Without changing underwater lines or deck arrangement significantly, we looked at different accommodation and engine location arrangements, and eventually firmed up on a very traditional aft cockpit, engine under the companionway, sea-berths in the main saloon arrangement. As my concept was for long-distance cruising for two persons, we laid out the accommodation on that basis, with a generous double berth fore cabin, heads with separate shower stall, and a main saloon with two settee berths and a pilot berth to port. Aft of the saloon was a good sized galley to port with fridge, double sink and 3-burner stove, and a generous navigation area to starboard, with a small second heads and basin aft of it.

This arrangement allows adequate short-time accommodation for up to two guests living in the saloon. As there is no living accommodation aft of the companionway, there are vast cockpit lockers each side, housing batteries, the diesel day tank, sewage tank, fridge compressor, autopilot ram etc, and for stowage of fenders and cruising gear.

For the rig, Mike recommended a “close-coupled” twin forestay arrangement, with a working jib on the inner and a lighter, larger, genoa on the outer. As the stays are only 18” apart and one sets either one headsail or the other, but not both (unless dead downwind with both poled out), she is very definitely a sloop and not a cutter as “Troubadour” is. Mike had pioneered this arrangement on the re-rig of another 42 footer, Taonui, for another client, the vastly experienced Tony Gooch. As it was reported to be very successful, I was happy to accept Mike’s recommendation.

For a “one off” hull, normal GRP moulding using a male plug and female mould is out-of-the-question on cost grounds. Hull construction options were therefore reduced to the “cedar-epoxy-composite” method, traditional timber (too heavy and too expensive) or metal. Not knowing anything about the cedar-epoxy-composite method I was unnecessarily cautious about finding builders with the necessary experience and I did not want to be forced, by default, to have to go to Troubadour’s builder. Also, I had a fairly strong leaning towards a metal hull for strength. I knew I didn’t want steel because of the never-ending corrosion/painting problem, but my attention had been drawn to the attractions of aluminium by the US designer, Chuck Paine. After, considerable research into aluminium alloy as a construction material, I finally asked Mike to proceed with the final design on that basis. This was a “first” for Mike, but as he had designed several steel hulls and was a structural engineer as well as a naval architect, I was confident that the new material would not produce any insurmountable problems for him.

All this time, Mike had been pressing me to make a “go or no-go” decision, as he and Pat were due to go off for a year’s sailing on 31 August 1999, on the OCC’s Commodore’s Millennium Rally around the North Atlantic, and he needed time to complete the drawings as well as prepare for the trip. He duly departed on time and left me with 13 construction drawings and a boat to build!

This design programme allowed very little time for Owner’s review of drawings, and it is a testament to Mike’s design that very few post-design changes had to be made during construction.

Project Management

At this stage, although nominally retired, I still had four part-time jobs for my former Saudi employers, and was working at least as many hours as a full-time job. However, project and construction management is my forte, and I was determined to manage my own project (a) for the challenge and enjoyment, (b) to ensure that I had control at all times and (c) to ensure that my money was being spent wisely. Also, although Mike had done the hull, deck and rig design, he had only done an outline general arrangement and, by arrangement, had not done a detailed specification of all the general fittings and systems. I therefore wrote a very comprehensive 100 page specification for the entire boat and drew all the systems drawings. I then wrote construction tender documents (ITB’s) for both the alloy work and the fit-out and construction contracts. This took me about two months.

Construction Concept

The UK boat-building industry being in its normal perilous state with poorly managed and under-financed builders going out of business every year, I wanted to be free of all these problems. I wanted to be in control of the project at all stages, and not to have significant money at risk tied up in pre-payments under an all-embracing contract. I therefore decided to separate the specialist alloy work from the fit-out work and not to try to seek one builder for the complete boat. Further, I decided to seek a small builder for the fit-out with whom I could work flexibly and whom I would supervise on a weekly basis.

The first problem was to find an alloy fabricator with a good track record with round-bilge hulls. Having failed to find one in the UK, my search moved to Holland, where I found several and soon had three bids. However, the Dutch yards were busy, and as soon as I tried to negotiate a contract the quoted delivery dates went way out into the future! In seeking a reference for one of the Dutch yards from a British design office, almost by accident I was referred to Cunningham Offshore Racing in Littlehampton, previously unknown to me. On investigation it turned out that Cunninghams had considerable alloy experience and they quoted a good price and delivery date. As a bonus, they were within 75 minutes drive from my house and I could easily supervise the work on a weekly basis. I placed a contract with Cunninghams, just before Christmas 1999, for construction of the hull, deck and superstructure and installation of the engine and steering gear, and they started work in March 2000. I never had cause to regret this decision.

Aluminium Alloy Construction

Although I had elected to be my own Project Manager, I felt a perceived need to employ a Surveyor for the metalwork fabrication, principally to satisfy future insurers and RCD compliance (more later!). I therefore employed Jim Pritchard, from Cowes, who had a limited brief to inspect dimensional accuracy, fabrication and welding procedures, material specifications, and weld testing.

