festooned around the helm and co/helm area providing organized stowage of all items.
On the subject of ventilation, there are all-together 11 opening windows and hatches in the main salon/pilothouse of the Moon River not counting the main companionway door itself so it’s very easy to be comfortable and cool in this vessel either underway or at anchor or tied up to a dock.
Going down 4 steps into the focsle of the Moon River, you see the master head to starboard with full shower stall and on the port side an almost mirror image of the master head except for the shower stall for the crew. The doors to the two heads are arranged to be convenient to either using from the main salon for the crew and for using from the master stateroom up in the bows of the boat for the master head. A large door leads into the master stateroom forward with full island style queen sized berth forward and hanging lockers port and starboard for both the skipper and for the first mate. This is a spacious and light and airy feeling cabin with beautiful Alaska Yellow Cedar tongue and groove overhead and Yellow Cedar and Mahogany trim for all doors, drawers, fiddle, deck beams etc. The forward stateroom also has a large 28”x28” hatch in the ceiling with screen system on it for privacy.
Clear up forward ahead of the queen sized berth is the chain locker — it’s divided into two sides and the Moon River can carry 150 ft. of chain and 250 ft. of line anchor rode. Immediately above is a Lofrans anchor windlass and deck wash system.
This finishes our tour of the boat except to mention that there are strong welded type 316 stainless steel railings protecting the crew moving forward onto the foredeck and handrails and ladder to get to the roof top. Clear up on top of the Moon River is a Nick Jackson electric davit that has capacity to lift a 1,200 lb. tender onboard. Stainless steel dingy feet complete the vessel and with good access to the roof-top, the Moon River completes the test for a fine cruising vessel.
Build time on the first of these was just over 19,000 hours, an almost staggering figure in this mass-produced world that we live in these days. But it is a testament to the trust that our customers have in our craft that allows us to build a vessel like the Moon River. When you work on a project like this, it is quickly realized that there is something special about working with your hands, and your brain and building, indeed breathing life, into a vessel like her. Thanks to all for the effort and the chance to bring Moon River to the water. – Sam Devlin
The Moon River is available as study plans and as a custom build from Sam and his team.
Lately I have noticed that two themes have become more constant in my life, one being that I have way less spare time than I used to (and I never had much to start with) and the other being that when my wife and I have the time to go cruising, we enjoy more a cruise “in company” with friends than a cruise where our friends are literally cruising onboard with us. So let me explain the concept to you. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have amazing cruising grounds literally at our doorstep with smooth, and for the most part, protected waters stretching almost 1,100 miles from our home in Olympia, Washington to Skagway, Alaska. About 900 of those miles are in wonderful wilderness with solitude and beauty surrounding every day spent on the water and every anchorage at night. We have done that cruise several times over the past 20 years, sometimes with guests traveling in the boat with us and sometimes with friends taking their own boats and traveling alongside us. And in retrospect, our favorite trips were the ones with friends traveling alongside doing what I refer to as cruising “in company”. This type of cruising affords all participants a bit more privacy and intimacy than one with a pack of people all on the same boat. There is also a very significant safety factor involved with cruising “in company” because if there is an emergency or the need for a repair, there is a vessel nearby piloted by friends that can help reduce the extra tension involved in an emergency far from help. This safety factor is one that I usually refer to as being a “good boy scout” as you hope that you never need the assistance but it’s there when you need it. It is simply the best preparation for a journey and the best reduction of all the possible fate based factors that may thrust their ugly heads into the realm of a calm and relaxing vacation.
Forgive me for this dialogue but it’s only included to give you a little bit of the mindset for this new design that we are offering up for review. Considering that cruising in company is our preferred way to cruise and that my wife and I don’t really need that much space inside the boat, I started down the path of musing on what would be the most ideal boat for the time and space that my life might allow for cruising in these busy and active times. And so out of that inspiration came the Blue Fin 48, fueled by a very slight influx of dollars from a preliminary design commission by Bill and Meri Roberts, a couple with mostly parallel daydreams as to the perfect cruising boat. Out the door went any consideration about the economics of owning and operating a vessel of a length and breadth that would normally have multiple staterooms and a cost to construct somewhat north of a million dollars and into consideration came what could and would handle a couple for cruising, do it as efficiently as possible at speeds that would cover lots of ground when needed and yet allow unbelievably quiet, smooth and comfortable cruising in anything from 8-16 knots of speed. The only thing that is really extreme about this vessel is that she is basically the layout and the accommodations that you would normally have in a 30-34 ft. boat but is set in a boat that is 48 ft. long. In other words, she will cost certainly more than the typical mid-thirty foot boat, but not as much as her over-muscled brother, and will cruise faster, smoother, and have more space for all the functions of cruising. The downsides to this design are only one; dockage and moorage fees will be the same as the 48-50 ft. skyscraper of a floating condo moored next to you. For my book, I will pay the extra expense for the moorage in exchange of being able to move thru the water at the speed and ease that this vessel would be capable of.
