FPB 78 Dream Machine – Matrix Deck

Now let’s have a more detailed look at what may end up being our favorite area on board: the Matrix deck.

The Matrix deck is evolved from the same area on the FPB 97, refined for our needs based on a season of living with a much smaller model on Wind Horse. Access to and from is under a fixed roof, dry in almost all conditions. In cold or wet climates, we may decide to fit a back curtain across the aft end of the great room roof overhang to give us additional protection.


The area in the Matrix deck is more than double that of Wind Horse or the FPB 64. After much discussion, the enclosure system will be similar to what worked so well on Wind Horse, solid acrylic plastic to just beyond the horizontal bar, and then the Clear View window system above.

FPB 78 1 PRelim 1MD 102

Our seating will be wider than before, making this an exceptionally comfortable area for lounging or watch standing. Fully enclosed, we expect this to be a favorite location for the grand kids to sleep when they visit.


The seating arrangement has several other advantages. It provides a walkway around the perimeter, helpful for window operation and maintenance. And the additional distance from seating to roof edge gives us better shade at low sun angles.


Both the starboard settee and port helm chairs are situated so that Linda has good sight lines forward. In this case, the camera is at an elevated seat eye height. She can see close in under the bow when seated. If optimal visibility is necessary, we would stand up close to the windows.  In this case, it is possible to wedge ourselves in place between coaming, plastic panels, and navigation desk.


This view, from the starboard corner, is also rendered at Linda’s eye height when she is seated. The handrails on top of the seat backs will be handy offshore. There are two rail-mounted Maretron displays, each of which can provide up to four lines of data. These allow us to monitor vessel systems and navigation data while seated in this most comfortable of watch stations.


Now a wider view from the aft starboard corner. The coamings and navigation desk will be in aluminum to provide a visually contrasting foundation for the fabrics. We will be using a pipe frame roof, with Stamoid fabric. The ladder trusses that support the roof are both structurally efficient and provide a system of overhead handrails throughout. Aside from functionality, we think this “loft look” will be very cool aesthetically.


The Stamoid roof is laced onto the surrounding framework, making removal, if required, relatively simple.


The lacing itself is on top of a surrounding structure, where it is hidden from view. In the rendering above we’ve removed the Stamoid roof to reveal the support system.

FPB 78 1 PRelim 6 100

There is a port side docking station to make snuggling this Dream Machine into tight situations more efficient.

Finally, we really like the ability to walk around the perimeter of the Matrix Deck.

FPB 781 MAtrix deck walkaround 2

It makes window maintenance easier while offering up a variety of photographic options.


One issue we’ve wrestled with is whether or not to have a day head, and if so, where?


The key question is, who is going to use this, and when? We had decided not to fit a day head, and then changed our minds after discussing it with an old cruising friend. He made us realize that it would be very convenient to have a head that could be used easily when alone and on watch in this area. If we’re alone, then we don’t need an extra privacy enclosure, which blocks sight lines. If we’re not alone, and privacy is desirable, then there is someone else to keep an eye on the helm while one of us goes below.

When the head is in use, there is still a degree of privacy, afforded by the mast, the solar array, and the raised settee forward.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (June 1, 2013)

27 Responses to “FPB 78 Dream Machine – Matrix Deck”

  1. Rick White Says:

    The whole design looks great! One question, where is a day head? Long hike from the Matrix deck to a stateroom in a seaway! Grand kids and old age could be an issue 🙂
    Also I like the night stands in the owners suite.

  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Rick:
    There could easily be a day head under the overhang, on the port side, where the life raft presently resides. This would not block any views as the fridge/freezer as adjacent on the inside.

  3. Warren Cottis Says:

    What are you going to name her, Steve? “Total Domination”?

  4. Steve Dashew Says:

    Think hard about a name, but no decisions yet. Other than this is our continuing the dream machine.

  5. Steve B Says:

    Love it. Is there a wet locker in the stb mast?

  6. Steve Dashew Says:

    The wet locker is against the starboard mast, adjacent the bulkhead. There are doors into the masts that create rope tail storage.

  7. David Sutton Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I an really happy for you both. She is a lovely work of art.
    Curious why both docking stations are on the port side. doesn’t this limit your options for putting the boat starboard side to?
    I know she’ll be very maneuverable and most of the time it won’t pose a problem, but I know your philosophy is to be prepared for the what-if scenarios.
    In my experience there are going to be times when your preferred docking side just isn’t possible due to space or weather, etc.
    Perhaps a tethered remote on the aft deck would give the most flexibility.

    Thanks for sharing your art with us all.

  8. Steve Dashew Says:

    With the thruster, and the “smart” control system and trolling valves on the transmissions, we can easily walk the boat sideways and hold her on the dock or against another yacht. So, we think the need to come in starboard side to will be rare enough that it is not worth the two extra sets of controls.

  9. Bob N Says:

    Lots of good stuff (e.g. the containment inset in the helm bench, the walking space around the seating on the Matrix deck, the docking controls) but I still prefer the 64 – it being ‘designed down’ in comparison. (I realize you had to go up if you were moving the helm position back). I’d be a bit worried about braining myself on the legs of the outboards. What about extending the aft deck and giving her a swim and boarding platform that isn’t part of the hull?

  10. Steve Dashew Says:

    We really wanted to keep the LOA under 24 meters. And we don’t think the outboards hanging down are a problem. If it turns out we are wrong, then they will get tilted before bringing the dinghy on board.

