FOR a long time MoToR BoatinG has not published plans of an auxiliary of the type of Meridian. Somehow my feeling is for small sailing yachts of the double-end model and for very short-ended auxiliary craft. However, fortunately, we do not all feel alike about boats. The world will be uninteresting when multiplicity of thought and desire degenerates into absolute unity of feeling and action. MoToR BoatinG's pages have spread a rising tide of boat knowledge for many years. Look through back numbers at the panorama of nearly every size and type boat imaginable; then pick up next month's issue and find something new again. Refreshing newness -- never bizarre.
Meridian, as my old friend Capt. Abel Brown would say, is "one of them there rule cheaters," meaning that under certain racing rules she would have an advantage in handicap over a single masted yacht. However, this is not the reason she was decked out in the yawl rig. The yawl has always been well considered by cruising men the world over, and has certain advantages, not least of which is that the largest sail is pretty much over the center of the boat and nicely inboard. It is a handy rig, too, because the main and jib can be stowed and the boat be left to jog along under staysail and jigger.
The rig is straightforward and practicable. If made exactly as shown in the sail plan without additions and omissions and without changes it will stand through anything that can blow. Do not increase the weight of the spars, nor the weights of the standing rigging, and do not change the dimensions of the sails. There is nothing experimental about any feature of the sail plan, nor nothing blindly copied from the work of other designers. It is all designed to conform to practice that has been found to be entirely satisfactory in hard service afloat.
Meridian is 39 feet, 4 inches in over all length; 31 feet on the water line; 10 feet in breadth, and draws 5 feet. The freeboard at the bow is 4 feet, 4 inches and at the stern 3 feet, 6 inches. The displacement is 22,600 pounds. Ballast on the keel, 8,000 pounds, with additional weight in the bilge to the amount of 2,000 pounds. So you see she is a boat of fairly large dimensions and comfortable room below decks without heavy displacement, and by the same token without excessive wetted surface. The lines show somewhat less draft than is usually associated with yachts of this type; there is, however, ample for this particular underwater form as proved by a score of predecessors. The hull is properly balanced and will sail without an excessive degree of heel. From my point of view there is nothing more uncomfortable than the deck or the cabin of a small yacht sailing, as Abel Brown might say, "on 'er dad blasted ear."
The deck shows a shallow cockpit 6 feet, 2 inches long by 5 feet, 8 inches wide. There is a seat each side and under these the gasoline tanks having a combined capacity of 60 gallons. The cockpit floor is water tight the full width of the hull and the side walls under the coaming are water tight as well. With the tanks set on cedar cleatings on the cockpit floor any leakage simply flows overboard through the scupper pipes. With the shutoff valves above the cockpit floor this makes the safest kind of installation. Use 4 inch diameter deck plates for filling openings; then vent pipes will not be required because there will be ample air leakage past the threads in the big deck plates to prevent a partial vacuum in the gasoline tanks. Nor will the threads permit water to flow through or gasoline to flow out. This arrangement has been successfully used in many boats. The main cabin house is 4 feet 8½ inches wide, parallel sides and ending forward in a hinged lid, the latter extending the full width of the deck house. Then there is a main deck and a small deck house over the forecastle. The advantage of this arrangement is its strength; that little piece of main deck spanning the beam at the mast ties the hull together properly and securely. I have drawn many designs showing the mast piercing the deck house; but this is a bad arrangement, weak, not shipshape, unhandy, and ugly looking. There is really more available room below decks with the two house deck arrangement.
The cabin arrangement is designed to accommodate four people, more than four crowd up the place; and besides it is not possible to supply locker space for clothes, food, etc., for any more than four. This is one of the faults of many cruising boats; no place to put anything. The galley is aft under the companionway and equipped with range, sink, dish lockers, lockers for cooking utensils, ice box and storage locker for food. The top of the ice box serves as a chart table. The main cabin contains a sofa on the port side with folding box berth behind, extension berth on the starboard backed by large lockers. Notice the el end of the extension berth and the fixed cabin drop leaf table. There is something homelike in a cabin like this with its table always set up and berths out of sight. The toilet room is big and equipped with regulation water closet and folding wash basin. Lockers are supplied for linen and supplies. Large hanging locker is abreast the toilet room; a real closet in which to hang clothing. There is full 6 feet headroom throughout the cabin, galley and toilet room. The floor boards in the cabin are white oak, hard, and should not be covered with anything. The stateroom contains two built in berths, lockers, bureau, and generous hanging space. Leaving an opening in the berth front makes the space below available for the storage of sails. There is also a handy locker in the forward end of the stateroom. One water tank is installed in the bow, this for the supply of the toilet room; two additional water tanks are located under the sofas in the main cabin. Total water capacity is close to 100 gallons. The main cabin tanks should be used for supply of the galley. The tanks should be piped to fill from the deck. If an oak grating is placed each end of the cabin as shown the bilges will be perfectly ventilated. My experience has been these last 30 years that the simpler the whole layout can be kept, the more pleasure one gets from a boat, and for the very simple reason that there are fewer pieces of equipment to require attention.
The motor should be of approximately 140 cubic inches pulling about 25 hp. at 1300 to 1400 rpm. It will be observed that the motor in Meridian sets level, a feature which has many unseen advantages. Use a two blade propeller 18 inches diameter by 8 inches pitch. It is not necessary to use a reduction gear in this installation.
A good many years ago I was fortunate in having two identical hulls built, the one with propeller in the deadwood as shown on Meridian, the other through the starboard quarter with a single legged strut. The center line installation proved so much better both under sail and under power that I have since always stuck to it as being by far the better arrangement.