So let’s talk about the design a bit with the first topic being the powering options for her. My first inclination for powering her was a twin diesel arrangement with the engine boxes being set just on the aft side of the rear bulkhead to the cabin. That would allow us to use the top of the engine boxes as seats or tables in the cockpit when entertaining and believe me this cockpit would be a fine entertainment gathering spot for the group of cruisers once the anchors were set firmly and everyone had a quick freshen up after a long day on the water. Picture a pitcher of some refreshing drinks, some background music (not so loud as to drown out conversation) and perhaps some aromatic cigars being lit and puffed on with your friends around you and a whole hectic world left behind. In the twin screw version you will note that I show a couple of really comfortable arm chairs in the cockpit. I really like these folding chairs with their capability of being positioned where I want either out in the sun taking in the last rays of the day’s warmth or under the other half of the covered cockpit out of perhaps a sun too bright or some left over drizzle (remember it rains quite a bit here in the Northwest). It’s always good to have the chance to change one’s seating position and get some fresh air after a long day’s journey and comfortable chairs help with that equation. The other advantage of the twin installation is twofold, the first being the redundancy of power so that if something conspires to leave us with a powering issue, we still have a standby engine that will enable us to continue our journey until we get a chance to fix whatever went haywire on us. The second advantage of a twin installation is the maneuvering advantage that a twin has and with such a long and narrow boat, she will want to go forward far more easily than sideways and the ability of a twin installation to spin the boat either to port or to starboard is rather amazing. Coupled with the bow thruster way up in the nose of the boat, this would be a very easy boat to move about in the close confined waters of a marina or during a docking maneuver. So the twin screw/engine option is a good one and with the main door to the cabin opening into the pilothouse being on the centerline, we can have a nice balanced interior arrangement with the galley on the starboard side, the helm seat just at the forward edge of that space and a “L” shaped dinette on the port side with co/helm on its forward edge.
But it wasn’t long before economy and ease of operation cropped up in my thoughts and I started musing about a single screw version of the same boat. Could it be done on this narrow of a boat without feeling like we are missing or eliminating too much of the useful function of the twin screw configuration? After many hours of cogitating on the problem and trying out the spatial use of the areas that would result, I came across what might really be an even better option to my original twin screw configuration. Looking at the single screw layout, we see the companionway skewed off to the port side of the boat allowing enough room on the centerline for the larger and longer engine box that would be necessary. The galley is set on the port side just forward of that companionway and has a built in co/helm seat at its forward edge, an arrangement we have used successfully in our Surf Scoter and Black Crown designs many times. This may not be quite as compatible for the co/helm but look at the larger “L” shaped dinette area in the pilothouse and as a bonus, aft under the covered part of the cockpit, a mirror image of that dinette aft in the stern area of the boat. Now I can see this version would be an even better socializing cockpit or cabin area with good space to spread out a feast of eats and drinks. For the single screw I would pick the John Deere 4045 diesel which is available in anything from 150-225hp versions and would give us a top speed in the 18 knot range and a cruise speed of 14 knots with 4.4 gallons per hour fuel burn. With about 350 gallons of fuel, that would give this version a range of over 1,000 nautical miles. But slow her down to 8-9 knots and the burn rate lowers to well below 2 gph and the range would improve to well over 1,500 nautical miles. What an efficient and beautiful boat this would be to cruise in!
Soon after working on the single screw version, I started fooling around with a flying bridge version of her. Not being an immediate fan of flying bridges, I changed my tune after assisting in bringing a converted Seine fishing boat back from Alaska to the Puget Sound area many years ago. That boat had a large flying bridge with an unlimited vista and it really was surprisingly warm and dry (even in the wind and rain) with a rain shadow developed by the vertical walls of the flying bridge walls. Trying to steer on that vessel was virtually impossible from the lower helm station with its very small windows and lack of visibility. So after that trip and being “flying bridge enlightened”, this version of the Blue Fin really appeals to me. We can either steer from the lower helm on those heavy weather days or using the flying bridge upper helm in less extreme weather when really wanting maximum visibility.
