Life In A Post-FPB World

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”
~ William A. Foster

This is a difficult post for Linda and me to write. But events in the past few weeks together with the urging of many of our friends and clients (often one and the same) have forced the issue, starting with the William Foster quote above sent to us by one of our owners.

The two of us have spent over 50 years together, cruising more than 250,000 miles under sail and power. We have been designing and building boats for others for more than 40 years. During that time we have learned that there is no “perfect boat,” rather there are a series of tradeoffs that can be incorporated into the design to change the outcome. With the passage of years and ever-changing designs, we have sought the Holy Grail of cruising, the perfect blend of tradeoffs that optimize comfort and safety at sea together with life at anchor. This goal will likely never be fully met. The closest we have come is with our FPB series. We are consistently driven by the goal that every boat represents subtle but continuous improvement. We’ve succeeded because of our business model, modern communications, and something that is lacking throughout the marine industry: a love for the sea and thousands of hours evaluating, experimenting, and designing in the real world.

Wind Horse, the FPB prototype shown above, is anchored in Graciosa Bay in the Canary Islands with two of our sailing designs, Moonshadow and Interlude. Between them, these three yachts have accumulated more than 300,000 sea miles and four circumnavigations.

We know that we have disappointed many people by closing the FPB order book and retiring. We would have preferred that the business continue, but could not find a formula with which we felt comfortable lending our name. We have left a void in the market that others will try to fill. We wish them success. But when other designers and builders begin to use “FPB-like” in their sales pitch, the situation changes and we are duty bound to comment. This post is our response.

None of the design concept material of other companies we have reviewed to date shows an understanding of the difference between aesthetics and function. Said another way, while some boats may try to look like an FPB, they do not incorporate the critical mix of design features that give the FPBs their unique cruising performance paradigm. We have not shared our underlying design concepts with any other group. From a technical perspective this is probably impossible, since the parametric design spiral we use starts with our experience at sea, and every decision we make is colored by that. Thus, they are not “FPB-like” or an evolution of the FPB concept.

If you are thinking about a new build, let us offer a few words of advice about how to evaluate the yachts you are considering:

Be clear about what you want to do with the yacht, and the risk profile of the areas in which you may cruise.

Do a long passage, not just a short sea trial, aboard any type of boat you are seriously considering. Make sure that you experience at least force six but preferably a gale, both up and downwind.

Get to know some of the owners well enough so they will give you honest feedback (very few people will tell you what they really think, if it’s negative).

Assure yourself of the financial viability of the parties with whom you are dealing, and protect yourself legally to the extent possible. This is not an easy business. One only has to look at the recent demise of the Oyster Yacht company for an example. New buyers often get burned by promises that are not kept.

Be sure there is sufficient room for spares, consumables, toys, and bos’n’s gear. 

And when possible, it is always better to buy a good used yacht than to take on the risks, costs, and often frustration of a new build.

This subject is covered in much greater detail in our Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia, Second Edition, pages 1043-1085 (download a free copy of Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia here).

Which brings us to a topic we are reluctant to discuss, yet feel ethically obligated to do so, since our silence could be taken as a sign of acknowledgment.

We’ve been contacted by a number of people in the last few days about a mailing regarding a new design offered by Todd Rickard. While we parted ways with Todd because of a disagreement over the FPB 78 design and specification, we still wish Todd all the best in his new endeavor. We do, however, need to clarify a few things:

1. Todd’s design is in no way a “continuation as well as a true progression” of the FPB Series. This Nigel Irens design represents Todd’s ideas, not ours. It is not remotely close to an FPB.

2. There are claims made about Todd’s involvement with the FPB program. He worked with us during the first 12 boats on marketing and as owner liaison. This spanned the FPB 64s and 97 FPB. To be completely accurate, he was not involved in any of our design aspects.

