The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Meeting Up With Steve and Linda Dashew

We shared an anchorage for a couple of days this summer with Steve and Linda Dashew on their new boat Cochise.

Phyllis and I first connected with Steve and Linda several years ago when they were planning a voyage to Greenland on their last boat, Wind Horse.

Since then we have met up several times when our wakes crossed and Steve and I talk via Skype from time to time, often about our shared passion for photography, but also about voyaging yacht design in general and offshore motorboats in particular.

Whenever we chat I always learn a huge amount, much of which AAC readers get to share through the posts I write. And I regard these meetings and conversations as a huge privilege.

I’m not going to get into any sort of detailed review of Steve and Linda’s new boat since that would take volumes, and anyway you can read all the details over at Setsail.

Rather, I want to share two really important things that we can all learn from these two fascinating people:

There Is No Perfect

First off, even though they have been voyaging in, designing and building offshore boats (first sail and more lately power) for some fifty years, they are still constantly developing and iterating, rather than settling into complacency as many of their age (they are senior to me by over a decade) are prone to do.

For example, one of the things that I find most interesting about their new boat is that, although to the casual observer similar to Wind Horse, Cochise is actually very different. The former is optimized for higher speeds and the latter for fuel-efficient load carrying.

So Wind Horse and Cochise burn the same amount of fuel at cruise speed—about 10.5 knots if memory serves—even though Cochise is almost double the weight, making her almost twice as efficient on a tons-per-mile basis.

On the other hand, at higher speeds Wind Horse burns less fuel, making her more efficient on a pure miles-per-gallon basis, at least when getting there really quickly is the goal. And keep in mind that Wind Horse is already far more efficient than the average fat trawler at most any speed—talk about making a difference to motorboat design!


And that leads me to the next important lesson we can learn from Steve and Linda:

When I asked them if Cochise is a better boat than Wind Horse, the immediate answer was,

no, just different.

They then went on to share many of the changes in the later boat, but always with the caveat,

we changed this and got these benefits, but in turn this is the disadvantage of that change.

The point being that Steve and Linda know better than most anyone that any sort of discussion of the best design is meaningless. Rather, when designing (or buying) offshore boats we need to think about the mission and then select the best set of tradeoffs to fulfill it.


By the way, Steve and Linda have just announced their retirement from designing and building boats so they can concentrate on cruising and enjoying Cochise. When the FPB boats currently in-build are finished, there will be no more new Dashew boats. Truly the end of an era.

And while I totally understand, and in fact applaud their decision, I’m also sad to think that their constant stream of fascinating and innovative boats that truly moved the needle of offshore boat design will come to an end—I have been watching and learning from Steve and Linda’s boats and writing since I first marvelled at an early Deerfoot at the Annapolis Boat Show some 35 years ago.

One more thing: Steve and Linda celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary earlier this year. Congratulations you two, long may you voyage together and inspire us all with your writing and photographs.

Further Reading

Boat Design/Selection Child Topics:

More Articles From Boat Design/Selection:

  1. Q&A—Sailboat Performance, When The Numbers Fail
  2. Talking About Buying Fibreglass Boats With Andy Schell
  3. US Sailboat Show Report—Boats
  4. Some Thoughts On Smaller Older Cruising Boats
  5. Wow, Buying an Offshore Sailboat is Really Hard
  6. Hull Design Torture Test
  7. Of Dishwashers and Yacht Designers
  8. Which Is The Best Boat For Offshore Cruising?
  9. Meeting Up With Steve and Linda Dashew
  10. Cruising On Less Than $15,000/Year, Including The Boat—What It Takes
  11. How Not To Buy a Cruising Boat
  12. Where Do We Go From Here?
  13. The Boat Design Spiral
  14. Spade Rudders—Ready for Sea?
  15. Trade Offs in Yacht Design
  16. We Live in Rapidly Changing Times
  17. Long Thin Boats Are Cool
  18. Beauty and The Beast
  19. Q&A: What About Ferro-Cement Boats?
  20. Thinking About a Steel Boat?
  21. Your Boat Should Forgive You
  22. New Versus Old
  23. Rudder Options, Staying In Control
  24. “Vagabond”—An Extraordinary Polar Yacht
  25. Learning The Hard Way
  26. The Real Story On The MacGregor 65
  27. An Engineless Junk Rigged Dory—Another Way To Get Out There
  28. S/V “Polaris”, Built For The Arctic
  29. Boats We Like: The Saga 43
  30. Designers of “Morgan’s Cloud” Have A New Website
  31. Q&A: Interior Layout And Boat Selection
  32. A Rugged Boat For The High Latitudes
  33. Q&A: Homebuilding A Boat
  34. Q&A: Sailboat Stability Contradiction
  35. Are Spade Rudders Suitable For Ocean Crossings?
  36. There’s No Excuse For Pounding
  37. Q&A: Tips On Buying A Used Boat For The High Latitudes
  38. Used Boat For Trans-Atlantic On A Budget
  39. QA&: Is A Macgregor 26M Suitable For A Trans-Atlantic?
  40. Q&A: Used Colin Archer Design Sailboat
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Michael Bowe

