First published in Cruising Outpost and added to as the boat has been altered.

This was a feature article on Britannia in the Cruising Outpost magazine. Since then there have been significant new alterations added. Clicking on the underlined links will take you to the page dealing with the subject in detail

Britannia is a brigantine schooner, with a squaresail on the foremast. She is  45’ foot (13.7m) with a rakish clipper bow and roomy 14’ foot beam. She is  the ideal cruising rig, capable of hauling acceptably close to the wind with four fore-and-aft sails, (although not as high as with an 85hp engine). She is fast on a reach and has unbelievable down-wind stability using the square-sail, with none of the worry about gybing associated with Bermudian sails.


The forward cabin, (fo’c’sle), was remodeled to give a wider bed and new ceilings. There are two hanging lockers and lots of drawer space for storage. This cabins has two opening port lights and a large deck hatch.

The port side cabin has a double bed, a hanging locker and lots of storage space and two port lights for ventilation. The cabin is air conditioned from the front AC unit.

A wide angle (fisheye) view of the saloon
A completely new galley was installed with stainless appliences and washer/frier

   The saloon is spacious, utilizing the whole 14’ foot beam of the boat and stretching from the companionway steps to the first bulkhead, leading to the forward bedrooms and head.  The saloon incorporates the galley on the starboard side, and the chart table on the port side. There are three large 1/2” inch thick Plexiglas windows on either side and a skylight, that can be opened for ventilation. .

   The galley has been completely renovated and extended into the passageway to the aft cabin. A washing machine and freezer have been incorporated. The work tops are corrian and a new double sink and mixer tap is installed.

The owner's stateroom has a queen bed and en-suite bathroom.

   The aft cabin is spacious and has a queen size bed with individual commercial air mattresses—the type used in hospitals with a button to control individual pressure. These are much more comfortable than foam and do not suffer from absorption. The other two double cabins are forward of the saloon, one on the port side and one in the fore peak. Both are air conditioned and have hanging lockers.

   The pièce de résistance is in the aft bathroom, adjoining the cabin. It is not the beautiful tempered glass vanity bowl, or its gold plated faucets on the marble counter top. It is the full size bath, with ten adjustable pressure jets and a heater. Yes! a hot-tub in a small sailboat, and its just fabulous after a good days sail, or a hard day of boat work,

The new teak table seats five
A superb "office" replaced the outdated old chart table.

   The original saloon table was positioned next to the port side settee, so it could not be reached from the starboard side seats. The a new table has leaves which extend, the use to both sides of the saloon. When in the folded position the table is in the center of the saloon and can be passed on either side.

The original chart table occupied 42% of the length of the port side saloon. It was totally removed and a new “office” desk with drawers installed. The drop down leaf is the same size as the original table. At the same time the electrical distribution board was relocated, along with an antique globe drinks holder. The modification resulted in a much more ergonomic layout, more in keeping with the remainder of the boat, and more room.

This is the kit of parts to form the deep freeze.
The forward, port side, bathroom now has a sit-down shower and marble counter tops

   A 3.5 cu ft freezer was incorporated in the galley renovation. This uses the latest low amperage compressor and freezes down to -10 degrees F.

Both heads are electric operation with wast treatment systems
This shows the original layout.


This is the new layout.

    Both electric toilets are fresh water flush, with separate Coast Guard approved waste processing systems, eliminating the need for a holding tank, which also eliminates the nasty job of having to empty them

The forward bathroom was very small without a shower. I has now been completely remodeled, with new faucets, vanity bowl, an electric toilet and a shower.

Over-the-top-blocks carry all lines back into the cockpit

   All sails are roller furled, with all lines coming back to the center cockpit, so sail handling can be done in comparative safety. There are a total of twelve lines passing through running blocks and special ‘over the top blocks,’ allowing them to go over the top of the coach roofs. The lines then lead through two banks of rope clutches either side of the companionway, to a couple of self-tailing winches and are then kept tidy on belaying pins. 

    We operate all our self-tailing winches with a “Winchrite,” a specially designed electric winch winding handle which fits in the top of any winch and turns it much faster than by hand—in either direction. Four pin-rails are attached to the shrouds, carrying twenty belaying pins, used to keep lines tidy and lay-off the ropes from the mast to prevent mast clatter at night.

New doors were built to replace the heavy washboards.
A new teak wheel replaced the destroyer wheel and a teak instrument panel installed for a chart-plotter.
The rope-deck on the starboard side.

   The original washboards were solid teak and very heavy to handle, with nowhere to stow them.These were sawn up and converted to double doors with ornamental leaded-light insets of Florida lighthouses.

  The original wheel was a modern destroyer type, which was changed for this traditional six spoke wooden wheel. The table hinges and opens up to accommodate four diners.

The original old water pipes were replaced with new high pressure pipes and a new pump.

All the old water pipes were completely  stripped out and a new system was installed, using new pipes and modern connectors. A larger water pump was also installed

This is a fail safe solonoid to shut off the shore water in the event of a pipe failure

   A fail-save solenoid has been installed in the shore water line to close automatically if there is any leak in the boats water pipes.

A tank gauge now gives the actual capacity in both tanks
The teak and maple floors were restored to their original condition.
An auto- remote battery filling system makes it very easy and quick to top-up any battery low on water.

  The boat has a bank of eight 6 volt batteries supplying the house side. A 12 volt battery is dedicated to engine start and another to the windlass and a 6.5kw generator. These can be interconnected and charged from the main engine, the generator, and a wind generator. The batteries have a remote water filling system which keeps the water levels constant..

   The cabin sole was completely stripped of all old varnish and oil, and thoroughly cleaned. Then all damaged areas were renovated. New varnish was applied in such a way that the floors are now shiny, but also non-slip.

An electric winch hoists the heavy RIB dinghy to the davits in seconds.

   It is eight feet from the water to the davits and the boat had tackles which were very slow, and hurt our hands pulling the dinghy up. I built an electric hoist and now one person can effortlessly raise the dinghy—even with the outboard attached—in thirty seconds. We do this every night at anchor, mainly to prevent easy theft. 

    There are two 16,000 BTU reverse cycle air conditioners units keeping the inside at 75 Fahrenheit, (24C),  Cool or warm air is evenly distributed throughout the boat. They can also be enjoyed while at anchor, using the 6.5Kw diesel generator.

The between-mast staysail opens up to become a fine driving sail on a reach.
New trailboards enhance the appearance of the clipper bow.

 Britannia did not have any trailboards, like other other Down Easters I had looked at. So I made my own from PVC board and cut the scroll-work out with a router.

A new aluminum bowsprit was installed, stronger and lighter than the old wooden sprit.

   Serious wood rot was found in the bowsprit, so a new one was fabricated out of structural aluminum, then powder coated.    This new ‘sprit is estimated to be five times stronger and 30 Lbs lighter than the old wooden one.

    I had the foot of the tween’mast staysail made eight feet longer than its boom. When the wind is right the clew can be disconnected from the end of the boom and led aft to form a beautiful reaching sail, much like a mizzen staysail on a ketch. When on the wind the sail is re-attached to the boom and becomes a self tacking staysail.


  New custom calibrated water gage sensors have been fitted. These accurately read the acuteness capacity of water in both tanks, not just the water level