The S/V Proteus compared to…

Occasionally, we are asked by people who hear that we live on a sailboat…

“Gosh, that sounds really small…!”


“So… how big is it?”


“Can you stand up?”

I can rattle off all the data, but since most people in the world have never been on any sailboat – let alone one specifically 42ft 6inches long – the specific size remains acutely nebulous. But, as a thought experiment, it is kind of fun to think: “Well, how big is it, really!?”

Let’s (completely arbitrarily) compare the S/V Proteus to…

…a whale shark.

Male_whale_shark_at_Georgia_AquariumThe average weight of an adult whale shark is around 20,500lbs (or 9300kg). And the whale shark is one pretty serious creature. If you’re a shark aficionado and want to compare sharks, that’s almost three times the size of the average Great White Shark. If you’d rather stick to the whale side of the whale shark, you’re looking at a weight similar to some of the larger male killer whales (orcas) on record. That pales in comparison to the mass of a typical blue whale that average in the 400,000lbs (181,000kg) range.

So, Proteus weighs about a 20th of the weight of a blue whale. (Good grief, that’s huge.)

…a typical American school bus.

You know, the full-length yellow ones? The regular yellow/orange school bus that pick up kids all across the United States averages around 42ft. Some are longer (up to 45ft) and some states require their school buses to be no more than 41ft. But, in general the typical school bus measures just about the same length as Proteus.

Strangely enough, many of the school buses I saw online had a similar curb weight (empty) to Proteus, as well. Where the two comparisons diverge is the fact that a school bus is merely 100 inches (2.5m) or so: the Hunter Passage 42 is just under twice that width.

…a Honda Element.

Yes, the much critiqued original boxy SUV is almost exactly the same length (depending on the model year) as the beam of S/V Proteus at 14 feet (or 4.26m). And everyone knows what the infamous Element looks like, right? Coincidentally, I used to drive one of these strange people-carriers, and we have had more than a few adventures together all over the eastern United States.

If a Honda Element is too tough to wrap your head around, the S/V Proteus is wider than a highway lane in the USA and UK M-roads (measuring 12 feet, or 3.65m). So you couldn’t very well get her down a road without blocking traffic or having a big “WIDE LOAD” across the back. However, you could lay an elephant down inside: the average African elephant is 14ft.

…a Boeing 747.

Who hasn’t been impressed by the uber-massive Boeing 747’s sitting at the gate!? Well, the only real similarity between a 747 and S/V Proteus is the height of the tail off the ground. Our mast is very close to the same height at about 61 feet (18.6m). Granted, that might be reaching a bit, so instead, let’s compare it to something a little more feasible: a six-story building.

That’s pretty tall, but a six-story building is kinda boring! How about the uprights of an NFL regulation American football goal? Actually, Proteus‘ mast is taller by almost 13 feet (3.9m). It is also taller than the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum, but it is exactly the height of each of the heads (head only: not the rest of the mountain) of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and is only 4 feet shorter than the Sphinx in Giza. And it is exactly the same height as a regulation cricket pitch is long. (Whatever that is…)

…the fastest Olympic swimmer.

Actually, the Proteus‘ cruising speed is just under double the speed of Michael Phelps’ world-record setting 100m freestyle. Indeed. Michael Phelps averaged 4.4 miles per hour. We do pretty well to average 7 knots (8 mph) under full sail and efficiency. If the bottom is really clean, we can get close to 8.5 or more. Though we have pushed it up to 9 or 10 knots in a blow, we don’t like to break things.

And our maximum speed ever recorded was a *blazing* 12 knots over ground… but that was with a massive tidal stream abeam of The Needles at the Isle of Wight. Yeah, laugh if you want…

Okay, so, double the fastest human swimmer in the world, but is there anything that makes a good 7 or 8 knots on a regular basis? Not the human running speed: believe it or not, Usain Bolt busted out 24 knots, which is faster than most power yachts are able to sustain! Incidentally, Usain Bolt is 6ft 4in, which is about the minimum cabin ceiling height.

The closest I could come to 7 or 8 knots was the casual swimming speed of the average dolphin. (They can do much more than this!) It is a bit of a mystery exactly why dolphins love to play with boats, but maybe it is because they see the boats as just big casual dolphins…?

…an apartment in London.
S/V Proteus in Marina Smir, Morocco
S/V Proteus in Marina Smir, Morocco

According to the Telegraph, the average apartment in London is about 46 square meters these days. That’s a few feet shy of 500 square feet. Actually, that seems pretty small compared to what I’ve seen – and our own apartment in London – but that’s about the usable size of Proteus‘ interior. It doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but it was one of our deciding factors for moving aboard a boat. The apartment where we lived in central London was not quite 30 square meters: that’s just 320 square feet!

Pack all your stuff, a usable bed, a kitchen, the bathroom, and a place to sit, and you’re having trouble getting around! The Proteus has doubled our living space, given us three rooms, two bathrooms, and a bathtub! And we get a freakin’ awesome backyard… aka: anywhere on Earth.

Stay tuned…