Buffalo Nickel is an FPB 70, designed by Steve Dashew. Our last boat was also an FPB, a 64, and her adventures are chronicled in this blog as well. To watch a video about the FPB concept as it relates to design, click here. To learn about the FPB directly, click here.
Steve and Linda Dashew have been cruising together for over 40 years. After designing several legendary cruising sailboats, they finally came over to the dark side with Wind Horse, an 83 foot, long range motor yacht and prototype for the FPB series. It was at this point that we began following their blog, fascinated by the revolutionary design and the performance profile that emerged over 37,000 miles logged. She was safer, faster, leaner-and-meaner than a traditional trawler-style power boat, and also afforded a more comfortable ride whether wave piercing uphill or surfing happily in following seas.
Dashew partnered with builders Circa Marine and Industrial in New Zealand to bring Wind Horse’s more compact (68 feet) little sisters to fruition. Our first Buffalo Nickel, the 64, was the the seventh yacht in the series, out of 11 hulls. Our 70, in many ways the pinnacle in terms of expression of the FPB concept, is the first of two made before the Dashews retired. There will be no more built. We have devoted numerous blog posts to Buffalo Nickel the Elder’s various systems, spaces and design features. We will continue to intersperse these among our travel related posts with her younger sister. So follow along. Or, choose the category called ‘boat stuff’ at the bottom of the page to see those posts.
But in the meantime, what about the name? We are often asked why we chose Buffalo Nickel, which has no apparent connection to us, to FPB’s, to boats in general or the ocean? Something that will prove challenging for non-English speakers to either understand or pronounce? Hardly any non-Americans (or young Americans, for that matter) seem to know what a Buffalo Nickel is. And how many times before we get good and sick of spelling over the VHF radio “bravo-uniform-foxtrot-foxtrot-alpha-…” Probably not too many.
The Buffalo Nickel, also known as an Indian Head Nickel, was a five cent coin minted in the U.S. from 1913 to 1938. For more history and information about it, click here.
Just so you know, neither of us was ever a coin collector. But both of us, as children, were fascinated by this uniquely American-looking coin. We each remember getting a thrill on those rare occasions when one would find its way into our bus or candy-store change, and would set it aside so it wouldn’t be casually spent. Most coins have some long-dead head of state’s bust on them, or an unfamiliar mythological figure, maybe some imposing piece of architecture. But Buffalo Nickels were special. They were the wild west. Cowboys-and-Indians. Silver spurs and saloon doors. And somehow, despite our shame over our actual record as a nation with both the American bison and the Native American peoples, both symbols remain dear to us and represent a small slice of American culture.
As we focused on a name for our new aluminum-hulled FPB we gravitated toward metal themes. When Buffalo Nickel came up, it just hit both of us as fitting, and it stuck. We discovered that this nickel is a kind of totem for us, in addition to its uniqueness among coins paralleling the uniqueness of the FPB among boats.
17 thoughts on “About Our Boat”
I have to first give congrats on getting yourselves a beautiful boat. I am not a boating expert by any means but from reading about the way it has been built it sounds like the way I would want it done – overbuilt. I have to ask though, do you not find the systems daunting? Obviously cruising is risky and you can run into big waves and such and that rightly would make one hesitant to head out – but you have a boat likely more than capable on that front.
For myself, I look at that boat and think, hey, no problem…..until I start thinking about the systems. I look at the engine room and it might as well be out of the Starship Enterprise – there is nothing there I would know how to fix should it break. ‘Oh, there is some oil here on the floor, where is it from, do I have replacement oil, is something just loose or about to imminently cease working leaving me high and dry (or uh, wet and drifting to the south pole!). Have you both been trained on how these things work and have spares? Do you honestly feel you understand the principles of the way these systems work?
