Monday, June 6, 2011

The Boat

Flying Cloud, 1999 Taswell center-cockpit cutter rigged sailboat.
Flying Cloud is a 1999 Taswell 44 center-cockpit cruiser that is rigged as a cutter. Choosing a name for the boat was difficult, but we liked something that tied Meryl's flying career with Pan Am to sailing. All the Pan Am jets were named after clipper ships, so we researched the history of the clipper ships, finally settling on Flying Cloud, an airplane Meryl flew on at one time. This clipper ship set the sailing record in 1851 from New York via Cape Horn to San Francisco (89 days, 21 hours), a record that was not broken until 1989. More amazing, this was the vessel's maiden voyage and she was navigated by a woman, something almost unheard of in those days. See details at

As a center cockpit model, the boat features a spacious aft owner's stateroom and a forward double guest berth. All Taswells are semi-custom built and vary in their interior layout and design. According to the original owner, the 44 ft. model was conceived as an up-market version of the popular Taswell 43. It is believed that only four Taswell 44's were constructed, with Flying Cloud being Hull #1 of the series. The boat was purchased by Frank Wohlford of Bainbridge Island, WA and built at the Ta Shing Shipyard in Taiwan. Frank supervised the construction and added many custom features to the boat, which he named Carolina. It was sold in 2009 to an owner in Fort Lauderdale and renamed Sara. We purchased the boat in Fort Lauderdale in May 2011and had it trailered to St. Petersburg, FL for six-month refit. Flying Cloud was launched on January 2012.  

The Design

Ta Shing Yacht Builders located in Tainan, Taiwan.
Designed by England's Bill Dixon and built at the Ta Shing Shipyards (, the yacht represents the epitome of craftsmanship and quality construction. Ta Shing, builders of the renowned Nordhaven motor yachts, were rated by Steve D'Antonio as one of the world's top shipyards in a recent article. Ta Shing is famous for its teak cabinetry, trim, and decks; it is one of the few yards in the world that imports it's own teak trees and mills the lumber at the factory.

Production line at Ta Shing factory.
The boat is very similar in quality, design and construction to the Hallberg-Rassy 43 constructed in Sweden. It is a rock solid offshore design with a semi full keel, skeg hung rudder, mid-cockpit design with a cutter rig.

Cockpit of Flying Cloud while under construction.


The hull is completely hand laminated as a one-piece fiberglass molding with six full-length foam-filled stringers, two heavy laminated longitudinal floor and five heavy laminated transverse floors. The gelcoat is isopthalic type that offers the best water and chemical resistance. The deck is cored with a high strength end-grain light wood while the more vertical surfaces are cored with end-grain balsa for light weight and "print" resistance (when the gelcoat "shows" the grain of the underlying fiberglass). The deck-to-hull joint is specially reinforced and installed on a layer of 3M 5200 for highest strength and water-tightness. It is screwed together with 5 mm stainless steel self-tapping screws on 6" centers. The teak cap rail is then installed and the entire joint is bolted together with 5/16" ss bolts on 6" centers.

Interior Spaces 

The extremely high level of workmanship and the extensive use of teak in the interior is unmatched in most modern yachts today. 
Custom made teak salon table.
Each Taswell seems to have a different interior layout, with some having the traditional design with the galley on the starboard side and others have a lengthwise galley in the passage between the saloon and the aft stateroom. Like everything on a boat, each design offers advantages and disadvantages. While our galley space is more limited, it provides a very safe place to cook while underway with plenty of handholds and places to brace your hips when the boat rolls. Everything is within reach and the design is very space efficient.

The Salon

Saloon and galley looking aft. Passageway on right side of photo leads to aft cabin.
Taswells are renowned for their golden teak interiors with precisely fitted cabinets and trim. The entire interior teak package is actually spray varnished in place, which provides a piano-like finish rarely seen in all but the most expensive yachts. The spacious saloon area has a custom teak table on the port side and a settee area on the right, with storage under all the seating areas. The boat features a cream-colored Majilte headliner in all cabins with overhead insulation, along with LED recessed overhead lighting that gives the boat a surprisingly bright interior at night. Recessed red offshore lighting illuminates the cabin sole at night to preserve your night vision. All the seating is covered with a deep blue custom Italian leather. Under the starboard side seats is a large storage area for food; under the port side seats are the boat's 24v house batteries, 12v batteries, Mastervolt Combi charger/inverter, and various electrical converters and controllers.

