What is a Valiant 32?

By Norman Ralph

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 2, March/April 1999.

Jeanette Ralph aboard Bluebonnet

Jeanette Ralph enjoys her gorgeous “new” boat and the prospect of retiring in style.

The Valiant 32 was designed by Bob Perry as a smaller version of the successful Valiant
40. In the 1970s, a 30- to 35-foot boat was considered the optimum-size
boat for a cruising couple. In response to this demand, the Valiant 32 was
produced. About 67 were built in the late 1970s and early ’80s. The boat
is 32 feet on deck with a waterline length of 26 feet. The beam is 10 feet
5 inches, and displacement is 11,800 pounds. Ballast is 4,700 pounds, and
the displacement-to-length ratio is 283. This translates into a boat that
is moderate in displacement, yet extremely seaworthy. It has the traditional
Valiant lines with the canoe stern and moderate flare at the bow. The underbody
features a modified fin keel with external ballast and a skeg-hung rudder.
The hull is laid up in solid laminate, and the deck and cabintop is balsa-cored.

The interior, as you come down the companionway steps, has a U-shaped galley
to port with a forward-facing navigation station to starboard and a quarterberth
aft. Forward of the galley and nav station, are opposing settees with a
drop-leaf table around the keel-stepped mast. The port settee slides out
to make a small double/twin bed. There is storage behind and under the settees.
Farther forward, the head is to port with a large hanging locker to starboard.
The door to the head swings aft and will latch to the hanging locker to
give a privacy area for the V-berth. Our boat has an optional large hanging
wet locker with a storage shelf aft, instead of the quarterberth. We don’t
miss the quarterberth, and lee cloths on the starboard settee work very
well for a sea berth. Others have commented that they ended up with their
quarterberth being used as a storage area anyway.

The boat is powered by a 4-cylinder 25-hp, L-25 Westerbeke diesel. Ours
has never given us any problems. Tankage is 48 gallons of fuel and 80 gallons
of water. The engine burns a half gallon an hour at hull speed which translates
into a cruising range under power of more than 500 miles.

Most Valiant 32s are cutter rigged, which breaks the sail area down into
an easily managed sail plan. With the mast stepped aft for the inner forestay,
the boat develops weather helm when winds exceed 15 knots, but with the
first reef in the main, it balances nicely. The boat is a dry boat and sails
best with the rubrail (about 10 inches below the caprail) out of the water.
We have sailed in winds higher than 35 knots with two reefs in the main
while remaining fairly comfortable and never feeling out of control. The
standing rigging is very substantial for a 32-foot boat. The headstay, backstay,
and uppers are 5/16-inch 1×19 and the lowers, inter-forestay, and intermediate
backstays are 1/4-inch 1×19. A few late V-32s were sloop-rigged with the
mast stepped farther forward. This was in part to reduce the weather helm
and to cut production costs. We have installed a large “pelican hook”
on our inner forestay. For local light-wind sailing, we tie the inner-forestay
and staysail in its bag back by the mast and sail the big genoa as a sloop.

In overall appearance, the Valiant 32 is similar to the Pacific Seacraft
Crealock 34. Both boats have canoe sterns, but the form varies. The Valiant’s
stern is fuller and somewhat broader in the “hips,” while the
Crealock’s stern is more pointed. While the Crealock 34 is two feet longer
on deck, both boats have the same waterline length and beam. Displacement
is similar. Interior layouts are practically identical.

Since Rich Worstell, the present owner of Valiant Yachts, moved production
to Texas in the early 1980s, the Valiant 32 has not been in production.

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

By Ted Brewer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 6, November/December 2000.

People may be impressed by a millionaire’s rocketship,
but “ooohs” and
“aaahs” are saved for the classic

The Concordia: a timeless classic

The Concordia: a timeless classic

A British author once
wrote, in effect, that you can go away for a week’s cruise, and everything
goes wrong: your favorite jib blows out, the portlights leak water onto
your berth, the head plugs up, the engine only fires on half its cylinders,
the stuffing box springs a leak, and you run out of rum. Disastrous? Yes!
But as you row ashore from your mooring, you look back at your boat and,
if she is truly beautiful, all her sins are forgiven.

Beauty, of course,
is in the eye of the beholder, and this is just as true for boats as for
other art forms. However, with boats, particularly sailing yachts, art
must be balanced with function. Function can be beautiful, too, and perhaps
that is why the Folkboat (see illustration), as functional in her own
way as a World War II Jeep, has always appealed to me as a truly great
design and a very handsome craft indeed.

There are different
forms of beauty: the purposeful, clean-lined racing machine; the traditional
vessel reminiscent of the working craft of bygone years; the graceful
classic with sweeping sheer and long overhangs; the modern cruiser with
its short ends and purposeful lines. All can be beautiful in their own
way if the design is balanced and true to type.

Folkboat is functional

Folkboat: functional as a World War II Jeep

The Stone Horse with raised deck

The Stone Horse by Edey & Duff. Sam Crocker knew how to do the raised foredeck

1962 Ludes shows classic sheer and overhangs

1962 Luders shows classic sheer and overhangs

Fortunately for their
owners and admirers, most boats were designed in the days before rocketship
styling, bulbous curves, and radar arches became the fashion for boats,
power and sail. It is interesting to watch the reaction of the general
public when they see two large yachts, one a classic style and the other
a rocketship, close together. People are impressed by the obvious big
bucks poured into the millionaire’s custom rocketship, but they
always save their “ooohs” and “aaahs” for
the classic.

Classic ratios

The general “classic”
hull-shape ratios for sailing yachts (see illustration), as taught to
me by Bill Luders, were as below:

  • Bow overhang to stern overhang 3:4
  • Bow angle to stern angle 4:3
  • LWL to LOA 2:3
  • Bow to stern freeboard 8:6 or 9:6

With conventional
concave (hollow) sheerlines, the freeboard was the same amidships as at
the transom, and the low point of the freeboard was 80 to 85 percent of
the waterline aft. Generally, racing yachts have a much flatter sheer
than cruisers do, while workboat replicas have the greatest sheer, with
the average cruiser somewhere in between (see illustration). The concave
sheerline should be fairly flat forward, but never straight, with the
curvature increasing gradually to the low point and then rising to the
stern. It should never be the arc of a circle, as that is dull and unimaginative

Few contemporary yachts,
even the “traditionally” styled, will conform to the classic
2:3 LWL/LOA ratio. The newer designs, almost universally, have shorter
overhangs in order to obtain the speed advantage and increased accommodations
provided by added waterline length. The modern yacht is of lighter displacement
also, and that poses its own problems. With a longer waterline and lighter
displacement, there is less hull under water so the designer must use
higher freeboard in order to obtain standing headroom.

A straight sheer can look like a reverse sheer

A straight sheer can look as if it’s a reverse sheer

A workboat shows double-ended stern

This workboat type shows a plumb bow and double-ended stern

Late cruiser shows flatter sheer, reverse transom

A late 1970s cruiser shows a flatter sheer and popular reverse transom

Friendship sloop with clipper bow, raked transom

The Friendship sloop has a clipper bow, raked transom, and a traditional sheer

Raised quarterdeck and bald clipper bow on a 42-footer

A raised quarterdeck and bald clipper bow on a 42-footer

Double-ended schooner has a traditional clipper bow

This double-ended schooner has a pinky stern and traditional clipper bow

The higher freeboard
yacht can look good if given a somewhat flatter sheerline than the older
classics but, even so, I would not relish designing a 35-footer for any
of today’s NBA stars! High freeboard must be disguised by a judicioususe
of cove stripe, paint line, rubrails, and wide boot tops, all running
the length of the yacht in order to reduce the apparent height.

Slight hollow

A straight sheer rarely
works well on a sailing yacht, particularly one with long overhangs. The
bow and stern are farthest from the eye, so optical illusion will make
them appear to droop if the sheer is straight (see illustration). If a
long line is to appear “straight” it must be given a slight
hollow curvature. The Greeks knew this several thousand years ago when
they built the Parthenon, but the principle is rediscovered from time
to time.

For the same reason,
the lines of rails, guards, cove stripes, and paint lines should not parallel
the sheer or they will appear closer together at the ends than at midships.
A toerail should be highest forward, reducing height gradually to the
stern; cove stripes should be furthest below the sheer forward, rising
gradually to a lesser distance below at the stern. If the lines are truly
parallel, they will not appear to be so to the eye, and the result will
not be as intended by the designer.

The reverse sheer,
though rare, makes good sense for sailboats as it is very functional.
The freeboard is high amidships where it provides maximum reserve stability,
and the ends are low, reducing weight in the overhangs for maximum performance.
Despite the advantages, the style never caught on to any extent so reverse
sheer designs are few and far between, the Albin Vega (see illustration)
being one of the better examples.

The raised foredeck
is another style (see illustration) that never became popular although
S. S. Crocker designed many truly lovely examples of the type. It is a
style difficult to proportion properly (certainly I have never mastered
it) and that may be why all but a few designers have avoided it over the

True uglies

Usually, the raised
quarterdeck sheer is seen on craft with “great cabins” aft
(see illustration). A few have been quite handsome with well proportioned
aft decks, but far too many are true uglies with an excessively high quarterdeck
and boxy, tall deckhouses. As a rule, the stern overhang should be short
and the style should not be used on vessels smaller than 40 to 42 feet
(and longer is better) as it can look affected.

Bows take many shapes:
plumb, raked, spoon, clipper, and even the tumblehome bow as seen on a
few catboats. The long spoon bow can be beautiful but is now rarely seen
except on a few older yachts. Those vessels, with their long bow and stern
overhangs, were developed to suit handicap rules that favored short waterlines.
As the rules changed, the waterlines became longer and the ends shortened.
The resulting hull may not be quite as striking, but it does create a
yacht that has higher potential speed and more interior room as well and,
being functional, shorter ends are certainly good design.

Sheerlines, bow profiles, stern profiles

Sheerlines: raised foredeck and reverse sheer
Bow profiles: tumblehome, conventional clipper, and spoon bows
with high and low chins
Stern profiles: Luders’ ducktail and canoe stern

A spoon bow should
not be the arc of a circle as, once again, this is dull design. Just as
with the sheer, the bow should have an ever-changing curve, perhaps shallow
at the waterline with increasing curvature as it approaches the sheer.
If the overhang is short, this style looks good with a bowsprit. The alternative,
with maximum curvature at the waterline, decreasing toward the sheer,
always works well.

The clipper
bow has long been popular on traditionally styled cruising yachts but
it is not an easy shape to design, and I’m the first to admit that
some of my early attempts left much to be desired. L. Francis Herreshoff
had an eye for a clipper stem and his comments in his book, The Common
Sense of Yacht Design, are “must” reading for the budding
designer. As LFH points out, too many clipper bows are rather atrocious,
with excess reverse curve and ugly, exaggerated trailboards.

Refreshing change

Bald clipper bows
(no trailboards) as used by Philip L. Rhodes on his lovely Thunderhead
design can be very attractive also, and are a refreshing change from today’s
all-too-common straight, raked stems. However, I’ll also stick
my neck out and say that, despite the popularity of the Bayfield line,
clipper bows with trailboards and no bowsprits always look odd and affected
to my eyes.

Stern shapes come
in just as many varieties as stems and a few are shown (see illustration).
I have not illustrated a contemporary super-wide reverse stern with an
escalator leading up from the swim platform; functional it may be, but
beautiful? Never!

Reverse transoms do
have the advantage that they save weight in the overhangs and thus improve
performance. I may even be responsible in part for the popularity of the
style. Back in 1961 we were getting the 12-Meter Weatherly ready for the
1962 America’s Cup races. Bill Luders asked me to check how much
weight we could save aft if we chopped off her lovely traditional stern
to a reverse transom shape. I measured, calculated, and came up with a
“cut off” line that would save several hundred pounds where
it counts. That was enough for Bill. The next day the men were out there
with a chainsaw! Weatherly successfully defended the Cup and, suddenly,
reverse transoms were all the rage. Bill also designed the prettiest reverse
transom of all, the “duck tail” style, on American Eagle,
which we also used on many of his 5.5-Meter sloop designs (see illustration
on Page 21). Pretty indeed, but much too slippery for moonlight walks!

Despite the preponderance
of reverse transoms in contemporary yachts, the true cruiser can benefit
by the added cockpit length and lazarette storage of the more conventional
transom. This is particularly true if a quarter berth is fitted, as this
eliminates one cockpit locker. To the cruising skipper, the added stowage
provided by a big lazarette may be more advantageous than that extra 20th
of a knot and, again, function can win out over style.

Lack of buoyancy

Cruiser stern: rounded deck

The cruiser stern: rounded on deck when viewed from above

Heart-shaped transom of Herreshof's Bounty

The heart-shaped transom of L. Francis Herreshof’s Bounty and other designs

Deck structures: good and poor design

Deck structures: good and poor design

Streamlining may not offer good footing

Streamlining may not offer good footing

The short, double-ended
North Sea stern has long been considered suitable for bluewater cruisers,
but it has its faults. The buttock lines are usually well rounded up aft,
which can produce a slow boat and also one that may be prone to being
pooped when running in heavy seas, as it lacks reserve buoyancy above
the LWL. The ever-popular Tahiti ketch is an example of this type (see
illustration). My answer, when a client wants a double-ender for bluewater
voyaging, has been to develop a “cruiser stern” with more
fullness on deck, almost round when viewed from above, to provide additional
reserve buoyancy and ease the buttocks (see illustration). It is a functional
shape, but not the prettiest to my eyes. However, one New Zealand owner
of a 46-footer has put 170,000 miles under her keel in all weathers and
swears it’s the best boat ever built, so the cruiser stern may
have virtues other than function.

Long sterns, whether
counter or canoe type, always look pretty and have the virtue of good
reserve buoyancy. In effect, the stern tends to rise nicely as a big sea
sweeps under it, thus reducing the chance of being pooped. The long counter
also picks up waterline length as the boat heels and so adds to potential
speed – perhaps its main virtue besides appearance. The prettiest
sterns of all may well be the heart-shaped transoms with raised taffrails
designed by LFH for his attractive Bounty, Tioga, and Ticonderoga designs
(see illustration). This type of stern fits perfectly with the lovely
Herreshoff clipper bow. Big Ti, as she is called, is one of the most beautiful
yachts afloat, in my opinion.

The deckhouse can
affect appearance almost as much as the hull. A lovely hull with an ugly
trunk cabin will never be beautiful, but a well-designed deckhouse can
turn a so-so hull into a very acceptable yacht. The cabin should harmonize
with the hull, carrying out the flowing lines of the sheer. To achieve
this, the line of the cabin should have a flatter curve than the sheerline,
and the forward end of the structure should aim at the tip of the stem
or the rail, if such is fitted.