If you are interested in what we think of as our ultimate voyaging designs in the larger size ranges, take a close look at the FPB 78s and FPB 70s, five of which will soon be cruising, all having been purchased by prior FPB owners. These represent what a lifetime of voyaging, design, and building yachts all over the world has taught us and our owners– for the FPB 78 and 70 are very much a collaboration between us. And while they will no longer be built, they will provide you with a yardstick by which to judge others.

We will see you out there cruising.


Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 26, 2018)

38 Responses to “Life In A Post-FPB World”

  1. Karl Mattson Says:

    Steve and Linda,

    It’s always sad when a great thing ends. I’ve followed the genesis of the FPB concept since you originally posted about breaking Beowulf’s boom and all the conclusions you both derived from that experience. Thank-you for letting all of us sit ringside and watch and learn as you designed and built the series. It has been like a master class in yacht design for safe and comfortable cruising. I wish you both the best.

    Happy Cruising!


  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks for the kind words Karl:
    Your mention of breaking Beowulf’s main boom brings back a flood of memories. That boom was the same extrusion the main-mast, and doubled up (tapered doubler of course) in the way of the boom vang. We were seeing the banded squalls on the radar, the classic sign of a hurricane – unforecast of course. There was a very narrow range of true wind angle that Linda had steer to enable me to drop the main in such a way as to keep the broken boom and associated reef lines on deck, but not put the jagged swinging section of boom through the dog house window. The peaceful surfing that followed as we ran down the big swells was what us got thinking the unthinkable… a F_____G powerboat.If that hurricane hadn’t spun up, and had a large sea bird not rotated our carbon fiber mast head wind instrument, the cause of the jibe that broke the boom, we’d probably still be sailing.

  3. Scotto Says:

    well that was interesting.

    Congratulations on a long and successful cruising, writing, boat designing and building career.
    It has been a great joy to me to open up your site each morning and seeing an update.
    I first came onboard after tripping over your site early in the Wind Horse build.
    I have been hooked ever since.

    I have enjoyed the detailed explanations of your design features, your reasoning and the photos to show.
    Each new design of a new model has been highly anticipated as it came to light over each progressive post.
    Mixed with flashbacks and history out of your archives.
    The occasional photographic blast from the desert was always well recieved when shown around my office.

    For all that you have shared over the years, I thank you.
    I hope we will continue to see more of your journeys, tales and pictures for years to come.
    and I have mu eye on a couple of 64s here in Australia, that oneday, I would like to sail on.

    smooth seas and safe anchorages.


  4. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks Scotto:
    We plan on doing a lot more posting (or is it blogging?) once we get back aboard. When we were working and tryinh to cruise at the same time there was little bandwidth left for anything else.

  5. Tom De Moya Says:

    Steve and Linda,

    As a younger boater in my early 30s now, you have been an inspiration on many levels. One of my ultimate goals is still calling your representatives and setting in motion an order for a 78 in the future. Unfortunately that may not be possible. As you can see already, builders and clients want to capitalize on the extremely high bar set by your decades of experience. Your masterful designs are not only publicly explained by countless posts in extreme detail but more importantly have set in motion a rethinking of what a long range cruiser should be. In a community where passing down knowledge is as important as the wind that fills a ship’s sails, I’m perplexed in the absolute expunction of your designs from the future of sailing. I understand the many reasons for not selling, continuing to work, or sharing in the immediate future. But have you considered open-sourcing your designs let’s say in the year 2035? Clock strikes midnight and the FBP 78 is newly open sourced? It’s a thought that has been swirling around since your first retirement post. For everything that you have shared over the years, thank you.


  6. Steve Dashew Says:

    Howdy Tom:
    Thank you for the kind words. We spent several years trying to find a formula that would insure the FPBs were built to our standards. I am not sure why it is so difficult to do things right in the marine business, and maybe we are a bit on the fussy side about the details, but it has been ever thus. Although there were financial incentives to allowing the FPBs to continue it just didn’t feel right.

  7. jmh2002 Says:

    Happy cruising.

