One can learn a lot about yacht design and construction by just walking the docks. Here are some features we admire, and a few others we don’t.
At last fall’s boat shows we strolled the docks alongside hundreds of other sailors checking out the boats. Many are new designs, some tried and true and unchanged. Generally, older designs that have been refined over a period of time have fewer flaws, but not always. As famous architect Mees Van Der Rohe said, “God is in the details.”
Last time we did photo spreads of deck features in Practical Sailor (January 15, 1994, January 15, 1995), we admired the cap rail chafe guards on the Taswell 49 and dock line chocks countersunk in the Tartan Piper 31’s toerail. On the other hand, we were surprised by the absence of end stops on the Gemini 3400’s genoa tracks, unsightly caulking on smoked Euro-style wraparound windows on many imports as well as poor drainage on others.
It’s amazing how few people at boat shows check out the decks; instead, they traipse below to ooh and ah over the joinerwork, size of the galley and plump cushions. All well and good, but on deck is where the action is and it shouldn’t be given short shrift. This is where the boat is steered, where sails are hoisted and struck, where ground tackle is deployed and retrieved. Many important aspects of safety are centered on deck—lifelines, scuppers, standing and running rigging.
That said, here’s a selection of features we found noteworthy.