Boat Life: The Boat

Obelisk is the sailing boat version of a Sherman tank.The model of the boat is a Sky 51 which was an American design built in Taiwan in 1982. At 51 feet and 22 tons she’s much longer and heavier and than the average cruising boat. She has beautiful lines, is a pleasure to look at, and has the added benefit of sailing extremely well in most conditions. 

Obelisk is very minimally outfitted, which makes maintenance much easier but also means sacrificing on some luxuries. Things that obelisk lacks, that most cruising boats have, include:


-water maker (turns sea water into fresh water)

-water heater/pressure


The lifestyle on board is a bit like camping at sea and is definitely not the luxury yacht life style that most people imagine.

Below Deck

She doesn’t haven’t nearly as much living space as a modern 51 foot boat would have, but she still has enough room for four people to cruise pretty comfortably. In the stern of the boat there is a small engine room that provides good access to the 85 horsepower diesel engine. Just forward of that is a good sized cabin with a large double bed where Jesse stays. There was also originally a shower and toilet attached to this cabin but it was torn out and made in to extra storage before the boat left the states. 

Just forward of that cabin the galley is on the port side, the nav station on the starboard, and the companionway in between. There is a table with a wrap around settee (where I slept for my first 2+ months on the boat) on the starboard side with another settee that can serve as a bed on the port side. Forward of the main salon is another cabin with a double bed, which is where I’ve been staying for the past couple months. Just in front of that is the head. Forward of the head is the v-birth which is used for storage.


View of the saloon from the galley, through the door is the second cabin and beyond that the head


Fore cabin where I’ve been staying the last couple months, head and v-birth beyond

Above Deck

Obelisk is cutter rigged, meaning she has one big mast with two forestays. The front one is used for flying the Genoa, which is her biggest and most powerful sail, and the inner one can be used to fly either a stay sail or a tiny storm jib. Around 75% of the time we fly the Genoa sail and reef down as needed but when the winds get around 30 knots we usually use the stay sail. The mainsail furls in-mast and provides more stability than power for this particular rig. She has a windlass for getting the huge anchor up and down as well as self tailing winches (extremely nice to have on a boat this big). There’s an autopilot for steering as well as a wind vane which is what we usually use on longer passages.


Obelisk with full sails


We have lead acid batteries (same ones you would find in a golf cart) that power everything on the boat. They are charged primarily by solar panels but also by the alternator on the engine whenever that is running. There is also an inverter so we can use standard U.S. 120 volt outlets.

Overall she is an amazing boat and has been an absolutely perfect home and mode of transportation for the past 4+ months. I’ve learned a lot from this boat and she’s helped me gain a very good idea of what I want if I ever purchase a boat.