The Galley

The galley is designed for blue-water sailing with grab bars and support for the cook during rough seas. 

The galley is designed for offshore sailing so that the cook can brace themselves against three different areas during rough seas. The countertops are covered by durable granite-colored Corian with storage area underneath. The galley has a 3-burner Force 10 stove/oven/broiler, a refrigerator box with both top and side access doors, and a freezer with top access (all cooled by a Glacier Bay 24v holding plate system). A Cuisinart microwave allows for quick offshore meals. A deep dual sink with both fresh and salt water foot pumps makes dish washing easier when the boat is heeled over when sailing. A Trident propane shut-off / detector provides automatic shut-off in the event of a propane leaks.  

Owners Stateroom

One of the best features of the Taswell 44 is the spacious aft cabin. 

One of the strongest selling features of the boat for us was the spacious aft cabin with a queen-sized bed and a coil-spring mattress. After years of sleeping in a forward v-berth we wanted a bedroom that was both spacious and comfortable since we were going to be full-time liveaboards. An added plus was the roomy aft head with its full-sized shower.

Aft Head

Aft head features full-sized stand-up shower.
We added a 6000 kW air conditioner in the aft cabin that can run off of either shore power or the boat's genset to cool the aft cabin in very hot climates. When anchored out the wind generates breezes through the open hatches that are sufficient to cool the boat. During a heat wave in Norfolk, VI, however, when temperatures topped 104° for a week, we were very thankful we installed the AC unit.

Guest Stateroom

The forward guest berth has a double bed with LED lighting and a personal Yahama CD/stereo player. On the port side is a vanity/writing desk with a swing out seat. The cabin also has it's own head and sink forward. There are numerous hanging lockers and storage compartments on the side walls, and a huge storage area under the berth where we keep a spare anchor, outboard engine, and spares. A lee cloth runs the length of the berth to keep people from rolling off the bed during passages. One interesting feature is computer-type muffin fans in all the cabinets to insure adequate airflow in more humid climates. All opening hatches are fitted with swing down teak screens and red offshore lighting illuminates the cabin sole at night.

Forward Head 

The forward head features a stainless steel covered worktop on the left and Corian covered vanity on the right with a shower head recessed on the starboard cabinet.

Navigation Station

The navigation station has a Weems & Plath electronic barometer, Raymarine TriData, Northstar 941X GPS, Raymarine SL70 color chart plotter (at helm), a Raymarine RL70 radar, Mastervolt MICC electrical system readout, Blue Sky solar panel readout, an Aleutia Fanless Marine PC M1-160GB with 160GB memory and Intel 320SSD solid state drives and a 19" flat screen color monitor running MaxSea Navigation System (our primary charting system) with the weather routing module. The monitor can be rotated so it can be read from the cockpit. Communications equipment includes a Standard Horizon GX2150 VHF with AIS output to the computer and VHF radio, an ICOM 802 SSB/Ham radio with Pactor PCT-IIUSB, a voltmeter for the 12v starter battery, and sub switch panels for the 12v systems. In addition we carry an ICOM IC-M72 VHF handheld, an Iridium Extreme 9575 satphone with internal GPS linked to a Redpoint Optimizer for Bluetooth connectivity for iPhone/iPad/Computers, and a Iridium Go device that links the iPhone/iPads to satellites for weather downloads.

Emergency Equipment

Any boat heading more than 10 miles offshore needs a full complement of safety and emergency equipment. For firefighting the boat has three B:C Size 2 and two B:C Size 1 fire extinguishers. The guest berth has a combination fire and carbon monoxide alarm and the aft berth has a carbon monoxide alarm.

A propane sniffer in the galley is designed to automatically shut off the propane if a leak is detected.

We have high water alarm in the bilge, an automatic bilge pump, and a hand-operated pump, along with a portable 12v water pump for evacuating water from the boat.

The goal is to avoid man overboard situations and as a rule any person in the cockpit at night must wear a safety harness/life jacket with the tether attached to a sturdy eye pad while in the cockpit or to jack lines if moving outside of the cockpit. If someone were to go overboard, we have man overboard markers on both the chart plotter and MaxSea computer system to locate the person's position in the water and a LifeSling system to assist in retrieval to the boat. Any person on night watch is required to wear both an ARC AquaLink personal electronic locator beacon and a Kannard SafeLink R10 AIS locator beacon. We also have an ARC GlobalFix Pro 406 MHz emergency locator beacon for the boat/life raft. The ARC devices transmit an emergency message to search and rescue stations (SAR) via satellite and the SafeLink device transmits a location signal that can be read by any vessel with AIS.