Steve and Linda are amazing! Their “Surviving the storm”, is a seminal work about an actual event that chronicles more than few cruisers caught in the Queen’s Birthday Storm of 1994, on the voyage from the tropics to New Zealand. Arguably the best ever heavy weather story as Steve interviews different crews with very different outcomes!
A riveting read and later a life saver when I encountered a “Crush Zone” with 10-12 meter seas in those very same waters on my way to Fiji!
Thank you Steve and Linda!
Michael Bowe,

Bill Parlatore

Cochise has been at our dock for the past week, and we have enjoyed the Dashew’s company alone and with their friends from Tucson, Micheal and Nancy Morrell (who took 16 years to circumnavigate). I will soon do a full boat tour of Cochise and hopefully share as much about the design and boat as I can.
John, you are so right about the constant analysis and ever-developing design spiral. They are quite a couple.


I was just finishing construction of our boat, a heavy displacement Bill Atkin design, when I discovered Dashew’s Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia (1998 edition). Their design and equipment philosophies are pretty much diametrically opposed to everything that we did, but the book was and still is an astonishing resource that I have read (if not fully understood) cover to cover and have referred to on many occasions. I can’t say that I fully appreciate the aesthetic results of taking their thinking to the logical conclusions but I have occasionally fantasized about something like a Deerfoot or Sundeer. Those designs seem to have established the path for many of the production yachts of today, although without the same degree of rigour in planning or execution. There is no question that Steve and Linda Dashew have made leading contributions to the world of offshore sailing.

Paul Rutherford

The Dashew’s are clearly very special people and have contributed so much to the offshore world both power and sail. Unlikely that I will ever be in the position to own a FPB or a Sundeer but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learnt a lot from them and their designs. Thank you for that. John and Phyllis the same applies to you, I’m learning lots but particularly liking your considered approach to cruising and it’s challenges, thank you too for AAC and to it’s other contributors, you’re all adding greatly to all our worlds.

mark goldsmith

Any Comments from the Dashews on Dennis Harjama’s Artnautica LRC58 design. Seems to be a similar type of boat.


Hi John,
That link does not appear to work. Maybe it’s just my machine, but perhaps you could double check it. Thanks!

Max Shaw

Steve and Linda are not just super smart, they are also super nice. When they found out our daughter, then 12, was interested in yacht design they had us over to Cochise for a tour and Steve spent lot of time looking at her drawings and talking design. I cannot post a picture in comments but here is the link:

Thanks for the good work with the website. We are currently “low-latitude” sailors but intending to head back to Canada via Alaska and the Marshall Islands over the next two years so we will have to start thinking “mid-to-high latitude” again.


SV Fluenta
Presently New Caledonia

Colin Speedie

Hi John
what I know about motor boats and their design can probably be written on the head of a pin, but I have to say that when I saw ‘Wind Horse’ in the Hebrides a few years ago – it just looked right to me…
Good luck and safe cruising to the Dashews.


Thank you John for the FPB topic.
Like so many others, mr. Dashew has graciously answered all of my questions and comes across as a gentle giant and gentleman. It may well be the old slogan applies here: Behind every good man is a great lady.
Have immensely enjoyed his experiences, designs and ideas, but would have liked to see more teak in his interiors :).
FPB did remind me of Idlewild, but have no idea where it originated.
Our 60ft alu motorboat, with a sailboat like bilge, has about 5-7tons of lead ingots and have always wondered if this applies to FPB boats. With 2x155hp old style diesels, at 8knots it uses about 2 USgln/hr.

We wish the Dashew family a well deserved retirement, but do hope to enjoy their writings for many years to come.

Stan Creighton

John and Rene,

The newer FPB’s are ballasted. Our current boat, Buffalo Nickel, is FPB 64-7 and they have 6 tons of lead as ballast. That said, the design does keep the weight low and Steve hates anything heavy high up in the boat. Comfort underway is almost impossible to describe on a FPB-there is no comparison to a traditional displacement trawler.

BTW, Getting to know Steve and Linda is one of the biggest advantages of FPB ownership.

Stan and Val Creighton
MV FPB Buffalo Nickel
Currently in New Zealand


Thank you Stan and John for your comments, much appreciated.
Alu has many advantages, being light and strong and wondered how FPBs got away with it .
FPB boats do use a heavier or thicker hull plates, which is a more efficient way than stacking lead ingots in the bilge.
Going back to my merchant navy days, we could always spot an iron ore carrier miles away, as they, even in calm seas , were rolling more than ships with a lighter cargo.
Have noticed round bilge boats appear to roll much less than others at anchor.
Just had mine hauled out for a bottom paint, was advised to go with the “harder” Mission Bay product, as I couldn’t find out what was put on before we had the boat.
Since the boat is a one of a kind I didn’t really know its weight, but was pleased to learn it to be around 90,000lbs, as it is build more like a small ship.
Congratulations Stan with your FPB, happy trails!