Boxy and insipid

A cabin line that aims up into the blue, as it would if it exactly
paralleled the sheer, can appear boxy. One that disappears abruptly into
the foredeck may look insipid. Neither looks as good as the cabin that
is designed to carry the lines of the yacht out to the stemhead (see illustration).
Generally, the cabin-roof edge should parallel the waterline or increase
slightly in height as it runs aft. It can appear quite awkward if the
house is lower aft than forward. The cabin sides should have tumblehome
(lean inboard), of course. One quarter-inch per foot of height is the
minimum often used on older yachts with squared-off cabin ends. However,
considerably more tumblehome is necessary if the forward end of the cabin
is “streamlined” and heavily raked aft. A problem of such
heavy tumblehome is the dollop of water you get whenever you open a portlight,
but this is what you must pay to be in fashion.

While on the subject
of portlights, round ports belong on ocean liners. A row of three, four,
or more round ports on a small yacht is uninteresting and unimaginative
design indeed, and such craft are much improved in appearance with elliptical
or oval ports. In any case, a row of ports should not parallel the roof
edge or the sheer. Rather, the row should be centered halfway between
the deck and the roof edge where they will aim at the stem head, along
with the other lines of the cabin and sheer, giving a harmonious appearance.

I suppose this
is the time to mention the “streamlining” of deck structures.
I’ve done it myself, with rakish cabins and matching window shapes,
in order to make a yacht more “moderne” looking! Streamlining
may make some sense on fast powerboats and on the rare large, ultra-light
screamer that can exceed 20 knots in ideal sailing conditions, but it
makes almost no sense at all to “streamline” the average
6- to 8-knot sailing yacht with heavily raked cabin structures. The saving
in wind resistance is minimal, and the practice makes little sense. Indeed,
a heavily raked cabin front has less interior volume and less deck space
than a more vertical front and can even be dangerous at sea as the illustration
shows (see illustration).

Gradual change

The rake of the deck
structures, windows, stanchions, Dorade boxes, and similar, should change
gradually. In many designs, particularly larger motor yotts (you cannot
call them yachts), there is no relation between the angles of these various
items, so the result is a hotchpotch that looks more like a cubist painting
than a yacht. A recent professional magazine showed an illustration of
two new Dutch motor yachts. The hulls below water were completely up-to-date
but, above water, one was styled as a lovely 1930s classic and the other
as an elegant 1950-ish craft. Both yachts will still be handsome 30 or
40 years from now. The same page showed a new super “streamlined”
motor yott, all corners and angles, resembling a space station more than
a boat. Some may have sympathy for the owners of such ugly vessels but,
in my opinion, they deserve what they get. I have found that the owners
of such craft are, all too often, the types who will roar close by at
25 knots, leaving you rolling and cursing in their wake.

Streamlining serves
no real function on a craft that moves slower than a galloping plow horse,
so it certainly cannot add to the beauty of the vessel. Excessive streamlining,
stripes, fluting, and similar non-functional trim have no place on a proper
yacht, be it sail or power. In future years, such craft will look every
bit as dated as an antique Buick with its ridiculous fins, portholes,
and tasteless chrome plate.

Yachts may be traditional,
classic, beautiful, handsome, functional, or all of these combined, but
they should never be ridiculous.

Ted Brewer is one of North America’s best-known yacht designers, having
worked on the America’s Cup boats, American Eagle and Weatherly, as well
as boats that won the Olympics, the Gold Cup, and dozens of celebrated
ocean races. He also is the man who designed scores of good old boats
… the ones still sailing after all these years.

Is There a Metal Yacht in Your Future?

By Ted Brewer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 4, July/August 1999.

Whether constructed of steel or aluminum, metal yachts deserve a second look

In the 1960s and early 1970s we rarely saw metal yachts in North
American waters. Steel yachts had been built in Holland and Germany
for many years but, with only oil-based paints to protect them, they
were not particularly long lived. Indeed, I’ve seen lovely 40-foot
steel yachts corroded to junk in 10 to 12 years. A few custom
aluminum yachts were built overseas as well and in a couple of
quality yards in the U.S. However, aluminum was considered to be a
material restricted to large and expensive craft; half the weight for
twice the price was the popular conception. Today however, due to
advances in the protection of steel hulls and the reduction in the
cost of aluminum, metal is often the material of choice for both
custom-built and amateur-built yachts, so steel and aluminum craft
are commonly seen in almost every harbor.

Each material has its advantages, but the racing skipper will
choose aluminum construction for its combination of lightness and
strength, of course. The cruiser, on the other hand, may prefer steel
for its greater strength and lower initial cost, or aluminum for its
longevity, low maintenance, and high resale value. Sailors interested
in a metal yacht need to know the pros and cons of the two materials
so they can make an intelligent choice, whether buying a used boat,
building their own, or having a new custom yacht built. I offer a few
points to consider.

Ultimate Tensile
Yield Strength
Unwelded Welded Unwelded Welded
Aluminum 5086-H34 44,000 psi 39,000 psi 34,000 psi 21,000 psi
Aluminum 6061-T6 42,000 psi 30,000 psi 35,000 psi 19,000 psi
Grade A mild steel

58,000 psi

34,000 psi

Grade AH32 mild steel

68,000 psi

45,000 psi


The simplest comparison is that aluminum weighs about 168 pounds per
cubic foot and steel weighs 490 pounds per cubic foot, almost three
times as much. It is not that simple a comparison though. The
machinery, interior furnishings, hardware, rig, general equipment,
and stores weigh about the same for steel and aluminum craft, so the
overall weight advantage of an aluminum yacht is not nearly as great
as it might seem.


Comparing strengths is made more difficult because aluminum alloys
lose strength after welding while steel does not. The table below
shows the differences between some typical alloys.

Steel’s strength advantage seems obvious, but it is normal practice
to increase the scantling of an aluminum part to make up for its
lower strength. For example, a steel 40-footer would be plated with
.140-inch-thick steel, giving a tensile strength of .140 x 58,000 =
8,120 pounds per inch of plate. Her aluminum sister might be plated
with .1875-inch-thick material, giving a strength of .1875 x 39,000 =
7,312 pounds per inch of plate. The 10 percent difference in strength
is relatively inconsequential while the thicker aluminum still has a
substantial weight advantage: 2.63 pounds per square foot of hull
compared to 5.72 pounds per square foot for the steel yacht, less
than half the weight of steel.

However, as pointed out earlier, the overall weight advantage
might be only 20 to 25 percent in the long run due to the weight of
the other parts of the yacht. Still, that means the aluminum yacht
can be 20 percent lighter or carry extra ballast, and that translates
into improved performance.

Steel also has the advantage of being 60 percent harder than
aluminum, so it is much more resistant to abrasion in a grounding on
rock or rubbing up against a concrete bulkhead. And, it is more
malleable, so it will stretch farther in a collision or a hard
grounding on granite before rupturing. Aluminum, in turn, is more
resistant to abrasion than either fiberglass or wood and will stretch
a great deal more in a collision. In any case, I’m sure our readers
will never allow their boats to get into a grounding or collision
situation so this factor is not critical!

The Alaska 43 with double-chine steel hull

Brewer’s Alaska 43 is an example of a double-chine steel hull.

In the stretching category, I can tell of a 60-foot
ultra-light aluminum design of mine that had her anchor chain slip
the stopper while sailing into the teeth of a 50-knot squall, letting
the anchor drop 15 feet or so before it jammed. For close to an hour
the boat rose on each big sea and fell onto her heavy Bruce anchor,
yet the only damage was several 2-inch-deep dents in her light
.160-inch aluminum plating. This is certainly an unusual accident but
shows one of the solid advantages of metal yachts. I feel certain a
wood or glass hull would have suffered severe damage in a similar
situation. In any case, sailing aboard a metal yacht can be very
comforting when you are out on the deep blue competing for lebensraum
with floating cargo containers.

Too, both steel and aluminum yachts are essentially one-piece
structures without the annoyance of leaking hull/deck joints, leaking
chainplates or other weak points. Even cleats and other hardware can
be welded to the deck, or machine-screw fastened to pads welded in
place, to avoid bolt holes through an otherwise watertight structure.


Fully developed hull, round bottom, round bilge hulls

The marine aluminum alloys (5454, 5083, and 5086) used for yachts and
commercial fishing vessels are very different from the aluminum used
in your pots and pans at home. The marine alloys contain a
substantial percentage (3.4% – 4.9%) of magnesium, depending on the
specific alloy, and are highly resistant to corrosion in sea water.
They are essentially inert. Indeed, these metals are not even similar
to the 6061-T6 used in your mast. The latter is a heat-treatable
alloy that loses substantial strength in the vicinity of a weld;
hardly a quality we want in our hulls with their hundreds of feet of
welding. Nor is 6061-T6 as corrosion-resistant in a marine
atmosphere, as some sailors have discovered to their sorrow. Still
6061-T6 is favored for internal use by many builders due to its
stiffness and is used, suitably increased in thickness, for frames,
longitudinals, keel, knees, and other parts that will not come into
contact with sea water. Quality aluminum yachts are plated with 5000
series alloys on the hull and superstructure, of course, and are
all-welded structures.

Proof that the marine aluminum alloys are unaffected in sea
water is that many commercial fishing craft, and an increasing number
of yachts, are not even painted above the waterline. To paint or not
to paint is solely at the owner’s discretion. The aluminum will
darken to a gray color with age, but its strength and durability are
essentially unchanged. The interior of the aluminum hull need not be
painted either but, obviously, the bottom must have anti-fouling
paint applied to prevent the growth of performance-robbing weeds and

Steel, of course, rusts quickly in a saltwater atmosphere, so
a steel yacht needs to be protected inside and out. The interior is
usually painted with coal-tar epoxy, while the exterior can be
epoxy-coated or flame-sprayed with zinc or aluminum. In either case,
the steel must be sand-blasted inside and out with sharp silica sand
to provide a tooth for the paint or flame spray. This substantial
extra labor can offset the higher material cost of the aluminum to a
substantial degree. In talking to a couple of builders recently I had
one tell me that he would charge about 20 percent more for a
completed aluminum yacht over steel and another say that aluminum and
steel yachts come out very close in price due to the extra labor of
blasting and finishing the interior of the steel hull.

The same disagreement arises when “experts” are asked about
the benefits of flame spraying a steel hull to prevent corrosion. One
advises to flame spray, preferably with aluminum; another says that
an epoxy coating is better than flame spraying. I have seen both
methods give good results after years of service and, in my opinion,
it is simply up to the owner to toss the coin.

Whether steel or aluminum, both metals are well below copper
on the galvanic scale, and using bronze or copper in contact with
either is a no-no! Perhaps the epitome of this is the very famous
designer who, early in this century, built a large and expensive
racing yacht of aluminum plating on bronze frames. The vessel barely
lasted a year, much to the surprise and dismay of the designer and

So, no bronze seacocks, no copper bottom paint, and don’t
drop any pennies in the bilge of an aluminum yacht! Some designers
and builders use stainless steel seacocks, but I prefer the
fiberglass-reinforced nylon type, as I do not like to see stainless
steel used below the waterline in salt water if at all avoidable. For
anti-fouling protection, tin-based bottom paint is the best available
for metal yachts, the best available for any yacht for that matter,
but is outlawed in many countries due to its toxicity. Paint
manufacturers have come up with several alternatives, though, so some
research will be necessary if there is a metal boat in your future.

Hull shape

Peachy Keen Hull framework
Hull covered with steel plates
Steel Hull painted

Peachy Keen, in various stages of development, shows Brewer’s radius bilge with straight frames above and below the radius bilge. When plated, the radius bilge goes on in short sections while the flat areas are installed in long plates. Ready to launch, the boat’s a beauty.

Although European builders in the 1950s, and even earlier, had the
skills necessary to build fully developed hulls, this ability was
limited to a very few quality (read “expensive”) yards in North
America. Thus, only chine hulls were readily available here and that,
of course, was another reason that metal boats were not popular.

In the early 1970s we designed a 35-foot steel sloop called the Goderich 35
and used a shape that was, essentially, a single-chine hull with a very
large radius at the chine. The radius started at the stern at about a 2-foot
radius and increased as it progressed forward to 4 feet or more. I don’t
know if we were the first designers to use this technique, but I had not
seen it done before, so it is possible that we did originate it. In any
case, the boat turned out quite well, a number were built and one 35, Globe
Star, skippered by professor Marvin Creamer, circumnavigated the globe
without instruments of any kind, using Creamer’s knowledge of currents,
drift, winds, and other natural phenomena to locate his daily position.
These methods proved surprisingly accurate and could have been known to the
very early navigators.

Shortly after the Goderich 35 appeared on the scene, other designers were
coming out with radius-bilge hull designs and, in a few years, it was not
at all uncommon to see radius-bilge steel yachts advertised as
semi-production boats or bare-hull kits for home completion. The
radius-bilge system caught on with aluminum boats as well, but a few
builders were already beginning to turn out fully formed aluminum yachts
as the softer 5000 series aluminum is somewhat easier to work with and
form than steel. Today there are a number of good builders who can produce
an excellent, fully formed aluminum hull, a few who can do the same in
steel, and many who can do a fine job on a radius bilge hull in either

Miscellaneous advantages

Both metals have their own unique qualities, of course. Steel is
easier to weld, especially under adverse conditions. Aluminum needs
to be kept hygienically clean while under construction, and welding
it requires considerable training and solid experience.

Troubador hull inside construction

A look inside Troubador while under construction, shows the shining ribs and curved frames of a fully developed aluminum hull. A visit to Troubador in the early stages might remind the uninitiated of a visit to a traditional wood shop – except for the missing aroma of sawdust and varnish.

Troubador outside plating

Troubador’s plating shows details of an elaborate construction process.

Aluminum is non-magnetic, so compass adjusting is easier and
auto-pilots work better, at least in my experience. Steel is
fireproof, while aluminum will melt if given enough heat, as the
Brits found to their dismay in the Falkland Islands war. It is still
more fireproof than wood or fiberglass, obviously. However, if
everything else aboard the boat burns, having a hot metal hull afloat
in the middle of the ocean may not be of any great comfort.

Built-in tanks work well in both materials and increase the
tankage capacity substantially. The 5000-series aluminum water tanks
do not need to be epoxy- or cement-coated inside to prevent
corrosion. Some people say an aluminum water tank can cause
neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s). I believe it can if you grind
it up and eat it, but we still use our aluminum cooking pots and
pans, and I would not hesitate to have aluminum water tanks on my
boat. An unusual advantage of metal boats is that the built-in tanks
are easy to repair. You simply cut a hole in the hull, repair the
tank from the inside, and weld the hull back up again. It beats
trying to wrestle a 50-gallon tank out of a 40-gallon opening so you
can get at it to fix a bad leak.

