When Phil Lambert, owner of Outbound Yachts, went searching for a designer for his next venture he had big shoes to fill. The late, legendary Carl Schumacher had designed the popular offshore voyaging boats the Outbound 44 and 46. Both designs were streamlined, safe and comfortable choices for the cruising couple or solo sailor who wanted to sail a well built boat, that was engineered with efficiency and was balanced alongside an extremely comfortable interior and responsive helm. These relatively affordable yachts have been a steady seller for Outbound. Lambert himself oversees his boats’ off the ways and finds himself living primarily in Xiamen, China, where they are built at the Hansheng Yacht Building Company.
So when the inspiration came for a center cockpit cutter, larger with much more of just about everything: sleek lines, moderate beam, long waterline, and solid construction with moderate displacement, Lambert looked for a designer with the hybrid qualifications to make it a reality. Fellow Californian, Tim Kernan, trained as a naval architect, had experience with racing lines in the design of his incredibly fast and successful 68-foot racing sled Peligroso. Kernan, a sailor dedicated to sailing for the pure joy of it, had also designed the comfortable and stylish, 55-foot voyager Q. With Kernan’s initial sketches, Lambert knew he had found his designer and the Outbound 52 production process commenced.
One aspect of Outbound 52 that Kernan and Lambert agreed upon for their new vessel from the start was that it would be an eye-popping source of pride for an owner at anchorage. They wanted to have their center cockpit vessel looking and feeling like no other, and without all of the sectional, heavy feeling of a cockpit “tiered like a wedding cake” and with a companionway that had a gentle angle into the area below deck. The cockpit is relatively narrow and deep, about 16 inches above the waterline. The seats are long enough on which to stretch out, yet close enough for leverage while heeling over.
This boat has a molded 1.5-inch bulwark capped with a teak toe rail for safety offshore with a touch of wood to break up the low maintenance surface. Storage space on deck is ample, with two large aft lazarettes, a foredeck sail/anchor locker, a large sail/deck gear locker in the bow with watertight bulkhead and easy access to the anchor rode. There is also a U.S. Coast Guard approved stowage locker topsides for two, 20 lb aluminum propane tanks (one is already provided). This allows an owner to have clutter-free decks during a long passage and at anchor. The stainless fittings and fixtures on board are excellent quality, design, and quantity. The 12 mooring cleats are also stainless and welded from underneath, leaving no visible fasteners. In the stern pulpit an outboard motor lift is integrated on either side.
Kernan also spent a lot of time working out the hard dodger so that there was no interference in visibility and that it was not offensive to the eye, but formed a contiguous whole with the bulwark. The result is a sleek racing look, yet with all of the functional necessities of ports, hatches and vents topsides. The gracefully-stepped transom also blends with the smooth look of the vessel overall along with the practicality of a swim and dive platform. The thought of stepping from a dinghy onto the full width, stable steps of a reverse transom is a comforting one to anyone with lots of baggage, children, or shaky knees.
Strength was also a primary criterion for Outbound 52. Her solid hull is laid with a foam and fiberglass grid that incorporates stringers, the engine bed and three-quarter length longitudinals. Another safety measure is all fore and aft bulkheads are bonded to the hull throughout offering stability and strength to the hull. The 14,000 lb external lead keel has a high-performance, low-CG bulb for added stability.
On the Outbound 52’s shakedown cruise from Norfolk to the Strictly Sail Miami boat show, with Lambert aboard and with the wind up to 20 knots, the boat and crew experienced an array of conditions, from beating into short, choppy waves to 6-foot following seas. There was no pounding or jerkiness in the chop. The finger-responsive wheel, a 4-foot, Whitlock, dual-spoke unit connects to the Lewmar Mamba, direct drive system turns without any friction. Lambert realized on this trip that the three turn steering system recommended by Lewmar was excessive for Kernan’s finely balanced sail plan and efficient spade rudder. To make the helm more responsive and fun to sail, Kernan plans to install a two-turn system on subsequent vessels. The wheel is aft mounted onto the centered pedestal with compass, engine instruments, controls for engine and autopilot, bow-thruster, and windlass are placed on the pedestal to create easy accessibility. With her moderate displacement, V-shaped sections and substantial rocker in the body of the hull, the Outbound 52 tracks extremely well and strides over most waves leaving occupants dry and comfortable in the cockpit.
