This Atom...infinitesimal Atom
has within, a colossal power
For it marries a particle of earth
to the fecund sea

(From To Challenge a Distant Sea, the biography of Jean Gau, owner of the original Atom, a 29-foot Tahiti ketch, in which he twice solo circumnavigated and whose writings of adventure inspired me to challenge my own distant sea. Excerpt on Gau from The Circumnavigators by Don Holm)

About Atom

1963 28-foot Pearson Triton #384 Atom

About Atom

Atom's Main Salon Looking Forward

About Atom

Triton Sail Plan

About Atom

Pearson Triton lines and sail plan of original fractional rig. Atom's mast was replaced in 1995 in South Africa with a new mast two feet shorter than original and rigged as masthead sloop. She has a moveable inner forestay to hoist a storm jib and for emergency use in case the furling jib becomes disabled as well as to add strength to her rig. The inner forestay is supported by intermediate aft shrouds.

Atom's Specifications: 
LOA: 28'6"   LWL: 21'
Beam: 8'3"    Draft:   4'3"   
Displ:   8,000 lbs. (approx.) empty. Ballast:  3,019 lbs internal lead
Sail Area: 371 sq. ft.    
Rig: Masthead sloop
Keel: technically fin-keeled but commpnly referred to as full with cutaway forefoot. Keel-hung rudder.
Integral water tanks - Forward: 43 gal.  Aft: 22 gal
Engine:  After sailing years without an engine, went from a 3.5 to a 6 hp Tohatsu outboard on adjustable bracket. The motor was moved to an outboard well in lazarette in 2014 refit. The stepped cabin house has about 6' headroom in main salon. 

About Atom

Main salon looking aft. The galley is minimal size so as to allow two full length bunks in the main cabin. The cooker is a gimbaled single burner pressure kerosene stove that I've used for many years. In this view it is out of its gimbals and bolted to countertop. See Atom Stove for a look at our newest stove version.

About Atom

Port side main salon looking aft. During an earlier refit I added a radio locker above the original ice box which then became a storage locker. I found the companionway ladder awkward and replaced it with a small center step. By extending the ex-engine locker forward I gained storage space and allowed the counter to serve as top step and the battery box as bottom step. For many years we carried four 6-volt Trojan batteries supplying 440 AH. Now we have a similar capacity of AGM batteries. In 2014 the radio locker was moved outboard and a slide-out table/countertop added. (not pictured here)

Check the Links page and Larry Suter's Triton Website for more info on Pearson Tritons.

Atom Overview

Atom underwent yet another refit in 2014 while on her trailer in our backyard boat shed. Below is a list of Atom's 2017 inventory for those interested in what equipment we find useful. That's not to say she's the perfect yacht, perfectly equipped - far from it. I believe in strong-and-simple over theoretical correctness and yachting traditions. I have no interest in racing or "restoring" her to original condition. We require her to be significantly stronger and more functional than original.

More details on Atom's cruising modification projects are found in the Q&AAtom Projects and Articles pages.

Atom's Sail Inventory:

  1. Mainsail - a battenless main with three reef points makes for easier downwind reefing at the expense of some sail area
  2. 140% furling genoa
  3. Working jib for inner forestay (kept only as backup for furling jib)
  4. Storm jib for inner forestay
  5. Storm trysail
  6. Code 0 gennaker-type sail on Facnor furler on removable sprit pole

Ground tackle:

  1. 33 lb. Rocna 15 primary anchor on 150 feet of 5/16 HT G4 chain with 75 feet of 5/8-inch nylon line attached.
  2. Fortress FX-23 (15 lb) aluminum Danforth-type
  3. Fortress FX-37 (21 lb) as storm anchor and backup if Rocna is lost.
  4. Extra anchors are in bags with 25 feet of chain and 125 feet of 5/8-inch nylon attached. Extra rodes available as needed.
  5. Lofrans Royal aluminum manual anchor windlass
  6. Folding grapnel-type dinghy anchor

Electrics and Electronics:

  1. Replaced entire electrical system including two 6-gang switch panels.
  2. Two 50-watt solar panels on adjustable mounts and charge controller
  3. Victron volts/amps/amp hours battery monitor 
  4. Replaced interior and exterior lights with LED
  5. Masthead tricolor/anchior light with marinebeam bulbs
  6. Four GP31 105AH deep-cycle AGM batteries wired in a single bank
  7. 800 watt 12VDC to 110VAC inverter for tools, and various appliances
  8. Garmin 5" plotter and backup handheld GPS
  9. Sony 7600GR shortwave receiver. (broken SSB transceiver was removed in 2010. I may later add a more compact modern unit such as an Icom M802)
  10. Handheld VHF radio and GX2200 VHF/AIS base radio
  11. HP notebook PC with back-up electronic charts
  12. Autohelm digital hand-bearing compass
  13. 12 volt handheld halogen spotlight
  14. Three 12v cabin fans above bunks and head plus portable fan

Other Equipment:

  1. Aries windvane self-steering from 1983 was replaced in 1992 with Monitor windvane that was replaced with smaller Norvane in 2014
  2. Henderson MK 5 manual bilge pump
  3. Plasitmo Contest 101 bulkhead mount cockpit compass with see-thru back for viewing inside cabin
  4. Davis Mark 25 sextant and H.O. 249 Sight Reduction Tables (as backup)
  5. Legs for standing the boat upright between tides
  6. The yuloh, a 16-foot Chinese sampan sculling oar (retired when I added a 6hp outboard motor)
  7. Nylon webbing mast ladder
  8. 6-foot plywood/fiberglass pram dinghy
  9. The 3.5 HP Tohatsu outboard that was sometimes used as Atom's auxiliary engine or on the dinghy was changed to 6HP Tohatsu Sailpro in 2014)
  10. 12-foot plastic sit-on-top kayak replaced replaced a larger fiberglass kayak in 2014
  11. Rope swim ladder
  12. Self-made vinyl sun awning (to be replaced, possibly with a Shadetree brand awning.)
  13. Cockpit dodger
  14. Bimini cockpit awning with side enclosures
  15. Bulkhead mount barometer and clock
  16. Gimbaled single burner kerosene galley stove with complete spare
  17. Custom made Jordan series drogue

Below is a list of improvements and modifications I've done to Atom over the past twenty-five years. You may find some ideas here that could be useful on your own boat.

