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36 Meter

Arabian Dhow

118' Length On Deck

118' Arabian Sailing Dhow - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
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Perspective Forward  |  Perspective Aft  |  Perspective Above Aft

Copyright 2013 - 2014 Michael Kasten

The Dhow in History

The 36 meter vessel shown here is modeled after a type of traditional Arabian Dhow, most closely resembling the Baghala type. The most traditional rig for this kind of vessel is the Lateen rig (triangular sails) or the Settee rig (trapezoidally shaped sails). Both of these are able to sail down wind like a square rig, but they are also able to sail well to windward and tack into the wind like a fore and aft rigged craft.

Most sources attribute the origins of the Dhow to India, where it appears they were ordinarily built near the supply of wood. Originally the Dhow and other craft in the region were built using stitched-together planks, and on some smaller local craft that kind of construction can still be found.

The Dhow was developed over many centuries as a trading vessel, carrying cargo east as far as China by way of Sri Lanka and the Straits of Malacca, bringing goods to and from Alexandria via the Red Sea, thus connecting the Roman Empire with the Han Dynasty in China. The Arab trade routes also extended south to Zanzibar in Africa. Some sources claim that the very earliest craft were trading along similar coastal routes in the Indian Ocean as early as 3,000 B.C. These craft eventually developed into the Dhow as we know it today.

With the triangular Lateen sail, the Dhow could out-sail the square rigged craft of the Mediterranean, and better navigate the contrary winds of the Red Sea. With knowledge of navigating by the stars passed down from the Egyptians, the use of the magnetic compass learned from the Chinese, and the stern mounted rudder of the Chinese Junks, the Dhow was well equipped to dominate the Indian Ocean trade routes during the last 2,000 years.

Thus, the Arab merchants must be given due credit, having made longer voyages than Columbus nearly fifteen hundred years before Columbus sailed toward the new world.

The features that distinguish the Dhow are its Lateen or Settee rig, and typically a double ended hull form. Other features that have come to characterize the Dhow are the long raked bow, and the high and relatively upright stern. In some forms such as the Baghala, and the Shuw'i (or Shu Ai) the stern was widened into a massive wide transom often carried right down to the waterline. In other types, the hull was more or less double ended, but often a platform extended over the stern, much like the Indonesian sailing phinisi (which seems to have been derived from the Dhow in terms of its hull form and structure).

118' Arabian Baghala / Dhow - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
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The Dhow as a Yacht

The sailing Dhow shown here has been designed with a new purpose... that of being a spacious and comfortable private charter yacht or luxury yacht for entertaining guests. In the model shown here we have struck a good compromise so that while we do have a transom, we also have a fully double ended hull shape at the waterline... i.e. the best of both types. As such, this design most closely resembles the type of Dhow called the Baghala.

The stern has ample width, and is tucked up high to stay out of trouble in a following sea. The aft deck extends beyond the lower transom just enough to house the rudder head, so that a tiller or wheel can be arranged easily. It is fairly common among traditional dhow types to have a slightly rounded stem, which when finished off with the high curved stem timber seems to resemble a scimitar…! Balanced with “davit” boards that extend from the stern, the result is both functional and well balanced.

In terms of its structure, the Dhow is very much the same as the Indonesian sailing phinisi types, which are outlined on our Phinisi History web page.  It is assumed by many that the dhow was in fact the inspiration for the phinisi craft of Indonesia.

If tradition were to be followed faithfully, the rig for this vessel would be designed in keeping with a typical sailing Dhow, in other words having a Lateen or Settee type of rig. If adaptations are able to be made to allow the rig to be more easily handled, there is little reason to be pedantically attached to the exact shape of the original sails. For example, another way in which the Dhow can benefit from traditions around the Indian Ocean would be to make use of a Chinese rig, as follows...

Many drawings of traditional sailing Dhows show the Lateen / Settee rig with a tilted trapezoidally shaped topsail above the main sail. It is not such a far stretch then to imagine there being a few more battens or yards in between, with a single sail arranged in panels between the yards.  Essentially, this would become a modified Chinese junk sail having the rakish look of the lateen rig… For this design, three masts arranged this way would work out well, and would preserve the ability of these craft to sail directly off the wind like a square rigged ship as well as to tack through the eye of the wind.  The advantage here is that the yards would not need to be man-handled in any way.


