October 2004

Launched in New Zealand in April, Onora is a rugged extreme-latitude expedition yacht built for American owner Jim Foley. Whether viewed as a pocket version of the late Sir Peter Blake�s Seamaster or a Bermuda Series design on steroids, Onora has been designed with long-range voyaging sustainability in mind.

Image Credit: Ivor Wilkins

The Kelly Archer�built and Chuck Paine�designed yacht is constructed entirely of aluminum. Kelly Archer was chosen for their experience in alloy construction and their familiarity with Paine�s designs. In fact the framing on Onora is the same as that found on the 80-foot Paine yacht Leonore, also built by the New Zealand yard.

According to the builder, the yacht exceeds Lloyd�s requirements and fully complies with American Bureau of Shipping standards. Compared with Leonore, the yacht has three additional major longitudinal girders with intercostals between them and ice-strengthened hull sections. Onora�s hull bottom is plated in 8-mm aluminum that wraps around to 200 mm above the waterline amidships and rises higher to protect the bow and stern sections from damage. Heavy-duty hull insulation was installed to ensure comfort below in extreme temperatures and help to soundproof the metal hull. The installation of high-capacity tankage will make it possible to spend extended periods of time at sea. To minimize hull care, the exterior of the yacht has been left unfinished.

For ease of handling in heavy weather, the sail plan calls for a slab-reefed, fully battened mainsail with three reefing points and a rack and lazy-jack system. Three Profurl roller-furling jibs offer even more options in a blow. The yacht�s sail inventory includes a staysail, trysail, storm jib and reacher. All are Spectra and were cut by North Sails, Auckland, New Zealand. So far, sea trials in New Zealand have proven the yacht to be a performer despite its rugged build and moderate displacement of 77,000 lbs. Kelly Archer claims to have exceeded 14 knots when sailing off the wind with a double-reefed main and staysail. Deck equipment includes two tenders, a Naiad 3000 that can be carried fully inflated in a cradle just forward of the mast and an Avon as backup.

Below the waterline, Onora is fitted with Paine�s proven keel design � a flattened bulb, which combines a very low center of gravity with an effective end plate to prevent the flow of water across the bottom of the keel. According to Paine, a draft dimension of 7 1/2 feet at half load and a modest rig height make for a very stable boat, especially in high winds. Circa Marine of Whangarei, New Zealand, built the keel and the spade rudder.

Image Credit: Ivor Wilkins

Beneath Onora�s handsome yet utilitarian exterior, the belowdecks accommodations are beautifully finished and well appointed. The interior joinery is honey teak and cedar; interior wall linings are white vinyl for ease of cleaning. There is a forward owners� suite with a full head and shower. The owners� centerline mattress is split and zippered up the middle for access to storage space below. A clever wall unit also doubles as a chart locker in the owners� suite. There is also a hanging locker under the sole.

Moving aft, the main saloon has a port settee that pulls out to form a double berth. All of the upholstery is either Ultrasuede or leather. The starboard settee has a back that folds inward to create yet another sleeping area. In the interest of open spaces, the dining table can be folded in half and rotated on its pedestal. An office area is located to starboard with a chart table, storage, and communications and office equipment.

Aft and to starboard is the galley. The countertops are Corian with molded fiddles and deep stainless-steel sinks. There is even a laundry area, equipped with an Indesit WD11 washer/dryer and stainless-steel sink and counter. The day head and shower are to port, as is the aft guest cabin. The engine room entry is aft.

One of the most striking features of the yacht is the pilothouse. Fully enclosed and separated from the cockpit by two composite doors, it has port and starboard seating. The area is heated and has two pilot berths, one of which can serve as an alternate dining area with a 360� view. The pilothouse steering station has instruments and controls housed in a console on the starboard side with a computer system located to port.

After sea trails in New Zealand and the South Pacific, the owners� cruising plans include voyaging to Chile and the Antarctic Peninsula. Beyond that, there are plans to travel to the Arctic Circle by way of Greenland and Iceland.  

By Ocean Navigator