How do you get your head around these kinds of thoughts and trust all the complicated things to get you to your destination safe? Granted, losing some things might not be vital but heaven forbid an engine seizing or multiple gps failures etc. I have rented with my wife in Australia and I have to say, even just being at anchor was stressful on a sailboat – fear of drifting being my biggie.
I absolutely love the idea of what you are doing and would love nothing more than going to places like Hobart, Fiji, Galapagos, Hawaii, Caribbean, Iceland, the Med etc etc. but dang, this just isn’t the same as driving a car where there is always a repair shop or a tow truck to get you to one. How do you mentally get yourself ready for this and then, more importantly, find it relaxing at the other end?
How rude of me, somehow I only just noticed over a year later that I failed to ever respond to your questions! Oh well, better late than never I hope.
To your first question about the systems, the short answer is: yes. The systems are numerous, some of them complex, and the whole collection IS more than a little overwhelming. Same was true on our first boat, Pax Nautica. We had no boat experience or particular training, but lots of enthusiasm, and did a lot of research when deciding on our equipment. Then we stepped into her pilot house for the first time, looked at all those navigation electronics we had carefully chosen, and made wide-eyes at each other. We didn’t even know how to turn most of it on!
The first time we headed out for a weekend at anchor back in California, we switched on the AIS and it started alarming, so we shut it down. Had enough else to digest that we didn’t end up turning it back on for nine months. That’s right, nine months. At that point, we were comfortable enough with everything else not to freak out when it whined again. We pulled out the manual, pushed the single key that stopped its alarm, and developed a fond friendship with our AIS. This is a long winded way of telling you that for us, everything worked out fine when we let ourselves approach it like eating an elephant: one bite at a time.
Stan is mechanically apt but with no special training. I am mechanically inept to an appalling degree, but good with the tech stuff and keeping track of things. Between the two of us, we have most of the bases covered eventually. Stan finds he learns how each system works as he confronts its maintenance or breakage. Yes, breakage, because it’s true what they say, everything breaks on boats, and new boats are no exception.
Redundancy for important systems, plenty of spare parts, and confidence in the equipment, design and installation are key to being comfortable that we’ll get where we’re going safely. Also bear in mind that, when we began cruising, we had no intention of doing any offshore passages to speak of. Baby steps got us there mentally.
BTW, we’ve had our share of sleepless nights in unanticipated conditions at anchor, worrying about dragging anchor. Thankfully we never have. But the principles of anchoring are really pretty basic; and now that we have an anchor on our FPB weighing I think somewhat more than a Mini Cooper, we haven’t once sweated it.
When it comes to boats, there’s just ‘always something.’ But I must say that with Buffalo Nickel, not only is our equipment top notch and the design and installation of the systems a cut above, but we’ve had excellent support from the builder (the crew at Circa.) It’s been like having a concierge service at times. The lifestyle is a lot of work, but the rewards make it well worth it in our opinion. Best of luck to you!
Highly energetic blog, I enjoyed that a lot. Will
there be a part 2?
I’ve been following your blog and the work being done at Circa Marine. I have a question regarding generator use and power management aboard the FPB 64. It seems that you have spent quite a bit of time in the tropics and wonder how it is to operate/live on the FPB in tropical climates. I know the FPB’s are designed with efficient systems in order to reduce generator run time, but how does this work in reality? I know with other trawler brands, power management often necessitates running the generator 24/7….thus frequent genset oil changes. How do you operate the boat while at anchor, in both hot/humid conditions and when in cooler climates that don’t require AC use? Did you find it necessary to use AC frequently while at anchor? How often were you required to change genset oil?
I also see that your next boat is the FPB 70. Can I ask why the change? Is it simply a size/space issue or are there other things about the 64′ that warranted the upgrade? I have a lot more questions, but don’t want to clutter your website. I appreciate any insight. Thank you.
