Boat in a Box

The recently launched company Container Yachts is based on a simple proposition: that for some voyagers, the destination is the thing. These voyagers are eager to sail the coast of Thailand, in the Med or in Australia, but they don’t have the desire to, or can’t take the time to, direct their boat across miles of empty ocean to voyage in their dream location. The solution from Container Yachts: a boat in box that can be shipped almost anywhere, with the owner flying in to sail the pre-positioned boat.

The boat, called a Far Harbour 39, was designed to fit inside a standard high cube container that measures 40 feet by 8 feet. Not only must the hull of the FH39 fit inside the metal container, but so must the boat’s removable keel, rudder, sail drive and rig. According to Container Yachts, all this gear and the hull are packed in such a way to minimize the need for bracing and support inside the container. The boat has a beam of 7.4 feet.

Intended for use by a voyaging couple, the requirement that the FH39 fit inside a 40-foot container certainly presented some challenges for its designer, Seattle-based naval architect Robert Perry. “The big problem in this case became the headroom issue, more than anything else,” Perry said. “Another issue was how to optimize initial stability, so that is why we went with a chine. I kept drawing the hull with a more defined turn of the bilge and finally decided to just add the chine.” In addition to enhancing the initial stability the chine helps optimize internal volume. Even though the constraints of fitting the boat into a 40-foot box might seem maddening to the layman, Perry enjoyed the exercise. “It almost frees you up, you don’t have the options you have with a non-constrained design.”

Container Yachts bills the FH39 as a motorsailer. A 40-hp Yanmar supplies the power with a 75-gallon fuel tank, giving the boat a roughly 600-mile range at cruising speed. “It was conceived of and designed as a motorsailer,” Perry said.

For sailing, the boat has an aluminum, deck-stepped double spreader mast with a roller furled headsail and a slab-reefed main. The rig is not towering, but is good sized with a reasonably high aspect main. The sail area to displacement ratio is 17.5, a solid number for a boat billed as a motorsailer. For light air work the FH39 rig design can fly an asymmetric spinnaker.

Retired Buffalo, N.Y., businessman Bernie Blum founded Container Yachts. He got the idea for a yacht designed to fit into a container after he inquired with a yacht shipping company about sending his Hinckley 49 ketch to the Mediterranean from Newport, R.I. “I got a quote to ship my Hinckley to the Med and it was for $43,000,” Blum said. “I decided there had to be a better way.” As the owner of a second boat, a Robert Perry-designed Cheoy Lee 43, Blum was a fan of the Seattle designer. He called Perry and discussed his plan for a boat that would fit in a container. Perry, who had already designed a 10-meter racing sailboat, Flying Tiger, to fit into a container, immediately agreed to design Blum’s idea. “Three weeks later Bob had a design,” Blum said. Perry suggested that Blum consider Schooner Creek Boat Works in Portland, Ore., for building the prototype. The first FH39 was launched this summer. Blum has an agreement with Croatia-based boat builder SAS Vector to build the production boats.

The FH39 debuted at the Newport Boat Show in early September.

So what about the cost of Sending the FH39 to a far corner of the earth? According to Container Yachts, the cost typically ranges from $2,000 to $10,000. And, unlike yacht-carrying ships that only service a few major ports, containers are widely used. Not only that, you can also truck your container inland. Imagine flying to Bolivia and sailing your FH39 on Lake Titicaca. You could use your FH39 to follow in the wake of Tristan Jones – but without all the heavy lifting. n

By Ocean Navigator