We have a DeLorme InReach device that is programed to send an emergency message with our GPS coordinates to both search and rescue stations and to a designated personal friend. In addition we have an Iridium Go satellite device that can transmit email and emergency messages via low earth satellites.

We also have an Iridium Extreme 9575 satellite phone that is capable of calling anywhere in the world and transmitting an automated emergency alert to SAR stations. Both the DeLorme and the Iridium can also transmit and receive text messages.

If we ever needed to abandon the boat, we have a Winslow Offshore Plus 6-man life raft and a fully equipped "ditch bag" with the necessary survival equipment. In addition we have a Katadyn Survivor 35 water maker that can convert salt water to fresh water for use in the life raft.

In event of a rigging failure, we carry a custom emergency rigging kit utilizing a series of Vectran lines and loops along with rigging turnbuckles that can be attached to the deck. The kit was designed by The Rigging Shop in Annapolis, MD and everything fits in a small black satchel.  

Deck & Cockpit

Boats come in two basic designs, those with the cockpit at the aft end of the boat and those with a center or mid cockpit. We have come to enjoy sailing the mid-cockpit design of the Taswell 44. You sit higher on the boat and more forward so you have increased visibility that is a tremendous advantage when sailing offshore. It is also a little drier given its height about the water. The Taswell's cockpit is on the small side (which is desired for an offshore boat) and features stylish rounded corners (like a big bath tub). Teak grates cover the floor of the cockpit.

All sail control lines are lead aft to the cockpit to reduce the amount of time anyone has to spend on the foredeck. The main sail uses the Antal battcar system and has two reef points and a Doyle StackPak to make raising/lowering the sail much easier and safer. Both the genoa and staysail are roller furling and can be reduced in heavier weather. We also have a 400 sq. ft. storm trysail that is rigged to a separate track on the mast. At the base of the mast are two "granny bars," heavy stainless steel bars that support the person working at the base of the mast. Forward are two large hatches for the guest berth, a small hatch for the forward head, and a large hatch for the forward anchor locker. At the bow of the boat is a Maxwell 2200 bi-direction windlass with remote control that is connected to a 73 lb. Rocna anchor with 260 ft. of 3/8" chain. The Rocna is probably the best money we spent on the boat for it's given us many a restful night in heavy winds. It has never failed to set or dragged at anchor in winds up to 40 knots. We use a 25 ft. 5/8" three-strand anchor snubber to ease the load on the windlass when anchored.  

The view from aloft shows the 750 watt solar panel array over the bimini and rear davits.
  • Builder: Ta Shing 
  • Year Built: 1999 
  • Designer: Bill Dixon 
  • L.O.A.: 44' 
  • L.W.L.: 38' 3" 
  • Beam: 13' 8" 
  • Draft: 6' 1" 
  • Mast Height: 61' 
  • Gross Ton: 19 
  • Net Ton: 17
  • Actual cruising weight:  41,000 lbs.
  • Ballast: 9600 lbs. internal lead  


  • Engine: Yanmar 4JH2-TE turbo-charged diesel 62 hp. 
  • Alternators:  12v and 24v Balmar alternators 
  • Fuel Filters: Racor 500T primary and Yanmar secondary 
  • Transmission: Kansaki RATIO: 2.62 : 1 
  • Packing Gland: PSS dripless 
  • Propeller: 21" diameter 3-blade bronze MaxProp 
  • Propeller Shaft: 1.5" diameter stainless steel 
  • Propeller Protection: Keel lower 
  • Rudder: Skeg supported fiberglass  

Electrical Systems

  • Aux. Generator: Ample Power/Phasor, Kubota EL-300 diesel engine turning a Balmar 95 Series 24V 140 amps 9594-140-24-IG alternator
  • Solar Power: Two Kyocera KD135GX-LPU @135 watts feeding into a Blue Sky Energy 1524iX with Maximum Power Point Tracking Photovoltaic Charge Controller 
  • Batteries: 24v House Bank: Four 6-volt Lifeline AGM GPL-L16T and two 12-volt Lifeline AGM  GPL-30HT for 650 amp/hrs. @ 24V or 1300 amp hours at 12 volts
  • Batteries: 12v House Bank: Lifeline AGM GPL24T 80amp/hr
  • Batteries: 12v Starter: Lifeline AGM GPL-27T 80 amp/hr 
  • Lighting:  24-volt DC, LED
  • Fans in all interior lockers for mold/humidity control 


