by Greg Jones
Blue Water Sailing
David Pedrick’s redesign of the Navy workhorse
The dark blue hulls of the U.S. Naval Academy 44s are familiar sights at offshore races, and the veteran McCurdy & Rhodes design will be replaced, beginning in 2005, with a boat from Pedrick Yacht Designs. It is not a boat, according to the U.S. Navy, it is a Sail Training Craft, hence its official name, the NA44 STC MkII.
The new boat is not a radical departure from the McCurdy & Rhodes boat, the NA44 STC MkI, which began service in 1988. In fact, “part of the design brief was to maintain the character and identity of the boats,” says David Pedrick, adding that he didn’t expect the boat to be a trendsetter, “just an extremely fine example of a seaworthy cruising yacht.”
The boat, oops, the Sail Training Craft, will certainly be worked hard. The boats are used approximately 250 days a year, crewed by midshipmen, many of whom have limited experience as sailors. The first 16 boats are on order with Pearson Composites, with eight more planned. With a crew of eight midshipmen and one officer (two for overnight passages and offshore races), there needs to be something for them all to do, and thus the boat has been designed to be “labor intensive as part of the training program,” says Pedrick. “The winch farm at the base of the mast is an example of this.”
As are the hanked-on headsails. Four of the fleet, the boats used by the Varsity Offshore Sailing Team, will have Tuff Luff headstay systems, while the rest of the fleet will give the middies the opportunity to learn the intricacies of piston-hanked headsails.
When evaluating any design the first question to be asked is how well does it fulfill the intentions of the client. The Naval Academy 44s have to be tough, seaworthy and easy to manage. They have to be forgiving and seakindly (not an attribute to be confused with “comfortable”) and simple to repair.
The sails of the Pedrick boat measure the same as those of the McCurdy & Rhodes boat, except that the mainsail has a bigger foot. While the academy doesn’t intend to fit out their new 44s with vintage sails, it is an indication of how serious they are about maintaining the design consistency across the generations of their Sail Training Craft.
The construction of the hull and deck has some very modern touches, built using Scrimp technology, E-glass, one-inch CoreCell laminate and Derakane epoxy vinylester resin. The basic layup schedule for the topsides is one layer of 18-ounce woven roving, 24-ounce diagonal roving, one-inch CoreCell, 24-ounce diagonal and 18-ounce woven. Areas around the rudder, keel and bow have extra layers of E-glass. Carbon fiber is used for the chain plates, with a stainless steel bushing at the attachment point, and there is also carbon fiber in the floor grid and a few of the deck beams.
With the layup schedule, plus additional layers at various places, Stephen Misencik, vice president of engineering at Pearson Composites, says the Navy 44 is built to roughly 2.7 times ABS specifications. “It’s a brick,” is how he put it.
Unique among modern boats the MkII has no outer layer of gelcoat. This was also the method used in the MkI version, and for the same reasons. Pigmented gelcoat makes it impossible to see and thus repair any imperfections in the layup. Once the boat is in use there are other advantages. When, and the word is “when,” not “if,” the boat requires a repair to the hull after unforeseen navigational lapses, it will be much easier to repair.
Much credit is due to the firm of Pedrick Yacht Designs for this boat. “We are tremendously honored to have been chosen to do the design,” says Pedrick. Their work has resulted in a boat that has all the requirements for an offshore cruiser in a simple, rugged, seaworthy boat that is, in effect, a workboat. The designed service life of the boat is 20 years, which, given that the boats are on the water 250 days a year, is impressive.
The deck and sole are covered with Treadmaster nonskid, perhaps the most effective and long-lived nonskid available, even if it tends to look a bit industrial.
With minor changes for shorthanded sailing and a revamped interior this is a boat suitable to take a cruising couple anywhere, and indeed it will be available as a civilian boat after the Navy’s fleet is filled. Pedrick’s firm has retained commercial rights to the boat. Possibly the only non-cruiser aspect is the draft of seven feet, five inches. Cruisers tend to accept the loss in windward performance concomitant with a shallow-draft keel for the pleasures afforded by the ability to explore (and anchor in) the shallower waters of the world’s reefs.
Regardless of any changes to soften the admittedly Spartan accommodations, the performance of a civilian version of the NA44 STC MkII will be essentially the same. The numbers tell a great deal of that story. The sail-area-to-displacement ratio leans to the performance end of the cruising category, at 16.9 (calculated at half-load, with a 100 percent foretriangle), but it is the displacement-to-length ratio that tells the tale on its seagoing manners, with a 269.9. This boat will not bob around like a cork but will instead produce an easy motion under most conditions.
The hull is relatively slender, with a beam-to-waterline-length ratio of 2.9, which will translate into the hull being easy to drive. The MkI, McCurdy & Rhodes version of the Navy 44 was optimized for winds of around 12 knots, according to its polars; this leads us to suppose that the MkII may be at its best in winds near that speed as well. In practice, because of Naval Academy scheduling, the engine often comes on when boat speed falls below five knots. Both of those statements fairly mirror the sailing environment and habits of most cruisers, who choose routes and seasons that maximize the probability of moderate winds and motorsail when the winds go light.
We look forward to seeing and sailing the NA44STC MkII after the first one is launched in the coming summer.
LOA 44’ 4”
LWL 36’ 9”
Beam 12’ 8”
Draft 7’ 5”
Ballast 10,250 lbs. lead
Displacement (at half-load) 30,000 lbs.
Sail area 1,020 sq. ft.
(100 percent foretriangle)
Air draft 62’ 3”
Lbs./in. immersion 1,477
Engine 54-horsepower Yanmar 4JH4E
Prop 19” 2-blade MaxProp
Design Pedrick Yacht Designs
Pedrick Yacht Designs
3 Ann St.
Newport, RI 02840
Pearson Composites, LLC.
373 Market St.
Warren, RI 02885
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