The Interior Layout

At 118 meters over the range of the deck, the design is perfect for a couple to live permanently aboard, and to also accommodate eight or more guests in four separate suites. With that, the interior layout is not at all crowded, and there is plenty of room for a full crew.

118' Arabian Baghala - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
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To best understand the planned interior layout, the following walk-through should clarify the intent ...

Starting right forward, the forepeak will contain the chain and mooring gear. Just aft of that, but still below the raised fore deck is a crew cabin that could accommodate up to 6 crew, complete with crew head and crew laundry.

Aft of the raised fore deck is a broad expanse of deck for seating pods, shore boat storage, and for general lounging on deck. At the aft end of the main deck is a deck house that extends the raised aft deck, and has the lower main deck to each side.  Inside this deck house is the lounge.  Entry to the lounge will be near its aft end.

Below the main deck at the forward end is a laundry to serve the guest cabins. Amidships below the main deck are four generously sized guest cabins, having a corridor down the middle.  The central corridor leads aft to a stairway which leads up and aft into the on-deck lounge.

Aft of the guest cabins and directly below the lounge is the engine room. A generous shop space is located to each side of the main engine room, with bulk fuel tanks below the shop soles. This allows working in a space that is quieter than the main engine room, and that is air conditioned. The shop spaces also function as machinery spaces for electrical equipment, pumps, air conditioning, dive compressor and so forth.

Aft of the engine room is an athwartships stairwell / utility corridor, which extends from the main deck to the lower deck, providing access to the crew quarters below and to the engine room.  Aft of the stairwell / utility corridor on the lower deck is a crew cabin, aft of which is a cool room for fresh food storage.

Aft of the lounge, below the raised aft deck is the galley, which can be used as a showcase for gourmet chef activities, accessible by all, including crew. Right aft below the raised aft deck is a large owner’s cabin.  In charter mode, this cabin could alternately be used as a luxury suite for higher paying guests.

On the raised aft deck is a traditional Dhow type of canopy which will have the helm below it and an open air lounging space. Persian rugs will adorn this open air lounge and canopy to lend the environs the aspect of being inside an Arabian tent.

More Information...

An interesting article on our work with the wooden vessels of Indonesia appeared in the New York Times, called The Traditional Pinisi - And Then Some.  For a taste of what is possible with these craft, please see our Dunia Baru web page where you will find excellent as-built images.

If this or a similar traditional sailing yacht is of interest, regardless of its cultural heritage, we offer a complete design service from concept to launch. Our preference is to use traditional methods and styling to the maximum extent possible; to design the structure to classification society standards; and to assure that stability and sea keeping are up to IMO standards for worldwide travel.

We can accommodate a variety of requests, for example to change the size, to alter the styling, or to modify the layout as needed. For complete information about our work with similar types of craft, please see the following links.  If you have questions about our work with these craft, please inquire.

Our articles about building an Indonesian Phinisi or KLM:
Phinisi History  |  Phinisi Building  |  The Ultimate Charter Phinisi
Sailing vs. KLM Types  |  A Cargo Phinisi as a Yacht...?

Phinisi and KLM designs that we have created or have planned:
30m Phinisi, Datu Bua  |  36m Phinisi, Silolona  |  38m Phinisi, Sampajay  |  50m Sailing Phinisi
30m Charter KLM  |  33m Charter KLM  |  36m KLM, Dunia Baru  |  40m Charter KLM  |  50m Charter KLM

Descriptions of our adventures with these boats:
Silolona "Homecoming"  |  Indonesia Boatbuilding Images

Four Schooners and Two Arabian Dhows With Wooden Structure Suited to Indonesia
20m Sulawesi Privateer  |  31m Komodo Privateer  |  42m Kalimantan Privateer
36m Tern Schooner  |  22m Arabian Baghala  |  36m Arabian Baghala

Two junk rigged KLM types for construction in steel:
25m Lady Destiny  |  55m Lady Destiny