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October 2005

"Simplicity.....I HATE SYSTEMS!"

  The following letter from Frank Durant has raised several interesting points so we asked his permission to share it. We have deleted the personal notes he included to us just to shorten things up. His discussion of the rudder on his previous boat makes you wonder. It seems almost unbelievable that a company this big could design a rudder that wouldn't steer under power at low speeds. Another item that really interested me (especially as I am at this moment doing the final editing on a new expanded version of Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew) was about solenoids. Hope you enjoy seeing how he came to choose the boat he now owns and cruises with his partner, Judy. -Lin and Larry

From Frank and Judy Durant
Simplicity.....I HATE SYSTEMS !

Although I have sailed since 1977, I have not cruised other than weekends and the odd week. I live on the Ottawa River in Ontario, Canada. I had read your book, Cruising in Seraffyn and watched your video, Cruising with Lin and Larry. But I did not realize the validity of your opinions until I purchased a new Beneteau 331 with a centerboard and short twin rudders, only 2ft11in draft with board up! I figured it would be the perfect Bahamas boat. I purchased Cost Conscious Cruiser from you at the Miami Boat Show to read along the way.

We brought the boat down from Charleston to the Keys, then over to the Bahamas. My 'perfect boat' soon proved not so perfect. Docking was a real adventure as the prop blast I was accustomed to while docking now went through the twin rudders NOT OVER THEM, very poor low speed control, any wind and I felt 'trapped' a dock while alone...too much money and too new to scratch.

Our 'in mast furling' jammed, halyard tension had to be perfect or else! Refrigeration is great… BUT we soon had to run the engine daily to keep up the batteries. Hot/cold pressure water was a real luxury...until on evening after a great dinner, wine, sunset...we fell asleep without switching the batteries over. Next morning we had no engine...no water (pressure system) and no stove to heat the water (solenoid wouldn't open without electricity)...real vulnerable!! Your book was making real good sense!! Shortly after that, the solenoid packed it in. Salt water I presume. Ever try to boil water on a stern hung BBQ? No morning coffee=grumpy. I was quickly beginning to hate 'systems'. We did enjoy our cruise...love exploring, BUT the 'perfect boat' was now not the one we had. Too big(33ft11in), too many worries at anchor on windy nights, too much money tied up, too worried about scratches, too little control at docking times (I'm usually very good at docking) too many 'systems'.

After our return home I began to paint a picture of 'my perfect yacht'. Small, offshore capable, no complex systems, full keel, easy to handle alone and hopefully classic looks. I ended up buying a 1962 Pearson Ariel. A full keel Alberg design of 25ft 6in.I turned the V-berth into a 'garage' incl. a head and a self designed shower (inspired by yours) I redid galley with lots of storage, a super insulated ice box with a drain. I installed the biggest water tank I could fit in. Put a deck fill on the bridge deck so it would be easy to fill from the cockpit AND arranged a way to fill with rainwater from the bimini. I put fillers in the cockpit for those nice 'sleep outside' nights. I installed all new proper sea-cocks...A saltwater pump for the galley to keep fresh water use down. An exterior bilge pump. an interior bilge pump complete with a Y valve that pumps out the shower sump and the bilge. I added additional reef points in the main and jib complete with down hauls...no more furling !! We now have 2 simple propane stoves and the BBQ. No soleniods! We now rely on nothing...when the ice runs out either we have people along the way freeze our tupper ware 'blocks' or go iceless.

Speaking of true bilges...This is my 1st !! LOTS of usable space that IS
cooler and both easy to access and out of the way. This ole girl has a full keel, only 3ft 8in draft, a proper bridge deck, straight drop boards. Low free board and cabin. To my eyes this boat IS beautiful, classic, full of character, warm interior with ample drawers ,lockers and shelves It sails beautifully with good motion, is easy to handle alone. With my upgrades it is a very personal boat.

What was before a marginal anchor is now the same as a storm anchor...less 'sleep with one eye open' nights. We use 2 oil lamps, bright enough to read or turn down for real 'warm' atmosphere. Our modest electrical use is easily restored by the 6 amp charger on the small 6hp outboard when running and a flex solar panel. No more 'hard to get at' engine servicing. At 62lbs,I carry it off the dock. We can sail more ..explore more...worry less. Less IS more with a cruiser!!

I want to thank both of you for sharing, inspiring and guiding us and I'm sure thousands of others along the way. Hopefully we will someday share an anchorage and a glass of wine.

Frank & Judy Durant

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