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SAIL Magazine covers New Morning


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When San Francisco sailors Russ Irwin and Fay Mark decided to take sabbaticals from their business careers, she was managing Web sites for major corporations and he was a successful venture capitalist. They decided they would buy a yacht and head west until they got either 'tired or bored.' While their multiyear plan included cruising through the islands of the South Pacific and visits to New Zealand and Australia, they also agreed that if neither one was suffering from either of the above-named afflictions, they would continue sailing around the world.

Although the Swan 44 they had owned for years had given them many rewarding moments, both on the racecourse and as a coastal cruiser, they knew it wasn't designed to carry all the things they wanted to have aboard. These were included in an exhaustive 15-page design brief they'd written about their project. Like every good business plan, it began with the mission and continued with a detailed analysis and general description of the yacht that would be their primary home for a number of years. Some parameters were clear: It would be a 50-to-60-foot sailing vessel that would be crewed primarily by two people and would be capable of making a circumnavigation. Living arrangements and safety requirements followed, inspired in part by Irwin's height (he is over 6 feet tall and had hit his head on enough objects over the years to give the subject of headroom a high priority). There were also any number of specific discussions of the deck layout, the need to have a hard dodger, galley equipment, excellent cruising range, unsurpassed power generation, and storage capability.

Irwin began his search for a yacht by going to boat shows and talking to brokers; he also researched the comparative merits of aluminum and composite construction for a yacht this size. When he'd finished making the rounds, he wasn't at all surprised to find that if he and Mark wanted a yacht that had everything they thought was important, they'd have to design and build it themselves.

Half a dozen designers were on Irwin's short list, but after Chuck Paine submitted his treatise on the kind of yacht he thought they needed, they knew he understood what they were looking for. No one knew it at the time, but theirs would be the last sailing design to originate from the Paine office. After a fabulous 35-year career, Paine announced last November that he would be closing his office to write a memoir and to build a 26-foot daysailer inspired by Herreshoff's fish boat.

Specific dimensions

LOA: 53'9"

LWL: 46'11"

Beam: 15'3.5"

 Draft: 7'6"

Displacement: 44,900 lbs (half load)

Ballast: 16,400 lbs

Sail area: (100% foretriangle) 1,337 sq ft

Auxiliary: Yanmar 110-hp diesel

Fuel: 287 gal

Water: 145 gal

Waste: 22 gal

Electrical: 24-volt system, Mastervolt gelcel batteries (1,000 Ah); dual 150-amp alternators; flexible solar panels; Southwest Windpower wind generator

Sail area-displacement ratio: 16.93

Displacement-length ratio: 194

In the Paine office, senior sailing-yacht designer Ed Joy was tasked with moving New Morning from the specifics in the design brief to working drawings. 'They really had refined what was important to them,' says Joy. 'Many details they specified for this yacht were very sophisticated, and their strong technical backgrounds were a big help in the design process.' Irwin's request for a hard dodger that would do several things well was at the top of the wish list. It would have an aesthetically pleasing profile, would provide excellent visibility for piloting in all conditions, and would be a comfortable place to relax or entertain in port. In addition, the cockpit sole would be entirely on one level so no one would have to step up or down. All sail-control lines would be configured so they ran from the mast back underneath the deck to termination points at winch and stopper consoles located on peninsulas directly in front of the helmsman on both sides of the cockpit. And even though there would be no wood trim on deck, it would be a significant part of the interior décor. The interior spaces would have to account carefully for storage, tankage, and systems requirements while simultaneously being warm and welcoming.

Because New Morning will be our home for at least 60 percent of every year,” says Mark, “the environment must have a comfort level that makes us feel something is on our side. After all, we are spending a lot of time in a smaller space than we are used to having ashore.” While their Swan was a beautiful yacht with a handsome interior, its interior teak trim made the belowdeck spaces feel smaller than they really were. That, they thought, wouldn’t work for them in tropical cruising grounds.

Psychology, Mark believes, is perhaps the primary element in all interior design. “Living in a small environment with more than just yourself is a lot to handle anyway,” she says. “And when you add to that the fact that many of the creature comforts you had on land aren’t coming with you, you have to make sure that the living spaces provide an environment that is both appealing and personal.”

Their first step in the design process was to include all the components that would be on board and then establish an overall length for the yacht. “Once we had all agreed on that number,” says Joy, “we started with the lines of one of our earlier designs. It was the same size, but the displacement was a good bit lighter. We then modified the underwater shape so the new yacht could not only carry a large payload, but would also be tremendously stiff; you might describe her as a gorgeous Lexus rather than a Ferrari.”

In general, Joy says, today’s yachts designed for offshore passagemaking are heavier than those of just a few years ago because cruisers are taking an increasing amount of equipment with them. Because of the extensive list of equipment that would be aboard New Morning, the design team made the bows slightly finer to allow the hull to sink into the water without distorting the lines. Then came another design hurdle: When all the equipment and living space had been accounted for, nobody was happy with the profile; it was a full 16 inches higher than the final version. Getting that down took a lot of creativity.

The interior living spaces also posed a design challenge—space management. Interior designer Jane Plachter-Vogel, who had been instrumental in crafting the interior of another successful Paine design, was involved early in the process. She came up with a number of novel ideas: the octagonal saloon, the linear galley, and the exquisite maple veneers and sculpted metal panels that would establish the belowdeck ambience. “The objective was to have a comfortable and workable interior for two people,” says Joy, “which is why the saloon is so warm and inviting. And you don’t have to climb down a ladder to get there, but rather you descend some beautifully proportioned steps.”

Full-size mockups of the cockpit and interior refined the concepts, and if they didn’t work as expected, they were altered until they did. When all the mockups had been modified and the final tweaks were accounted for, Joy produced a very detailed and accurate two-dimensional plan and profile and section drawings, which he forwarded to the builder. The builder’s design team, in turn, used their own powerful CAD software to create the three-dimensional profiles that were used by the build teams.

Irwin and Mark had decided they would be the project managers. They found the experience fascinating, though it took a lot more time than they had anticipated. “There were many more decisions than I’d imagined,” Irwin recalls now with a grin. “We’d spend hours discussing something that would involve a change of just two inches. It might be a cabinet, a table, or a storage locker and the interior volume that would be involved. But on a yacht this size two inches makes a big difference. While it’s true that you could let someone else make those decisions for you, we felt from the beginning that the essence of building a custom yacht is being able to invest the time and energy that’s needed to make those decisions.” If you don’t want to, or can’t, spend the time, he adds, you might think seriously about getting a production yacht instead because all those decisions are made for you.

After a midsummer launch last year, Irwin and Mark spent several months cruising the Maine coast before heading south to Bermuda and the Caribbean. “We’ve already got nearly a thousand miles on her,” said Irwin in late November, “and so far nothing has jumped out and said to us, ‘Whoa, what were you two thinking?’”

New morning
Illustration by Kim Downing


C.W. Paine/Ed Joy Design

Box 1015, Camden, ME 04843

Tel. 207-236-2166;

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