Blue Blazer 25 Design Notes

The Blue Blazer 25 was an unusual design request by one of my favorite customers. Jack had just purchased a weekend abode in Newport Rhode Island and needed a boat to use on his trips up there. He called me on a wet and cold winter day with the following requirements for his new boat. He didn’t need a boat that had lavish accommodations and he really didn’t need a lot of the gear that might go on a boat that had more serious cruising aspirations. This was intended to be a simple boat that he could travel around the harbor looking at other boats and seascapes, alone or with a pack of friends. The major use of the boat was to be in the summer months during the short New England boating season. The days would inevitably be warm and fair as he could afford the time to pick his boating days for ideal conditions and so outside standup steering was selected as the best option for control of the boat.

With my own weather being raw, wet, and cold at times, it’s difficult to be empathetic with the concept of the fair-weather use of such a boat but I was committed to doing my best interpretation. So armed with Jack’s list of parameters of boat use and gear, I retreated to the back of the design office where most of the serious boat drawing takes place. The hull wasn’t that hard to work up a concept for since we already knew roughly how big she needed to be but I kept getting gummed up on Jack’s requirement that there be under cover sitting spots for at least two people. Every time I tried to sketch in a covered roof area, the whole thing started to look like a small pilothouse. Now most of you that have looked at my designs know that I tend to be a pilothouse aficionado for both large and small boats because to my eye, they look well-proportioned and purposeful. So it would be safe to say that among the early preliminaries of this design, there were several boats that looked somewhat like stretched out low profileSurf Scoters with an amidships pilothouse and big cockpit.

Jack didn’t bite on these drawings at all. With his characteristic method of letting me down gently by never openly telling me that he didn’t like the drawings but just not exhibiting any great enthusiasm about the drawings, I clearly got the message. So back to the drawing board again, I returned only to confront the same problem — the minute I tried to put a covered house on the boat, she again started to look like a pilothouse boat that would be suitable in Alaskan waters. With each new version of the design I set down on paper, ultimately be rejected by Jack, my frustration level increased.

There is an old, old saying that all boat designers only have one good design in them and upon discovering that design, they spend the rest of their working life only drawing bigger and smaller versions of the same boat. While I hope this isn’t true that in my case, there certainly is some credence to the saying. I think it has a lot more to do with the designer’s eye and perhaps their mind taking a roughly similar slant on things with the result being that what looks right to the designer, most likely resembles other work they have done in the past.

So in my struggles with what felt like the tenth version of the preliminary design, I had an epiphany. It finally occurred to me that I could think of a boat as nothing more than a coat. In Jack’s case, he simply couldn’t picture himself in the coat that I was attempting to design for him. If you are familiar with Northwest area of the United States, there is a company in Seattle called “Filson” that is a mainstay in the outdoor clothing community. Filson has been in business over 100 years and was originally started to provide rugged outdoor clothing to the Gold Miners in the Alaskan Gold rush in the 1890s. Filson makes the heaviest and warmest coats imaginable and in most cases, out of virgin wool. My thought process went further with this analogy and I came up with the idea that what I kept trying to draw for Jack was a Filson Wool Double Mackinaw Cruiser Coat and that Jack just couldn’t picture himself in that coat motoring around swanky Newport Harbor. What Jack really wanted wasn’t a rugged wool, go-to-Alaska coat but a sharply tailored ‘Blue Blazer’. The wind is light, the day warm, and at most, a blazer is enough coat to suffice for the landscape and the company. In other words, Jack was looking for something a bit more formal, not enough to be stuffy, but still enough to be comfortable in.

The minute that thought process completed itself, I think the rest of the design process happened in less than an hour. I called the design “Blue Blazer” just to remind myself of her origins and she would be a dark navy blue color with tan trim and teak natural finished decks. She would have enough class to suit the owner and would be an eye-sweet addition to any harbor she runs in. She is, in other words, a “fast day-launch”, suitable to carry a pack of people about the bay in comfort.

Starting at the stern is a teak swim platform to help board the boat from a harbor taxi and just forward of the transom is a large daybed with foam fabric covered cushions for crews that like to sunbathe to have a place to enjoy the day. Forward of the daybed, which covers the engine box, is a bench seat settee that is the full width of the cockpit and at the center of that seat is a console type helm area. The Captain can either sit at the bench and steer or can stand and operate the boat. Engine controls are electronic and there is an interesting false top to the console that can be hinged back to expose other fancy electronics, GPS, VHF, Depth, and Speed instruments. The engine gauges are easy to read and accessible for controlling the boat. The steering wheel itself is a custom Italian thing that would not look out of place on a mid-sixties classic Ferrari. Forward of the center console are port and starboard upholstered seats that allow guests good side to side visibility out of the boat. There is a small windscreen with a convertible rigid top section and canvas top section that allows two people to sit out in the sun when folded forward and four people to sit under cover when folded aft and the weather is not cooperating. Under the forward deck area are two bunks long enough for a couple of tall people to comfortably stretch out on and up in the bow, a marine water closet can be fitted giving the whole forward cabin the capability of providing a degree of seclusion for head type activities. On deck, the bow has a hatch over the main part of the sleeping/head cabin and an electric anchor windlass powers up a polished stainless steel anchor on a bow roller. All cleats are of the stainless steel pop-up variety and deck trim is also polished stainless steel. The decks themselves are laid teak finished raw and when scrubbed a couple of times a year with bleach and water, they are the best non-skid material that exists and they lend a look of fine craftsmanship to the boat. There is a low bow pulpit to help keep your crew on deck and a low aft railing around the cockpit. The neatest feature of the exterior is the gracefully curved, varnished mast with some signal flags displayed and with a proper large ensign on the stern, the “Blue Blazer” looks dressed up for the occasion and ready to transport her crew around for the day.

I hope you like this little cruiser and as happens with most designs, it didn’t take very long before I started coming up with reasons and circumstances where she would work in very nicely with a little boating that I am planning in the future. So if she works for Jack, and I’m thinking that she works for me, maybe you, too, will find a little daydreaming potential in this little launch.

– Sam Devlin

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