The design brief for Urchin was for a ‘go-anywhere and in any conditions’ type of expedition vessel. The emphasis would be on making Urchin suitable for high latitude sailing in remote areas like Patagonia, the Antarctic, Alaska and Canadian Arctic areas.
For this, there were several nonnegotiable elements to the design:
• Lifting keel and rudder enabling Urchin to anchor in the most secluded and protected anchorages and if necessary, to ‘take the ground or ice’.
• Efficient heating to keep the crew and the interior warm and dry in the most inclement conditions.
• Effective insulation of the entire hull above the waterline to make life below more comfortable in extreme conditions and to help prevent condensation in cold climates.
• The ability to handle sails in any conditions with a small crew, often just Stuart and Charlie, the owners.
• Space to take the equipment needed to pursue their passion for diving.
• A protected cockpit to ensure that foul conditions do not prevent crew from being in touch with the elements.
• A ‘machinery room’ that contains all the vessel’s operating equipment in a single space and permits easy access for repairs and servicing.
• Bow thrusters to make manoeuvring in close quarters and with a small crew easy and safe.
• With all the operational requirements for toughness and purposefulness, Urchin also had to satisfy some stringent aesthetic considerations and had to be a beautiful and comfortable place to live for the owners for extended periods.