Navy 44s in Essex. Form follow function.

I was thrilled that the Naval Academy brought five of their 44s to Essex Yacht Club for the weekend.  It seems that they were on a training voyage, perhaps a “field trip” up the coast from Annapolis.  These rugged 44′ sail training boats are part of a fleet of a dozen vessels that they use for cadet training.  These are busy vessels, spending some 240 days a year on the water.

In an age when designers go out of their way to make boats more comfortable and easy to manage, the 44s are designed to be spartan and labor intensive.   Carrying a crew of ten, nearly all amenities are absent from these boats.   While Pandora is only one foot shorter, she is set up with all sorts of labor saving equipment including auto pilot, roller furling headsails, watermaker and microwave.   On the 44s, nada on all counts.

The designer, ‘David Pedrick of Pedrick Designs, who have designed winning boats over the years including two successful America’s Cup boats, working with a team from The Naval Academy in Annapolis, went out of his way to make these boats true to their Luder designed predecessors, as simple and tough as possible.  The design goals were described in an article in Blue Water Sailing Magazine.  The dozen boats were built in Maine at Morris Yachts, known for their beautifully appointed yachts.  

While these boats are rugged and simple, they are deliberately designed to be labor intensive to sail as they sport a crew of ten with plenty of bodies to keep them moving.  Interestingly, with a relatively short waterline relative to their length, they went with a design that isn’t particularly current.  It would be very easy to believe that these boats were designed twenty or more years ago.  However, under the skin, these boats are plenty modern with the latest high tech materials.  

These shots certainly show the dramatic difference between the 44s and the SAGA 43.  Not a lot of teak on deck on either design.   That’s good.

Oops, missing the dodger and bimini too. Not a lot to appeal to Brenda, I’d expect.

Ok, how about down below. The 44s have great lee cloths. The crew certainly won’t fall out of their bunks under way.  Notice the elaborate lee cloth system, including an aluminum pole, with block and tackle.  I believe that the lower bunk can even be hoisted to make it level on the weather side.  Pretty nifty.  Not great for lounging about off watch however.    I am told that they use a two watch system with five below and the rest on deck.   Nobody will get lonely on board a 44.  Pandora feels cramped with four on deck. 
Pandora, a bit more cushy perhaps.  However, I doubt that she would hold up for long with ten young cadets stomping around.  “Wait, watch out for the throw cushions.  Hey, don’t be so rough with the espresso maker…”

So, how about the forward cabin accommodations. Oops, someone stuffed the sails up there.  Forgot, no roller furling.  Well, you do have to keep those cadets busy.  Besides there are ten of them on board.  Recall what Brenda says about folks on board Pandora.  “six for cocktails, four for dinner and two sleep over”.  Perhaps not the Navy way.  Hmm…

Me, at this point in my life I prefer the forward cabin on Pandora.  It seems more fun and even Pandora’s sheep mascots enjoy messing around up there. 

However, spending time aboard Pandora won’t breed the sorts of leaders that the 44s will, I would expect.   Probably too much rum.  

You might say that by working hard, leaders might someday sail yachts, and those sailing on the Navy 44s become leaders who will someday have yachts.  With that in mind, the 44s are a good example of form following function.  That’s good. 

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