  8. Alain M. Says:

    Steve and Linda,

    I am really sad to see this great adventure coming to an end. I have followed your concept since my pass has crossed Beowulf’s once at sea on a race, watching you overpass us was quite a view, a revelation, sort of, also!
    Thank you for letting all of us watch and learn while you designed and built these magnificent sail and “unsail” boats designed for safe, and, comfortable cruising.

    I wish you both and the rest of your family the very best.

    Happy Cruising!

  9. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks Alain:
    Now that we will have more time for cruising perhaps our paths will cross again.

  10. Joe Says:


    Your heartfelt comments are well put and understandable.

    Where will the future owners of the FPB’s coming to the used market turn to for help when issues and questions arise? I have read the blogs and noted when owners mentioned how excellent the after-purhase-care has been, just a sat phone call away. I am considering an FPB purchase as the prices come into my range, and have concerns about the follow-through.

    Best wishes

  11. Steve Dashew Says:

    Even though we will no longer be building new FPBs, will remain active and frequently updated, as will the private owners’ forum group. The owners’ forum group in particular is an excellent source of tech support. Sue Grant at Berthon, who we recommend for brokerage, coordinates on the new buyer end, and typically can get an experienced FPB crew to help you conquer the initial learning curve. Between Sue, ourselves, and the other owners, when service is required one of us can usually recommend someone in your area. And of course Circa is available for support in the South Pacific.

  12. Andrew Lambden Says:

    Steve and Linda,

    I congratulate on your superior design. I owned a Dashew 80 a formally Condor (she is a beautiful sailing vessel) that we constantly cruise for 22.000 miles, actually surfed twice in 75 mile hour wind and got her up to 26 knots. Even in these conditions we always felt safe and secure because of your design.
    We did re rig her with carbon fiber, which lifted the rig by twelve percent. Intentionally because of our refit our miles on the ocean were un eventful and a lot of fun – A tribute to your design skills. She is a very safe safe boat.
    I wish you all the best and thank you for been part of our life.

    Warm wishes from Hawaii where Godspeed had a happy time.
    Andrew and Pamella

  13. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hello Andrew:
    Condor would have benefitted greatly from that taller carbon rig. What did you use for standing rigging? She and Beowulf were faster in the trades than any of the FPBs, including Iceberg a 110 footer that has been repowered.
    Best of luck with your next adventure.

  14. Tim Dunlap Says:

    Steve & Linda,

    You two have been an inspiration to me for years and years. I have followed your designs from the start. You’re impact on the design of boats is amazing. Perhaps, in this industry, some have failed to recognized your many contributions over the years. However, I’m very sure there are many, like myself, that bought your books, visited your websites, and read your many magazine articles, and went on to make better decisions that helped them enjoy this great sport of ours. A few were lucky enough to own one of your boats.

    Thank you for all you have done.

    I was once out on Block Island Sound in a fog, when your Beowulf came motoring out of the fog right past. What a sight. I have to admit feeling envious of such a boat, and the very blessed life you’ve had sailing her, as well as your other boats. You sure knew your stuff when it came to sailing a boat, and fast too.

    I wish you many more wonderful trips out there. Sail on, or I should say motor on… I hope to see you out there one day.


  15. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks Tim for the very kind words:
    We often think back to our days aboard Beowulf. She was, or more properly is, the favorite of all our boats, power or sail. Fog on the East Coast of the US is not our favorite environment! On the other hand having Beowulf lit up in the trades, with a pair of code zeroes or spinnakers set, ripping off 300 to 340 nm/day, with just the two of us aboard, that was a real buzz. There was only a short span of years when we had the physical stamina, mental alertness, together with sufficient experience and wisdom to handle her on our own. Rereading “sail on…” makes me think maybe our next boat should be a throwback.