Emergency repairs on either material are fairly
straightforward. Not as simple as repairing a wooden boat, perhaps,
but certainly as easy as fiberglass. A repair patch can be quickly welded onto a steel hull and almost any out-of the-way port will have t
he necessary equipment to do it. Aluminum, on the other hand, can be
readily drilled and tapped so an owner can fasten a gasketed patch in
place until he can get to a port where aluminum welding facilities
are available.

Nomad has aluminum deck on steel hull
Sandingo with unpainted aluminum top and deck

Nomad (top) has an aluminum deck and house on a steel hull. Sandingo (bottom) is launched with unpainted aluminum topsides and deck.

Steel and aluminum each have distinct advantages. They can
both be built by amateurs, and I have had fine yachts, from 30 to 60
feet, crafted in metal to my designs by competent amateurs as well as
by professional yards. If the amateur can combine good welding skills
with reasonable experience in metal fabrication, there is no reason
why an excellent yacht cannot be produced at a reasonable cost. And
now, with sound 20- to 25-year-old metal yachts occasionally
available on the market, the older metal boats can take their place
within the fleet of good old boats as well.

Further reading:

  • Steel Boat Building, by Thomas E. Colvin, International Marine Publishing Co.
  • Boatbuilding with Steel, by Gilbert C. Klingel, International Marine Publishing Co.
  • Boatbuilding with Aluminum, by Stephen F. Pollard, International
    Marine Publishing Co.

Oh, How She Scoons!

Two-masted schonnerBy Donald Launer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 4, Number 1, January/February 2001.

The rig Americans made their own is still “scooning” after 300 years

It’s not discreet to say this, but I’ve been having an affair, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It’s been a lifetime love affair with schooners. There are still some, and I suspect many, of us who believe that no sailboat ever built can compare in beauty with the schooner. But why are people still drawn to this rig when the schooner as a recreational boat has all but faded into oblivion? I think it’s because the schooner rig has a symmetrical rightness about it. With a gollywobbler, fore gaff topsail, spinnoa, flying jib, forestaysail, fisherman – what other rig can carry such a mixed bag of sails and (instead of looking ridiculous) become breathtaking?

From the deck, as you look above, a cloud of white is overhead – but aesthetics aside, no other cruising rig has more flexibility than the schooner. It can be adjusted to suit almost any condition of wind or sea. OK, so it doesn’t go to windward quite as well as that high-aspect-ratio racing sloop, a characteristic common to all split rigs, but if you’re searching for a love affair – if, as you sail by, you appreciate it when people turn to look and take pictures – then maybe, just maybe, you too are a schooner nut. If you are, you’re in good company, since to judge by their designs and writings, John Alden, Uffa Fox, and Joseph Conrad were also schooner enthusiasts. In Mirror of the Sea, Conrad rhapsodized: “They are birds of the sea, whose swimming is like flying . . . the manifestation of a living creature’s quick wit and graceful precision.”

From Holland

Don Launer's Lazy Jack 32 schooner
Don Launer’s Lazy Jack 32 designed by Ted Brewer, above, and flying its fisherman staysail, at left. This sail is hoisted by halyards on the foremast and mainmast. The sheets are led to aft turning blocks and forward to cleats. It is tended like a jib when tacking.

Although most people consider the schooner to be as American as apple pie, the popular idea that it originated in New England is probably incorrect. It seems likely that they were developed in Holland in the early part of the 17th century as they are depicted in paintings of that period. There’s no doubt, however, that Americans adopted the schooner as their own. The American coastal schooners were not deliberately designed to look beautiful, they were designed as vehicles of commerce with good carrying capacity, able to haul lumber, fish, coal, ice, stone, bricks, fertilizer, and the like, in all possible weather and at good speed. Thus a perfection of hull form was developed, and something completely functional as well as aesthetically beautiful was the result.

They were as vital to American commerce as are the highways, railroads, and airlines of today. In those days before railroads, when overland routes were not much more than muddy paths in the warm months and snow-covered ruts during the winter, schooners moved people and supplies between the coastal cities.

Waterborne commerce along the East Coast of the United States was a natural result of its topography. Our eastern shoreline is replete with estuaries, rivers, bays, and sounds, which allowed the windward ability of the schooner to carry them far inland where square-riggers dared not venture. By the late 18th century, the schooner had become the national sailboat of the United States and replaced the square-rigger as the ship of choice for coastal commerce.

Camden’s schooners

Fiberglass interior furring strips
On the interior, Don fiberglassed vertical furring strips 16 inches apart. He glued foil-covered polyurethane insulation between the furring strips and placed mahogany planks on top. This insulation sandwich prevents hull sweating, makes the cabin easier to heat and cool, and acts as a radar reflector.

During the schooners’ heyday, boatbuilders all up and down the coast were trying to keep up with the demand and turning out large coastal schooners in record numbers. The small town of Camden, Maine, alone sent more than 200 down the ways, and schooners can still be seen in Camden’s harbor.

Even though the coastal schooner was a boon to commerce, by today’s standards, travel in those days was still primitive. A trip from New York to Philadelphia, which now takes about two hours by car, would take two days by coastal schooner if the wind was exactly right, or it could take two weeks under adverse conditions. And there was always the possibility of never arriving at all if a nor’easter reared up offshore.

Mahogany plankson top makes cabin easier to heat and coolBut what constitutes this rig that transformed the early days of our nation? The schooner is characterized by fore-and-aft sails, set on two or more masts, the foremast(s) being equal in height to, or shorter than, the mainmast, which is the farthest aft. Some early schooners were rigged with square topsails on the forward mast and were known as topsail schooners.

The schooner rig has three basic types of sailplans: The old-time gaff main and gaff foresail, the Marconi main and gaff foresail (which allows a permanent backstay on the mainmast, by use of a boomkin), and the Marconi main with a staysail in place of the foresail. The fishing schooners of the 19th and early 20th centuries usually carried three headsails: jib, jib staysail, and jib topsail, but most small schooners of today opt for a single headsail for ease in handling. When this headsail is on a boom it doesn’t even have to be tended when coming about. (See the club-footed jib article in the November 2000 issue of Good Old Boat).

Seldom seen today

The gollywobbler is the schooner’s version of a spinnaker. It’s a huge staysail, usually bigger than the mainsail and foresail combined, and is set in place of them for downwind running. It does, however, require a large crew to handle it and is seldom seen today. The fisherman staysail, still frequently used on even the smallest of schooners, is a trapezoidal sail, hoisted by halyards to the tops of the mainmast and foremast. Although seemingly archaic, it’s even more efficient than a genoa when going to windward, according to designer Ted Brewer.

The flexibility of the schooner rig to meet a variety of conditions is its greatest asset. When the wind starts to blow a gale, the schooner can begin by dropping one of its auxiliary sails, such as the fisherman. This can be followed by putting in reefs in the mainsail and/or foresail. Higher winds can be countered by dropping the foresail and maintaining a balance under jib and mainsail alone. Under really severe conditions, the schooner can continue under double-reefed foresail alone, or heave to under foresail. The feeling of proceeding under reefed foresail or heaving to under reefed foresail was so confidence-inspiring that when weathering a storm out on the Grand Banks under reefed foresail the Gloucester fishermen called it being “in foresail harbor.

“When a modern-day sailor first goes aboard a schooner, it is daunting to say the least – there seem to be lines everywhere. On our modest-sized schooner, the running rigging, proceeding from bow to stern, consists of: jib halyard, jib downhaul, jib sheet, jib-boom lazyjacks, fisherman-staysail halyard (and, when hoisted, the fisherman staysail tack downhaul), gaff foresail throat halyard, gaff foresail peak halyard, foresail boom vang, foresail gaff vang, foresail lazy-jacks,  fisherman staysail peak halyard (and, when hoisted, the fisherman port and starboard sheets), main boom topping lift, main halyard, main-boom vang, mast-top flag halyard, spreader flag halyard, main lazyjacks and mainsheet.

Easier than a sloop

This is an intimidating array for the newcomer on board, but those lines are there to make the job easier, and once you “learn the ropes” sailing a schooner short-handed or single-handed can be easier than sailing a sloop of comparable sail area, since, with this split rig, each of the sails is smaller and easier to manage. I singlehand my schooner most of the time, even when there are guests aboard and find it easier to sail than a sloop of comparable size.

Unfortunately, anyone looking for a schooner today has limited choices. In the used-boat market there are always some wooden hulls available, and occasionally ones of steel or aluminum, but fiberglass-hulled schooners are harder to come by. For about 25 years, the Lazy Jack 32 was available to the small-boat sailor. This schooner, designed by Ted Brewer and made in fiberglass by Ted Hermann Boats, of Southold, N.Y., is 32 feet on deck and 39 feet overall, including the bowsprit and boomkin. It was available as either a bare hull, kit, or completed boat, but in 1987, with Ted Hermann’s retirement, production ceased.

One of the few fiberglass schooners now being produced is the Cherubini 48. Cherubini has been building its semi-custom 48-foot schooner for decades in a plant in New Jersey. This is a gorgeous boat, built with Cherubini’s renowned craftsmanship. It has traditional lines, a saucy sheer, tumblehome, and varnished teak, along with the beautiful schooner sailplan. The company is now known as the Independence Cherubini Co. They manufacture both trawlers and sailboats. This is the only company I know of now building fiberglass schooners.

Bare fiberglass hull

Schooner nomenclature diagram

A little more than 20 years ago, the lodestone force of the schooner finally became irresistible, and we bought one of Ted Hermann’s 32-foot fiberglass bare hulls right out of the mold, doing the building and fitting-out ourselves on a spare-time basis. This consisted of fastening the deck mold to the hull mold, installing the engine, fuel system, exhaust system, and installing the masts, standing and running rigging, water system, head, electric wiring and electronics, stove, cabin heat, cabin insulation, and interior woodwork. Our schooner, Delphinus, is still our pride and joy. It turned out just as we hoped and has been a family member for two decades now.

I don’t advocate the schooner design for everyone, but for us it has been perfect. Since we are now in our 70s, ease of single-handing our boat is a prime requisite. Except for when the fisherman-staysail is flying, tacking requires no more work than turning the wheel and watching, as first the club-footed jib, then the foresail, and finally the main, move over to the new tack.

Another peripheral advantage of our schooner rig is evident when anchoring under sail. We can approach a crowded anchorage with everything up, select our spot, come up into the wind and sheet the mainsail in tight amidships. Since the mainsail is so far aft, this keeps us neatly weather-vaned into the wind while we leisurely drop the jib and lower the anchor as we begin to fall back. Then the fisherman, foresail, and finally the mainsail can be dropped in a relaxed manner while at anchor.

Traditional lines

We feel quite content with our cruising schooner. We have an able, comfortable and manageable boat with the beautiful and traditional lines of the schooner era, but our boat is ours in more than the ordinary sense of ownership. It is ours because built into it are small parts of ourselves; the planning, work, sweat, skinned knuckles, and bruised knees, along with our love of the schooner rig. All are hidden in the dark crevices of the hull, as much a part of our schooner as the bowsprit and boomkin. Possession like that is hard to come by; it can’t be bought, it must be earned.

In choosing a sailboat, its ultimate windward ability is not the only thing to consider. The owners must also take pride in their craft. Beauty and practicality can coexist. In our advanced years, it’s satisfying to know that there are some things that do improve with age: old wine to drink, old friends to talk to, old authors to read, and old sailboat designs to admire and enjoy.

More on schooners

Don Launer has been sailing more than 65 years and has held a USCG captain’s license for more than 20 years. He is author of the book, A Cruising Guide to New Jersey Waters. Delphinus is kept at the dock next to his hoe on a waterway off Barnegat Bay, NJ.

Boat Identifiers S to Z

These pages are for the little painted bits on the bow, stern and sides of a boat, that might assist in identifying a Make or Model. Another identifier is the insignia on the sails, which we have listed on our Owners Associations pages. And Bill Lamica spent years putting together an incredible Sail Insignia Guide (PDF). It’s easy to print for handy reference aboard as another sailboat floats by.

S – Z

S2 (first version)

The S2 company was good about putting its S2 logo where you could find it. The series of fine black lines is a good clue also.

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S2 (second version)

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S2 (third version)

S2 cabin S2 cabin

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Sabre (Old style logo)

Thanks to Eric Miller for his clarification: “After the financial rescue of the company by Ed Miller, they redesigned the Sabre ‘S’ on the aft end of the cove stripe.”

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Sabre (New style logo)

Sabre bow Sabre stern

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Seafarer Meridian?

Charlie Jones writes: “This is a picture of the cove stripe on my 1961 Seafarer Meridian 25. It doesn’t look a thing like the one posted on your website.” So now, we wonder, who can resolve this mystery for us? Did Seafarer make several cove stripes, perhaps a special one for the Meridian? They wouldn’t be the first boat manufacturer to do that or to change the company cove stripe over the years. If you have answers, please contact karen@goodoldboat.com and we’ll try to set the record straight.

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Shannon stern

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Sparkman and Stephens

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Spencer stripe, bow Spencer stripe, Aft

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Tanzer 7.5

Tanzer remembered to put a logo where the dockwalkers could see it. Most have faded now, no doubt, but you can still make this one out in the mid section.

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Tanzer 22

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Tartan 37

Tartans are well-marked also. In addition, note the distinctive coaming around the dodger.

Tartan 37

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Tartan 34

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Tartan Ten

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Tradewinds (Monk Tradewinds)

Skookum yard in Port Townsend WA built a mold from Ed Monk’s plans and was in turn sold as a “Tradewinds.”

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Unison 45 amidships

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Valiant sail cover

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This is a 1975 Viking 33 designed by C&C (hence the C&C logo cove stripe) built by Ontario yachts. The cove stripe has a gap amidships. — James Dallimore.

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Yankee Dolphin

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Yankee Yachts

Boat Identifiers J to R

These pages are for the little painted bits on the bow, stern and sides of a boat, that might assist in identifying a Make or Model. Another identifier is the insignia on the sails, which we have listed on our Owners Associations pages. And Bill Lamica spent years putting together an incredible Sail Insignia Guide (PDF). It’s easy to print for handy reference aboard as another sailboat floats by.

J – R


At least some of the J/Boats have a distinctive retracting bowsprit.

JBoat cabin

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Jeanneau Sun Odyssey

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Kenner Privateer

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Kirie Elite

Kirie Elite amidships

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In the olden days, many of the whaling ships were schooners. In recalling this past, the Lj-32 cove-stripe is terminated with the toggle at the end of a harpoon on the forward end of the cove-stripe, and the point of a lance on the aft end of the cove-stripe.

