1987 Amazon 44: Adventure Sailing in Comfort

Let’s talk about dreams. Do you dream about sailing in nasty weather and staying comfortably dry? Do your dreams include a boat that will sail well while looking beautiful, if not downright sexy? Do the words ‘deck salon’ have special meaning to you?  If so, this boat might be just the ticket to adventure for you.

S/V Nomadness sitting pretty at the dock.

This is the Amazon 44 of Nomadness.com fame. Yep, Steven’s going to sell. We all know how life can throw curve balls and make us change plans. It’s the better part of valor to just roll with that and move on. So someone is going to have an opportunity to buy a special boat.

It’s a challenge to write a review of a boat that has such a presence on the interwebs already.  I’ve been reading Steven Roberts’ blog for at least a year. So when I had the opportunity to view and write about this boat I embraced the idea with 100% anticipation of fun. We bought the tickets to Friday Harbor aboard the Victoria Clipper! We spent the day on Nomadness talking to Steven, seeing all the electronic coolness, soaking in the aura of Nomadness and petting Isabelle! We set our brains on fire and also ate Coffee Braised Pork tacos! The day was non-stop goodness of times. I was stoked to write about this boat.

We jetted our way to Friday Harbor on the Victoria Clipper.

And then, as I sat down to write, it was with fear and loathing that I realized this: I have absolutely no idea what Steven was talking about most of the time. I’m sure he told me of all the techy things he had done to the boat and I nodded sagely. I was so impressed when he showed us his special systems, his electronic gizmalogical mumblemumbleness lalalalalalal….my brain burned up as I tried to remember all the things he said.

Mortified, I took immediate corrective action. Moving quickly, I downloaded the Nomadness reports and began scanning them.  I was filled with that kind of jaw dropping admiration I used to feel when standing next to guys with slide rules sticking out of pocket protectors, the kind I still feel when Mike pillow-talks about computers. What can I say? I used to think Spock was dead sexy.  I guess I just really LIKE geeks and on some level I completely understand the compulsion to create things on that level. But alas, I am not one of them. They speak a foreign tongue that will never be mine and I am left to nod mutely, hoping to blend in with the woodwork. Big. Huge. Sigh. Good thing you can read all about that techy stuff on Steven’s website.

Even I can see the beauty in this easy-access electrical panel.

So after my 60 seconds of grieving, I decided I would talk about things that are close to my own heart when it comes to boats; those things closest to many women’s hearts. Sailing attributes? No, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a sweet sailing boat. The benefits of steel hulls? Surely you jest. That is self-explanatory. I refer, of course, to beauty and comfort. Also home decorating.

Yes, this is a boat that could become a home for a couple or small family who wanted to travel literally anywhere on earth. The creative use of interior space means that although it’s only a 44 foot boat, not huge by today’s standards,  Nomadness offers benefits generally found only on much larger sailboats.

With two good sleeping cabins, this boat can sleep 3 people with ease, or 4 people if two are small. The aft cabin is larger than many other aft-cockpit designs, sporting a king size sleeping space.  There are heads fore and aft, and a separate shower room off the main cabin. That means someone can take a shower while someone else is using the head, and there is privacy enough to go around. That shower would also make a handy wet locker. The water heater is stored behind the panel doors. Steve tells me that one of the nice things about this shower is that the grey water is pumped directly overboard, not into a sump to sit. This same pump drains the top loading fridge and freezer.

Self-contained shower and wet locker. I have not seen any other boat that sports this.

Inside the aft cabin, opening ports allow light into the space, and open into the cockpit so that there can be easy communication between someone resting below and whoever is keeping watch. This kind of easy access is on my shortlist of ‘safety’ features that many boats do not share. I also appreciate the airflow that opening ports allow.  Unlike many cabins in aft cockpit boats, there is room to sit up and read in this space without bumping your head. The cockpit floor, while it does take up some space in this cabin, does not make one feel claustrophobic. The aft cabin has a dedicated head, making this a good sized master suite on a 44 foot boat.

It's a king sized bed. Do not under estimate the importance of this.

It’s a king sized bed. Do not under estimate the importance of this.

The overall tone of this boat interior is set the minute you enter from the companionway.  I was immediately struck with the amount of light filling the cabin and with the creative use of space. What makes the interior of this boat really shine is the beautiful joinery. The openness of this boat interior is made possible by the ‘deck salon’ nature of the aft part of the main cabin.

