An Atlantic Packet
What would a sailing passenger vessel look like? One intended to make quick passages between New England and northern Europe. A craft that could keep a schedule and carry a dozen passengers and some light cargo. One that could survive and thrive on the North Atlantic year-round. A vessel that provides intercontinental communication without burning fuel.
I’ve always thought that Harrier’s hull form would be a great starting point to develop a large ocean-going craft. This packet has a similar long double-ended form drawn out further and given a shallow fin and skeg rudder.
This comparison of their lines highlights the differences brought about to deal with the effects of size and a change in the task each boat is asked to perform. Length has the greatest effect on stability. That’s why longer boats and ships can be narrower than their smaller cousins. There are also differences in payload. Harrier has no need for headroom or cargo capacity and there’s a great benefit in an extremely shoal hull for a beach boat/camp cruiser. The packet needs the added room of a deeper hull and the security of a long, ballasted keel.
A packet like this would make crossings in about fifteen days, in the right conditions, maybe twelve. I could see runs from Portland, Maine to Shannon, Ireland where passengers could make rail connections to take them across Europe and beyond.
This accommodation profile suggests a possible interior layout. There are six cabins and a crew berth space and head forward. Aft is a salon and galley and more heads. The wheelhouse has a spacious seating and eating area also and there’s a heating stove in a cabin/lounge right at the center of motion just aft of amidships. It’s intended to provide a combination of private sleeping compartments and useful public spaces.
This is the antithesis of a cruise liner. Passengers are not here to consume and be diverted. They take care of themselves under the watch of a crew of three. I find the social possibilities of this endeavor intriguing. What would it be like on a passage? With whom would we share two weeks at sea? How would we occupy ourselves? What is the nature of travel when it is undertaken in this way?
There are a pair of electric motors powering two folding props to deal with near-shore calms and harbor currents. The square-topped fully battened ketch rig with its two reaching spinnakers has plenty of power and is easily handled. This packet will do best reaching where planing speeds can be attained. This rig will also sail well closer to the wind.
This is far from a completed design. It is an exploration of a concept. It raises more questions than it answers. Perhaps the most important of these is how it brings us to look at design and its implications in a different light. We are conditioned to salivate over innovations. We expect that we should overthrow whatever stability we have found in a way of doing things just because someone has thought of something new. We worship the disruptive nature of the fruits of Progress.
This design, all my designs; ask whether we can find a valued purpose for our time on the water. Can we imagine a different way of living with boats that is not destructive and disruptive? How can we use the power that boats have over our imaginations; and the qualities they provide us with; in ways that bring us together and help heal the fragmentation engulfing us?
These designs are challenges. Not dares. They challenge us to imagine how we can use boats to help us integrate our lives. How boats can aid us in living with purpose. How boats inspire us to rise to the occasion.
It’s not always best to follow a “Build it and they will come!” model. Sometimes it’s better to ask, “If we built this what would it mean?”
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