Lazy Jack bow Lazy Jack stern

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The MacGregor 26x is identifiable as a critter unlike other sailboats, since it has addopted some powering skills with a modified hull and a large engine mounted on the stern. Besides they put a name on the stern where we can see it. MacGregor made other sailboats long ago. We’ll see if we can’t find a cove stripe or two on a MacGregor Venture as this page evolves.

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Many Moons

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Built by Ta Shing of Taiwan. (Thanks to David Cranke for recognizing it.)

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Mirage 25

The covestripe is from a Mirage 25. The same stripe was also used on the Mirage 26/27 models. Cheers – Matt Koch

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Mirage 35

The Mirage folks made it easy on dockwalkers also. They put a label where you can see it.

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Mirage 275

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Moody (version 1)

And you can’t miss recognizing a Moody!

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Moody (version 2)

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Najad cabin

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Nicholson 35

You don’t see too many Camper Nicholsons around. But the later ones are easy to recognize with an embossed name set in the cove at the stern. Unfortunately, the earlier boats did not include the embossed name. The cove stripe ran all the way through that blank area shown here at the stern. (We know this embossed name is hard to see in this photo, but it does say Nicholson all the same.)

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Forget the cove stripe! The distinctive feature in the Nonsuch is the unstayed mast in the bow and the wishbone rig.

Nonesuch cabin

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The O’Day company was very busy making good old boats once upon a time. It remains to be seen whether those boats shared a look-alike cove stripe. Here’s one. Nice of them to label the boat and size for us also. This company was good with logos!

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Paceship Acadia Yawl

Admittedly this one’s a bit rare also. But she’s a beaut!

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Paceship 23/26

“This was the stripe used by Paceship Yachts, and later by AMF on the Paceship 23 (PY 23) and the Paceship 26 (PY26) Check out some pictures at http://www.paceship.org/PY26/py26-photos.htm.” — Matt Koch

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Pacific Seacraft

Pacific Seacraft amidships Pacific Seacraft cabin

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Pacific Seacraft Dana

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Pacific Seacraft Flicka

First built by Nor’Star, then (1977/78 & later) by Pacific Seacraft. Aft hull scroll (right) different design than forward scroll (left). —Sandy Wills

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Pearson (first version)

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Pearson (second version)

This Pearson also had a nameplate in the cockpit.

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Pearson (third version)

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August Hahn writes: “These are Gary Mull-designed Rangers (as opposed to the Kent Rangers, a different boat entirely.”

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Sail identifier and bow cove from Robert Feldmann, owner/moderator of “The Rawson Owners’ Network.”

Sail identifier and very distinctive bow cove …

Rawson bow Rawson stern
Rawson cabin

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Rob Roy

Another good old Ted Brewer design.

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My boat, an RK-20 which is 30 years old, was made by RKA Industries, in Strasburg VA has the same hull as a Balboa 20 and Ensenada 20.� All with the Hess design.� The decks, hardware and interiors differ somewhat. — Dean P. Gagnon

RK 20, stern markings

Boat Identifiers A to I

These pages are for the little painted bits on the bow, stern and sides of a boat, that might assist in identifying a Make or Model. Another identifier is the insignia on the sails, which we have listed on our Owners Associations pages. And Bill Lamica spent years putting together an incredible Sail Insignia Guide (PDF). It’s easy to print for handy reference aboard as another sailboat floats by.

A – I


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Albin Stratus

The Albin company made several popular good old boats such as the Albin Alpha, the Albin Ballad, the Albin Cumulus, and the Albin Vega. If you have one of these boats, please send photos.

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Allied Chance 30-30

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Allied SeaBreeze

“I just had to submit the Allied Seabreeze cove stripe. The fwd end is not all that unique, but the aft “swallow tail” is quite distinctive.” – Art Hall.

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Nappy Napolitano writes: “I remember the Allmand logo. It was one of the first small aft-cockpit aft-cabin sailboats.”

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The Baba has a distinctive scrolled bulwark and cove stripe.

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The taffrail at the stern and the clipper bow with a trailboard design sets the Bayfield apart.

Bayfield bow
Bayfield stern

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Beneteau First (version 1)

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Beneteau First (version 2)

Beneteau First cabin

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Beneteau Oceanis

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Brewer 12.8

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Bristol 38.8, version 2

“I was checking your website pictures of covestripes and noticed that the bow arrow is different than that for our Bristol 38.8. It may be that the difference is due to the 38.8 being the second generation.” –Dave Belchamber

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Bristol Channel Cutter

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Buccaneer cabin

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We thank Cuthbertson and Cassian, the C&C guys for making this star symbol easy to recognize and consistent from model to model.

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Cape Dory

We apprecite little hints like CD right in the cove stripe also. We can take a hint!

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Catalina (first version)

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Catalina (third version)

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Cheoy Lee

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A little cherub, a “cherubini,” on a Cherubini 48. It is also on the trail board for the Cherubini 44. -Ben Stavis, Webmaster, Cherubini Yachts


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The Columbias usually had their logo somewhere on their boats. A big help for dockwalkers.

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Columbia 9.6

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Com-Pac sail cover

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The Contessa has a distinctive cabin house and curved shape to its hatchway opening. Please send photos if you own a Contessa or have one in your marina.

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Cornish Crabber

The unique lapstrake pattern helps identify the Cornish Crabber.

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This is our new to us 1990 CS 34. The orange is newer, she had teal when shipped from the factory, but the gold was a factory color. We plan on removing all the stripes and redoing them in a grey blue colour this spring. Many CS 30s, 34s, and the 36-foot Merlins had stripping like this boat. — Bart Toby

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Delphia cabin

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D Wogaman sends: One photo of the bow cove stripe dashes and one photo of the stern cove stripe dash. Our boat, a 1974 Dickerson ketch, was the last woody built by Dickerson Boatbuilders in Trappe Maryland.

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This is another boat with a distinctive clipper bow and trailboard.

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DS sail cover

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Dufour helps dockwalkers with the addition of a nice-looking logo.

Dufour cabin

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Attached are snapshots of my ’77 E27 cove stripe including the logo on the stern portion. —Jerry Van Baren

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Ericson (Version 2)

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Express 35

A Steve Killing design.

Express cabin

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The Fishers have a very recognizable and distinctive design.

Fisher cabin

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The distinctive feature on the Freedoms is the free-standing mast.

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Grampion bow
Geampion cabin

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Graves Constellation

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Hallberg-Rassy cabin Hallberg-Rassy sail cover

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Heavenly Twin

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“The Hinckley cove is interesting in that it is not just a graphic design. It depicts the Talaria, which, if you remember your classical mythology (and I’m sure you do!), are the small wings depicted on the ankles of gods. Hermes is usually shown with them. Henry Hinckley chose this image back in the 30’s (I think) to connote swiftness, agility, and stamina.” — Morris Hancock.

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Hunter (first version)

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Hunter (second version)

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Hunter (third version)

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Hunter Legend

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Intrepid 9 meter

Intrepid amidships

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Irwin (version 2)

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Irwin (version 3)

Irwin amidships

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Bless their souls. The folks at Islander made it easy on us. Look for the lacy arrowhead at the bow and the sailboat logo at the stern. They even tell us what size Islander we’re looking at. Another blessing is in order.

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Islander Freeport

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Island Packet

You can often recognize the Island Packets by the creamy white they use for their boat paint. But not always. The little logo at the mid-section of this one was a good clue, though.

Island Packet sail cover

Neal Doten added a photo of the step plate at the boarding gates of most Island Packets. They’re located on both sides. Neal says, “This is one more way to confirm the boat’s lineage if other means aren’t obvious.”

Island Packet Step Plate

Keel design: What’s best?

By Ted Brewer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 4, July/August 2000.

Ted Brewer reviews the ins and outs and ups and downs of keel design

The purpose of a keel,
fin, or centerboard is to provide resistance to making leeway; in effect,
to keep the yacht from sliding sideways through the water due to wind
pressure on the sails. Various shapes of underwater plane have been in
and out of style over the past 150 years.

Fisher full keel
Fisher series Stylized shark fin

The Fisher series, above, shows the full keel typical of Scottish fishing boats. The highly stylized shark fin, at bottom, has extreme rake and a sloping tip chord.

The basic full-keel
shape had the longest run, as it was the standard for bluewater sailing
craft from pre-Roman times to the earliest days of yachting. The deep,
full keel was supplemented in the mid-1800s, for the shoalwater areas
of Britain and North America, by centerboard craft. These cover such
working types as the sharpies, Cape Cod catboats, and Chesapeake Bay
oyster skiffs, to mention a few.

The first truly
modern keel yacht, with a cutaway forefoot and highly raked rudder post,
was designed by Capt. Nathanael Herreshoff with his Gloriana design
of 1891. But it did not catch on for bluewater sailing. Until the late
1920s, the typical offshore yacht, whether cruiser or ocean racer, resembled
a sailing fishing craft in the shape of its lateral plane: a long, full
keel with deep forefoot and fairly vertical sternpost. Such a shape has
the benefits of good directional stability, ease of steering, and the
ability to heave to in heavy weather, all desirable traits for a boat.
However, its faults may include slowness in stays, excess wetted surface
Ñ making it slower in all types of air Ñ and an inefficient lateral
plane shape that has excess leeway, considering its relatively large
area. Typical small yachts of this type are seen today in the Colin
Archer types and the Tahiti ketch and its copies, while replicas of
traditional sailing craft such as Bristol Channel Cutters, Friendship
sloops, fishing and pilot schooners, and similar lovely vessels still
appear in our waters. Fortunately, many of these workboat types have
been developed to the point where the ills of the true full keel have
been greatly reduced. Then the result is a handsome cruiser that sails
quite well and attracts a great deal of attention wherever she drops
her hook.

Successful keel

Full keels
Fin Keel variations

cutaway keel was revived for ocean racing by Olin Stephens in the late
1920s, with his lovely yawl, Dorade, still sailing and winning classic
yacht races more than 70 years after her launching. Her offshore racing
successes finally proved that the full keel was not essential to seaworthiness,
and it definitely detracted from speed and weatherliness. As a result
of its improved performance and handiness, the “modified full keel”
form caught on quickly once Dorade showed the way and became the standard
for the next 35 years. This type of lateral plane is still sailing in
many popular older designs such as the Albergs, the Folkboat, the Luders
33, the Whitby 42, and even some newer yachts.

The modified full-keel
form features generally good handling and directional stability plus
reduced wetted surface, compared to her true full-keel sister. The yachts
can perform well in all conditions and, as they are generally of heavier
displacement than contemporary ballasted-fin boats, they do not give
away much in light air, despite the added wetted area. A yacht with
a modified full keel can sail right up with the best of them if she
is given sail area commensurate with her typically heavier displacement.

In my own work,
I developed a modified full keel, with the rudder set aft and vertically
in the contemporary fashion, in order to improve directional stability
and handiness. Then, to reduce wetted area, the lateral plane is substantially
cut away ahead of the rudder in what some have termed “the Brewer bite.”
The Cabot 36 and Quickstep 24 of my design were early examples of this
form. The size of the cutout depends to a large degree on how insistent
my client is on having a “full keel,” and I try to make the cutout as
large as I can decently get away with. I don’t claim to have originated
the shape, though, as the late L. Francis Herreshoff used a not dissimilar
profile many years earlier in the design of the lovely 57-foot ketch,

Taken to extremes

Like all good things,
the modified full keel was cut away more and more for bluewater and
inshore racers in an attempt to reduce wetted area until, finally, some
designers took it to extremes. This reduced directional stability and
produced craft that were almost impossible to steer in breezy conditions,
broaching with monotonous regularity. I can recall working on the design
of many short-keel 5.5-Meter yachts in the 1960s, and we always said
they were three-man boats with six-man spinnakers! It’s hard to believe
none of them were knocked down and sunk, as they were extremely difficult
to control on a reach or run, and the hulls were pure leadmines, with
3,500 pounds of ballast in their very short keel and only 1,000 pounds
of wood and rig above it!

Olin Stephen’s genius
began another fad in the mid 1950s, the keel-centerboard design. After
Finisterre showed the way, keel-centerboard yawls were built in sizes
from 24-foot midget ocean racers, to the largest offshore yachts, in
order to take advantage of favorable ratings under the CCA rule and
emulate Finisterre’s record of wins. The keel-centerboard hull has gone
out of fashion now, but the type still has merit where a stable, beamy,
shoal-draft yacht is desired with little sacrifice of weatherliness
or seaworthiness. Indeed, the Bill Tripp-designed Block Island 40 and
Bermuda 40 are keel-centerboard ocean racers from the old school and
have been in production for more than 30 years now. These classic yachts
have made many long ocean voyages, including several world circumnavigations
and are first-class bluewater cruisers in every respect.

Here to stay

Squared-off fin
Less extreme fin
Contemporary bulb fin with winglets

At top, a rather squared-off fin, not unlike the Cal 40 keel. In
center, a less extreme fin than the one pictured on Page 13, with
a more parallel tip. At bottom, a contemporary bulb fin with winglets.

The fin shape is
not new either, as ballasted fin yachts were pioneered by Herreshoff
at the turn of the century for inshore racing. Then, due to excesses
and bad design, the shape died out, except for a few one-design classes,
until Bill Lapworth dropped a bomb on the ocean-racing scene in the
mid-1960s with his Cal 40 design. The Cal 40s made believers out of
many yachtsmen who could not believe that a ballasted-fin/spade-rudder
yacht was a serious bluewater ocean racer. After wins in the Trans-Pac,
many East Coast races, and the 1966 Bermuda Race, it became evident
that the fin was here to stay for ocean-going and coastal cruising yachts.
Please note that I do not use the term “fin keel” anymore, as I feel
it is a misnomer. The keel is the structural backbone of the vessel,
and the fin hangs from it. Fish have both backbones and fins; so do

A well-designed
fin, in conjunction with a skeg-hung rudder, can provide excellent directional
stability, handiness, reduced wetted area and improved weatherliness.
The fin/spade rudder combination reduces wetted surface even more. It
may have a little (or a lot) more sensitive helm than a fin/skeg rudder
yacht, but it has one big advantage over it and all other forms of lateral
plane: it can be steered in reverse under power. This can make life
a great deal easier in today’s crowded marinas, as many have discovered.

These are some of
the reasons that we see fins on the great majority of our new yachts
today; they are not simply a fad. There are good fins and bad fins,
of course, and it is not always easy to tell them apart. The shape of
fins over the years has been limited only by the designer’s imagination.
Fins have been set at every angle from the vertical to highly raked
aft. They have been deep and narrow, shoal and long, resembling a shark’s
fin or whale’s tail, or boxy fins similar to the original Cal 40 design.