  • Fuel: Diesel 118 gallons
  • Water: Three tanks of approx. 49, 48.5, 44 for 141.5 gallons total capacity  

Walter Maker

  • Water Maker: Spectra 200T 24 volt (runs off of solar cells)
  • Capacity:  8 gallons/hour @ 5 amps 


  • Ground Tackle: 73 lb. Rocna anchor with 260 feet of 3/8 inch BBB chain
  • Ground Tackle: Fortress FX37 with 100 feet of 3/8 BBB chain and 300 feet of 9/16 line
  • Ground Tackle:  Spade S100 44 pound steel anchor
  • Anchor Windlass: Maxwell 2200 24-volt DC bi-directional with remote 
  • ShurFlo sea water wash-down hose on foredeck  


  • VHF Radio: Standard Horizon GX2150
  • SSB/Ham Radio:  ICOM 802 with antenna tuner
  • Satellite phone:  Iridium 9575 w/external antenna
  • Satellite email:  Iridium Go w/external antenna
  • Weems & Plath electronic barometer
  • Chart Plotter: Raymarine SL70C 
  • Radar: Raymarine RL70
  • AIS: Vesper XB 8000 with external antenna
  • Auto Pilot: W.H. Autopilots Inc. (hydraulic ram) with remote 
  • Depth Finder: Raytheon ST60 
  • GPS: Northstar 941X 
  • Knotmeter: Raytheon ST60 Speed 
  • Antennas: Two VHF, GPS, radar, satellite radio, AM/FM, SSB, television, SSB 
  • Compass: Ritchie Globalstar 6"  

Plumbing and Ventilation

  • Air Conditioning: MarineAir VTD8K-410A 8000 BTU 
  • Hot Water: Sigmar Terminox, 11 gal electric with engine heat exchanger 
  • Five dorade ventilators, three with guards  

Spars & Rigging

  • Mast: Main (aluminum) Lightning dispersal brush and tricolor navigation light at masthead
  • Mainmast safety bars and lower steps 
  • Forespar rigid boom vang 
  • Firdell Blipper radar reflector 
  • Storm trysail track on main mast 
  • Two mechanical backstay tensioners 
  • Two running backstays 
  • Stainless steel antenna and radar mast 
  • Folding stainless steel swim ladder on transom  


  • Main:   Ulmer Kolius with two reef points
  • Genoa:  Neil Pryde120%
  • Staysail: Ulmer Kolius
  • Code Zero/Drifter: Quantum
  • Storm Trysail;  Rolly Tasker with reef points
  • Doyle StackPack
  • Mainsail control with Antal batt slides 
  • Harken genoa furling system
  • Harken staysail furling system 


  • Stove: Force 10 3-burner propane stove 
  • Microwave: Cuisinart microwave oven 
  • Refrigeration: Glacier Bay 12-volt DC refrigerator/freezer with holding plates 
  • Fresh and sea water foot pumps and spigots at galley sink  

Safety And Fire Fighting Equipment

  • Emergency tiller Flares: West Marine Flare Kit 
  • Bell: Brass Bell 
  • Life Jacket: Four Type III Type IV 
  • Throwable: LifeSling and Rescue Line 
  • Life Raft: Winslow Offshore Plus 6-man 
  • Fire Extinguishers:  Four 10 B:C and two 40 B:C dry chemical  


  • Genoa Sheets:  Two Lewmar #54 2-speed self-tailing
  • Staysail:  Two Lewmar #40 2-speed self-tailing
  • Halyards:  Two Lewmar #30 2-speed self-tailing
  • Mainsheet:  One Lewmar #44 2-speed self-tailing
  • Traveller:  One Lewmar #16 single speed
  • Halyards:  Lewmar #44 2-speed self-tailing
  • Halyards:  Lewmar #30 2-speed self-tailing


  • Tender: Achilles HB310 PG 10' 2" with Yamaha Enduro 15 hp. outboard