In 1990 I began designing a cutter to suit my own taste – in other words, a boat that, in the first instance, was not intended with a specific client in mind.
I got the original ideas from my many years of adventures in European waters, sailing in our own schooner, the “Johanna Lucretia”. I was actually born aboard this 22-meter wooden boat. Sailing along the coasts of England, Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia gave me my inspiration, but my special link with American (Maine) sailing craft, also played a major role. Almost every evening I was sitting at the chart table and started designing, working out on paper everything I have come across with regarding to this type of vessel. Many times I could be found surrounded by enormous piles of paper, searching for that one perfect line.
The origins of the various shapes of hull for cutters in these areas fill many a book, but what it all boils down to is that the sailing area and – more than anything – the function that the ships had (and often still have) played a very decisive part in the ship’s design.
It is partly thanks to this explicit functionality that ships become the beautiful things they are, but an additional factor of importance is, of course, the inspiration of the designer and the quality of the builder.
During my sailing trips it struck me that, in our environment, the sort of boat I had in mind lacked a certain “something” as a yacht: that “something was the extra impetus that’s needed to arrive at a new design, such as my design for the “Puffin®”. I’ve built a great deal of my own personal taste into the Puffin®, and after some 110,000 – often extraordinary – miles at sea, I’ve been able to include a great deal of my own experience of sea-worthiness and comfort at sea as well.
With its flowing lines and exceptional design, the Puffin® has an aura that immediately attracts and holds the attention of aficionados and connoisseurs. Many boats are crammed with unfathomable and intricate technology, but their shapes and styles are often “contrived”.
In the Puffin® design, on the other hand, elegance, sea-worthiness, personality and simplicity are the key principles – but, after a rough trip, you can still enjoy a hot shower – on even the smallest Puffin®!
Strong, reliable and up-to-date materials are used in the hull, the technical equipment and the interior.
The aim has been to achieve simplicity in structure and in the operation of the technical systems for people who don’t want to have to rely on other people.
Originally all versions were deep S-bilge long keelers. That, after all, is where my roots are. But in The Netherlands we have a great many shallows, and in other ports of the world as well the most beautiful places are often to be found upstream among these shallower waters. That’s why we’ve developed a centreboard version of the Puffin®.
As a sailor in extremely beautiful but often lonely environments I have learned to rely as little as possible on modern facilities in the event of an emergency.
That’s why, for example, the centreboard casing bas been designed so that the centreboard can easily be reached from the exterior even when the ship is at sea. A further point to note is that the centreboard has a modern and fully-streamlined profile for optimum sailing characteristics. It is fully independent of the boat’s exceptionally large curve of stability, which has been achieved through the distinctive shape of the hull and the internal ballast.
The Puffin® is also ideal for use on, for example, the inland waterways of Europe.
In a nutshell: the Puffin® offers you independence in every aspect of sailing.
In a boat like this you can catch people’s eye on a Dutch lake or feel at home off the rugged coastline of Nova Scotia.
The Olivier F. van Meer Design consultancy uses the latest Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques and very advanced computer programs.
We invest continuously, a police that extends to innovation and training. This ensures an efficient and flawless construction. The making of any necessary changes and the incorporation of specific customer wishes are dealt with quickly and accurately. Various interior layouts have been produced for the different models. These are all fully customised.
Meanwhile the boat has become extremely popular. I never intended it to go into mass production, but both you and I can relax, for every Puffin® has its own distinctive character. Is that, I wonder, due to the owner, the design or to me?
In the interim its sailing characteristics have been proven.
Although it handles like a much larger vessel, with beautiful, gentle movements and a very small angle of inclination, performance characteristics such as speed and its handling close to the wind compare favourably with those of modern, fast touring yachts.
The ease of handling and the supreme level of comfort on deck (and not just in the wheelhouse) and in the interior, even during rough sailing trips, have already been the subject of extensive comment.
Puffin® are the one of the few yachts that are ready to sail within the standard turnkey price without having to be kited out with all sorts of expensive options first.
The inspiration for the name Puffin® came from the small but sturdy bird of that name, which is famed not just for its curiosity and its dapper appearance but also for its enormous strength and speed.
Yes, it’s an impressive experience seeing a little beast of this kind, with its mysterious aura of laughter and gaiety, flying past.
Quite an appropriate name for my boat, I thought…
Olivier van Meer