The decision to build a custom yacht is not a simple one. And while it certainly requires the financial resources for the project at hand it also takes a commitment of time and emotional effort that not all sailors bank on. But with the right mix of designer, builder and owner, the rewards are many.
I first met Russ Irwin and Fay Mark not long after their 54-foot Chuck Paine designed New Morning had been launched at Lyman Morse Boatbuilding in Thomaston, Maine. They and the boat were still getting to know each other in Penobscot Bay. Their sailing experience was in San Francisco aboard their Swan 44 and it involved both racing and coastal cruising. Now, having taken a break from their careers, their plans for New Morning would eventually have them cruising as far a field as the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia. To that end, their needs specified an offshore boat that would serve as home and office for extended periods of time and be as aesthetically pleasing and it was an efficient performer.
After reviewing proposals from a number of designers, Irwin and Mark concluded that C.W. Paine was the best choice for their design. Paine’s extensive experience with offshore passagemakers and long list of successful designs made it a good match. C.W. Paine designer Ed Joy headed up the project.
Key in the design would be a hard dodger that would not only provide offshore protection underway, but also serve as a comfortable space for lounging and entertaining. It had to provide unrestricted visibility and not detract from the lines of the boat in any way. The cockpit arrangement called for everything on the same plane with no step up or step down to the helm. For ease of maintenance there would be no wood trim on deck. Since most of the time it would just be the two of them sailing alone it was also important that all sail control lines be led to the cockpit and placed just ahead of the helm. For safety, solid stainless steel lifelines run part way forward. For ease of sail handling they specified a Dutchman Sail Flaking Sysem for the main, Harken roller furling jib (107 percent) and Bamar RollGen asymmetrical spinnaker forward. Maine Sailing Partners built the sails with Dimension-Polyant Hydra Net radial fabric. Sloop rigged, New Morning‘s total sail area is 1,337 sq. feet. The mast and spinnaker are carbon fiber and were built by Offshore Spars.
Since the boat is to be their home for extended periods of time, Irwin and Mark needed to make the most of the space available to them. Efficient storage solutions would be critical to passagemaking. Not only that, but Irwin, who is more than 6 feet tall, needed plenty of headroom. Form and function were key in the layout. After numerous mock-ups, the resulting arrangement is an attractive interior space plan that has the feel of a much, much larger boat. Interior designer Jane Plachter-Vogel did the interior design work that resulted in a unique belowdecks space.
The main saloon is octagonal with a large open nav station, dining table and linear galley to port and side-by-side A. Rudin casual chairs and end tables to starboard. The galley is simple and efficient with a Techimpex Mariner 2 (Italian) propane stove, Frigoboat reefer with keel cooler, Blanco and Scandvik sinks and good old Tupperware trays for icemaking. Counters are CaesarStone. There is also a Splendide washer/dryer unit and Spectra Newport 1000 MKII watermaker. Outboard of the dining table and behind sliders is a 30-inch Apple LCD display that serves as an entertainment center with additional storage space.
Directly across from the galley is a day head with shower. Aft of this is a guest cabin with a single berth and inboard Pullman berth. Forward, the owner’s stateroom has a centerline queen berth and en suite head. The entire interior is finished in maple veneer, further enhancing the light, modern feel below. Artistic touches below include Jacob Rogers custom etched metal tops on the end tables and a Vincent Taylor custom etched glass shower window. For climate control, there is an Espar Hydronic 10 heater and Marine Air Vector Turbo VTD6K air conditioning system.
The nav station has a large and comfortable Recaro style desk chair, flush mounted iMac computer and instruments. Navigation and communications equipment include Furuno DRS4A radar, Furuno FA-30 collision avoidance system, Furuno autopilot, Furuno FI-50 wind indicator and speedo, Furuno NavNet 3D MFD8, MaxSea navigation software, Suunto compass, Iridium satellite communications, Icom 802 single sideband and Icom 604 VHF radio.
Safety equipment includes an ACR Globalfix 406 Cat II EPIRB and six-person Winslow life raft.
Despite the number of amp-consuming devices, New Morning does not have a generator. Instead, Irwin and Mark efficiently generate their own auxiliary power using a Superwind 350 wind turbine and SunWare 508 watt solar panels flush mounted on the cabin top and the hard dodger. Combined with 12 Mastervolt MVSV 2/100 2V gel cell batteries and a Mastervolt Mass 24/4000 110V inverter there is plenty of juice to go around. Two Electrodyne 150 amp alternators at 24V with Balmar MC-624 regulators deliver charging power from the engine.
The main engine is a Yanmar 4JH4-HTE 110 hp marine diesel with Yanmar KM4A2 gearbox, Gori propeller and 2-inch Aquanet 22 shaft. Controls are Teleflex/Spinlock and the twin wheel steering system is by Jefa and PYI.
Building a custom yacht as complex as New Morning may not be for everyone. Both Irwin and Mark agree that the process took much longer than expected and became an exercise in decision making &mdash decisions both large and small. But through the process they have proven that with patience, and solid understanding of their needs and a world class builder like Lyman Morse they could bring a magnificent design to fruition.
Since launching, New Morning has sailed some 3,300 miles from Maine to Bermuda and on to BVI and Antigua in the Caribbean. From there, Irwin and Mark plan to sail on to Curaçao, San Blas, the Panama Canal, the Galápagos, and then to the South Pacific. Mark said the boat “has more than met my expectations and quite frankly exceeded them mostly in that it proved to me that not only can I single-hand a 54-foot ocean cruising vessel, but that Russ can sleep soundly while I am at the helm. New Morning is an amazingly strong and sturdy boat. She sails beautifully and handles mother nature’s gentle and angry hands with equal grace.”