To explore the Queen Charlotte Islands two years ago, Massachusetts businessman Bernie Blum had his 43-foot Cheoy Lee shipped overland from Florida to British Columbia. Blum then set his sights on the Baltic, but transporting his yacht there proved to be more complicated.
“The big yacht transport outfits don’t go to the Baltic,” he notes. “They suggested France. I found one freighter that would take my boat as deck cargo—for $42,000.” That plan would not work: Blum did not have the time to sail his boat from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, nor did he have the inclination to pay such a fee.
“Why should it cost so much to ship a boat?” Blum asks. “I knew that if I could fit one in a container, I could ship it for a fraction of the price.” About a year ago, he contacted Bob Perry, the Seattle naval architect who had designed his Cheoy Lee. “I asked if he could design a cruising boat to fit into a crate,” Blum says, “and 90 minutes later he e-mailed a sketch.” Blum also discovered that his theory already was being practiced by the owners of Flying Tiger—a 33-foot racing sailboat that the owners can dismantle, fit into a container, and then ship to regattas.
Convinced of the concept’s viability, Blum commissioned Schooner Creek Boat Works of Portland, Ore., to build a prototype of the 39-foot yacht, which he has named InBox. Blum also formed Container Yachts, a company in Middletown, R.I., to market a production version of the boat called Far Harbour 39.
InBox will debut at the Newport International Boat Show, from September 14 through 17, and have a beginning price of $200,000, without sails. “Our market is couples who want to see the world a little bit at a time, or groups of friends who will share the cost of the boat and keep it moving all the time,” says Will Rogers, Container Yachts’ president.
Blum says that you can ship the yacht by truck or train to any commercial port or container terminal in the world for $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the destination. Once it has reached its port, the vessel can be prepared to sail in two or three days using standard boatyard equipment. Blum estimates that in the case of his Baltic trip, the cost of the container option would have totaled no more than $10,000, a roughly 75 percent savings.
Perry’s design uses nearly every cubic inch of a standard-size shipping container, which is 40 feet long, about 10 feet tall, and 8 feet wide. The boat allows for comfortable all-weather sailing and provides plenty of headroom in the wheelhouse and galley. Perry designed the interior to accommodate one couple, but the settees in the salon make serviceable berths for visitors or children. The single head is quite spacious.
For sailing, the prototype relies on a full-batten mainsail and a roller furling jib. In foul weather, she will motorsail upwind at about 9 mph courtesy of a 40 hp Yanmar engine. Her range under power is estimated at 600 miles. In pleasant conditions, her narrow fiberglass hull will fairly rocket along under an asymmetric spinnaker.
InBox, says Blum, represents an alternative to chartering that offers benefits beyond a more affordable price. “Chartering limits you to specific locations, dates, and craft,” he says. “My wife and I want to sail our own boat with its familiar gear aboard. I don’t want to waste time trying to figure out a strange boat; I want to sail and explore at my pace.”