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Re: White Eel

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  • Frank San Miguel
    I just noticed this thread. Yes, we commissioned White Eel in 2000 to cross the Atlantic and explore Europe. This was back in the internet bubble when I
    Message 1 of 18 , Oct 31, 2007
      I just noticed this thread.

      Yes, we commissioned White Eel in 2000 to cross the Atlantic and
      explore Europe. This was back in the internet bubble when I though I
      was going to have a lot of money. Now that my children are 10 and 11,
      I don't think we will be doing something like this any time soon.

      White Eel is an incredible boat. I've been wondering when Phil and
      Suzanne were going to publish it and I didn't want to say much until
      they had. I've been reading the MAIB articles and haven't found
      anything new from the original proposal, except that they drew a
      different tender on the top view in second article. The profile in
      the picture I uploaded back in 2003 is my own rendering and it
      includes changes to the window patterns based on my preferences back
      then. If I were to build her today, I would use the PCB&F profile as
      they designed it, not my 2003 version. I like theirs better.

      As far as rolling, White Eel is supposed to make very fast passages
      and be equipped with Gimbaled seats. Plus she is narrow and has a 4"

      Below is the letter that started it all.

      Feb. 27, 2000
      Phil Bolger & Friends
      PO Box 1209, 29 Ferry St.
      Gloucester, Ma 01930

      Dear Phil and Susanne,

      I have long considered taking a two year sabbatical to spend time
      cruising with my family. When I read your series on ocean
      passagemakers in MAIB recently, I was intrigued enough to get a copy
      of "Voyaging under power" and read it cover to cover. I have been a
      small boat coastal sailor all of my life and have always assumed that
      my eventual ocean cruise would be in a large sailboat, but now I am a
      convert to the seagoing motor cruiser (with one exception noted
      below). I write this letter to you to explore the possibility of a

      Here is the idea for our cruise (I had this plan before I read Bebe's
      book, really). This cruise would start 3 to 4 years from now with
      myself, my wife and our two young kids.

      1. While working full time, purchase a used boat or have boat built
      and outfitted at a shipyard.
      2. Cruise the intracoastal waterway from Maine to Vero Beach, FL for 3
      to 6 months. This trip has several purposes;
      * a shakedown cruise for the boat
      * shakedown cruise for crew: are we going to make it this way for
      another year and half? Go/no-go decision.
      * piloting and seamanship experience for captain and crew (this would
      include appropriate classes in navigation, piloting, safety, etc)
      * visit with friends in most of the states up and down the east coast.
      3. Local exploring to be done on a 15' - 20' sail boat that is stowed
      on deck. This would include overnight camp-cruising of up to a week
      (we have plenty of experience in this). This is how I intend to
      satisfy my sailing urge.
      4. Wife and kids fly to Azores or England
      5. Cross Atlantic with guest crew and meet family on the other side.
      6. Cruise Europe and the Mediterranean
      7. Return to US and sell the boat
      8.Return to the full-time working life

      So given this itinerary and my limited research, here is a short list
      of features:

      1. If I have it designed and built:
      * steel construction appeals most to me.
      * simple is good!

      2. General
      * capable of making the Atlantic crossing east-west and west-east and
      cruising in Europe and the Mediterranean
      * accommodations for live aboard for a family of four - two adults,
      two small children (cruising grounds only).
      * office space for all home schooling activities and supplies
      * satellite communications for keeping up a part-time computer
      software consulting business
      * no more than 50' LOA
      * draft, width and height above waterline for cruising the European
      canal system is preferred
      * fuel, water, stores and spares for a 2500 to 4000 mile cruising range
      * paravane stabilization
      * deck space for securing a 15' - 20' "captain's barge"
      * modest cruising speed hull design
      * heavy displacement (D/L 240-340)
      * simple outfitting and accommodations; luxury items such as
      complicated environmental controls, galley systems, electrical
      systems, excessive brightwork are a definite negative. Workboat
      finish is preferred.
      * single reliable engine & associated systems preferred

      Cruising Style:
      * Our kids are 3 and 4 years old now, so they will be fairly young
      when we embark. I intend to plan the voyage to avoid unnecessary heavy
      weather passages. But when we are caught, I want a boat that is as
      safe as possible. I would sacrifice deck space to have both a yawl
      boat (like that on Bell's Puffer) and the captain's barge (perhaps
      stacking like in the old days?)
      * This is to be a full-time educational cruise. We intend to use the
      boat as a floating school for the real-time study. One big field trip.
      * We plan to do skin diving and scuba diving in the warmer parts of
      our cruise.
      * We plan to spend weeks in each port, exploring via captain's barge,
      bicycle, train, bus, etc.
      * I have experience with rebuilding auto engines, building small
      wooden boats, performing electrical wiring and designing and debugging
      electronics and computer systems. I want to be able to self-maintain
      as much of the boat as possible.
      * I expect to finance the entire project without obtaining a loan.

      A little research with the yacht broker community leads me to believe
      that it will be hard to find a used boat that meets all of these
      criteria. If I were to sacrifice a few things like the captain's
      barge and the French canals and accept some of the risks of buying a
      used boat, I might buy and outfit a non-yachty cruiser for around
      $200,000 - $300,000. But I'd really like to cruise the canals and
      sail around in each port. And I really love your designs.

      If I have a boat built myself, I expect to pay a premium for the
      customized boat, and expect to take a significant loss on the sale of
      the boat after two years (at least in small boats, it is always
      cheaper to buy a used boat). Who knows, maybe my retired parents in
      Florida will take it on. My father, who ran a shipyard for years, may
      even help with the construction and outfitting phase (as well as parts
      of the voyage).

      --- In bolger@yahoogroups.com, "adventures_in_astrophotography"
      <jon@...> wrote:
      > Hi Garth,
      > > I thought Frank San Miguel had commissioned the White Eel design back
      > > in 2002 or so, when he was contemplating a Great Circle trip.
      > That's my understanding, too. I recall Susanne mentioning a fellow up
      > the road from me in Monument, CO who had commissioned a big
      > liveaboard, and some time later I got an email from him, but I believe
      > he and his family had moved from the area by that time. As that was
      > several years ago, it's possible that White Eel no longer fits his
      > family situation, but I couldn't say.
      > One question I have on White Eel is how much of a roller it might be.
      > No mention was made of anti-rolling devices in the articles that I
      > recall, and even a flat-bottomed, hard-chined boat is going to roll
      > some. I'm not sure I'd want to be at the on-deck bridge controls when
      > that's happening.
      > There's at least a profile view of this boat somewhere in one of the
      > Bolger groups' Files section. Personally, I prefer the aesthetics of
      > the fishing version shown in one of the MAIB articles over White Eel's
      > looks. Something about White Eel says "AMC Pacer" to me.
      > Jon Kolb
      > www.kolbsadventures.com/boatbuilding_index.htm
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