Design Features - First Year Critique
- Basic outline of hull and rig - December 2002
- Contract and detailed construction preliminaries - January 2003
- Hull and Deck at Schooner Creek for fairing and inspection April 2003
- Joseph & Schooner Creek team begin joining hull and deck, and
fabricating structural interior September 2003
- Sea Trials September 2004
- Delivery to North Carolina by truck April 2005
- Main Cabin
- Settee design
- The lea cloths and cushions are fine for sleeping and sitting at
the table, but the cushions still need to be refined for lounging
around for talking or reading
- The reading lights are well placed.
- The fans were adequate in warm weather, but louder than I would
- integral water tanks with screw-in deck plates
- These have proved quite convenient. It is easy to see in to
check the water level during use and while filling. They allow
me to reach in and scrub the tank clean annually. They have
not leaked at all.
- Shelf over settee.
- These shelves are the most convenient storage. With the
addition of "lee cloths" across the fronts they were quite
secure. The attachment webs need to have some shock cord
because a couple of times in rough seas someone leaned on one and
pulled the strap loose.
- Keel well in the center of the cabin
- The lifting keel has been fantastic, allowing us to poke around in
areas we would be afraid of in a fixed keel boat. We have run
aground several times, and getting off was a one or two minute
affair -- roll in the jib, crank the keel up a couple of inches and
- On the other hand it certainly makes it difficult for 4 or more
people to sit around comfortably and talk in the salon. Better
cushion designs will mitigate that somewhat.
- It's advantage is that the port settee has some privacy and
shielding from the lights from the electronics and computer.
Particularly helpful on passages.
- Storage under, outboard, and above the counter and stove with elastic
- Storage in the galley has been excessive. Provisioning for 4
for a week still left us with half full and unused cabinets and
shelves. The net fronts worked very well allowing for easy
access and secure storage. The outboard recessed shelf worked
perfectly for frequently used items.
- Deep sink on centerline with electric pump for salt water and foot
pumps for hot and cold fresh water. Flexible sprayers used for
- The foot pumps work well together, as you can have a foot on each
pump and get a continuous stream of water. This takes some
coordination and balance, and possibly could be redesigned to make
it easier. The problem with this setup is the difficulty in
cleaning around the foot pumps.
- The sprayers on hoses for faucets work well, but need to be
cleaned monthly to keep little sprays from squirting off to the
- Two burner stove with oven
- The stove had met our needs. Only once did we need a third
burner. The radiant broiler toasts bread in a flash.
Pots stay put in the worst conditions we had while gimbaling.
- R-50 vacu-panels for refrigerator box. Removable lid with
cutting board surface. Front opening freezer below refrigerator.
Sealed spillover cooling for refrigerator.
- The refrigerator is working very well. It uses 3 amps when
on, but spends much of its time off. There are however several
problems that need to be addressed:
- When it is hot and foggy the sides sweat, especially, as you might
imagine, the walls of the freezer. The problem is compounded
when something is in the cabinets or against the freezer wall.
The problem is such that cups of water will accumulate in the port
- The solution that I will attempt is to seal the lockers and
use them for storing drinks and other canned goods. I
believe it will keep them cool, and the sweating should be
minimal because the compartments are not open the the
- The coolant runs to the compressor also sweat in warm humid
conditions. I believe this is a problem I will just have to
live with, because the solution is to install them in PVC pipe and
catch the moisture.
- I think that this condensation problem will be a continuing challenge.
- Thru hull locations
- Raw water intake
- The intake, located just aft of the motor has been nearly trouble
free. There may have been some bubbles that slowed the genset
pump, but this has not been confirmed. The only
"problem" was that a long thin fish swam up the intake and
died in the strainer. Needless to say, it didn't smell good.
- It is a nuisance to empty the storage area to clean the speed
transducer, but it is easy to reach and clean up.
- The depth transducer sometimes malfunctions when pounding to
windward presumably because of air under the boat. When things
settle down it begins to work again.
- Drains (all are above the waterline except the galley sink
- Forward cabin drain needs to be kept closed when pounding to
windward. In the worst conditions some water has come out of
- The head drain can stay open in some really nasty conditions, but
it too should be closed when healed to starboard and pounding.
- The galley sink drain has never needed to be closed.
- The pump-out drain has not caused a problem, except the
anti-siphon loop after the pump never drains, and could potentially
- Prestissimo carries fuel in her keel, fuel tank, and jerricans .
- The keel tank holds 35gal, however because of its design only 30gal
can be pumped out. To remove the fuel the keel needs to be down,
and the fuel coupling is accessible via the port in the keel well.
An electric fuel pump is attached to the coupling, and the fuel can be
pumped to the jerricans or fuel tank at the rate of about 1gal/minute.
- The fuel tank holds 12 gal, and the guage is very accurate when the
boat is level.
- There is enclosed vented storage for 4 jerricans. Currently two
are diesel, one is gasoline, and one is water. The 3 gal outboard
tank, and the outboard motor also fit in the storage area.
- Heavy use of the outboard as a tender consumes about a gallon per
week, but if the outboard was used to move Prestissimo for any
distance, then the extra 5 gallons would be important.
