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Britannia's transom board

    Welcome to the Brigantine schooner “BRITANNIA.”  This is an ongoing account of the renovation and remodeling of a Down East 45 sailboat over a five year period - so far. My name is Roger Hughes, an Englishman, living in Orlando, Florida, USA.

Britannia-Statue     BRITANNIA was the Roman name for Britain and also a mythical war godess. It has also been the name of a British ship for centuries. Britannia was a 100 gun ship of the line in Victory’s column at Trafalgar in 1805. It has also been the name of The Royal Yacht and a number of famous racing yachts. I was actually surprised to find the name still available in the Isle Of Man (UK) ship registry. So I grabbed it and am very proud to have it.

   My BRITANNIA is a proper ocean cruising yacht, forty five feet on deck with a six foot bowsprit and fourteen foot beam. She has a full length keel drawing six feet six and displacing some twenty two tons. The heavily built fiberglass hull also has simulated planking, (lapstrakes), causing some to ask if she is made of wood. She was built at The Down East Boatyard in San Diego, California in 1977, and in those days they made them strong and to last.

     I searched a long time for a schooner; and the reason I wanted a schooner was because I really wanted a Brigantine To me, a Brigantine is the ideal cruising rig, capable of hauling tolerably close to the wind with four fore and aft sails, (although not as high as with an 85hp engine), having fast reaching capabilities and unbelievable down wind stability using the square sail(s). Also, like a ketch, the sails are divided into smaller, manageable sizes.

Anchor-shot  I have sailed with square sails and I’m aware of their pros and cons. They come into their own when the wind is dead astern or from either quarter.

   Anyone with Bermudan sails knows how tricky it is to hold a steady course when sailing down wind, especially if a big sea is rolling up astern. With square sails correctly braced on the foremast a Brigantine becomes very stable and there is no fear of gybing or broaching. The course can vary widely and the helmsman or an autopilot will have little difficulty keeping the boat on a steady downwind run.

     However, there is also a significant problem having a conventional square sail set on a yard high up a mast: That is, furling and unfurling the darn thing! This single issue precluded their use on all but large crewed vessels, like sail training ships, with lots of young people willing to scale the ratlines and edge out along the swaying footropes to claw the canvas onto the yard. It is a very dangerous operation, and men have fallen to their deaths from there.

squaresail-set    But what if you could easily furl and unfurl the square sail from the safety of the cockpit, without a single person having to go aloft? I designed and built such a system which is an article in Good-old-boat magazine November 2015.

    The September 2015 edition of  CruisingOutpost  has an eight page article about BRITANNIA with fourteen large photographs showing many of the features. Available at West Marine, Barnes and Noble and most marine stores.

    BRITANNIA is extremely heavily built, which is good for an ocean cruising yacht. But there were some things I didn’t like about the inside layout, like the wash basin in the aft cabin instead of the bathroom; the large lazarette lockers considerably restricting space in the aft cabin bed; the 3/4 size bathtub neither one thing nor the other; only one shower and the scruffy little pump-out toilets.

    There were also many instances of design and construction, which, given a little more thought would have made the layout more workable. It was almost as though the designer and builders had very little practical sailing experience.

Saloon    I knew all these things could be altered, and most of them now have been. Their stories are told in these pages.

   Before you delve into the depths of this sometimes quite technical sailing site, I want to say I have tried to make it readable by yachtsmen and non-yachtsmen alike. Yachtsmen will have little difficulty with the terminology, although I have met many who don’t know what a Fore Course is - Some thought it was a golfing term. Therefore, for new sailors or landlubbers I have sometimes explained terms in a way which might make an experienced yachtsman wince. I hope they will forgive me for this.

PRINCIPAL SPECIFICATIONS: For individual items, see page navigations.

L.O.D: length on deck...................................................................................................

45’0” (13.70m)

L.O.A: including bowsprit and dinghy overhang............................................................

54’0” (16.40m)

L.W.L:  length at waterline............................................................................................

37’0” (11.26m)

Beam............................................................................................................................

14’0” (4.26m)

Draft: Fully loaded........................................................................................................

6’6 (1.97m)

Displacement: fully loaded...........................................................................................

22 U.S. tons

Mainmast height: Minimum bridge clearance...........................................................

58’0” (17.66m)

Ballast: Encapsulated lead...........................................................................................

6 U.S. tons

Fuel: Two 140 gallon tanks, approximately 1100 miles range.....,,..................................

280 U.S. gallons

Water: Two 160 gallon tanks, plus 6 gallon water heater..............................................

326 U.S.gallons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sails: Jib, Fore Staysail, Main Staysail, Mainsail, Fore Course.

Engine: Perkins 4-236, 85 Bhp. Borg Warner Velvetdrive gearbox. 2 : 1 reduction

Propeller:  20” x 18” bronze, three blades.    

Generator: Kubota diesel 6.5kw 120 VAC plus 12 volt charging from the alternator.

Ground Tackle 60Lbs CQR main bower, 30Lbs CQR secondary, 250 ft of 3/8” chain. Stern anchor and chain.
Windlass: Maxwell HCR 10 with wireless remote controls and deck switch

Accommodation: Queen bed in aft cabin, double in port cabin, double in forepeak. Make-up double in saloon.

Bathrooms: Aft; washbasin, toilet, bath/hot tub and shower. Fwrd; washbasin, toilet, shower.

Heads: Two electric with twin US Coast Guard approved waste treatment systems.

Air conditioning: Two 16,000 btu ducted hot/cold air handlers.

Batteries:  Eight 240 amp hr 6 volt float cells in four banks of 12 volt. Also, Two 280 amp hr batteries dedicated for engine start and windlass. 

© ROGER HUGHES
September 2015

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