Compass Rose

Dickerson 41 Compass Rose

Dickerson 41 Compass Rose

Compass Rose, or Little Rosie as we call her is a 1980 Dickerson 41 center cockpit ketch.  She was built up the Choptank River in Trappe, Maryland. 

The Dickerson 41 is a traditional cruising design.  She is narrow and heavy and has a long, shallow keel.  She needs only 4 ½ feet of water to float which is great for the Chesapeake, the ICW, and the Bahamas.  As you might guess she is 41 feet long. She is 31 ½ feet at the waterline which puts her theoretical top speed at about 7 ½ knots.  She displaces about 25,000 lbs and carries 791 sq. ft. of sail.

She needs a bit more wind than modern boats to get her going and she is much happier with the wind on the beam (from the side) than from ahead, but her size, weight, and general design make her well suited to cruising.

The first 41, Southern Cross, was built of wood and used to make the mold for the hulls of the rest of the boats.  Southern Cross was built to “go ’round the world” and that she did.  Another Dickerson 41, Beau Soliel, has nearly completed a circumnavigation.  A third boat, Plover, crossed the Atlantic, cruised the Med, and came back.  Not a bad record for a relatively small production run.

We have tried to prepare Compass Rose for our cruise by adding or upgrading equipment and performing a lot of maintenance tasks.  Much of this is drudge work, but a few things have been fun.  We bought a dingy and added davits so we can hang the dingy off the back.  We moved our 35 lb. anchor to backup and added 55 lb. anchor and 190 feet of heavy chain.  We plan to sleep well at night.  We also installed an electric windlass to haul it all on board.

We put a small solar panel on top of the davits and added two large ones on the side rails near the stern.  In all we can produce up to 290 watts of electricity on a sunny day.  With just the two large panels hooked up I have seen us generating over 14 amps.  To put that in perspective, our battery charger that runs off shore power charges the batteries at 30 amps and our battery bank has 200 amps of useable power.  We have been on solar power almost exclusively and they have kept up, but we aren’t using as much power as we will when we are cruising.  Then we will steer with the autopilot and a laptop will display our position on electronic charts.  And every two or three days we will run the watermaker for a couple hours to create fresh water from sea water.  Most of our lights are LED and use very little energy, but we will listen to the radio or watch DVDs.  It will be interesting to see how well the panels keep up.  On cloudy days we can charge our batteries with our engine, but it’s not the best use of a 44 hp diesel.  Instead, we have purchased a 2000 watt portable Honda generator – the favorite of cruisers.  Hopefully we won’t have to use it much, but only time will tell.

But of all the wiring and plumbing and sanding and painting and installing and other stuff, the most fun project was sewing a new sail.  Our mizzen sail was pretty tired and we could get a kit for about half the cost of a new sail.  We already had a heavy duty sewing machine and a half empty basement.  It was an interesting project and I now feel confident that I can make or repair all kinds of things.

Despite all the work, it seems the preparation will never end.  Some folks say that cruising is just fixing your boat in exotic locations, but at least you are in exotic locations! 

Sure beats winter in Detroit or Cleveland or even Virginia.

One Response to “Compass Rose”

  1. Donald Larsen-Sorterup Says:


    I came by in my Kayak today and complemented on your beautiful yacht. I am so pleased to read about people’s adventures, but especially about their love of and upkeep mentality. Having sailed for over fifty years and rebuilt an original Pearson 39 plus many more adventures I admire your story. Coming from Rhode Island and Marion, Ma sailing is in the blood. Loved summers in Maine best as Liwer N. E. Got too crowded. Living in England now for 18 years has changed my activities a lot. Enjoying my Kayak in PRICKLEY BAY, an annual event.

    May the breeze be aft the beam for your journey,

    Kind regards,
    Donald Larsen-Sorterup

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