A Life Less Ordinary Page 3

A Life Less Ordinary

Part 3: It is well-accepted among trawler builders and enthusiasts that Passagemaker is the blueprint, and Voyaging Under Power is the Bible.

By Jeffrey Moser — August 2005


Courtesy of Jim Leishman
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: A Life Less Ordinary
• Part 2: A Life Less Ordinary
• Part 3: A Life Less Ordinary

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• Nordhavn

It wasn’t until the very private Beebe was convinced by a colleague to share what he had learned during 60,000 miles of cruising that his revolutionary ocean voyaging ideas began to reach a wide audience. The resulting book, Voyaging Under Power (the title a rebuttal to Eric C. Hiscock’s sailing tome Voyaging Under Sail), was first published in 1975 and became indispensable for a growing number of people whose goals were designing or running oceangoing vessels. It is well-accepted among trawler builders and enthusiasts that Passagemaker is the blueprint, and Voyaging Under Power is the Bible.

Voyaging Under Power was not intended to be a travel guide: It begins with diagrams, technical information, and extensive research that demonstrate how Beebe’s concept of passagemaking came into being. He goes on to define what formulations are essential for a long-range oceangoing powerboat. Besides his fascinating concepts on hull design, the importance of ballast, and propulsion, his work on roll-stabilizing gear with the implementation of “flopperstoppers” and paravanes (the latter sometimes referred to as “birds”) may be the most appreciated by today’s naval architects and oceangoing cruisers.

Jim Leishman, founder and vice-president of Pacific Asian Enterprises, is in some ways the modern version of Beebe, and his company’s Nordhavn line of boats can be seen as modern updates of Passagemaker. “We used Beebe’s boat as a guideline to design and build the Nordhavn 46,” he says, “[and] all of our subsequent designs are based on that first boat.” Leishman was therefore the obvious choice when it came time to update Voyaging Under Power.

Beebe’s book remains intact in Leishman’s version; what’s new is the technical information and advances that have been made in electronics, engine efficiency, propeller and hull design, etc. Leishman also added extensive art and chapters on the work of other Beebe-inspired designers as well as voyage planning. Plus the book contains an updated provision and galley piece by Linford Beebe, Robert’s wife and first mate.

Robert Beebe died in 1988, long after he sold Passagemaker. And where is this seminal boat now, you ask? She was last seen cruising off Trinidad in the late 1990’s, still going strong, under her own power.

Previous page > Part 2: The 50-foot Passagemaker was launched on March 18, 1963 with a crew of four. > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the August 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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