I have a couple of thoughts about the focsle sleeping cabin to make, the first being having enough space to have a proper head and separate shower being one of the advantages of the longer platform of this stretched boat, and the second being the chance of either having single queen sized island berth up forward or with port and starboard single berths with the option to put in a filler between the bunks to make an even larger queen sized berth for when you are cruising with your best first mate. This latter arrangement with its dual function really appeals to me. When going out with some guy friends, we can have port and starboard berths that allow proper separation for personal space and when cruising with my wife, I can put in the filler and sleep with my sweetie with tons of extra room.
The final feature that I want to talk about is the lack of a swim step at the stern of the boat. But you should also notice that her transom folds outward and makes into an integral swim step allowing easy and safe boarding from a dingy or from a stern tie at the dock. But while running at sea, the transom is hinged up to a safe and confining normal configuration. The primary reason why I like this folding transom arrangement is the capability of sliding easily onto and into the cockpit of my 13ft Candlefish skiff. This is a large skiff for this size of mothership but capable of taking us on outings that a normal shorter dingy could not handle. It also allows us to do our cruises with the dingy in the cockpit, keeping the center of gravity and weight low and our flexibility with this design at a real maximum. For those of you that need a conventional transom, this will accomplish that function but for those of you that want a really versatile arrangement in the cockpit, then this configuration will be a real asset.
That’s enough for a really long winded write-up but I am very hopeful to get this design off the drafting table and into the water. Feel free to call me to discuss her merits in detail…. So long for now (till my next design voyage). — Sam Devlin
The Blue Fin 48 is available as study plans and as a custom build by Sam Devlin and his team.
A recent visit by friends, Vicky and Craig Johnsen, was highlighted by some elegant drawings that Craig had been working on for a proper power cruiser proposed to be built around a Gardner 6L3 engine he owned. This reminded me of a preliminary design I had worked on some years ago but I must have gotten distracted and had never finished it. Several months later, I dusted off the drawings, wrapped them up and I now present the new version to you here — its resemblance to Craig’s drawing is striking.
I don’t own a Gardner 6L3 (though I certainly wish I did), a 6,700 lb. chunk of sweet sounding metal with a top RPM of 1,000 and generating 150 real horses (not those little ponies so common these days with higher speed and much lighter diesel engines). These horses could swing a 50 inch propeller with ease and make for the maneuvering of the boat armed with such gear a real exhibit of skill and mastery.
But back to the Josephine 47….without owning the Gardner, the next best option is to choose a John Deere 6068 engine with horsepower of 236 medium sized ponies. This is a reasonable option with a top RPM of 2,400 turns and it should run very smooth at something like a speed of 1,800 revs. That should give us a cruising speed of 8.5 knots over the bottom. The engine is below the pilothouse and very well insulated with Aquadrive isolation of the shaft, soft engine mounts, and lots of sound insulation.
I think the two features that I most like about this design are the extension of the same arrangement that we use on our 81 year old Salmon Troller “Josephine” — the covered afterdeck and the completely separate cabin configuration of the accommodations. With the covered deck aft, the dingy can stow above on the solid roof and canvas drop curtains can be set on the sides of the aft roof enclosing off the entire stern for use when the weather is inclement. You would be surprised at how much you use the ‘covered porch’. Even simple little tasks can be done using the aft cabin housetop as a working and cooking area. When cruising in our own boat, I often wake up early and take a single burner butane stove to the aft deck to brew up my morning coffee without bothering Soitza sleeping below. A pleasant, quiet and peaceful start to the morning is a really great way to cruise. We often don’t do breakfast until we have run for the first hour or two, taking advantage of the typical flat water of the calm summer mornings, and a nice plate of scrambled eggs, salsa, and toast and another cup of coffee seems really civilized while underway. The smell of bacon from the galley in the pilothouse is visceral in its connection with the idea of a pleasant cruise on the water.
If you choose the centerline wheel pilothouse arrangement, there are doors both to port and starboard. The off center helm option shows a different arrangement for the seating in the pilothouse and eliminates the portside door — choose the layout that suits you best.
The fo’c’sle is a separate cabin from the large aft cabin with its own head and shower units. You can condemn the guests you drag along to this cabin where they can stack like cordwood in the staggered over/under port and starboard berths.
So let’s talk briefly about how you might proceed with this design as this drawing is really just a line and lure lowered into the water in an attempt to catch one of you readers. If you find this design tickling your fancy and you would like to talk more about fleshing it out into your own dreams, please give me a call. I look forward to that conversation — it will gives me a feel for what your own ideas are for the perfect boat, enable me to share my own motives and dreams for such a boat, and we’ll both learn a lot in the process. Together, the two of us can come up with a really amazing boat and project! – Sam Devlin
The Josephine 47 is available as study plans and as a custom build from Devlin Boats.