Deck and Hull:

  1. Installed a water can locker at forward end of cockpit footwell.
  2. Replaced all exterior wood with teak, including adding grab rails on forward coach roof.
  3. Installed a bronze non-opening portlight in forward end of the coach roof for improved visibility forward.
  4. Replaced rotted wood plank rudder with plywood covered in fiberglass and epoxy. Raised bottom of rudder 2" above keel to protect rudder during groundings and closed rudder/hull gap at bottom to prevent snags.
  5. Installed Norvane windvane.
  6. Installed Lofrans Royal manual anchor windlass, double bow and single stern anchor rollers.
  7. Replaced bow and stern mooring cleats with four 10-inch stainless cleats and backing plates.
  8. Installed a tilt-up outboard well in lazarette to replace custom outboard motor bracket after inboard engine was removed.
  9. Installed fixed bimini frame over cockpit.
  10. Replaced rotted balsa deck core with structural foam sheet core.
  11. Fabricated custom pushpit incorporating two solar panel mounts.
  12. Added 1-inch x 6-foot aluminum jib sheet tracks.
  13. Added two stanchion bases and full-length single lifelines with gates.
  14. Removed inboard motor's prop and filled in aperture in hull.
  15. Replaced wood-framed forward hatch with Lewmar Ocean 60 hatch.
  16. Rebuilt companionway hatch with stainless steel tracks and security bars.
  17. Built fiberglass over wood seahood for sliding companionway hatch.
  18. Installed cockpit dodger and bimini.
  19. Replaced cabin windows (deadlights) and bronze frames with 3/8" tinted Plexiglas thru-bolted from outside. 
  20. Installed LED masthead tricolor/anchor light including auto light sensor anchor light bulb.
  21. Addeed rubber gaskets under cockpit seat lockers and installed locking latches.
  22. Installed two 1/2" u-bolts to transom corners to attach Jordan series drogue.
  23. Fiberglassed over original cockpit access to icebox.


  1. Replaced 37-foot fractional rig with 35-foot masthead rigged aluminum spar and new mast step. The corroded boom was replaced with a heavier section and internal reefing lines.
  2. Installed removable inner forestay, two running backstays and related deck hardware.
  3. Replaced all chainplates with ΒΌ X 1 1/2-inch stainless steel.
  4. Replaced original 3/16" rigging wire with 7/32" with swage fittings at tops and sta-loks at bottoms.
  5. Added forward lower shrouds and chainplates to glassed-in knees below deck.
  6. Installed Harken MKIV Unit 0 jib roller furling.
  7. Converted roller-reefing mainsail to slab reefing with three reef points.
  8. Installed stainless steel reinforcement plate under mast support beams. (Aluminum would be a better choice to save weight.)
  9. Fabricated a removable sprit pole for furling Code 0.
  10. Replaced old sheet and halyard winches and added reefing winch to boom.


  1. Removed Atomic 4 inboard engine and its accessories.
  2. Built a 43 gal (165 liter) integral water tank under v-berth connected to galley foot pump.
  3. Built a 30 gal (115 liter) integral water tank between cockpit floor and hull which was later converted to a sealed locker when I added an integral 22 gal (83 liter) tank to aft end of bilge.
  4. Converted icebox to storage/electrics locker, which was later converted to counter with slide-out nav table and storage under.  
  5. Installed valves and plumbing to collect rain water from deck.
  6. Replaced door between head and forward cabin with a curtain, filled in step-thru area of V-berth and raised bunk 2 inches to make it 5 inches above waterline for extra storage and watertight integrity.
  7. Made most compartments watertight for collision protection and temporary positive buoyancy.
  8. Installed a sliding single/double bunk on port side of main cabin.
  9. Replaced galley counter fiddles with higher 1 x 4-inch teak.
  10. Extended ex-engine locker forward and removed companionway ladder.
  11. Replaced head with Lavac toilet placed behind a watertight open-topped partial bulkhead.
  12. Added second bookshelf at forward end of salon and full length shelves in forward cabin.
  13. Covered the plywood cabin sole with African iroko plank strips.
  14. Installed six teak handrails throughout salon.
  15. Replaced telltale compass next to salon bunk with Contest 101 cockpit bulkhead mount compass with clear back viewable from inside.
  16. Enclosed open lockers behind salon settee backrests and added teak locker doors.
  17. Installed gasket-sealed chain locker door.
  18. Installed a Henderson MK 5 manual bilge pump in port cockpit locker with pump handle accessible on side of cockpit footwell.
  19. Replaced entire electrical system. Did not add shore power AC.
  20. Installed lee-cloths on main salon bunks.
  21. Raised sink 1-inch to stop flooding when heeled. Installed shut-off valve in sink drain and fiberglass reinforced original drain tube on hull instead of converting to seacock.
  22. Added a radio locker outboard of old icebox location on aft port side of cabin.
  23. Built a fold-down table attached to forward main cabin bulkhead and then removed it when I added a slide out table to nav station counter in 2014.
  24. Installed 1/4" tinted plexiglas sliding doors on teak frame fronting galley shelves.
  25. Replaced galley drawers with door access and added shelf in locker under stove.