Thanks to the Nomadness site for this photo. The electronics area is slightly different (read: better) now.

This deck salon sports large port lights (1/2 inch thick) that create a sense of spaciousness that is just hard to find on a boat that is so obviously designed for sailing. This boat feels wider than her 14 foot beam. The deck salon houses the “Mission Control” center, complete with inside engine and steering controls. This level of luxury on a sailboat is notoriously hard to find without going to a pilothouse and thereby losing the sexy lines of the Amazon 44.

Having inside steering means you can motor through nasty weather and still maintain being comfortable below. The inside steering is one of the things about this boat that allows it to take you on expeditions to anywhere. Steering inside is done with a joystick and independent hydraulic pump that does not draw any power unless you are using it. There is also a Simrad autopilot with a bluetooth wireless controller. Man. Live the dream!

In the Mission Control area is a table with two seats, complete with a built in microwave underneath. Yes, the microwave is in a place that allows you to go sailing on this boat without worrying that it will fall off a shelf. Underneath is a huge drawer space. There is additional stowage under the sole in this area, as well as adjacent to and aft of this area. Swivel seats provide supportive seating with a view out the ports. What you have is a versatile use of space for working, dining, computing, even additional counter space for the galley, without using the main salon. In a 44 foot boat, that is impressive. Two or even three people can have their own activities going on inside this boat without getting in each other’s way. Try that with a traditional layout.

Attractive galley.

.The galley, to port of the companionway, is attractive and functional in the traditional ‘u-shaped’ style of a sea-going boat. There is a nice gimballed propane stove with a sturdy hand hold. Unlike most galleys, this one has adequate work space on the counters. And, offering the best of both worlds, there is a front-opening fridge for when you are tied to the dock. When you are sailing you will be glad of the efficiency of the top loading fridge and the freezer, which, according to Steve, keeps ice cream just perfectly. But it’s nice to have the front loader built in. Being at the dock is more pleasant when you don’t have to dumpster dive your own fridge to get a bottle of beer.

The word to describe this little stove: Adorable! And functional, so, two words, really. Thanks to Yachtworld for the photo.

An outstanding feature of this area of the interior is the Little Cod wood stove Steven had installed. Aside from its obvious charm in the looks department, this is a workhorse of a little stove that puts out 28,000 BTU’s of heat. It can actually serve as an extra cook top, which could be right handy if you ran out of propane out in the wilds of Alaska somewhere. But one of the best features of this stove is one that isn’t obvious: Steven had the inside of the stove coated with ceramic, so it can burn literally any kind of wood, even wood that has been sitting in salt water, without ruining the inside of the stove. Driftwood fuel, anyone? This is only one source of cabin heat. There is also a Webasto diesel forced air heater but it’s going to be way less romantic.

The ‘prettiness’ factor in this galley and, in fact, in the entire boat, is considerable. Black countertops, stove, woodstove, and refrigerator become the background for the gleaming honey colored woodwork and sole.  And because Steven has used black starboard in designing the electrical panels, this whole space works together. Add a touch of the color of your choice with curtains and your home decor is pretty much complete in this area.

Very cool window covering idea that I will be shamelessly stealing on our next boat.

So lets talk about the curtains in this boat for a moment because Steven has tricked them out with a pretty cool idea.  With port lights this large, being able to cover them for privacy and possibly shade (I guess, in some parts of the world that are not here) becomes important. Yet regular boat curtains are difficult to install and would create a  cluttered appearance in this sleek and modern space. Steven’s window coverings are panels of fabric that are held on with little round magnets. (Of course, these have the geeky name of N52 Neodymium magnets, but, whatever.)  I love this idea!  The magnets are attached to the wood around his windows by using 3M VHB foam double backed tape. Matching magnets are sewn between pieces of fabric to create a panel that ‘clicks’ onto the window in an instant and comes off just as easily. Your mileage may vary in terms of how to attach the magnets to your boat, but just channel your inner geek to find the solution to this.  And because this project is fast and easy (now that Steven has worked out all the bugs) and the panels are easy to store, one could have any number of patterns and colors of panels that would dress up the interior according to whim. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and the dictates of the good taste this boat deserves.

Across the boat and in front of the galley is a full sized navigation desk. The lid lifts up revealing the large freezer. This space is 4″ deep and perfect for storing the kinds of things you need for a working desk: paper, pens, measuring devices, all that stuff.