Major problem

A very deep, narrow
fin can be a problem to haul on a marine railway, so the cruising skipper
should consider haulout ease when boat shopping. A crane or travel lift
is the best method for hauling yachts with extreme fins, but may not
always be available in out-of-the-way areas. There is also the danger
of damage to the shaft or strut if slings are improperly positioned.
Still, the major problem of the high-aspect-ratio fin is structural
strength, as it can impose extreme loads at the point of attachment
to the keel. Indeed, some years ago I was an “expert witness” in a court
case concerning three men who drowned when their yacht sank as a result
of its fin tearing off when the vessel ran aground.

The cruising skipper
would do well to avoid yachts with extreme fins, both for considerations
of haulout ease and structural strength. Fortunately, the heavier, deeper
hull and generally shoaler draft of the typical cruising yacht mean
there is less height available between the bottom of the hull and the
point of maximum draft. So, a longer, lower-aspect-ratio fin is the
only solution. On the other hand, the racing sailor will want a fin
with an aspect ratio as high as the draft rule will allow. Such a fin
is more efficient per square foot, so the area can be smaller and the
wetted surface reduced. In Aero-Hydrodynamics of Sailing, C.A. Marchaj
recommends about 4 percent of the sail area as a good guide for fin
area, and I feel the cruiser should err on the high side, as a small
increase in resistance is preferable to increased leeway. On the other
hand, I have used as low as 1.75 percent area with good results on an
extreme racer with a fin of 2.75 aspect ratio.

Aspect ratios

Fin Tip types
Fin nomenclature
Typical NACA Section

“aspect ratio” is the ratio of the span (depth) squared to the fin area;
that is, my extreme fin had an 11-foot span and 44 square feet of area,
so its aspect ratio was 121/44, or 2.75. If it had a 4-foot span with
44 square feet of area, not uncommon proportions for a cruising yacht,
its aspect ratio would be 16/44, or a low 0.3636.

The aspect ratio
can also be described as the span divided by the mean chord, the average
fore-and-aft length of the fin, and this gives the same result.

A large part of
the resistance of a keel is created by the vortices, similar to miniature
whirlpools that form when the water flows across the bottom of the keel
from the high-pressure (leeward) side to the low-pressure (windward)
side. It requires energy to form those vortices and that energy is then
not available to propel the boat forward. Obviously, the shorter the
keel or fin tip, the smaller and weaker those vortices will be, and
that translates to reduced resistance. This is one reason that racing
yachts usually feature high-aspect-ratio fins with short tip chords.

However, the formation
of vortices can be greatly reduced by using end plates, or wings, to
change the flow direction and eliminate crossflow. My own preference,
for a fin of average span, is for an end plate that is but a few inches
wider than the maximum width of the fin bottom. We tested an actual
yacht with such an end plate on one side only and noted a substantial
improvement in performance when she was heeled so that the end plate
was on the leeward side. Where the draft is shoal and the fin span is
on the small side, then a wider end plate, or even a wing, might prove
beneficial. However, a wide wing can be a structural weakness, particularly
if the boat goes hard aground and has to be towed off, or pounds on
the rocks for any length of time.

Sweepback angles

In the 1970s, I
saw more than one very-high-aspect-ratio fin with tremendous sweepback
angle. This certainly gives an impression of speed but, as Marchaj pointed
out, tank tests have shown that the sweepback angle can be related to
the aspect ratio: the higher the aspect ratio, the more vertical the
fin should be. Indeed, the very-high-aspect-ratio fin on my BOC racer
was set absolutely plumb until a hard grounding set the tip back a quarter
inch or so, the result of taking a yacht with a 13-foot draft through
a channel dredged to 11 feet! Most cruising-yacht fins are of low aspect
ratio, of course, so should have substantial sweepback, up to 57 degrees,
with an aspect ratio of 0.5, according to Marchaj. Although most designers
try, it is unfortunate that obtaining the perfect sweepback angle is
secondary to locating the fin to balance the sailplan, as well as fitting
the ballast at the correct spot for proper fore and aft trim. The taper
ratio (tip chord length/root chord length) also deserves consideration.
Tests on one series of fins showed that a fin with 0.32 taper ratio
was 1 percent more efficient than an untapered fin and had very slightly
less resistance. This is a small difference but cannot be ignored by
the racing skipper. Again, the reduction in drag may be due to reduced
vortices from the shorter tip chord. Marchaj also states that the taper
ratio should be reduced as the sweepback angle increases. However, the
very-low-taper-ratio fins may not be the best solution for a cruising
yacht. The tip chord should be long enough so the vessel can be hauled
on a marine railway with no major problems. Too, on a moderate-draft
cruising yacht, a short tip chord forces the ballast higher, so stability
can suffer.

Lower ballast

Another consideration
in the fin profile is whether the tip chord is sloped down aft or parallel
to the waterline. The parallel tip chord makes good sense. It allows
the ballast to be lower for added stability, it eases blocking up the
boat when hauling and, fortunately, tests have shown that it is also
superior to the sloped tip chord in other ways. Having the aft edge
of the tip chord deeper than the leading edge has no practical effect
on aspect ratio, and such a fin develops less lift and more drag than
one with a parallel tip.

The National Advisory
Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) tested a large variety of streamlined
shapes for lift and resistance and the information on these is available
in a book, Theory of Wing Sections, by Abbot and Von Doenhoff. These
are the shapes that designers refer to when they say their new magic
fin has an NACA section. Generally, the shape selected will be similar
to NACA 0010-34 or 0010-64 series. The leading edge will be elliptical,
as a blunted nose increases resistance while a pointed leading edge
promotes stalling. The maximum width will be about 40 to 50 percent
aft, and the shape will be streamlined to a fairly sharp (but not razor-sharp)
trailing edge. The thickness ratio will be 0.8 to 0.12 of the chord
length, although this may be increased to 0.15 to 0.16 at the tip chord.
There are advantages to having an increase in thickness ratio at the
tip chord, including being able to fit the ballast lower. This need
not mean that the fin is bulbed, though. For example, a fin that is
8 feet long at the root and 5 feet long at the tip may have a 0.10 thickness
(0.8 feet) at the root and 0.15 thickness (0.75 feet) at the tip. The
fin is still slightly thinner at the bottom than at the top, but the
thickness ratio has increased.

Increased resistance

It is not uncommon
to see fins wider than 10 to 12 percent of their length, as the designer
may need to fatten the fin in order to locate the ballast in the correct
spot for proper trim. Very shoal-draft boats may require fatter keels
or fins in order to get the ballast as low as possible for stability.
Still, extra width does increase resistance so there is a tradeoff;
added stability increases performance while a thicker fin reduces performance.
Thirty-five years ago, when I worked for Bill Luders, we tank-tested
dozens of 5.5-Meter models. These very short-keeled 30-foot sloops had
a minimum keel width of 4 inches under the rule, and whenever we tried
a model with a wider keel in order to get the ballast lower, we found
that overall performance suffered.

We also tested a
number of bulb keels on the 5.5 models but they never proved out in
the tank, either, although several different shapes were tried. Then,
in the late 1970s, I tank-tested the model of the new Morgan 38 at Stevens
Institute, first with a fairly fat NACA fin in order to maintain the
desired 5-foot draft, and then with a patented bulb fin that we let
its designer draw up, with no stipulation on draft. The bulb saved only
2 inches of draft but showed so poorly against the NACA fin that the
38 was put into production with the more conventional shape.

The tip shape, viewed
from ahead, may be flat, round, elliptical, or bulbed. Tests show that
the flat, squared-off tip develops a bit more lift to windward and that
the round or elliptical tip has less drag on a run. The differences
are slight but, today, I favor the squared-off tip with an end plate
for yachts of average draft. A vee tip was tried in the 1960s on a few
yachts, but never became popular. Bulbs and wings, often in combination,
are fairly common on contemporary production boats. Usually they are
an attempt to produce a very shoal-draft yacht for use in waters where
the bottom is close to the top and, in those cases, they may make sense.

There is a never-ending
variety of fin shapes and, to be honest, I’m not sure which is best.
Generally, I prefer a fin similar to the old Cal 40, a little shorter
perhaps, and fitted with an end plate. Such a fin provides a desirable
combination of good performance, ease of haulout, and structural strength,
all very important factors for the cruising skipper.

Ted Brewer is
one of North America’s best-known yacht designers, having worked on
the America’s Cup boats,
American Eagle and Weatherly, as well as boats
that won the Olympics, the Gold Cup, and dozens of celebrated ocean
races. He also is the man who designed scores of good old boats . .
. the ones still sailing after all these years.

Soft dinghy? Hard choice!

By Bob Wood

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 3, May/June 2000.

Check the pros and cons before you decide which tender is right for you

Rubber dinghy waiting near shore

The age-old question of what dinghy is best will never find a
universal answer. Each boating situation has too many variables to
recommend a “one-dinghy-fits-all,” but it is possible to list the
advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Traditional dinghies

With a history predating the larger boats and ships they serve,
hard-hulled tenders or dinghies have much to offer the recreational

They are durable. Made of fiberglass or wood, a well cared-for dinghy
will last as long as the boat she serves. Combating the tar or
creosote souvenirs collected from wharves is not a problem for them;
paint removers or solvents that could attack soft dinghies can be
used with impunity. Their ruggedness extends to another common
occurrence: being tied to a barnacle- or mussel-encrusted wharf
piling results in mere scratches, whereas an inflatable would be

Similarly, a hard dinghy can be dragged onto a rocky beach, or
scraped over a reef, without the catastrophic failure many
inflatables would suffer. Tiny salt crystals wage an unseen war
against an inflatable’s seams, weakening and abrading them with each
movement of the boat, while their fabric ultimately degrades from the
ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Neither of these affects a hard
dinghy’s structural integrity in the least.

They are versatile. Their skegs, small keels, and sometimes
centerboards, provide directional stability, dramatically reducing
wandering, leeway, and sideways skittering. This important advantage
is the basis for their multi-functionality, making them a joy to
operate with any form of power: paddling, rowing, motoring, or
sailing. Rowing through a chop from your anchorage to the public dock may take three times as long in a smooth-bottomed inflatable … and it may be impossible if a good breeze is lifting the nose.

Better value

Fiberglass dinghy

They are relatively inexpensive. Traditional fiberglass dinghies
start at prices well below those of good-quality inflatables. With an
indefinite lifetime, as opposed to the very finite five-to-10-year
lifetime of inflatables, traditionals are usually the better value.
However, handmade wooden dinghies can easily cost as much as an

They’re beautiful. There is really no comparison between the looks of
a classic lapstrake sailing skiff and an inflatable. A skiff’s
timeless lines and graceful sheer bespeak generations of nautical
tradition, while most inflatables are strictly utilitarian. The hard
dinghy is often an aesthetic extension of the boat she tends; an
impossible feat for an inflatable unless the mother yacht is a

Versatility, durability, economy, and beauty. Can there possibly be
any other attributes for this type of dinghy? Very definitely. In
addition to everything else, they are (or can easily be made)
unsinkable. Hard dinghies should have flotation built into their
seats, bows, and/or gunwales. A hard-shelled dinghy will be safer
aboard the mother ship during a blow if it is inverted and made fast
securely. Its V-shaped or rounded hull will help press it down, while
its rigidity prevents it from flexing and lifting to catch the wind .
. . an inflatable idiosyncrasy.

One last advantage, small for some but large for me: my pets seem to
prefer a solid dinghy. They balk at giving up the security of a
larger boat for the squishy uncertainty of an inflatable. A minor
point, but coaxing a sizable dog to shore for his morning ablution is
not an option; it’s a necessity, and cooperation is appreciated in
foul weather.

Inflatable dinghies

Inflatable dinghy being unfolded

Despite the advantages of traditional dinghies, there are significant
reasons for having an inflatable as your boat’s tender. If there
weren’t, you wouldn’t see a majority of yachts with them.

Inflatables are the hands-down choice when it comes to variety.
Especially suited to mass-production methods, with all the attendant
savings and compromises, inflatables are commonly made from polyvinyl
chloride (PVC), neoprene rubber, and coated nylon. They can cost
anywhere from $75 to as much as a sizeable yacht. They can carry one
person on a still pond, or 20 people through fierce rapids, and they
can weigh anything from five pounds to one ton.

They can have smooth bottoms, inflated bottoms, or rigid bottoms made
of wood or fiberglass panels. There are more manufacturers, models,
and retail outlets than you will ever find for traditional dinghies.
If you’re a comparison shopper, you’ll be in heaven sorting through
the endless choices among inflatables.

Inflatable assembled

Inflatables have outstanding stability. Stand up in a traditional
dinghy (if you can) and put half your weight on the gunwale. Or, try
climbing aboard after swimming. You’ll either be perilously close to
swamping, or treading water as the dinghy turns turtle. Try the same
thing in a modest eight-foot inflatable, and you can stand there all
day. Stand there fishing, stand there handing bags of groceries
aboard, or stand there off-loading small children. Inflatables are
unbeatable when it comes to being safe and docile, as opposed to the
tippy traditional types.

Inflatables have a large carrying capacity. Pound for pound, or per
foot of length, inflatables can carry almost twice as much as
traditional dinghies. This is a critical feature on smaller yachts.


Inflatables are soft. If you do find yourself flipped into the water,
a hard dinghy can seriously injure you in the capsizing. The
inflatable will dunk you but not knock you out. The same softness
will not mar your big boat’s topsides while you are anchored, nor
will it keep you awake by banging against the hull. Your deck or
cabintop will be gouge-free if you carry an inflatable aboard during

Inflatables tow well. A traditional dinghy is a constant concern
under tow. The bridle arrangement, the length of the tow line, and
the dinghy’s position on the stern wave are all critical. An
inflatable placidly slides along in the wake, while the hard dinghy
tends to hunt back and forth, slowing a smaller yacht. At worst, an
inflatable will flip over when being towed in a crosswind. A hard
dinghy can turn from a dinghy to a submarine if pooped, flipped, or
filled with spray and rainwater. If you’re lucky in those instances,
you’ll merely have some anxious shoulder-wrenching moments pulling a
few hundred pounds of deadweight aboard after killing the engine and
dropping sail. If you’re unlucky, the slamming force of a diving
dinghy can rip out your towing cleat, leaving it and dinghy to
disappear in the stormy night.

Inflatables stow like no traditional dinghy can. Any tender, hard or
soft, when lashed on deck or towed, is vulnerable to damage from
weather, other boats, sunlight, and bird droppings. A pure
inflatable, however, can be deflated and placed in a quarterberth or
cockpit locker. For offshore work, this is the preferred method, as
boarding seas can sweep a deck clean despite the best tie-down
efforts. This portability also means your inflatable can go home with
you after the boating season to be washed, repaired, and stored, thus
extending its useful life.

Achilles inflatable Boston Whaler dinghy

Left: An Achilles inflatable speeds through the water.