The Hood Vectran headsails are set on Furlex Furlers with a Solant option for the staysails. At 72-feet high, the big-rig, three-spreader Seldén mast carries the vertically-battened main easily, even in conditions of more than 16 knots that require a reef. Including such a big rig for long passages is based on safety. Sailors with a powerful, responsive rig can get out of the way of many dangerous weather systems. Also, when your boat still sails well during times of light winds, your passage making time is reduced overall. Outbound 52 owners will be making good headway before they need to turn on the engine.
Underneath the forward section of the companionway sole lays the watertight-hinged engine hatch — easy to access and in the shade of the dodger. The engine room door itself can be found belowdeck tucked next to a starboard side single berth. The berth has drawers underneath to hold tools. A convenient, stainless steel-topped workbench is found under the berth’s cushion, providing a space that isn’t the cabin sole or the sink for parts. The well-insulated door to the engine room has clear directional manifolds for fuel tanks, saltwater and freshwater feeds. The main engine is a 110 hp Yanmar 4JH4-HTE turning a 22-inch diameter Max-Prop. Top speed under power in calm water could exceed 9 knots. The Outbound 52’s electrical systems give it enough power to meet the demands of a full boat and modern amenities such as microwave and computer use. The house battery bank is a single 12V 900 amp system with Mastervolt AGM batteries. There is also a dedicated machine battery separate from the house panel. A custom AC/DC panel is located starboard of the companionway. Two 30 amp 110V shore power connections are placed both fore and aft and 110V outlets are mounted throughout the vessel.
The 6-foot, 6-inch headroom saloon spreads out generously from the bottom of the companionway with a settee to starboard opposite an L-shaped dinette that can seat up to six. Four large fixed windows allow for lots of natural light and viewing possibilities for those down below. The Outbound 52 has plenty of handrails throughout her interior — on the table, nav station and beneath the windows. Future Outbounds will also include a few deckhead handrails for more handhold options.
Beneath the wonderful .1875-inch thick teak and holly floorboards mounted on sealed marine plywood, are the fiberglass 250-gallon fuel and 225-gallon water tanks integrated into the hull for added stability. The sole panels are virtually invisible, locked into place with a flush mounted locking handle. The tank placement allows for plenty of outboard lockers, beneath seat and shelf storage space.
Forward of the saloon on the port side, the large head provides a separate, high-lipped shower area, in addition to the hot and cold transom-mounted shower. This head serves the forward stateroom that is as roomy as any master cabin and offers a 6-foot, 6-inch centerline placement double berth.
On either side of the companionway there are two passages: one to the aft berth, the other to the extra cabin and the engine room. Along the port passage is the eight-foot-long galley. Offered is a convenient side-by-side, three-burner gimbaled Force 10 propane stove with crash bar and a double basin stainless sink. Reefer with top and front access, freezer and enough counter space to feed an army.
The nav station is starboard and presents a desk that will hold a full-sized chart folded in half and electronics to one side.
The center cockpit design has the incredible advantage of offering another master stateroom aft with a similar layout of the forward cabin with its own starboard side, forward-facing head. In addition, the cabin boasts a dressing settee to port and chest of drawers. A foldover writing desk can be used for a private and comfortable workspace. All surfaces are glossy white fiberglass with varnished teak trim; elegant and easy to keep clean.
Clearly aesthetics were key for Lambert and Kernan and they have produced a vessel constructed of the finest materials with sleek, low-profile lines that will turn heads at boat shows and anchorages around the world. Performance-wise, the Outbound 52 will appeal to sailors with an eye toward performance from an ergonomic standpoint — it’s smooth handling, simple systems, and easily-handled tall rig will conserve energy on a long passage, thus making for a safer and more enjoyable trip. Meanwhile, below deck, it is simply tasteful and so well laid out as to make you feel as if you’re on permanent vacation. Outbound 52 owners will be ready to invite along their closest friends to head offshore, turning heads as they slip effortlessly beyond the coast.