Pop 20 - To sail is necessary, to live is not

Roberto Barros

I have a friend whose friendship I deeply praise. His name is Webb Chiles, and I’m quite sure that there is no need to introduce him for most of you, our cruising fellows, since the feats he already accomplished in the nautical world made of him one of most renowned American cruising sailors. Webb is in the last stages of preparation for his sixth round the world voyage on board his present sailboat, Gannet, a 24 foot midget ocean racer of a few decades ago. It may look small the boat he chose for this single-handed circum-navigation. However this is not the smallest boat in which he adventured alone around the world, having earlier used a smaller one, the 18 foot Drascombe Lugger daysailer, Chiddiok Titchborne, for doing so.

Webb and I got acquainted in 2002, during his fifth round the world trip, when, in the company of his wife Carol; he called at Marina da Glória, Rio de Janeiro, where I lived with my wife Eileen aboard the Multichine 28 Fiu. It seems that powerful affinities instantly approached the two couples, generating a pleasant friendship since then, perhaps the main reason for this mutual empathy residing in our common passion for small sailboats. Learning that he will soon be departing for a long passage aboard such a compact craft brought me good memories of the times when Eileen and I were also travelling in a small boat, the 25 foot Sea Bird, bound for the South Pacific Islands (the story of this voyage is published in our site with link from our home-page: “Rio to Polynesia, an adventure in the South Pacific”). In our return to Rio, Eileen and I were so enthralled with the life of cruising sailors living aboard pocket cruisers that we decided to dedicate a good part our time in helping others doing what we have done with so much pleasure. That was why our yacht design office developed a range of small sailboat projects, most of them intended for amateur construction.

Since Webb and I are regularly in contact, in a recent e-mail, willing to bring an atmosphere of great adventure to our conversation, I mentioned about a Brazilian pop singer who composed a tune about Prince Henry, the Portuguese navigator who had an important role in opening the sailing route from Europe to the East. Webb, a writer by trade, and a talented poet, must have enjoyed my recommendation, since he answered me telling that he published an article in his journal, In the Present Sea (with link from our web-site), telling about this issue. His text follows below:

You are a good group and you do me honour by reading this journal. Often you bring to my attention something I did not know. So it was with the Portuguese words above which came to me Sunday in an email from the Brazilian sailor and yacht designer, Roberto Barros.
I’ve seen more of the sea and the world than most. I’ve been reading seriously and listening to music for more than a half a century. Yet still I am often startled by my ignorance.
Carol and I met Roberto and his wife Eileen at Rio de Janeiro’s Marina da Gloria in 2002.
In the 1960s, Roberto and Eileen sailed from Brazil in a 25’ engineless vessel to the South Pacific where they cruised for three years. Although such voyages have never been common in small boats, in the 1960s they were not common in any size boat.
Roberto shares my particular affection for small craft. He once designed a boat that he describes as a near sistership to GANNET; and while he followed my voyages in THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, he is more interested in what I do with the less predatory bird.
The Portuguese words, which are attributed to Don Henrique, the prince who in English is known as Henry the Navigator, founder of the first school of navigation and prime mover in the Portuguese voyages of discovery, can be translated as “To sail is necessary; to live is not.”
For the Portuguese this was literally true.
In the north they grow grapes and make good wine, but the sea is--or was--the nation’s life.

I found an English translation of the lyrics:

The Argonauts

The ship, my heart cannot handle it
Such torment, happiness
My heart is discontent
The day, the limit, my heart, the port, no
Navigating is necessary, living is not
The ship, night in the beautiful sky
The free smile, lost Horizon, morning dawn
The laugh, the arc, of morning
The port, nothing
Navigating is necessary, living is not
The ship, the brilliant automobile
The free track, the noise
Of my tooth in your vein
The blood, the swamp, slow soft noise
The port - silence
Navigating is necessary, living is not

Gannet is a midget ocean racer designed during the seventies, the times when navigating was necessary, living was not. Then came the years of prosperity and sailboats became floating palaces. Courtesy: Webb Chiles

I sent Webb two photos of the compact pocket cruiser we have in our list of stock plans for him to see that our shared passion for small crafts really exists. The design we called Pop 20 has dozens of boats built in different countries and we consider the plans to be a contribution for the ones that wish to own a self-righting sailboat, and that for them the shortest path towards fulfilling this dream is by means of amateur construction.

Pop 20 is the sailboat we designed for the simple-minded sailors. She is easy to be sailed and cheap to be built. The feeling of freedom proportioned by a small sailboat can only be fully appreciated by those who own one of them.

The internal layout of the Pop 20 is quite ample for a twenty-foot sailboat. With berths for four adults, galley with sink and chemical toilet under the fore-cabin double-berth, it is amazing how cosy its interior is for a boat of this size.

Besides the Pop 20 we have other small sailboat designs, like the Multichine 23, and the recently introduced Pop 25, both these boats being within the reach of the amateur builder. However the Pop 20 is yet the easiest to be built of all our fin-keel stock plans. The trade mark we chose for the project has everything to do with the taste Webb and I share in common.

Click here to learn more about the Pop 20.