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How Winnie the Pooh came to be

Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 08:41:04 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mark or Susanne R
Subject: Sailboat to Trawler Conversions, Winnie The Pooh

I just caught up on some back-issue reading, including the thread on converting sailboats. Naturally, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to tell you all some more about Winnie the Pooh and how we came to design and build him the way we did.

For those new to the list, Winnie The Pooh, or WTP, is a custom 46' trawler who started life as a Heritage West Indies 46 Ketch called Southern Princess, a Charlie Morgan designed cruising sailboat with a broad 15' beam and lots of interior room (for a sailboat). The boat was wrecked by Hurricane Hugo in Culebra Harbor, Puerto Rico. We bought the boat in Fort Lauderdale for $30K, motored it to Indiantown, Florida, where we lived on 2.5 acres, and had the boat hauled and trucked to our house. After 4.5 years of work, $50K and about 9,000 manhours of labor, we launched Pooh, a brand new trawler with a 20 year old hull. All wiring and plumbing are new, new engine, transmission, prop, shaft, rudder, fuel tanks, galley, furniture, electronics, etc.

"Why did you do such a crazy thing?" you ask? Good question. I asked myself the same thing many times during the construction process. This rebuild was a massive undertaking, and I don't recommend it to anyone. Halfway through the task, we were often in the depths of despair. But now, having lived aboard for 18 months, we are proud and very pleased with our decision.

After living aboard our 36' Soverel sloop, Tigger, from 1988-90, we decided we wanted to go cruising permanantly. Since we are now only 43 and 38 years old and not independently wealthy, we would need a way to make a living while cruising. This meant, for us, having a boat large enough to house our businesses as well as our home. Sailboats this large (41' and up) are too much for Susanne and I to sail together in all weather and all over the globe, so we started looking at trawler yachts. All the boats we saw were too expensive (Krogen 42), or had engines too large to be economical, or didn't have ocean-crossing range, or were not seaworthy for ocean crossing, or all of the above. Since we had mostly motored up and down the ICW in Tigger, we knew that a sailboat could make a pretty good, efficient, seaworthy trawler, and began to look for a likely candidate for "trawlerization."

After numerous looks at Morgan OI 41s, and a ream of pilothouse sketches of same, we happened on a storm wrecked HWI 46 which fit the bill very well. Larger and more strongly built then the 41, Southern Princess was obviously what we had been looking for, but, being badly wrecked, was a larger project than we had been planning. Having never built a boat before, we were blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the project we were undertaking.

To convert a sailboat to a cruising trawler yacht, you must probably (depending on the original patient) add a pilothouse, reduce the draft, add fuel tankage, and remodel the rest to taste. Some boats may require a larger engine and driveline, but many sailboats these days are overpowered, easily able to achieve hull speed at substantially less than full throttle.

Building a pilothouse is not a huge job, especially on a center-cockpit sailboat where nothing must be torn out, just add a roof and walls around the existing cockpit. We just finished adding a pilothouse (10X14 ft) to a Gulfstar 49 motoryacht in Stuart, which cost the owner $18K and took 2.5 months.

Reducing draft can be simple or nearly impossible, depending on the construction of the hull and keel. For bolt-on lead keel boats like WTP, it can be as simple as taking a chain saw to the lead keel, removing perhaps 1/2 or more of the weight of lead. This keelectomy will go a long way toward correcting the quick, snappy roll of mastless sailboats in a beam sea.

Fuel tankage addition is not difficult or expensive if the room is available. Design the tanks so they fit through the companionway. We added a pair of 160 gallon tanks port and starboard amidships to Pooh, to minimize trim change with changing fuel load. Pooh now holds 460 gallons for a still-water range of 2,300 nm at 7.5 kts at 1700 rpm, or about 1.5 gph at 7.5 kts (not bad for a 33,000 lb boat).

For roll control, we always planned to add Beebe's flopper stoppers,(paravane stabilizers), but haven't gotten around to it yet. Pooh's folding 22' mast, stepped on top of the pilothouse, is beefy enough to support the poles when the time comes, but easy to fold flat without a boatyard to get under 11' bridges or enter the French canal system. Meanwhile, we fly 100 sq ft of steading sail and carry an additional 200 sq ft jib for emergency get-home power. We tried the sails once, making 3.5 kts in 15 kts true wind on a broad reach.

What would we do differently? Start with a boat in good condition. Two-thirds of the work we did to Pooh was not strictly the trawlerization, but repair of storm damage and customization to suit our whims. Otherwise, we are very pleased with the result. Though it didn't enter into our reasoning at the time, it's nice to have a unique boat that gets attention wherever we go. And, of course, in rebuilding a boat from the ground up, we had the opportunity to add custom touches like a large workshop in the forepeak, a sewing room conversion of the aft berth, and full foam flotation for safety.

I can't recommend a conversion for most people, but don't dismiss it out of hand if you are handy and enjoy working on boats.

Mark Richter, M.E., aboard M/V Winnie the Pooh, custom Morgan 46 Trawler.Homeport Stuart, FL.
"Mark's Mobile Marine" electrical & diesel repairs.
"Susanne's Canvas Creations" boat canvas & crafts.

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