- The two 25 gal. integral tanks each last about a week for two people
taking daily showers and being moderately conservative. With
casual use one tank served 3 for 3 days onboard continuously.
- The tanks are filled from large ports in the seat of the
settees. These ports make seeing the water level easy, and allow
the entire tank to be reached and scrubbed, or aired out and dried.
- The plumbing is prepared for two 25gal flexible tanks, one under the
forward bunk, and one under the quarterberth. These have not
proved necessary at this time. The raw water intake is sized to
handle a water maker (as well as air conditioning cooling water), so the
extra tanks may never be necessary.
- AirHead Toilet
- The AirHead toilet is a composting marine toilet that separates
the solids from the liquids. It requires that the toilet be
either level, or sloped forward in order to properly drain the
liquids and prevent them from mixing with the solids.
- I mounted the toilet on a hinged platform so you can tilt it
forward and lock it in place with two wing nuts. This allows
for the use of the toilet with up to 20 degrees of heal.
- I drain the liquids into a 15gal holding tank. This tank was
initially vented in the cabin side. This proved unacceptable
due the frequency that the odor was in the cockpit. The vent
was subsequently moved to the upper part of the radar support pole,
and the problem is solved.
- I have two solids holding tanks. When the one in use is full
I move it into the lazaret so it can decompose while the other tank
is in use. This has worked quite well, and there has
been no odor problems in the lazaret.
- Twice in this first year of use some solids or toilet paper have
clogged the liquid pipe, and needed to be cleaned out. It is a
relatively simple procedure to remove the flexible hose from the
AirHead, and use my 12v mini shop-vac to clean it out.
- It is important to add peat moss from time to time to keep the
mixture friable so that can decompose aerobically and not get sticky
and go anaerobic.
- Procedure for using the AirHead Toilet
- For liquids: Make sure the toilet is level or tipped
forward. You can see the level on the lid, and adjust the
slope with the two wing nuts on the sliding bar behind the
toilet. Then, just use it like a normal
toilet. Make sure the valve to the liquid tank is
open. Listen for the tinkle of liquid into the tank.
If you don't hear it, it may indicate that the hose is plugged,
the tank is full, or the valve is shut.
- For solids: Men, open the trapdoor to the solids tank with the
lever on your right, use the toilet, deposit toilet paper
through the trapdoor, close the trapdoor.
Women, put a coffee filter over the trapdoor, then use the
toilet. When you are done, open the trapdoor and
everything on the filter should drop down into the solids
tank. Toilet paper goes in as well. Tampons should
go into the trash.
- After finishing, close the trapdoor and the lid. Then
crank the crank a few turns to mix it up.
- If the toilet is getting regular daily use the handle may
become difficult to turn after a few days. It may be that
the mixture has become too moist and sticky, so a handful of
peat moss will absorb the moisture and make the mixture friable
- liquid waste tank
- The tank was designed so it would drain thoroughly and not back up
in rough weather. It has met those objectives so far even when
3/4 full in rough seas. It can be pumped out by hand or
emptied using pump-out services. There is a 6" transparent
clean-out port that can be used to view the liquid level or add rinse
water during pump-out. Alternately, the rinse water can be
added from the deck fitting.
- The through-hull fitting is located in the wet locker
- Recirculating shower
- This feature has worked out beautifully, though it has taken a
while to figure out the easiest way to use it, which, not surprisingly,
was not quite how it was planned..
- Procedure for using the recirculating shower.
- If you want hot water, turn on the hot water breaker and
"System Heat" switch. Wait 10 minutes.
- Assuming the shower was used properly the last time, you will
be starting out with empty plumbing and a dry shower sump.
- Turn on the faucet pump and open the valve to fill up the
- Remove the hose from the shower fixture and turn on the
"Shower" pump. The water will circulate and get
warm in a few seconds.
- Use the yellow knob to adjust the temperature -- clockwise is
- Plug the hose back into the shower fixture and enjoy.
- Soap up and rinse off, then unplug the shower hose and direct
it's flow into the sink, to drain out the dirty water.
- When the sump is empty, add fresh water. As soon as the
water from the shower hose runs clean (about 6 seconds) plug it
back into the shower head and enjoy a clean rinse as long as you
- When you are done, direct the water to the sink until it runs
dry. Then open the red/white valve at the sump to empty
the water remaining in the recirculating plumbing.
- The through hull fitting for the sink/shower is located under the
- Wringer mounted on the bulkhead
- It earned it's keep when the forward cabin was soaked, but for
just a few items it is easier to just wring them out. It
doesn't get stuff any dryer than wringing it out, but if you have to
do big things, or lots of laundry, then it is worth it.
- The foam mattress in the forward cabin is in 8" strips, and
they could go through the wringer, which made it possible to rinse
the salt water out of them.
- Forward Cabin
- Vents to anchor locker
- These vents are excellent. They can be left open with the
anchor locker in vent mode in the worst rain and still allow a nice breeze
through the cabin. They should be closed when sailing!