Full size navigation desk.

Stepping down and forward from this area takes you to the main salon. Currently Steven has set this area up to be his music studio, complete with his full sized keyboard. This has worked great for him, but potential buyers may not need an on-board studio like this. The good news is that he was able to retain the original structures of the boat interior. That means that if you do not need to have a studio space, you can easily revert this cabin back to having the boat equivalent of the living room at home because all of the structure is still there,unmarred.

This is what it looks like now. Do you need a boat office? Because if so…


Here's what Steven started with. You could easily go back to this.

Here’s what Steven started with. You could easily go back to this. Thanks to Yachtworld for this interior shot.

So through the magic of ‘putting things back the way they were before’ this space could easily become a ‘hanging out’ area for a couple. Although the original table is solid on its legs, it would not be a huge problem to fit a table to drop down in this area and create a large double berth if one desired. The current settee creates a 7 foot seating area, plenty of room for most folks. But if it were me I would put in a drop down table, put the filler in, get some large pillows and create a lounging area for TV watching, internet surfing, reading, and generally getting cozy; kind of the boat equivalent of a rumpus room. After a day of sailing, it’s nice to have a place to comfort the body, a place that feels soft and allows the body to completely relax. Add to this the awesome sound system and you might not want to ever go outside again.

It's just like our family room at home!

It’s just like our family room at home! Thanks, again, to Yachtworld for this interior shot.

On the opposite side of this is an entertainment center that houses stowage spaces,  a counter top for doing small projects, the door to the shower room/wet locker, and a space that is perfect for a flat screen TV or computer monitor. And this:

Guess what contraption is in my future? You got it.

While you are watching your favorite movie on the monitor, you’ll have plenty of time to fold clothes. That’s right, this boat has one of those on-board washer/dryers behind a door in the salon. I am so jealous! Don’t tell Mike but I am totally going to price these out for our next boat. I figure about $1200, since it has the word ‘marine’ in front of it. When we are doing our summer cruise, I don’t really mind washing clothes in a Tupperware tub on deck because we only get three weeks on the boat at a time. The novelty is barely wearing off by the time we have to come home. However, there are some places where other people mind very much if you hang your underwear on the safety lines. And on this boat, you could easily be traveling in high latitudes where your clothes would freeze before they dried. This boat NEEDS a washer/dryer. And it has one.

Cozy for 2, luxurious for 1, with the same beautiful woodwork found through the rest of the boat.

Cozy for 2, luxurious for 1, with the same beautiful woodwork found through the rest of the boat. Again, thanks to Yachtworld.

Going forward there is the additional head to port, more nice stowage to starboard, and the v-berth. Notice the daylight illuminating the cabin in the above photo. In this area is a drop down chart and chart book stowage area that is large enough to hold full sized paper charts  because you know you need those when you go adventuring! It’s nice to have a dedicated space to store them safely. And I love the idea of using the ‘ceiling’ for storage in areas where headroom is not at a premium. That space frequently gets overlooked on a boat.

LIveability on a boat includes exterior spaces and this boat does not disappoint. But remember, this is a sea going boat, not a dock queen. So the cockpit is comfortable but not overly large. It sports something I’ve not seen before: cushioned back rests behind the seating (or head rests for munchkins). So… does that mean we’d need those if we went sailing in this boat? I suspect that yes, we would be glad to have them. At the dock they make a comfortable cushioned perch.

Nice place to perch in the cockpit!

Finally,  wide side decks, intuitively placed sturdy handholds and generous space on the foredeck, allow easy outdoor living when at anchor or on a sunny day while under sail. I’m sure I could find some room for my hammock on this Amazon 44, a boat that offers adventure above, and gracious living below.

Spacious deck for outdoor living. Good traction on the deck for sure-footed maneuverability.

For more geek-focused information about Nomadness, take a look at Steve’s Walkthrough of this vessel. Contact him to arrange a showing before he changes his mind. He’s docked directly to the left of the ferry landing at Friday Harbor, only a three hour sail from Seattle via the Victoria Clipper!

That could be you standing on the rock, gazing into the distance, your boat at sweet anchor in the background.







1 thought on “1987 Amazon 44: Adventure Sailing in Comfort

  1. Pingback: The Perfect Boat: Style, Speed, and Comfort Under One Deck | Little Cunning Plan

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