Feeling very exposed in the area of alloy design and recognising Mike Pocock’s lack of experience with the material, I sought specialist expertise from a retired consultant engineer with a lifetime in the aluminium design, welding and fabrication business, Bill Allday. Bill reviewed the construction drawings (after Mike’s departure) and recommended a host of small detail changes, mainly in fabrication method and detail. Bill’s contribution was invaluable and a great confidence-booster.


Cunninghams did a superb job and produced a very “fair” hull without any real problems or drama. They were about a month late on schedule, partly as a result of Bill Allday’s design changes and contract variations and partly due to the impact on the yard of another contract with more demanding penalty clauses!

The hull was completed in July 2000, loaded onto a low-loader and transported to the fit-out yard at Universal Shipyard at Bursledon on the River Hamble.

Fit-Out Contract

During the hull construction period I had been busy searching for and evaluating builders for the fit-out scope of work. I eventually decided on David Skene of Skene Yacht Services, partly on price, partly on experience but mainly on his personality, his “can-do” attitude and my judgement of our ability to work together. I had no cause ever to regret this decision either.

As David Skene had no building premises of his own, we agreed to rent a corner of a large shed at Universal Shipyard, and to construct in it a scaffolding structure covered with plastic sheeting. This became our build shed, and Project 2000’s home for 8 months during the fit-out.

For this contract I sought a fixed price for the labour element, based on my detailed specification and scope of work, and reimbursable materials and equipment. I chose this because I felt that a small builder would not take the risk of giving a fixed price on materials without putting in a very hefty contingency which, to me as a professional project manager, would be viewed as wasted money. I preferred to control materials purchasing myself. As David was not VAT-registered, and to keep him in this status, we arranged that the materials would not go through his books. He prepared the purchase orders “for and on behalf of John Franklin”, and I paid the suppliers direct but took advantage of his builder’s discounts. This also took away from David a huge amount of administration and paperwork, for which he would have had to charge me, and significantly reduced his price. Also, the labour element was VAT-free.

Throughout the job I was on-site at least one day a week, and often more. As David was a one-man builder, he employed additional skills, mainly shipwrights, as required. For engineering, plumbing and electrical installation we employed freelance skills available locally in the area and I supervised these. We also placed some large sub-contracts, mainly for painting, electronics installation and rigging.

David did a superb job, and “Al Shaheen” was rolled out of the build shed in late April 2001 and launched on 18 May.

Recreational Craft Directive

Even 5 years later, it is difficult for me to address this subject in an impassionate manner. The European Recreational Craft Directive is a typical piece of Brussels-produced verbose legislation, ostensibly designed to protect the European public against exploitation by marine “jerry builders”. In my view, it is totally unnecessary and fails miserably and expensively. It is, however, the Law and all vessels “put to use” in the EC must comply. In my case, the actual cost of compliance was zero as I didn’t do anything as a result of the legislation that I wouldn’t have done without it, but just proving compliance cost me £5,000! It was only the fortunate finding of a most helpful RCD surveyor, Mike Beggs of Lymington, that enabled me to find my way through the mass of regulations and paperwork and still retain my sanity.

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Sailing 2012.

Sailing Prior Years.

About Al Shaheen.

About John & Jenny.



Boat Insurance.


Design Specifications:


Length overall

12.86 m

41.60 ft


Waterline length

10.08 m

33.07 ft



3.75 m

12.30 ft



1.89 m

6.20 ft


Sail Area

72.57 sq.m

781.17 sq.ft



11096 kgs

10.92 tons


Fresh Water

750 litres

167 gallons (202 USG)



325 litres

72.2 gallons (87.8 USG)


Actual cruising draft is about 1.95m or 6'5"

Useful Links


Skene Yacht Sevices


Sanders Sails


Jim Pritchard (Surveyor)


Michael Pocock

4 Newenham Road


SO41 8EQ

Tel: +44 1590 675522

Mobile: +44 7903 507977




In 1989, my late wife, Su, and I had bought a new Tradewind 35, “Desert Wind”. Although we were then living in Saudi Arabia and the boat was kept in the UK, we managed to sail her for 5 to 6 weeks a year, and to cover about 1,500 miles a year, usually with our teenage family aboard and then later with Don Robinson as crew. We regularly cruised the north and west coasts of France, most of Ireland and the west coast of Scotland, returning to these locations year after year.

For some years I had been pursuing ideas for a bigger, faster and more modern cruising boat and had exchanged ideas with several prominent designers, but had not taken matters further, mainly because of commitment to my job in Saudi Arabia. After I retired and after Su died, I was very restless, and felt the need for a major project to occupy my mind and my time. It was at this time that I read reviews in the yachting press of a 45 ft boat named “Troubadour”, designed by Michael Pocock, whom I had met but didn’t know well. Everything I read about “Troubadour” seemed to gel with my views as to what I wanted; she seemed the ideal fast and capable cruising boat. I contacted Mike Pocock in February 1999 and we quickly began work on a similar boat scaled down to 42ft which, at the time, I felt was the maximum size I could handle single-handed if necessary. It was also closer to my budget.