From the 78-foot mast to the lithium batteries in the bilge, Cohen’s Gunboat 55 represents an assemblage of technology that was practically impossible to obtain 20 years ago. The enormous mainsail, 1,300 square feet of high-tech fabric, has a computer-designed shape that can handle a much broader range of wind than old-fashioned Dacron sails. The hulls and 200-square-foot bridge are made of carbon fiber and epoxy to achieve the strength and stiffness necessary to haul two luxury staterooms with en suite bathrooms, plus amenities like a fresh-water maker, a freezer and a washer-dryer. The cabin top is covered with solar cells that help charge an 800-watt electrical system that powers computer navigation screens, electric winches and a cranking marine audio system.
I love cats, and the Gunboats look fabulous, but nothing can’t fail: ask the skipper of the Titanic or, for that matter, me – I was aboard a 60′ Swan 200 miles off Bermuda when its “unbreakable”, one-piece rudder became two pieces, and sank to the ocean floor 3,000 feet below. Dang.
As an aside, three Gunboats were on display at Indian Harbor Yacht Club the summer of 2013. Their designer, Peter Johnson, probably regrets now saying he’d designed “the safest world cruising sailboat that could be conceived.” On the other hand, the cat didn’t sink when dismasted, which many keelboats would have, so maybe Johnson was right. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to sail one.