Severn Swan

Deck, Anchors & Sail Plan

Severn Swan has a huge flat deck space finished mainly in teak, with iroko in the cockpit area, over a solid (ferro) substructure and finished with teak toe rails. The decking is held down with a proprietary sealant rather than being bolted down in order to avoid risk of water ingress below.  The deck is surrounded by a high safe teak handrail and has plenty of handholds. There is a wide walkway all around the steel pilot house and the large enclosed cockpit; all of which provides for optimum safety when at sea.  The layout, coupled with the large amount of deck space, would provide for an ideal home afloat for a family with children.

The large deck facilitates deployment and snuffing of the cruising chute and handling of the dinghy (or dinghies) which is easily winched on board with its outboard (using the mast halyard winch or the powered windlass) and stored on deck without compromising working space. The outboard is normally left on the dinghy but can be stored on the aft deck or down below.

These pictures show some configurations.  Just as often we have sailed with main/fisherman’s/jib or just fisherman’s/jib




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The asymmetric cruising chute is flown from the end of the bowsprit.  Controlled by a snuffer, we can deploy and retrieve it single handed.  It is a pleasure to fly and we use it as soon as the wind lightens or comes well astern.  Because of the size of the boat and the secure foredeck, the sail always feels within one’s control.  While cruising chutes are not normally considered much use directly downwind as they are blanketed by the main, we have found that we can fly it on its own straight downwind without the main.  Dousing it without the main has never been a problem.  We can roll out the fisherman’s in a few seconds to keep steerage while setting or dousing the chute.  



Severn Swan has a five sail schooner rig with a total area of 125 sq m plus a cruising chute (asymmetric) of 110 sq m.  The bowsprit and boomkin extend the rig at both the bow and the stern give a powerful rig with a lower mast height making her easier and safer to handle while still being relatively quick for her size and weight.


The larger number of sails means that each sail is smaller than on say an equivalent sloop rig making sails easy to handle short or single handed.  The schooner sail plan gives great flexibility as regards which sails to set for a given situation.  Her long keel gives tremendous directional stability.  

Because of the long keel and powerful rudder she is able to carry what might seem to be a very unbalanced selection of sails without causing the helm to become too heavy.


Sail Plan

The fully battened mainsail has an in-boom furling system which further allows for easy deployment, reefing and furling although a considerable amount of “reefing” is available by simply furling the fisherman’s sail (see below) so that we rarely need to reef the main. The furling system allows single handed reefing from the cockpit.


There are two staysails; the main staysail is hoisted from the cockpit whilst the fore staysail is hoisted from the foredeck.  Both are sheeted back to the cockpit to a winch on the pilot house roof.


The jib is sheeted back to two large winches in the cockpit.

Fisherman’s sail.  This large “inverted sail” provides a lot of power high up. It is on a furler and is quickly and easily deployed and furled from either the deck or the cockpit and is sheeted back to the cockpit.

Directional stability


On one occasion beating to windward in a force 4 with all sails set, I had told the my wife she could leave the wheel as I was setting the autopilot.


Some while later she commented on how very accurately the autohelm was steering. I looked.  I had not set the autopilot!  The boat had been steering rock solid to windward on her own for the last 20 minutes – and continued to do so.



Balance and trim.  


Sailing close hauled in a 25kn wind into an estuary and into a narrowing river with just the jib and fisherman set (no main) one might expect the boat to be unbalanced, but we were doing 7.5kn heeled at less than 15 degrees and the autopilot was steering comfortably with not much weight on the helm.



Hatches and Ventilation


In addition to the companionway there are 6 Lewmar deck hatches and 2 transom opening ports, all in smoked acrylic finish.


Custom designed tough stainless steel security bars with quick removal/drop down in case of emergency but are not accessible from above (see “Safety and Security” for more detail)


In addition there are 11 fixed portlights in the hull as well as the windows in the pilot house.


All of this lets a lot of light in down below with plenty of ventilation.

A 100lb ships anchor is mounted on the side of the bow and is very easy to deploy by just releasing the safety catch and the brake.  Recovery is easy too by using a flying lead on the windlass (which allows you to watch the anchor as it comes up).  The chain is 13mm calibrated chain, new in 2013.  It is marked with different coloured paint and cable ties every 10m to make it easy to keep track of how much chain is out (there is a cable counter but the colour-coded system has proven itself to be more effective  for us).



Anchors and Windlass

There is a system for pulling the rode from either anchor close to the bobstay to avoid any chafing of the anchor rode/chain against the bowsprit or its bobstay.


Severn Swan comes with a large inventory of ropes and chains for mooring and securing the boat in different situations or for towing.  This includes a 100m of 1” rope, 110m of 16mm rope, as well as the 100m of drogue line (see section entitled “Safety and Security” for details of the drogue).


A good set of fenders and two large fender cushions to protect the paintwork are included.

Click on this link to go to our Photo Gallery





Sail Inventory

The windlass, completely refurbished in 2011, is a Lawrence Simpson 2000.  Big, solid and reliable it raises the main anchor on the gypsy (with a manual option that hopefully you will never have to use!).  On the other side is a rope drum which can be operated with the chain gypsy locked. This is used to raise the second CQR anchor onto the bows.  It is also great for pulling someone up the mast in a bosun’s chair or anything else that would otherwise need a bit of grunt.


A snubber can be fitted and removed from the anchor chain from the deck.  

The 80lb CQR has a short chain and then 110m of 20mm nylon rode mounted on a drum in the anchor locker.


Care has been taken in the design of cleats and fairleads to ensure that they are not only massively strong but also minimise rope chafe.


She also has traditional features  such as the bollards on the foredeck, wooden cleats and pinrails.