When I arrived to take the Amazon 46CC Storm Vogel out for a spin around Lake Union, the weather wasn’t looking good. Despite sunny skies, the water was a sheet of glass. Flags hung lifeless and anemometers had a hard time making a full rotation. To even attempt a good test sail would have proved a fools errand.
Though my sail for the day was bagged, we decided to postpone until the following afternoon and since I was there, I had extra time to climb around on deck and open storage compartments, floor boards and cabinets down below to get a sense of what the boat was all about.
What I found was a ready-to-go steel cruiser that appeared to need only provisions and it could be safely heading westward out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca this spring for another trip around the globe.
A Born Cruiser
Storm Vogel’s hull was designed by Grahame Shannon and fabricated by Dieter Pollack in Vancouver, B.C. The owner had the bare hull shipped to Northern California where he took three years to customize the interior for a circumnavigation. After meticulously insulating, crafting and fitting out the hull, it was then shipped to Seattle where the rig was stepped and a new suit of sails were fitted by Schattauer Sails in Ballard.
Constructed to punch through heavy seas and to be comfortable doing so, Storm Vogel was meant to spend time on the ocean and in far flung anchorages around the globe. She spent eight years cruising the waters of the world and when I spoke with the owner he said the most remarkable thing was that they had very few problems with the boat during that time.
“It’s a great cruiser,” he said with genuine affection. “It’s a boat that can go anywhere and it is very comfortable at sea.”
Being an owner-finished boat, Storm Vogel has a unique interior that is a blend of comfort and practicality. When stepping off the companionway ladder I couldn’t help but notice how open and airy the boat felt. The light blue-green floors and upholstery are clean and appear easy to maintain. And the white headliner and bulkheads coupled with mahogany cabinetry and overhead hatches and ports keep the interior bright.
Storm Vogel would happily sleep six sailors in two staterooms and the main saloon. The forward and aft cabins, along with the saloon, have berths to port and starboard with storage underneath. Between the bunks in the forward cabin is a small seat, and similarly, between the bunks in aft cabin is a wider, couch-like settee.
Being a center cockpit allows the boat to have walkthrough access to the aft cabin to port and starboard. Starboard is through the galley and to port is through the head and shower. From forward to aft, the galley has a double sink, cabinets and drawers, a Force 10 three-burner gimbaled stove and stainless steel front loading refrigerator.
To port and aft of the nav station is the head and shower. I appreciate having a shower that is separate from the sink/vanity area and this setup would be user-friendly as well as simple to keep clean. For a couple on a boat of this size, only one head is necessary and it works well to have it located aft near the master stateroom but just off the nav station and main saloon, too.
The navigator’s desk is a classic station with bench seat and fold-up desktop. The seat is made comfortable by cushions and a built-in foot brace below. Electronics and house power panels are to port as is more storage space.
What I found most impressive about the interior for a live-aboard or full-time globe girdling cruiser is the amount of storage aboard. With tanks built under the cabin sole and in the fin, space abounds under cabinets and bunks for anything and everything you need to keep aboard. In front of the forward cabin and with access from a hatch on deck is a large storage locker for sails, chain, line and cruising gear — I am envious of this space.
There were only two things I found interesting about the interior: the lack of a dinette table and of a two person bunk. But if a buyer took exception to either, it could be resolved by a shipwright or capable carpenter who is able to build a drop leaf table on the mast or change the aft bunk configuration to a pullman or centerline double.
The morning of my second attempt at a test sail aboard Storm Vogel started with me atop the Space Needle replacing the Seattle icon’s flag halyard (read more about that here). From my vantage point high above a sun-drenched Seattle I could tell the wind was filling in on Puget Sound and by the time I’d finished the halyard and reached the docks on Lake Union, a pleasant northwesterly breeze was flowing down the ship canal and out from under the Aurora Bridge.
Using some creative maneuvering, we got Storm Vogel clear of her slip and out on the lake to put her through the paces. I watched from behind the helm as Pete unfurled the nicely cut mainsail up and out of the Schaefer boom with ease before reaching behind me to sheet the sail on for close hauled.
Whenever I test sail a boat I like to go upwind first, so we rolled out the genoa and I brought the boat on the wind on port tack with the bow pointed towards the green hill at Gas Works Park. The hydraulic steering needed little tending when the boat found her groove and as puffs hit she simply leaned with them and built speed. Though we weren’t out in the ocean, I could tell Storm Vogel has the sea-kindly disposition that the owner enthused about, as the seven and a half foot draft and tankage built under the cabin sole and in the fin seemed to point to a well ballasted boat.
With Pete trimming the new working sheet during tacks, I’d throw off the old one and we zig-zagged our way past kayakers and rowers towards the bridge . The highest gust we saw hit 10 knots and we turned it into nearly 6 knots of boatspeed before cracking off for a leisurely reach and run back into the lake. I longed to see what this boat could do out in the open ocean with a full head of steam, and by all accounts, it’s as good a sea boat as any.
I seem to be venturing out on more and more center cockpit boats these days and though many of them are very similar in their cockpit and handling setups, Storm Vogel’s was done exceptionally well. The varnished teak coamings are high enough to create comfortable seating, but won’t trip you when climbing in and out of the cockpit. And line-handling can be taken care of by one person or two, as main and jib sheet winches are within arm’s reach.
The dodger and full enclosure show little wear for a boat that has been around the world, and while we may not have needed the protection on this sunny Seattle day, it would be much appreciated for winter cruising in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The side panels were easy to remove for the nice weather, and sight-lines while seated were clean through the dodger and good while standing at the helm due to a forward window at eye level.
When going through the interior of Storm Vogel on my own I had to chuckle when I opened a cabinet and found it fully stocked with spirits — the boat is that ready to go for another blue water adventure. The list of gear offered with Storm Vogel is unmatched (check it out here), the maintenance has been done, there is no visible rust on the steel hull and when I remarked above that all you’d need is provisions, I literally meant that if you bought a few weeks worth of food, you could set out upon the Pacific shortly after stowing it.
I see Storm Vogel as a great world cruiser for a couple or small family who is ready to go now, but it would also make an excellent liveaboard for those looking to stick around the Inside Passage for a while before venturing out.
Either way, if you’re ready to go tomorrow or five years from tomorrow, Storm Vogel will be too. And you won’t even have to make a stop at the liquor store.
For more information on the Amazon 46CC Storm Vogel, visit swiftsureyachts.com