My first solo yacht design was the 34’ Ocean Voyager “Bojabe”. For this project I was very fortunate to have an exceptional client - a very experienced and courageous single-handed sailor who had a clear idea of the functional requirements for his new yacht. He was also prepared to try new ideas and had ambitious plans to take the boat to its limits. There was no way that this boat was going to sit in a marina!
Designed in 1979/80 for long ocean voyages, often single-handed, it was intended that the yacht should be capable of being controlled from below decks with a viewing dome allowing the skipper to see the rig from down below. Work on deck was also minimised through the use of a self-tacking jib as well as both wind-vane and electronic self-steering systems.
Wishing to achieve good passage speeds when sailing downwind, but concerned that a spinnaker would make the boat vulnerable to an unexpected and sudden gybe, the client opted for an unusual downwind rig consisting of a course and raffee. The course is a traditional square sail set on a transverse yard, as seen on square-rigged sailing ships. A triangular sail, or raffee, is then set above the course from the top of the mast to the ends of the yard. Although this arrangement may take longer to set than a spinnaker, it can produce an efficient and stable downwind rig with good versatility. It is also relatively easy to shorten sail when the wind increases.
“Bojabe” was built in early 1980 by Jim Pritchard (now a marine surveyor) and his expert team at Mustang Yachts at Wootton Bridge on the Isle of Wight. Constructed from strip-planked mahogany planking on laminated mahogany frames, using the WEST wood-epoxy system, the boat is immensely strong, yet still remains large and spacious down below, with that comfortable warm look provided by a varnished finish on the strip planking and frames.
Also installed down below are sufficient positive buoyancy to make the boat unsinkable in the event of hull damage and a practical Taylors stove. Although the possibility of not fitting an engine was considered seriously at one stage in the design process, a small Yanmar diesel was eventually installed in the original build.
The deck is of teak with a layout that was deliberately kept clean and tidy with an absence of complication. Unusually there is a shallow day cockpit amidships that also doubles as a lounging area. With many innovative features for her time, “Bojabe” has cruised extensively, including 4 trans-Atlantic crossings as well as voyages to Alaska and the Mediterranean. She has recorded some remarkably fast times for ocean passages.
In August 2002, twenty-two years after “Bojabe“ was launched, I was contacted by one of her current owners. After several changes in ownership, changes of name to ”Hither, Thither and Gone“, ”Lark“ and then back to ”Bojabe“ and after many thousands of miles of ocean cruising, the yacht was still in commission and in fine shape.
As one of the first WEST system boats to be built in the UK, her outstanding sailing achievements are a fitting tribute to the vision of her first owner and the skill of the boat-builders. Her current owners all love the boat and include one of the first trans-Atlantic crew members, one of the original building team and the sons of the original owner, who were delighted to be re-united with their late father’s boat after losing touch with her for nearly 20 years.