  16. Wayne Simmons Says:

    Dear Steve and Linda, my wife, Helen, and I have lived the dream since reading about and seeing Artemis. You have been my armchair sailing instructor since 1994 when I ordered your Encyclopedia and salivating for a Sundeer.
    We had three boats during that time until we found and purchased Theta Volantis, a 64’ ketch, hull #8. Every time I asked for technical and sundry advice from you via email- I got a quick and meaningful instructional response from you.
    Thank you for ALL your many contributions to the sailing- cruising world.
    And we send a great thank you to Linda for her practical influence over the cabin and galley designs, which truly completed our cruising experience.

    All the best in life.
    Wayne and Helen Simmons

  17. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hello Wayne and Helen:
    Perhaps we will share an anchorage one day. How many miles do you suppose TV has under her keel now?

  18. Alan Leslie Says:

    Steve & Linda,
    I’ve been following you for years, have all your books and all your videos and you were both a great inspiration and source of knowledge when it came to setting up my previous boat Diva for offshore sailing. You were generous enough to invite me onboard Windhorse in Westhaven marina after the sea trials and demonstrate the detailed thought that had gone into that boat. Beowulf and Condor…and Kelly Arher, whose yacht Mistral I tried to buy 20 years ago, but he wouldn’t sell it to me ! It’s been a long time.
    We are still out there cruising in the Pacific, and if we happened to come across each other again it would be a pleasure.
    Wish you and Linda all the best for the future

  19. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Alan:
    Good to hear from you. We will be out to the S.Pacific again, so stay in touch. It would be good to share an a anchorage.

  20. Yves-Marie de Tanton Says:

    Inspiration, dedication, motivation and result. Congratulation.

  21. John Rushworth Says:

    I just want to thank you both for all you have done. I have followed you since Windhorse days and your designs are to my mind as an ex Royal Navy steam engineer the only boats I’d feel truly safe in when things get tough. They follow my own thoughts and beyond.

    I wish you every happiness in your retirement.

  22. Adrian Says:

    Thankyou Steve and Linda you have kept us inspired with your concepts but I realise we all have to pass the
    baton on to another generation with grace.FPB 70 to me is the best of what you were wanting to achieve from
    an athestic and beauty point of view. I have spent many hours with freeship copying your design to try to
    understand your thoughts on design .Thankyou for sharing a few of the subtle design points I had asked about.I think there is a huge gap in the market for a low power displacement launch that can cross oceans,surf like a pro and is low cost .But I agree many are using your name but sadly their boats dont have the same under water design features which at the moment are unique to fpb .So I hope someone will pick up the baton .So I think you would be amazed how may of us armchair designers and dreamers you have inspired with your website and posts .If I won Lotto tomorrow Id be off to circa marine (just joking Id really like to build a wooden boat ,I ve built the shed 22metres by 8m 6m high So maybe in a the future I would build a downscaled version of your concept

  23. Tom White Says:

    What a great ride you guys have had. Your books, videos, blogs and websites have educated and enthralled many serious cruisers. Not to mention raised the bar in so many ways. Sadly we never bought an FPB. We did consider it and even had a wonderful trip to Circa to view the build process. Following retirement, we moved to Carefree. Give a shout sometime and maybe we can connect in AZ between cruising times. Now to see what future coaching changes are in store for U of A.

  24. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks Tom:
    We will give you a call when in the area.

  25. Hoovenson Haw Says:

    Have fun you two!

  26. James Masters Says:

    Thank you for confirming my intuition about the “fpb”-acronym.

    Given my sense of your most-enjoyable, high-quality with no frills, call-it-as-it-is, subtle irony-humor, i had a notion the “naming” was somehow linked with some startling, unexpected, revelation-moment.

    As my cousin from California used to say all the time, “Well, if we can’t go sailin’, we might as well be surfin’…” 🙂

  27. Steve Dashew Says:

    I agree with your cousin, although more recently the preferred alternative would be soaring.
    The revelatory moment came in the context of “I can’t believe we are designing a _ _ _ _ powerboat” having loathed same since being old enough to swing a tiller. That said, and given the wonderful cruising Wind Horse and Cochise have made possible, we are both still a little uncomfortable with the idea that we cruise sans sails.