Right: The smallest of the Boston Whaler line moves its passengers between boat and shore.


Zodiac Cadet dinghy Walker Day dinghy

Left: A Zodiac Cadet moves effortlessly through an anchorage.
Right: The Walker Bay dinghy is suitable for sail, oars, or motor.


Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport Pram

The brand-new Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport Pram comes as a kit and is put together using stitch-and-glue methods.

Double duty

Rigid-hulled inflatable on top of the car

Inflatables are versatile in their own way. They serve double duty as
tender and life raft. Even full of water, they provide survival
buoyancy. With an emergency abandon-ship bag, they can literally save
the day. Inflatables also make luxurious freshwater bathtubs during
summer rainstorms. Most inflatables are relatively lightweight, which
means they can often be carried up a beach, rather than dragged
ashore or tied to a dock.

There are also boats that attempt to offer the best of both worlds.
These are the rigid-hulled inflatable boats, or RIBs. They have a
conventional fiberglass hull with superb directional capability, plus
inflatable air chambers along the sides that provide buoyancy and
stability. Larger RIBs can have steering consoles, Bimini tops, and
even radar arches. They can handle large outboards and safely attain
speeds in excess of 30 or 40 knots. These boats carry large payloads
and, with a cover to protect occupants from the elements, may just be
the ultimate tender or lifeboat.

Rigid-hulled inflatable in the water

Yet, there are tradeoffs that prevent RIBs from dooming traditionals
and inflatables to extinction. RIBs are more expensive than the other
types. Significantly more expensive. They are heavy and require
davits or some other lifting device. Because of their weight and
size, most are suitable only for larger yachts. I’m aware of no RIB
that can sail. With a rigid hull they give up the deflating and
stowing advantages of inflatables. Nor, because of their large air
chambers, will they ever have the pleasing aesthetics of the
traditional tender. Still, would I have one if a magic genie offered?

Your dinghy can be a constant source of pride and satisfaction,
enhancing your time on the water. It deserves considerable thought
and research in the planning stages. In addition to reading the
glossy ads and promotions, talk to owners of each dinghy type and, if
possible, borrow it for a row or sail. Ask them about durability,
maintenance, and any problems they’ve had. Finding the right one for
you is part of the wonderful journey.

Bob Wood

Bob has owned an odd assortment of sailboats and sailed them in
waters from the Florida Keys to British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and
from New York’s Finger Lakes to Colorado’s and Idaho’s impoundments
and reservoirs.


* Traditional tenders
Bauteck Marine Bauer sailing dinghies

Chesapeake Light Craft dinghy kits;

Dyer Boats/The Anchorage;

Edy & Duff Fatty
Knees dinghies;
Glen-L dinghy kits

Porta-Bote folding boats;

Trinka Dinghies-Johannsen Boat Works

Walker Bay Dinghies;

* Inflatable tenders
AB Inflatables

Achilles Inflatables

Apex Inflatables and RIBs

Avon, Bombard, Sevylor, and Zodiac
Marine Inflatables and RIBs
http://www.avonmarine.com &

Caribe Inflatables and RIBs



Quicksilver Inflatables (Mercury Marine)

Sea Eagle Inflatables

Seaworthy Inflatables (BOAT/U.S.)

What’s more

The following specialize in inflatable boats, offering multiple product lines and valuable expertise:

Inflatable Boat Center
Portland, Oregon

Inflatable Boat Specialists
Ventura, California

Good Old Catboat

Good Old Catboat

By Stuart Hopkins

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 4, Number 5, September/October 2001.

Marshall Cat Sanderling

Before the refit: Dabbler as a Marshall Cat Sanderling.

At an age when many sailors retire, sell the house, move aboard, and go
cruising, my wife, Dee, and I built a house, sold the boat, moved ashore
for the first time in 25 years, and started a business.

But we didn’t walk inland with an oar over our shoulder; we “retired” on
the shores of the Chesapeake, just to keep our options open. And while
we learned about hammers and saws, we were each privately thinking
about all that Chesapeake water. When we started talking about it,
we discovered we knew exactly what kind of “retirement” boat
we wanted:

<i>Dabbler</i> after the refit

One of a kind: Dabbler following the “transmogrification”

  • Very shallow
    draft (2 feet or less) to give us access to little-used marshy headwaters
    and other unspoiled Chesapeake niches, let us moor in our local creek,
    and use the primitive launch ramp there.
  • Courageous sail
    area for the bay’s light summer air but on a divided rig for easy reduction
    in squalls and breezy weather.
  • Accommodations
    for short cruises, with emphasis on staying out of the sun and bodily
    comfort generally, including good ventilation for summer and a wood
    stove for winter.
  • Inboard power (for all those rivers).

we knew of no such boat. But we had recollections of encounters with
a couple
of little catboats – Marshall 18 catboats,
called Sanderlings – that impressed us with their abilities
and possibilities. We saw one in the Gulf Stream, in reefing weather,
making no more fuss than our deep-water ketch. We knew one in the Bahamas
that could explore wherever we could take our sailing dinghy.

In magazines, we found photos of Sanderlings and defaced them with
sketches and doodles. Encouraged by the ease with which a pencil transformed
the little daysailer/overnighter into our idea of a comfortable, handy
pocket cruiser, we decided we could work the same transmogrification
on a real Sanderling, substituting a Sawsall, epoxy, and plywood for
the pencil.

Original Marshall 18 diagram

Original Marshall 18 Sanderling.

Marshall 18 <i>Dabbler</i> after refit

“Transmogrified Marshall 18,” also known as Dabbler.

Sketch of revised interior

Sketch of revised interior

All we needed was a lonely, battered, decrepit (cheap!) edition of
the design to operate on. Since Sanderlings have been in continuous
production since the early 1960s, this would surely be possible.

Right off the bat,
we found her. The voice on the other end of the phone in Florida
said “Hull and deck sound . . . otherwise not
too good.” No trailer. No equipment. No motor. Suspicious sponginess
in plywood components like cockpit and bulkheads. Old sail. Built in
l966. Cheap. Just our meat.

A terrifying round
trip on I-95 landed this econo-prize in our driveway. Dee (a woman
to Brixham trawlers, Gloucester schooners, and deep-water
yachts) stifled her reaction when she discovered we couldn’t
even sit upright below! Instead, she went to her studio and began some
serious sketching and doodling. I (a sailmaker) rigged the boat where
she lay on her trailer, and backed off a few yards to imagine how she
would look as a yawl.

While mulling over
several schemes, we took a mattock and removed almost 200 pounds
of bad plywood
cockpit seats, sole, and waterlogged
foam, right down to a naked hull from the companionway aft. This made
it easy to plan for an engine installation, tankage, storage, and comfort.
The finished job included a lucky bargain – a 10-horse Kermath
that had lain for many years, mothballed, in a local boatbuilding shop.
We had no interest in sharing an 18-footer with a diesel. This smooth,
quiet antique went in without problems.

A cutout in the
solid glass “deadwood” ahead
of the rudder (Sawsall job) accommodated the stern bearing and prop.
We measured
for the beds by suspending the little engine in place from the boom.
With an 11-gallon aluminum tank, blower, and electrics, we were beginning
to look forward to poking up rivers and creeks in style.

We replaced the original benches with a U-shaped cockpit surrounding
the engine box and introduced a bridge deck with big lockers and more
lockers aft. We dropped the sole several inches for more leg room.
Under the seats, outboard, was space for bins and sailbags held in
place with removable fiddles.

Our more comfortable and useful cockpit (worked up out of CDX and
epoxy) weighed about what we chopped out. A few pigs of lead ballast
were removed to compensate for the motor.

We launched the Dabbler (named after the mallards that dabble in our
local creek) for some cruising with a local club. The inboard and new
cockpit were a great success, but otherwise the experience confirmed
our opinion that we wanted to replace the single big sail with a divided
rig. And after a few nights cramped below, we could hardly wait to
haul her out, grab the Sawsall, and take the lid off the sardine can.

Doghouse cum main saloon

<i>Dabbler</i>'s modified interior

Dabbler‘s modified interior.

Removing damaged interior

Demolition: out come 200 pounds of rotten and waterlogged cockpit.

New removable windows

Dabbler‘s removable, waterproof, polycarbonate windows.

Some of our bold,
even arrogant, sketches evolved from a doodle for a dodger. Why not
make the dodger
rigid and cut away the aft part of
the cabintop so the hardtop effectively encloses a greatly enlarged
cabin? Why not provide standing headroom for the mate (5′ 5″),
with a little “galley” on the new bridge deck? Why not
have full sitting headroom on comfortable chairs aft of the bunks?
Why not fit removable windows and screens? Why not extend the roof
far enough aft to provide shade and spray protection for the helmsman?

A mockup in cheap 1/8-inch luan ply (which later served as templates
and as a building mold for the final construction), proved there was
no reason why not.

A few minutes of surgery liberated about 90 pounds of cabintop and
bulkhead. Immediately, we could test with our bodies the thesis expressed
on paper. Proof we could sit upright, surveying some lovely, lonely
anchorage from the comfort within, spurred the work.

The house was designed to join the existing structure across the cabintop
a few inches forward of the original hatch opening with an epoxy filet;
outside the cabinsides and cockpit coamings, with a 2-inch overlap,
were epoxied and throughbolted.

We turned our backs on the local lumberyard for the deckhouse project
and ordered expensive 3-mm okoume marine ply to be laminated in place
over the mockup to lock in the heavily cambered top and curved front
and create the eyebrows that trap the removable polycarbonate windows.
All the construction was done in a corner of my small sail loft between
sailmaking jobs. We barely got it out the 8-ft wide doors! It dropped
in place as neat as a cab on a pickup. Final weight was less than what
had been removed with the Sawsall.

The new effective
interior includes the bunks (as original), our “easy
chairs” (cheap but comfortable plastic swivel-bottom fishermen’s
seats) port and starboard, the bridge deck, comprising “galley” with
gimbaled kero stove to starboard, solid-fuel cast iron Pet to port,
and the forward half of the cockpit. At anchor, if desired, the fitted
Sunbrella aft closure snaps in place, enlarging the “interior” to
include practically the whole boat. In cold or wet (and on the mooring)
the large screened opening in this closure is covered with a vinyl
window. Otherwise, the screen liberates the breeze that comes in the
forehatch and opened doghouse windows.

Eventually, controls
for the main and roller-furling jib were brought into the house to
cleats on the shelf formed by the little bit
of cabintop inside. Raising, dousing, and reefing the main are all
done from “below” standing up! Ditto deploying and furling
the jib. What joy! Which brings us to:

The rig

New cabintop takes shape

The new cabintop takes shape in the sail loft.

New deckhouse, bridge deck lockers

Dabbler‘s deckhouse is in place, the engine box removed, the bridge deck lockers installed.

There is no novelty in the cat yawl rig. The aim is to easily have more sail area when you want it and less when you want it in order to balance the boat under almost any condition. We have about 25 percent more sail area in the three working sails than the original cat rig. From the comfort of the cockpit, we can set a mizzen stays’l, and be flying 375 square feet. In races, we have been able to astonish the locals with five sails.

The new rig satisfied all our expectations. Sails can be adjusted
to tame weather helm (a notorious fault of catboats) or dropped (instead
of reefing, notoriously difficult in catboats) to suit the breeze.
In gradually increasing wind, the mizzen might come down to lighten
the helm. In a squall, we drop the main and stay in comfortable control
under jib and jigger. Under this rig, she will go to windward in 15
or 20 knots with just a little weather helm, broad reach with almost
neutral helm, and selfsteer indefinitely downwind with the mizzen broad
off and the jib flattened in.

An unexpected but welcome bonus is that when anchored by her long
snout, the windage in the house and mizzenmast makes her lie to the
wind like an arrow, whereas catboats are known to wander restlessly
at anchor.

Engineering was
fairly straightforward. The main boom was raised (to clear the housetop)
and shortened (to
clear the mizzen). Sawsall holes
accommodate the mizzen mast, bowsprit, and bumpkin. The latter can
be removed for trailering, and the ‘sprit just clears the towing
vehicle. But we would make it retractable, if we had it to do over.

The new spars are Schedule 10 aluminum pipe, fitted with tapered douglas
fir inserts to complete the finished lengths and help fool the eye,
while providing meat for sheaves, eyebolts, anchor rollers, and so
on. The mizzen steps easily by hand. It can be temporarily relocated
to a special hole in the foredeck (which doubles as the anchor rode
deck pipe) where it serves as a gin-pole for stepping the main.

Finally, the sailmaker gets into the act. Since my business is making
traditional sails, the suit for the new rig presented no unusual difficulties.
We chose Egyptian Dacron for a good color scheme, and because it has
a nice, moderately soft hand. The full battens may look modern, but
Nat Herreshoff used them on a little cat yawl of his own way back when.
They help flatten and control the very-low-aspect main and make it
stack neatly in the lazy-jacks. This is also ideal for the mizzen,
which must be kept very flat when sailing and when left standing at
anchor. A half-wishbone sprit boom controls mizzen shape on all points
of sail. The jib furls on its own braided Dacron luff rope, which acts
as a forestay.

Would we do it again?

<i>Dabbler</i> out cruising

Dabbler out cruising with first mate Dee Carstarphen. The transmogrification accomplished standing headroom with a great view through large windows.

It was exciting work making dramatic changes, spiced with moments
of delicious anticipation and delicious satisfaction when we got what
we hoped for. The final product is a great, very small cruising machine,
in which we have prowled both shores and many tributaries of the bay,
sailing in comfort and safety, holding our own with bigger boats in
fair weather and foul (we take shortcuts), yet coming to anchor in
the marshes, while the bigger boats tough it out with the crowds.

In between all the fun, we had the grubwork of any restoration: things
like removing 25 years of bottom paint; repairing centerboards and
rudders, coamings and rubrails; cleaning, sanding, and refinishing
everything; rebedding everything.

We might have been spared much of this work if we started with a younger,
well-maintained hull. But who would take a Sawsall to a Bristol-condition
late-model boat, even if they could afford it? Much better to do surgery
in good conscience when the patient is already teetering on the brink.

Would we do it
again? Well, ah . . . actually, we are doing it again. It’s
the fault of a friend who had a Marshall 22 catboat (twice the displacement
the l8-footer, but only 6 inches more draft). He
had an epiphany of some kind and all at once wanted to move to the
mountains. His house sold out from under him before he had a chance
to advertise the boat. Would we . . . as a favor . . . at a distress
price . . . ?

“She’s 30 years old,” he said, “but basically
sound, except for a few little things . . . ” She’s got
that solid old pre-blister hull, but rot in the cockpit and splits
in the rail. Corroded through-hulls and rusted-up steering system.
Busted hatches. Tired sail. And, believe it or not, you can’t
sit upright below! Just our meat.