  11. ron Says:

    hi steve, really like the matrix deck so far…what kind of a blow do you expect the samoid roof to with stand,it looks realty tough with the solid edge….with the matrix helm offset to port do the gains from the outside control station make sense….I think I would be happier with that control station on the aft side of the stbd. mast…I like the idea of being closer to the action if I need to bear a hand on deck. ron

  12. Steve Dashew Says:

    When docking, where there is help ashore to take the lines, the best position to judge perspective/distance is from the port Matrix deck docking station outboard of the mast. There are good sight lines from the inside station looking forward, but the mast and roof extension aft block the helm view of the port edge of the swim step. If there is nobody on the dock, and we are wanting to put someone ashore first, then it is necessary to keep an eye on the aft port corner.

  13. Henry Says:


    I was hoping you might mend the error of you errant ways and that your next design would be back to sail. Crazy thinking, I know.

    I was wondering why you have departed from your fundamental design principle of narrow beam after 30 years.


  14. Steve Dashew Says:

    Henry, you are confusing beam at the deck with waterline beam. These boats have very svelte canoe bodies, but more flare than Wind Horse in the topsides once past the wave penetrating part of the hull. As to another sailing design, we have pushed the edge of that envelope as far as we could for the two of us, and anything we did at this point would have to be much slower. No fun in that.

  15. Henry Says:


    I thought a little more about the 25% beam matter. Is it to balance more weight aloft so as to preserve initial stability? The 64 seemed to have a higher beam ratio also. Was this trying to fit the amenity of the 83 into a shorter length or some other design principle at play?


  16. Steve Dashew Says:

    The FPB 64 is very much a different animal than the FPB 83, and heavier for her length. This has benefits and negatives compared to Wind Horse. But if you want to cruise comfortably, and cross oceans in difficult conditions, the formula is right for a yacht of this length. We’ll have a write up in a few weeks on a series of FPB 64 passages that have taken place in the last month or so in the S. Pacific which will shed more light on this subject.
    The new design, the FPB 78, is a blend of Wind Horse and the 64, with what we think are the best of both. We have no doubt that she will be both sea kindly and efficient.

  17. Henry Says:

    OK, got it on it the beam issue Steve.

    We all love the way you tease us with your pre-new-design photo shoots and hints. However, this time I was hoping you would surprise with a return to sail with a super efficient, easily handled rig. Heck, you’re even talking about crew. I see the keel won’t be laid for a few more months. There is still time to repent! Cheers.

  18. Daryl Says:

    Is there a reason other than weight to use a soft top instead of a hard top? Will there be some kind of insulating or heat reflecting layer in the matrix deck cover?

    Does it look like the six solar panels will make you “generator free” most of your anchor time?

    It may be a little early for general electrical questions but are you considering lithium iron house batteries? (Please note that LiFe are different and much safer than the batteries in cell phones, lap tops and airliners.)

  19. Steve Dashew Says:

    The use of the Stamoid fabric for the Matrix deck roof is a huge saving in weight. With the perimeter zipped up, we think heat will rarely be required, even in the higher latitudes. As to solar panels, the eight shown should give us about 25/50% more output than Wind Horse, depending on sun angles of course. If we think more output is required, we will add a second rotating array on the aft deck, of something like six panels. This will also give us additional shade. We are several months away from getting into this aspect in detail.

  20. John O Says:

    I’ve always wanted to do the great loop (as well as some other cruising) and someday, if I win the lottery or something, I will. This boat looks perfect.

    How tall above the water is it? There’s a 19’1″ bridge in Chicago that loopers have to go under.

  21. Steve Dashew Says:

    Air draft is 22’4″/6.8m at present.

  22. Skip N. Says:

    You could always do a custom hinged arch with the cover supports removable. For all those who haven’t followed this site, you will find FPB crew will always help with custom requirements. They seem to love the challenge.

  23. Ben Woodford Says:

    John O, I’ve looked at the air clearances on the FPBs as well. Living on the Great Lakes doing the Loop strikes my fancy as well. My solution: After hitting the lottery, buy a Loop boat to play with while your FPB is getting built.

  24. John O Says:

    That is a good possibility. But I really like the stability of the FPBs (OK So I’m a coward in rough water) and I’ve seen too many documentaries of ships getting lost on Superior.

    But, if I can get into the great lakes, and I can from the east, then I can explore them all for the entire summer. I figure if I can afford the boat I can afford the time to use it. Right?

    Finishing the loop woul djust require a slow slog up the Mississippi and Illinois to the downstream side of that bridge in Chicago. I figure they’d give me credit if I can see the closure of the loop right? (Or I can go under the bridge in a smaller boat just to say I’ve done it!!)

  25. SetSail» Blog Archive » FPB 78 – Steve & Linda’s New Dream Machine Says:

    […] FPB 78: Matrix Deck […]

  26. RobS Says:

    I vaguely recall this being commented on before but cant find it now. Have you considered enclosing the stairway to the Matrix deck so that it is internal to the great room? If you intend the matrix deck to be the primary helm position in an expedition yacht there are certainly benefits to not having to travel outside to reach it, particularly in rough weather and cold climates. If not at least a set of roll away clears would provide a fair degree of enclosed benefits to accessing the matrix deck, With relatively extensive experience sailing a Seawind 1000, whose flybridge is enclosed only by drop down canvas and clears it certainly gave a remarkably secure feel albeit in relatively temperate climates.

  27. Steve Dashew Says:

    Access to the Matrix deck is from under and through an overhanging roof. The Matrix level is enclosed and the aft end of the overhang is easily closed off if conditions warrant.