- We left them open with the anchor locker in vent setting
while sailing. It got rough and waves started to break over
the bow. The whole forward cabin was drenched, all the
bedding, the storage under the bed, everything on the side shelves,
and two shelves of clothes.
- The counter and sink have proven useful, especially when there are
other people needing to use the head in the evening.
- Mast collar
- I made a mast collar out of stretchy vinyl, and stuck it in place
with dum-dum. Then I put some tape over it, and covered it
with an attractive UV proof collar. It has kept all the water
out, even waves over the coach roof.
- I have a thin interior collar inside the cabin, so that if any
water does get through, it will run down the mast, and not drip onto
the counter and possibly get through the seal into the battery
- There is plenty of shelf space for two people. One of the
shelves is used for extra boat stuff, like the harnesses and flairs and
stuff like that.
- The under bunk storage is excessive. I haven't installed the
water tank, but there would be room for that, and plenty more to
spare. I kept my sewing machine and lots of supplies in it, and
there was still plenty of room.
- Aft Cabin
- The bunk is comfortable for two people. The 3" thick
medium density EZ-Dri foam was too firm. I drilled 3/4"
holes in it and pulled out the plugs, and it is much more
comfortable, and should dry even faster if it ever gets wet.
- The ventilation isn't as good as forward, or the starboard settee,
but with the fan on and port open it is OK. It also receives
warmth from the engine room wall and the motor
- Underway it is in a stable area of the boat, so I haven't created
the lee cloth that I designed for the center of the bunk.
- There are two storage areas under the bunk. The forward area
is reasonably convenient, the aft area is designed for a flexible
water tank, but it is not installed, and is providing useful long
term storage. Chart storage is built into the lids of the
forward storage areas, but it hasn't fit the chart-books, and
decreases the useable space.
- This is the noisiest berth. Underway noise comes from the
shaft compartment underneath and the genset in the next
compartment. At anchor the waves slap underneath the lazaret
if they come from the stern.
- Shaft Compartment
- The shaft compartment contains two thru-hulls:
- Intake -- the raw water intake and strainer connected to the
raw water manifold which has the genset raw water pump and galley
sink raw water pump as well as connections for a water maker and
- Outflow -- sink drain.
- The "keel cooler" for the refrigerator which acts as the
bonding ground for the 12v system and HF radio.
- Shaft and dripless coupling
- Utility Room
- Hot water storage
- Valves and pumps for hot and cold water
- starting battery
- fuel lines
- electric wires
- air intake
- sound shield
- Solomon electric controllers
- motor controller
- Solomon power control panel
- Inverter / charger
- Refrig compressor & cooling water source
- All the hoses stay flat against the hull and as close to centerline as
possible this has made priming the pumps after running out of water as
simple as just turning on the pumps.
- The down side to this arrangement is that when cleaning out one of
the compartments, the water and dirt is invariably under the hoses.
- Faucet sprayers
- These provide a reasonable way to rinse using minimal amounts of
water. They require a tempering valve to keep the spray level
low, and the sprays clog up with particles about bimonthly, and then
a single spray heads off in an odd direction. Cleaning out the
sprayer is a simple 3 minute procedure with the right size allen
- Hose Bib in the head is an easy way to fill the shower or to attach a
hose to wash off the deck. It is also the easiest way to fill a
bucket or pot of water.
- The galley sink uses foot pumps for hot and cold water. They are
the easiest way to provide just the right amount of water for hand or
dish washing. It is a slow way to fill a pot of water.
- Hot water is temperature controlled with a valve control under the
sink counter. The priming valves dramatically shorten the time and
amount of water needed to get the hot water to the sprayers, but because
the sprayers are so conservative with water you can still get about half
soaped up before the hot water gets out of the sprayer hose.
- Another technique to prime the hot water could be to provide a
hose inlet into the cold water system, and you just spray the hot
water into this hose opening until the water gets hot. The
disadvantage would be that someone could inadvertently contaminate
the fresh water supply, and that it would be a slow process waiting
for the hot water to arrive with the flow level set low.
- The galley sink is so close to the hot water system that a priming
valve seemed unnecessary, but in practice, because the sprayers are
so efficient, you are almost always finished before the hot water
- Where it is really important, in the shower, the hot water is hot,
easily adjusted, and virtually unlimited.
- Raw water is pumped to the galley sink, and controlled by a
switch. This has worked quite well.
- Hydronic circulation
- The hart of this system is the hot fluid storage tank where all
the hot water systems take their heat from. After heating up,
it will stay hot for about 12 hours, and holds enough heat for about
- This system is also used with air handlers to heat the boat in
three independent zones.
- The raw water wash down pump in the anchor locker requires
tossing an inlet hose over the side and plugging the 12v pump into a
socket. This works well, but modifications could make it more
- Electrical System
- 12 volt DC
- 144 volt DC
- 120 volt AC
- Lightning Protection
- Radio Signal
- Deck & Cockpit
- Secondary Anchoring
- Fuel Locker
- Radar/Utility mast
- Tiller & Emergency tiller
- Instrument housing
- Keel lifting mechanism
- Engine Room