John Cole said it best in "Away All Boats" when he wrote, "Becoming a boat person, even on the most basic level, is becoming a different sort of individual who leads a different sort of life. It's a state of being, comparable to the difference between being married and being single or being a parent and being a child."
Lindsey and Carol Baines are boat people.
Throughout the years, I have met them several times, usually during boat shows. They are instantly recognizable as fellow boat people. They enjoy the company of boat people. They enjoy speaking about boats. They enjoy boat design and boat history. No matter what project they are working on, their contagious enthusiasm bubbles over while they shop for gear, electronics and toys.
Just over a year ago, during dinner at the London Boat Show, Lindsey was like a proud father as he brought out pictures of the Doggersbank Offshore 84 he and Carol had under construction. The scope of the project grew more and more fascinating as he explained the couple's plans to cruise the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and, eventually, Alaska.
Vripack designed the little ship, which was built by the Kuipers Woudsend yard in Holland (where the Baineses rented a house during construction). The boat has a rugged profile that emulates a stout North Sea trawler ready to ply Arctic waters. Her interior finish is flawless, worthy of any yacht tied stern-to in Monte Carlo while guests watch the Grand Prix. A sistership in Miami revealed no bad angles for viewing. The bow was an imposing mass hovering above the white plastic masses docked nearby, and the stern revealed a pleasing sheer. Beefy windows were recessed in aluminum flanges, framed by polished stainless-steel windows that emphasize the yacht's classy, all-terrain package.
Her full-displacement steel hull with round bilges is built to bulletproof scantlings using 8 mm-thick bottom plates for the first 1,000 mm, followed by 6 mm until the waterline and 5 mm for the side plating. Decks are a thick 5 mm topped with teak. The superstructure is aluminum. Her sistership in Miami had flawless welding, even in unexposed areas, where welds were tight and seamless.
Vripack specified twin 300 hp Caterpillar 3406C DITA diesels. The six-cylinder in-line diesels are turbocharged and rated at level B-medium duty. The two oil-lubricated shafts push four-blade, high-skew propellers with a 40-inch diameter and a 35-inch pitch. At 10 knots, according to Vripack, the fuel burn will be slightly more than 11 gallons an hour total, providing transatlantic range.
The engineroom is true to the Doggersbank all-oceans mission, with space and serviceability taking priority over cramming in accommodations. Main access is via a watertight transom door, with a side entrance from the portside deck for use during rough passages. An emergency escape hatch to the master stateroom is at the forward bulkhead. The engines can be serviced on all sides, and filters, pumps and components are mounted for easy access. Polished stainless-steel rails surround the engines. A workbench with a vice, tool drawers and a sink allows for repairs with a little less pain.
That's not to say the interior is in any way lacking. Vripack's clever use of space creates the feeling of a 100-foot yacht. The interior was so impressive, I found myself treading lightly and respectfully keeping my hands off the décor. That's a strange feeling aboard such a strong craft.
Rich, dark teak is a pleasing contrast to the light fabrics and carpeting in the main saloon, where a curved settee provides an intimate gathering space. Forward, a five-star hotel atmosphere permeates the bar area's swivel stools, Corian top and marble floor. An ice maker with filtered water, refrigerator and glass and bottle stowage will keep the party going. Abaft the bar is a hidden, angled cabinet with a built-in CD player and changer. A dining table with an expertly finished inlay is opposite the bar for formal meals.
The galley, forward, shares the main deck's raised area with a dinette, day head and pilothouse. The circular-shape galley works well, placing everything within reach except the refrigerator and oven, which flank the dinette. A polished stainless-steel rail borders the Corian countertop, providing a secure handhold. A circular skylight illuminates the galley and stairwell, creating a great sense of space.
Clanging pots and glaring lights from the galley won't disturb the pilot, as the pilothouse can be closed off from the galley area. A pilothouse settee is aft, but is too short to double as a watch berth, a nice option when running shorthanded offshore. A second helm chair would also be a welcome addition, although space constraints may make it impractical. Electronic and chart stowage is plentiful, and two side-opening doors provide great cross ventilation and easy access to the side decks.
Although the Baineses have no plans to have a full-time captain or crew, the occasional hired hand will feel like a guest in the generous crew's quarters. The crew mess includes an L-shape settee, a washer and dryer, and a galley with refrigerator, microwave and range. An entertainment center is opposite the settee. There is a double-berth stateroom for the captain and a V-berth forward for crew. Each stateroom has an en suite head.
A watertight bulkhead separates the master and guest accommodations from the crew's quarters. One guest cabin has a double berth; the other has twin berths and Pullmans. Each stateroom has an en suite head finished with Corian and ceramic tiles, as well as two opening ports for ventilation. Grab rails would be a nice addition in the showers, for use under way in a large sea.
The master stateroom is abaft and well laid out for long-term living aboard. The double berth, settee, walk-in closet and large head are worthy of any 100-footer. Although the area shares a bulkhead with the engineroom, sound levels taken by the builder at cruising speed reached only 62 decibels in the master stateroom and 60 decibels in the guest staterooms.
A jacuzzi, wet bar, U-shape settee and two helm seats are on the expansive flying bridge. The line of sight over the bow is excellent, and wing controls will make tight maneuvering easier.
Lindsey and Carol Baines are boat people who have good reason to glow with enthusiasm and excitement, just as any parents would of a darling new child.
Vripack Yachting International, (011) 31 515 436600; fax (011) 31 515 436634. Bradford Yacht Sales, (954) 791-2600; fax (954) 791-2655; www.bradfordyachts.com.