No reason why not
to take a Sawsall to the poor old dear and transmogrify her a little.
has already made a sketch of what we think she’ll
look like.

After a false start
in life as a journalist, Stuart left Chicago aboard a 30-foot ketch,
and stayed afloat for 25 years. His wife, Dee Carstarphen (a founding
member of the Seven Seas Cruising Association) had an even longer
career on the water. They now live near a Chesapeake Bay creek just
deep enough for catboats. In his retirement, Stuart is a full-time
sailmaker, specializing in traditional small craft sails. Dee is
the author of four illustrated nautical books, including Narrow Waters,
reviewed in the September 1999
Good Old Boat.

Dabbler‘s favorite rendezvous, where Stuart and
Dee like to “astonish the locals (with Dabbler‘s sailing ability)” is the Turkey Shoot Regatta, held
each October on Virginia’s Rappahannok River. Stuart says, “Dabbler’s
tiny cabin is adorned with three little brass plaques,
each indicating her participation in a Turkey Shoot. We
were always the smallest boat in the fleet. Every participant
gets these plaques. The T-shirts you have to buy!”

Boats in
this event must be of wood or of a classic design 25
years old or older. Last year’s winning boat
was a 1970 Irwin 38, sailed by Wayland Rennie. This year
Hal Roth will serve as honorary chairman. And for the first
time the event will include restored skipjacks (see January
2001 Good Old Boat for more about skipjacks) in the race.
All proceeds go to the Northern Neck Hospice.
Want to know more? Yankee Point Sailboat Marina: 804-462-7018 or http://www.yankeepointmarina.com.

Catalina Yachts

Catalina Yachts: One big family

by Steve Mitchell

You may not be able to win the war, but you can win occasional battles. Regardless
of the odds, you must fight! Now’s the time to meet your opponent.

Call the Woodland Hills headquarters of Catalina Yachts in California, and
one thing strikes you right away about the choices the telephone answering
system offers you. One option is for Frank Butler. That’s rare access
in today’s hectic business world, but it shows what makes Catalina unique
– the constant guiding hand of Frank Butler, who founded the company in

Catalina 22 hull #1, 1970 Catalina 22, hull #1, sails in the One of a Kind Regatta on Lake Michigan in 1970. The crew, from left: Rod Mortenson, Beattie Purcell, Lee Buffum, and Herbie Mortenson.

stories are legendary among Catalina owners. Call the factory about a
warranty item, and chances are you’ll end up speaking with Frank himself.
Why such access? “I’ve always been that accessible,” he says.
“It’s the only way to be in this business.” Catalina is the
largest sailboat manufacturer in the United States. That means Frank Butler
has a lot of customers to keep happy, something he obviously relishes.

Born in California
in 1928, Frank joined the Navy and attended college before beginning his
working life in the engineering field. “I was hired as an engineer
in a government facility, and they found out I had lied about having five
years’ experience. They called me in several months later when they found
out, and I admitted it was true. I then told them either they could fire
me or give me a raise. I got the raise.”

He continues,
“I’ve always had a love for engineering, and drawing came very easily
to me. Working with my hands always came more easily to me than schoolwork.”
Frank went on to start Wesco Tool, his own machine shop, and became a
supplier of component parts for the aircraft industry. “I did a lot
of work with that industry,” he says. “I’d often go to plants
and work with the engineers, help them with designs, or help with engineering
problems when they asked me to.”

Late start

By the late
1950s Frank was sailing dinghies for relaxation. “I was 30 before
I really took up sailing,” he says. While it was a late start in
life compared to most boatbuilders, it opened up a chapter in what was
to become Frank Butler’s life’s work.

he wanted something larger than a dinghy so his growing family could enjoy
sailing together. Says Frank, “The first boat I bought [for the family]
was a Victory 21.” But his first boatbuying experience wasn’t a good
one. The builder was strapped for cash, and when Frank arrived to pick
up his boat on the appointed day, neither the boat nor the owner was to
be found. He quickly assessed the situation and basically began to build
the boat himself with help from some of the builder’s employees, all but
commandeering the plant until he finished it.

made him think he could build a boat? “I never even thought about
it,” he responds. “It was either that or lose my money.”
Despite that initial experience, Frank made a loan to the builder. When
the builder couldn’t pay back the loan, he offered Frank some tooling
and materials to build other boats, which Frank accepted. He had the boatbuilding
bug and couldn’t resist the challenge. He founded a company he called
Wesco Marine in 1961 and began building small sailboats. He later changed
the name to Coronado Yachts. He still owned Wesco Tool as well.

of the first people he hired in 1962 for his fledgling boatbuilding company
was an Irishman named Beattie Purcell. “I met Beattie through a mutual
friend,” Frank says. “He had the sailing experience, and I had
the manufacturing experience. He and I worked well together. But in those
days we all did everything – manufacturing, sales, marketing. It didn’t

Sharon Day, Gerry Douglas, Frank Butler

Catalina’s Three Musketeers: Sharon Day, Gerry Douglas, and Frank Butler.

Tremendous growth

happened to be in Canada at the time. I came down and started working
for Frank at Wesco Marine long before there even was a Catalina Yachts,”
Beattie recalls. “I started off building small boats with the fiberglass,
and then I got into rigging. We were building a 14-footer and a 21-footer.
We started off pretty small but grew tremendously. Fiberglass was in its
infancy and just took off. We definitely started at the right time. I
also started sailing in different regattas for Frank to promote the boats,
which worked out well.” In line with the notion that everyone did
everything, Beattie also designed the letterhead for the stationery and
the exterior sign on the building.

also had Wesco Tool at the same time,” Beattie continues. “We
started in Burbank, but we got bigger and had to move to another location.
Frank was a busy man running both businesses. But he has great insight,
and he listens to people.”

The first notable
boat design was the Coronado 25 in 1964. States Frank, “I designed
it, and a fellow helped me with the tooling for it. The Coronado 25 was
the first boat to have a full pan liner in the hull. Before that, manufacturers
built components and dropped them into the hull, like a wood-shop approach.
It was expensive and more time-consuming.

got the idea for the pan liner from Lockheed and how they built planes.
I saw lead molds at Lockheed for airplane parts and thought, Why not apply
that to building boats?” Frank remembers.

They fired him

In a move
typical of other early sailboat manufacturers, Frank sold Coronado to
the Whittaker Corporation in 1968. The business relationship lasted one
year. He says, “I didn’t agree with the corporate strategy of running
a boat manufacturing facility. I wrote them a letter about some things
I didn’t agree with, and they called me in and fired me. But that was
all over long ago. I was right, as it turns out. We’re all good friends

As part
of the separation agreement with Whittaker, Frank had a non-competition
contract for two years and couldn’t build boats, except for the smaller
ones for which Whittaker hadn’t bought the rights. He took a trip to Europe
and also built a marina in Oxnard, Calif., that Beattie ran for him for
a while. They continued to build the smaller boats, such as the Coronado
15, the Omega, the Super Satellite, and the Drifter. “We wanted to
change the name of [the Coronado 15] to make it obvious the boat wasn’t
built by Coronado Yachts,” says Beattie, “but couldn’t because
the class association wouldn’t let us. Frank always liked the names of
islands – Catalina, Coronado, Capri. We had thought of the name Catalina
and liked it. That sort of clicked.”

moved back home to Ireland for a while, but his boatbuilding days weren’t
over. He remembers, “I was in Ireland, and Frank called me to say
that he was forming Catalina Yachts.” That one phone call is all
it took for Beattie to return to work for Frank. “One of my first
jobs for Catalina was to fly to Hawaii. Some people there were having
trouble with the rigging for their Coronado 15s, and I was able to help
them out.”

Most popular

Catalina 22, first boat in 1970
Catalina 22 diagram

The Catalina 22, the first boat introduced by the company, in 1970.

“I had started building boats in 1961,” Frank says of founding a new company, “so I had eight or nine years of experience at it by then.
Things were much easier than in 1961.”

His first design in 1970 was the Catalina 22, the boat he had wanted Whittaker
to build. The C-22 turned out to be one of the most popular sailboats
of all time, with 15,500 built. He also came out right away with the Catalina 27, another popular cruiser. The Catalina 30 followed in 1976.

According to
Beattie, “The C-22 just took off. We couldn’t build them fast enough.”
Beattie has the distinction of being the first person to sail both the
C-22 and the C-27.

In the
early boats, Frank used what is called the shoebox design to join the
hull and deck. In this construction technique, the outer lip of the deck
fits over the lip of the hull like the top fits on a shoebox. “I
felt the shoebox design was more rigid, and it’s basically leakproof.
It’s a very good way to build boats. We might have a problem in one out
of a thousand boats with a hull leak, and even then it’s usually something
else leaking.”

such a high demand for his boats, Frank had to expand his manufacturing
capability. An East Coast plant made sense because of the high cost of
shipping boats to the East Coast from California. States Beattie, “Frank
sent me east to look for another plant. The shipping costs were killing
us. I found a small fiberglass plant in South Carolina that had closed,
so we bought it and started building C-22s there. Then we began building
C-27s there as well.” The year was 1973.

Almost threw him out

Beattie credits a fellow named Wilbur Pokras with much of Catalina’s marketing success in the east. “Wilbur was our representative for setting up dealers on the East Coast, ” he says. “He did a great job for

Wayne Miskiewicz, now general manager of Maryland Marina, in Baltimore, remembers
Wilbur very well. “Wilbur was the East Coast rep for Catalina and set us up as a dealer in 1970 or so. He showed up trailering a C-22 he had put in the Annapolis show, and he wanted us to buy it. We almost didn’t become a dealer. I almost threw him out of the office at first. But we wound up buying the show model and becoming a dealer. Selling the C-22 was amazing. They all but flew out the door.”

He continues, “Frank Butler is the Henry Ford of the boating industry in a sense.
He’s very serious about offering a good boat at a good price. Since he
was the warranty coordinator, he could spot trends with problems and fix
them right away. He’s very hands-on, maybe too much so at times. Frank
took [the warranty coordinator role] on as a method of quality control,
and was effective in that way. Frank is quite an interesting guy. He had
no one to answer to but himself.” By 1977 even the South Carolina
plant was too small to handle the East Coast demand for Catalina Sailboats.
“One day Frank called me,” says Beattie, “to go to Fort
Walton Beach, Florida, to look at property for a larger plant. It all
worked out, so we moved the plant from South Carolina to Florida, where
we could build even bigger boats.”

Unprecedented demand

Wayne says
about those days in the sailboat market, “Catalina had trouble meeting
production demands, and the dealers were put on a quota system. People
were so happy with their boats that they came back and bought their second,
third, and even fourth boats from us. The company just grew so rapidly
it was amazing in those days. Until we had the huge downturn in the market,
used boats often cost more than new ones. Used boats were appreciating
throughout the entire product line because demand was so high for new

He continues,
“One good thing about Catalina is that it doesn’t change designs
every year. They would come out with a good design and hold onto it. Hunter
was our biggest competitor in those days, but it changed models every
couple of years. Catalina had a chance to work out production problems
with a long run, but not Hunter.”

years later, the company needed an even larger plant on the East Coast.
In 1984, Frank purchased Morgan Yachts, based in Largo, Florida. Beattie
helped move the Florida plant to Largo. “We were growing so fast,”
Beattie remembers, “and Morgan Yachts was all but down the tubes.
It was a great chance to buy a bigger plant at a good price and to get
the Morgan name.” Among other large boats, the Largo plant turned
out 50-footers for the Moorings charter group. Today it produces C-47s
in shifts that run six days a week.

retired from Catalina Yachts in 1994 after spending more than 30 years
working for Frank Butler. “I enjoyed it. Frank was a good guy to
work for. We used to race against one another in Satellites and had a
great time doing it. It was good fun starting up a company like that,
it’s interesting all the things you have to do. Frank knows the way to
go. He always has. He has great instincts.”

Advertising change

For many
years, Catalina was the largest sailboat manufacturer that did no national
advertising, a terrific economic advantage compared to its competitors
in an industry where spending 6 to 10 percent of the retail price of a
new boat on advertising and marketing is not uncommon. Given a changing
and much tighter market, Frank had to change to keep Catalina’s name in
the forefront of the industry. “When we went from medium-sized boats
to larger ones, I thought I needed to advertise. It was better for the
product and better for the consumer to know more about our products. It
was something I felt I had to do.”

late 1980s saw a tremendous depression in the boat market caused by an
economic recession and by the 10-percent luxury tax the federal government
placed on new boats costing more than $100,000. Because few of its models
exceeded that cost, Catalina was not affected that much by the luxury
tax. But the economic recession that saw so many boatbuilders go out of
business made for hard times at Catalina as well. How did the company
survive when so many others didn’t? “I’m somewhat conservative, ”
Frank says. “I knew that what goes up must come down. I tried to
be prepared as best I could. It was tough, no doubt about it. We just
got through it.”

At Maryland
Marina, Wayne Miskiewicz saw the downturn coming. “We stopped selling
new boats in 1988,” he says. “It was just a business decision
we made. We still sell used boats today, but not new ones. But if we were
to decide to sell new boats again, it would be Catalinas. They’re the
best product for the money today.”

Weathered recession

Catalina 27, second boat, 1971
Catalina 27 diagram

The Catalina 27, the second boat, introduced in 1971.

One can
make the argument that Catalina’s product line, and philosophy of providing
“the most value for the dollar in the industry,” as Frank puts
it, made the difference in weathering the recession that drove other sailboat
manufacturers out of business. Many manufacturers had the bottom drop
out of their sales volume; but Catalina’s business, while also falling
off, didn’t drop precipitously. The factories stayed busy, and Catalina
did not lay off one worker during that time.

to Sharon Day, Catalina’s national and international sales manager, “We
had to tighten our belts, but when we were making money we were able to
put some of it away for times like that. With the slow market we were
able to increase our inventories of boats so we were ready when the market

Keene, president of Edson International, seconds the notion about Butler’s
instincts. Says Keene, “He has the uncanny ability to know the real
value of something. He’s as honest as the day is long, a guy who speaks
his mind. You know where you stand with him every minute of every day.
But he also has quite a sense of humor. He’s a great kidder, and you don’t
always know when he’s joking. For example, one time he said to me that
he was going to put all my competitors’ gear on his boats. I nearly had
a heart attack before he told me he was joking.”

of Will’s first sales trips for Edson around 1980 was to visit Frank in
California. “I was scared, absolutely petrified of meeting him. He’s
a big, gruff guy on the outside, especially if you’re a vendor. I was
this kid taking over the business from my father and had a lot to prove.
Frank suggested a change in a piece of gear, and I took the suggestion
back to my boss, who also doubled as my father. He said, ‘We just invested
a lot of money in that design. Make him like it.’ Well, I lost Frank’s
business on that one.”

