Like all boat designs, my VolksProa is a series of compromises. Overall I consider this a “Technology Demonstration Project”. I have had some ideas witch I’ll elaborate on in further posts about improving the Proa as a platform for cruising. For this project, some of the main criteria were overall length. I have a large garage for a suburban house, but its still under 32 feet, so 30 feet total is what I have limited this vessel to. It was important to me that I be able to actually “build” this withing the confines of what I already own and not have to rent space and commute to work on him. Another major issue was trailer-ability. To maximize my ability to “demonstrate” this design, being able to “drive” at 70 to windward was critical. Further, the boat had to be narrower than 8.5 feet, the current trailering width limit without special permits needed. Further, the length of 30 feet would start to push into the practical limits of my tow vehicle which is currently a 2007 Ford e150 Passenger Van. A quite reasonable tow rig for this boat, but remember that I’ll either be heading West or East as winters approach and generally with stores to keep me for many months. I needed to be able to move myself, all my equipment, the boat itself and all the accessories and do it safely and economically.
Beyond the space and size limitations, the main hull will weigh somewhat near 1500lbs. The beams will add another 200plus lbs and the outrigger will come in at under 300 lbs. I expect the boat with two friendly adults, all food, water, fuel needed, batteries and all stores to weight right at 4000 lbs (fully loaded). The top deck of the boat is just under 4 foot at it’s narrowest points and just over 8 feet in the middle. The top deck arches at one foot over one half its distance. The cockpit is “carved out” of the center of the deck to keep assembly simple and to provide for a very secure and deep location for the pilot on watch. Further this allows for maximization the strength of the hull-form at the deck level. You enter the “house” from a central wide companionway hatch from the cockpit. Once you walk down inside you are confronted with the double-wide bed situated at waist height. There is sitting headroom above the double bed and a very large opening hatch to allow for light egress and ample ventilation. Around the common area is flip up seating for relaxing, a communications and charting area, battery storage and Solar Electronics panels (touched on in far more depth later). When not on deck, or enjoying the 9X12 foot trampoline area, this lower space is designed to be comfortable for extended periods of reading, trip planning, or sleeping. Walking through a full standing headroom doorway brings you to the “Galley” area. From here you can access all food items, a movable sink with above the waterline drainage, food storage, stove/oven, etc. A large opening hatch above provides ventilation and opening portholes supplement the hatches. Additionally, the stove/oven can be lifted up to expose a large single bed for visitors. It was important that even in this very small prototype design a third person could be included in a long trip and still have a comfortable place to sleep with plenty of storage. Through the other doorway would bring you to the “head” or bathroom. This includes a slide out composting toilet, permanent sink for face/hand washing and cleaning, massive amounts of storage, and a wrap around curtain for these few times that a shower is really needed but doing so outside for whatever reasons is not an option. The bathroom will also have a large opening hatch and multiple fans and vents to keep things comfortable. Beyond theses areas are multiple water tight crash chambers with flotation. The boat is designed to float well even if holed in multiple places or in an unlikely event it is turtled.
In short, I would expect that a couple could easily provision and live out and entire winter season aboard even a proa as small and as light in displacement as this VolksProa.
I’ll touch on some of the other features that will be built into this proa in a later post. I have lots to say about this boats insulation potential and it’s ability to run completely on electrics much of the time. There are “green living” aspects of this vessel that I have yet to even touch on.