Sun, sails…and vampires

Incongruous trio of concepts. When I first floated (aha) the idea of a team of vampire hunters based on a yacht in the Caribbean, I frankly expected to get shot down in flames. It was one of those manuscripts I wrote to get out of writer’s block and because I was homesick, and never really expected to publish.

On the other hand, when the overwhelming reaction was ‘haha, neat, I’d tap that’, I thought it might be time to reconsider. Contrary to many peoples’ belief, I can take feedback.

Also, I have to confess, I did a lot more formal world-building on this one book that I generally do – possibly an offshoot of the homesick thing. That included exterior, interior, and side diagrams of the Artemis, the yacht that my team of vampire hunters is based on and charters to rich tourists as a cover. She’s a rather beautiful gaff-rigged schooner, and I’m not including the side elevations because honestly my drawing skills suck.

Technical talk: A schooner is basically any yacht where the mast at the front is shorter than the mast at the back.

Floating a plot

The interior plan, despite needing some touching up, is good enough to give you the idea. Artemis is 26 metres overall, or 85 feet for my US-based friends, which is pretty large as yachts go. She’s therefore got quite a bit of interior space to play with (mixed blessing when the going gets rough, you’ve got further to fall), which goes over great with tourists used to expensive hotels.

All that space is also helpful when you have multiple nefarious plots going on – because take my word for it, having grown up on an approximately 14-metre (45 feet) yacht, it’s hard to conduct a successful plot and keep it secret. The complete impossibility of not hearing my mother’s constant playing of Madam Butterfly on the stereo system in our aft cabin, for example, successfully put me off all types of classical music for life.

The other area where function defined form for my Artemis design was the rig. I needed at least six people (for reasons, read the book), and gaff rigs require a lot more crew than the more modern Bermuda rig. A big, classic gaff-rigged schooner was pretty much my perfect excuse for a big crew; something Artemis size would need at least six people readily available and could easily excuse a few more if needed.

Technical talk: Gaff rig, in simple terms, means sails with a spar (solid boom or strut) at both the bottom and the top of the canvas. Generally, a gaff rig will have both shorter masts and a great deal more canvas area per sail than a Bermuda rig.

Interior of the Artemis

Artemis deck plan

In basic terms, running nose to stern, you’ve got an anchor locker (beware, rotting seaweed smells), the forward cabin – two bunks that everyone will try to avoid unless they’re in harbour – the forward bathroom, or head as the Americans term it, one more single cabin, and then you’re at the double cabin shared by Sean and Cristina (and, later, Jean and Cristina).

You’ll note that the bathroom is about the size of your closet, and this is because to someone used to houses, most things on a boat will look small, or an odd shape. A yacht washroom will usually include a shower, and be designed in such a way that at least with the cupboards closed and things put away, you’re basically using the whole space as a shower closet. You’ll probably also have seen that a lot of the bunks look more like a slice of pie than the classic square or rectangular shape. Hopefully you’ve also taken a hard look at the shape of the hull and figured out why; boat interiors are designed to maximise space.

Aft of Cristina and Jean’s cabin is the main saloon, with the dining table portside and an actual bar starboard (see above, re rich tourists – not that the occasional stiff drink isn’t a benefit to a vampire hunter). Aft again, and you’ve got the galley (kitchen) and chart table – when not in use for actual navigation, that gets pressed into use as a food prep area. Artemis‘s galley is pretty generous by yacht standards and includes the really vital bit of any well-designed yacht – lots of closable storage space (hatched-out bits).

Technical talk: Port means left, and starboard means right, as viewed looking forwards on a vessel.

Having flown the full width of our yacht once in the company of all 26 hard-bound volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, I can officially say that storage space that can be securely closed is very important when your environment can easily turn into something to make a commercial rollercoaster ride proud. (Go on, hit play, I dare ya.)

Go aft again (I’m sorry, still feeling queasy?) and you’re at the aft bathroom – slightly larger, and as Artemis is a luxury charter yacht in her spare time, there actually is a tub in this one. Bathtubs on yachts are unusual, partly because of space concerns, and also because they use a lot of water to fill. When you’re anchored, and the principal method of refilling your water tanks is to ferry water from shore in your dinghy, most people get very parsimonious with water use.

You’ve then got one more double cabin – usually Jean and Kim, or, later, Kim and Sean – and then a few more single cabins, two of which are usually occupied by Mary and Francis. Nobody’s in the ‘captain’s cabin’ on Artemis, because it gets used for charterers much too often to make it worth anyone’s while.

Inside, and in colour, Artemis would be a lot of varnished wood and dark fabrics. The galley counter would be something easy to clean, some variant on Formica, and the chart table would feature a lot of fancy gadgets on the bulkhead (read: wall) and a lot of shallow, flat draws underneath for storing charts. Because Jean learnt to sail in an era where ‘Here be monsters’ was considered a perfectly acceptable alternative to ‘No idea’, and Francis and Cristina both believe in back-ups, there’ll also be a sextant, chronometer, and a few really thick books.

Technical talk: A sextant is a fancy gadget that allows you to use the sun (or stars, or the moon if you know what you’re doing) to position yourself on the surface of the planet. Yes, it does involve math. It’s how people used to navigate yachts before GPS.

You’d also find openings in the ceilings, called hatches (or skylights) in most of the cabins, to let light and air circulate through the interior. These would be supplemented by portholes (small round windows set in the sides of the yacht, usually about the diameter of a fully spread hand) for light. Portholes, for reasons I hope are obvious if you watched the video, don’t open. Hatches generally do, at least after suitable application of force. Again, see above, you don’t want them too easy to open (or break) if a shit-ton of moving water crashes on them.

And that’s the Artemis, folks – hope you enjoyed the tour.

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