  28. John Poparad Says:

    As Leonardo da Vinci would remind himself,
    “Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

    John would remind us all,
    “Study the science of voyaging. Study the voyage of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

  29. rayditomasso Says:

    keep teaching!

  30. Matt L Says:

    “…including Iceberg a 110 footer that has been repowered.”

    Just curious Steve, can you talk about the repower of Iceberg? What prompted the change? Did the owner requirements/expectations evolve?

    Best Regards,

    Matt L

  31. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Matt:
    Iceberg changed from the 6080 blocks (John Deere) to the 6090. More power, 320HP to 450HP, at lower revs. Proper sea trials for speed have yet to be done but Iceberg has been well 25 knots surfing. The top sustained speed is expected to be around 18 knots. The important number is the 14.5 knots she can easily maintain. And she has the fuel to do this trans-Atlantic.

  32. Henry Rech Says:

    Steve and Linda,

    Beginning from the early 1990s, I read everything (I could get my hands on) that you had written about cruising yacht design and the cruising life – from boat manuals to the Encyclopedia. Your work is an inspiration. It has an integrity because it is not subservient to fashion. You have steered your own course. And you have kept alive the dream for so many people. Long may it continue.

    Thank you.

  33. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks Henry:
    So many people have shared with us over the years we are just returning the favor.

  34. Alan Priddy Says:

    Hi Steve. You have been a man that has always led while others follow and I must admit even from the other side of the world you and your designs have been an inspiration and even like you I have thousands of miles under my belt I have read every word you have ever written and thought, ” This man knows a thing or two” some of your thoughts and Ideas have been built into our Challenge Boat which is about to be floated Best regards Alan Priddy and all from Team Britannia

  35. Beth and Ken Says:

    We wish Steve and Linda a happy retirement! We are grateful for all of their hard work in creating the Sundeer program. After owning Eagle’s Wings for over 17 years, we’ve never seen another boat we’d rather have. EW is a sweet, fast, strong boat and is a joy to sail. We appreciate the thoughtful, purposeful and logical design.

    And, at more than 22 years old, she still attracts compliments about her “modern” and “advanced” design. That really says it all…

    All the best,
    Beth and Ken
    s/v Eagle’s Wings

  36. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thank you Beth and Ken:
    We look forward to sharing an anchorage one of these days.

  37. Juergen Says:

    Greeting Steve, I sort of understand where you are coming from, as retiring from the building of on of the best Long Range Cruiser on the market place today..

    I know you have a Formula for your designs, and an ever changing process of fixing issue’s..[Like the console] I just wish that you could of setup a partnership of your family & Circa to Keep the design going..

    You previously had up the rough in for the FPB130, which I’d would of Loved to seen built.. and the thoughts of on of them cruising the oceans of the world as a research vessel come family cruiser would of been great..
    The ability to go close to inshore and to also cross the oceans in comfort, be self powered[where other designs miss out on..]

    Cruising thru other sites and see what they say are comparison’s is just laugh, one being the NED70 but I just can’t seem to find any solid stat’s on it range… yes the 20knt top speed seem good but for what fuel economy..

    I think the only way to ever stop someone from using the moniker FPB is to keep it an on going design.. just teach the next generation what is required.. With a guide Book and process I don’t think you would be disappointed… build the guide into whatever contract you have for continuing on the build process..

    Best wishes and safe travels on your Journey Steve and Linda..

  38. Steve Dashew Says:

    Good Morning Juergen:
    Thanks for the long and thoughtful note. We tried very hard to find a formula that would allow the FPB brand to continue. It was certainly in our financial interest to do so. At one point we felt we had the ingredients. But when decision time came none of us were comfortable with going forward. It would not have been fair to new or existing owners.