Hi Chip, I apologize because I had promised a thorough account of power management aboard Buffalo Nickel for our next blog post… and then I haven’t gotten around to that post, which is months overdue! I do promise to get to it very soon. In the meantime, 2 things. 1) I’ll respond to you privately by e-mail in the next few days to address your questions in detail and any others you have; and 2) certainly don’t ever need to run the gen 24/7. Our air conditioners do not require turning on the gen, although we can’t leave them running for hours on end without sucking the house battery bank down a fair bit. With the master stateroom ventilated quite well through its hatch, we rarely feel the need for air con at night unless the breeze utterly dies. At those times we will turn the air con on in that SR for awhile, without worrying about the generator. Bottom line reality: we have run our gen in the tropics an average of 2-3 hours per day.
As to the 70, it’s the only reason I’m not being hospitalized for depression right now as a result of separation from our 64!! The key reason for the change is the 2nd guest SR and 2nd guest head, as we have 2 daughters now both married who are close and really prefer to all visit us at the same time. We were not looking for a bigger boat because we wouldn’t consider a non-FPB at this point, but when Steve e-mailed us about the 70, we got to thinking… Other aspects of the 70 are exciting as well, but by themselves would not have pushed us to change given the pain of changing boats. Not the least of which is the 18 month wait before our 70 will be completed.
Stan, did you ever put together a review of Buffalo Nickel’s power management? I would be interested to hear about how you managed generator/battery usage. I do have some other questions regarding the FPB 64, which I could email if that is easier. Thanks.
Your timing is amazing: I FINALLY got around to writing a post about power management aboard Buffalo Nickel. In fact, I’m about to publish it today. Quite possible it won’t answer all questions but you and all readers are most welcome to hit us back with questions. We’ll also e-mail you privately. Cheers, and thanks for your patience!
Can you advise what tenders/dinghy’s you are planning to carry and what davit structure and lifting arrangements you are planning to install?
Hi Anthony, I just replied to a similar question from Jeff on our Buffalo Nickel the Younger post, and I’ll tell you the same: the design for handling both tenders has evolved, both before and even a little bit since completion of the boat. We are very pleased, and I promise a specific focus on the arrangements in a future blog post.
thanks Valerie, I look forward to understanding where you have taken the tender launching and retrieval system.
Are you presently in the Ventura Harbor? I was just taking a dingy ride and I saw fpb 70 on an end tie.
No, our boat is stuck in Japan… or rather, we are stuck in the States due to Covid so can’t get back to her for now. The one you saw is our sister ship, the only other 70, Atlantis. Her owner is a former 64 owner and a friend of ours.
I am one of those dreaming I was on the seas in a remote placethinking finally I got my Sh1t together and cast the lines. My question is If something goes wrong is there a communication line to Circa or similar who can guide you through a fix?
Are there companies that will help with trip planning, bunkering and en route weather etc ?
Hope you get back to Buffalo Nickle soon and sail many more safe and happy miles.
excuse ignorance, but FPB denotes what exactly? are FPB boats no longer being constructed?
Sorry Rob for the delay, a couple of comments got past us! As to the name, you’ll see it sometimes referred to as a “fast pilot boat” or the like. But the real story is that, after designing sailboats for decades, and frequently referring to power boats as “stinkpots,” the designer Steve Dashew repeatedly remarked to his wife, “I can’t believe I’m designing a Fucking Power Boat!” So that, for better or worse, is what it stands for.
And no, there will be no more of them made. Steve Dashew has retired, and has chosen not to license his designs to any other party. The two 70s were the last of them.
here the Deo Juvante family, building the next generation 24m at Circa marine with naval architect Craig Loomes. Launch in a couple of weeks and hand-over planned for half May 22. very innivative design and technics as she will be kind of Hybrid while tracted by a kite. Plans to cruise from NZ up to Japan, perparing things with the same agent as yours, happy we are.
hope you can join soon your boat again,
fair winds , Thierry & co Deo Juvante
I’ve enjoyed reading about your exploits and you have stirred the embers of passaging within me again.