Ƒor a 6.5m boat, Anna Lusja II has a very powerful foghorn.
It’s electric. It would not disgrace a small coaster.
And it is pointing into her own cockpit.
When it went off in Baltimore Harbour, I nearly jumped out of my skin – and heads popped out of hatches for half a mile around.
But then Kris Matuszewsai doesn’t mind being being noticed. This is just as well. His home-built, self-designed breaking-all-the-rules boat is bound to get noticed.
Look at the picture – because no description is going to do her justice. Some of the failed attempts at conveying the last finisher in this year’s Jester Challenge are “a floating egg”, “a box under sail”, “The Tardis meets Captain Nemo…”
Let’s put it this way: Kris is an engineer who approaches problems from the perspective of “Here is the difficulty. How do we get round it?”
His difficulty, two years ago, was that he had sailed his 21ft Colvic Sunbeam, Anna Lusja I, from Greece to Portugal, the Canaries, the Carribbean, back to Europe and he really wanted a boat with a Great Cabin at the stern.
At the same time, he didn’t want anything over seven metres so that he could get it onto a trailer singlehanded. Also, he wanted a boat that could take the ground, that he could build himself and (after one forestay failure and three broken shrouds over the years), he did not want standing rigging.
Meet Anna Lusja II – 6.5m overall and 2.5m in the beam. Essentially square. Flat-bottomed with two ballasted asymmetrical retractable keels, twin rudders, steered by two whipstaffs; she has two separate cabins (the great cabin at the stern), a protected cockpit in the middle (green water has never entered the cockpit), two junk sails on unstayed masts and (well, why not) a composting head.
Kris sat in his great cabin, his elbow on a chart table winking with electronics and said: “I knew what I wanted.”
You must admit that if you don’t mind being stared at, overhearing rude remarks from people in waterfront bars and everybody at the start of this year’s Jester Challenge wondering whether you are actually going to get over the start line at all – or simply drift sideways into Plymouth Breakwater, then the Ocean-going Bathtub might be just the thing.
OK, so he did arrive in Bushe’s Bar in Baltimore a whole day after everyone else. But on the way down the North Sea from Poland, with a stiff north-easterly behind him, he was clocking a consistent six knots and surfing at up to ten.
So, if you meet him in the Bahamas, be nice.