Team approach

Will continues,
“We ended up building a mock-up of the C-30 cockpit and shipping
it to California so Frank and Gerry Douglas could see how it all would
work together. Our competitor also had trouble delivering on time, so
we soon had their account back. It took us 18 months and a lot of hard
work, but we did it.”

enjoys working with Catalina because of the team approach Frank uses.
“He will call me up and say, ‘We have a problem,’ and ask, ‘How can
we solve it?’ ” Will says. “He works with you. He’s always very
even, whether it’s our problem or his, or a combination. We’re small potatoes
compared to the size of Catalina Yachts, and Frank knows we have limitations,
but he expects us to deliver, too. Even if we make some dumb mistakes,
which we have, Frank and I will talk about it, and then he’ll say, ‘OK,
let’s get going here.’ He’s great to work with.”

considers Frank to be a mentor, in addition to being a customer. “Frank
told me once that when sons got into the family business, the business
usually failed.” Will took the words of advice to heart, as something
to work on. “I’m still in the process of proving him wrong on that
one,” he says. “But I probably won’t be able to do that until
the day I retire.”

To what
does Will attribute the success of Catalina Yachts, besides the obvious
presence of Frank Butler? He responds, “The boats are a reflection
of the people behind them. Frank’s employees are the best and are very
loyal to him and the company. They make good, honest, affordable boats
– good sailers with smart layouts. Just look at the number of people who
got into this sport because of Frank’s affordable boats.”

Largest manufacturer

Frank is
quick to point out that sales manager Sharon Day and Gerry Douglas, head
of engineering and design, are a big part of the success of Catalina Yachts.
They really have had more to do with the success we’ve had than anyone
else.” Both Day and Douglas now are corporate officers and part owners
of the company.

has been with Catalina for 26 years. “We’re the largest sailboat
manufacturer in the United States, but we aren’t run by a large corporation.
So we can keep closer tabs on our customers, to make sure they like our
products. I think the boat owners like sharing the company’s success because
they like being part of the Catalina family. And family is the backbone
of our company. Everyone who buys a boat is a part of our family. We especially
treat our dealers that way. Lots of them have been with us since Day One,
and we appreciate that. They are our front line with our customers, after

continues, “Going to a boat show, we not only sell boats, but we
also get to see and talk to our customers. Many of them we see at the
shows every year.” The face-to-face meetings with customers provide
valuable feedback for their likes and dislikes, which leads directly to
improvements in the product line.

it like working for Frank Butler? “He sets the pace for us,”
she says, “and that’s non-stop. Frank keeps things moving. He’s perpetual
motion, and has a tremendous amount of energy. It’s an entirely different
feel in the office when he’s there compared to when he’s not. He’s a fantastic
man to work for. His heart is in the right place.”

Lots of overlap

Sharon describes
Frank, Gerry Douglas, and herself as the Three Musketeers. “We have
tremendous rapport together. It’s a good mixture. Even though we all have
our own roles, there’s lots of overlap in what we do, and lots of lunchtime
meetings. Sometimes things may get heated, but by the end of lunch we’re
all back on good terms, and all three of us are heading down the same

his perspective, Gerry sees two big advantages of Catalina’s boats: they
can be fixed, and parts are readily available. “Our boats are 100
percent rebuildable, depending upon severe damage, of course,” he
states. “And parts are available from the factory for all our boats
no matter how old. This makes older Catalinas excellent project boats
for people looking for a good boat to rebuild.”

He points
out that “we put the decks on much earlier in the manufacturing process
than other builders. This is a big advantage to our customers because
it means everything inside the boat came through the main hatch. There
are no captive tanks or bulkheads. The customer can take out everything
in the boat with hand tools. Catalina is unique in that respect. Most
builders put the deck on much later in the process.”

He continues,
“Our hull liners are designed to distribute loads. Bulkheads don’t
bear chainplate loads, for example. Those loads pass on to the liner.
That’s important to know because so many of our owners have modified their
boats extensively. Our owners tend to be hands-on people. It’s easy to
replace things, and you seldom have to cut anything to get a part out.”

Rare features

to Gerry, another Catalina strong point is its customer-service department.
“We have good people owners can talk to about technical issues. That,
combined with the availability of parts, is rare in this industry. It
makes buying older Catalinas easier. Our boats are good for extended cruising
because they have a solid foundation of good, laminated parts.

boats are excellent choices for rebuilding because they are relatively
heavy for their length. We still use heavy, hand-laminated, solid glass
hulls. We’re probably the only builder who fi bs on displacement on the
light side. This philosophy of durable, rebuildable boats is designed
in. It’s not by accident,” he says.

Loyal owners

Catalina 30 diagram, 1976

The Catalina 30, the third boat, introduced in 1976.

Should Catalina
owners want resources for projects, all they have to do is turn to Mainsheet,
a quarterly magazine published by Jim Holder in Midlothian, Virginia.
“Frank and I have been good friends since 1970,” Jim says. “He
asked me to put this magazine together 17 years ago to pull all the newsletters
of the various associations into one magazine. I’m the editor and publisher,
and Frank is listed as the managing editor. We receive quite a bit of
technical assistance from the factory, primarily from Gerry Douglas, who
reviews all the material for technical accuracy. Frank is the only manufacturer
who does this sort of thing. It’s a unique magazine in more ways than

Jim, “The magazine is basically written by the owners. They send
in all the articles for their projects and such to editors for each association.
Those editors send the articles to us to help keep things organized. So
it’s really written by the owners for the owners. It glues all the association
members together. The magazine helps people improve and enjoy their boats
– to have fun. That’s the object of the magazine, and of Catalina Yachts
as well.”

He concludes,
“Frank has always pushed Catalina Yachts as a family. Mainsheet is
one vehicle to keep the family together through communication. People
who own Catalinas are very loyal, and most of them move up to another
Catalina. They also know that Frank is really good about warranty work
and that he doesn’t want anything happening to his boats he doesn’t know
about. It’s Frank’s one-on-one attitude that makes the family aspect happen.”

is Frank Butler’s favorite design, of the many he has built? “I have
seven children. That question is like asking me which is my favorite child.
I can’t say. Anyone who ever asks me that question never gets an answer
from me. My boats are like my children. One might be for the ocean, another
one for near shore or for racing. I love them all.

C-22 and C-30 were both extremely well received. We also have sold a lot
of 27s. The 36 just passed 2,000 built earlier this year. We’re selling
a lot of 42s and larger boats. For example, right now we’re building 47s
at the rate of three a month.”

no doubt that, as Beattie Purcell puts it, “The C-22 was the boat
that really put us in the market in a big way. We were building five of
them a day in California in the early days. Used ones were going for more
than a new one because people couldn’t get new ones fast enough.”
Concludes Beattie, “The 22 is a good sailing boat, stable, family

continues, “You should always try to upgrade your product line. You
always need to have something more to offer in a new boat. Otherwise people
will just buy used ones.”

Good relations

When asked
if he sees Hunter and Beneteau as his biggest competitors, Frank responds,
“Yes they are, but really I think all [sailboat manufacturers] are
my competitors. I love competition, I really do. You’ve got to know your
competition. I check them out all the time, not just at boat shows. I
have good relations with our competitors. We all get along fine.”

To this
day, Catalina designs all of its boats in-house and has its own engineering
department. Two notable exceptions are the C-27 and C-30. “An outside
person designed the hulls for those, and I did the interiors and the decks,
” says Frank. “I try to do what our customers need or want.
We try to work around that concept. There’s no one better than your customers
to help you constantly change and improve. Our dealers also are very important
to us. We get lots of input from them. And we are always working on new

Catalina Yachts employs more than 700 people building boats in three locations,
two in California and one in Florida. It has about 500,000 square feet
of manufacturing space. The line includes Catalina, Capri, and Morgan
sailboats, Nacraand Prindle catamarans, and a 34-foot powerboat sold as
the Islander 34. “We purchased that mold when Pearson went out of
business,” says Frank. “It’s the only powerboat Catalina currently

Capri sailboats are the performance-oriented daysailers developed in the Capri Sailboat Division. Current models range from 8 feet to 25 feet. “Capri is our small-boat division under Catalina as the main structure,” Frank says. He notes that several Capri models have very active class associations around the country.

Bright future

What does
the future hold for Frank Butler and Catalina Yachts? When asked how long
he expects to run the company, he says, “I enjoy it so much. It’s
really in the hands of the good Lord. That’s one question I can’t give
you an honest answer on.”

to Frank, Gerry Douglas and Sharon Day most likely would supply the continuity
to keep Catalina Yachts going as it always has, providing “a lot
of boat for the money,” as most sailors put it.

Catalina Yachts has a bright future given the thousands of loyal customers
sailing its products around the world. The international class associations
for the C-22, C-25, C-27 and C-30 are among the largest sailboat groups
in the world. Log on to the Internet, and Catalina sites are among the
most numerous and busiest to be found. As Max Unger, the treasurer of
the International Catalina 30 Association, puts it, “The success
of these independent associations emphasizes not only the great number
of boats built, but also the family atmosphere created by the owners that
keeps us sailing together.”

word family probably best describes Catalina Yachts these days. It’s a
family comprised of many loyal employees and thousands of loyal customers.
And the undeniable head is Frank Butler. He wouldn’t have it any other

not working at his job for the federal government or singlehanding his
1989 Pearson 27 in the Annapolis, Md., area, Steve is a part-time freelance
writer. He writes for a variety of business and boating publications.

Allied Boat Company

By Dan Smith

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 1, January/February 1999.

Builder of the Seawind and other legends

seed for the Allied Boat Company was planted in February of 1960 when
Annapolis naval architect Thomas Gillmer designed a 30-foot
ketch-rigged sailboat for Rex Kaiser, an attorney from Wilmington, Del.
This boat would become the famous Seawind 30, the first fiberglass boat
to sail around the world with a voyage beginning in 1964. Alan Eddy spent
four and a half years circumnavigating the globe with Apogee, hull #1.

Lunn Laminates of Port Washington on Long Island Sound created the molds
for this boat and built five of them. It’s not clear how Lunn Laminates
and the original group that was to form the Allied Boat Company were introduced.
Perhaps Lunn Laminates sought sales help from the New York City firm Northrop
& Johnson, due to their reputation as the most successful yacht brokerage
firm on the East Coast.

Northrop & Johnson enlisted the aid of Thor Ramsing of Greenwich, Conn.
Ramsing, in addition to being a well-known racing sailor, also had the
financial resources necessary to initiate a new boat production company.

Allied’s treasurer, Serge McKhann, filed papers with the states of Delaware
and New York on Feb. 9, 1962, officially establishing the new company
as Allied Boat Company, Inc.

Allied Boat Company

The Allied Boat Company established its building site on Catskill Creek in Catskill, N.Y., 100 miles north of New York City. Just off the Hudson River, it was an ideal place from which to build and launch boats. For the company’s entire time in business, from 1962 to 1981, it remained at this location.

The company was formed with $70,000 in cash contributed by
Ramsing, $31,000 worth of molds contributed by Lunn Laminates, and
$31,000 worth of designs and specifications contributed by Northrop &
Johnson. The company ownership was based on 96 shares of stock with
Ramsing holding 83 of these. The remaining 13 shares were divided
evenly among James Northrup, George Johnson, and Howard Foster.

Foster, a marine consultant and representative for Northrop &
Johnson, was named president. They agreed to establish the building
site in Catskill, N.Y., in what was originally a brick plant. Located
on the Catskill Creek just off the Hudson River about 100 miles north
of New York City, it was an ideal place from which to build and
launch their boats.

Ramsing did well racing his Seawind, winning prizes in the
Southern Ocean Racing Circuit. The Allied reputation grew
accordingly, but he was not complacent enough to produce just one
type of sailboat. From the beginning, Allied needed other models from
notable architects in order to please larger families and deeper

Ramsing also had been very successful racing his 46-foot
Solution designed by Sparkman & Stephens. He reasoned that a smaller
version of the same boat might be readily accepted. He asked Frank
MacLear and Bob Harris to design the smaller boat. They created the
35-foot Seabreeze, a centerboard boat which could be rigged as a
sloop or yawl. The company built 135 of these over a nine-year period
beginning in 1963.

A short while later another well-known naval architect, Bill
Luders, introduced the Luders 33, the third exceptional yacht to
grace the Allied yard. Next, Allied added the Britton Chance-designed
Chance 30. With its fin keel and spade rudder, it was a bit ahead of
its time and not received as well as the other “sturdier hull” models.

In 1964, only a year after forming the company, Ramsing sold
his share of the partnership to Northam Warren, another well-known
racing sailor. Warren also purchased the stock held by Lunn,
Northrup, and Johnson, making him the primary owner of the Allied
Boat Company. During the remainder of the ’60s, Warren and Foster
aggressively marketed the four models in the Allied line of sailboats.

Foster maintained control of production and sales at the
factory while Warren went “on the road” attending boat shows and
entering races with his Seawind 30. The company sold their products
directly to customers; there were no distributors.

Northam Warren

Northam Warren had a great perception and zeal for life. He was
raised on Long Island, where his father, an avid sailor, saw to it
that his children, including two daughters, each had a sailboat. The
senior Warren raced centerboard boats when he wasn’t attending to the
family cosmetic business. Northam attended Princeton University and
won major sailboat races three out of his four years there.

After service in the field artillery in World War II, Warren
owned several boats and traveled extensively to race them. Some of
the races included the Annapolis to Newport Race, the Bermuda Race
three times, the Chicago-to-Mackinac Race, and two Transpacs to

During my interview with Northam Warren, I learned that
Allied became the first company to supply fiberglass hulls in colors
other than white. This was an exclusive option, which actually
started with the Seawind 30, but was also available with their other
models. The company’s aggressive marketing strategies often gave it a
jump on competition. “She’ll cross an ocean if you will” was the
oft-repeated motto associated with the Seawind 30.

Warren noted that another clever promotion was the annual
Pinkletink, named after a frog which lives in a tree on Martha’s
Vineyard. Each year he had the factory do a special fitting job using
all the latest and heaviest hardware. These boats were exceptional,
sporting the latest in sails and the most sophisticated equipment on
the market. Every part of the boat was “ultra-finished.”

At the beginning of each season, Warren went racing with the
Pinkletink. Well-known in the circuit and a crafty racing skipper,
Warren, with this highly prized Seawind became a familiar figure from
New England to the Caribbean. Anxious admirers knew this special boat
would be for sale at the end of the season. After three years, many
people were waiting to purchase these special Allied boats.

Glen Neal

While Warren was promoting Allied products north and south via boat
shows and racing circuits, Howard Foster and the factory had the
responsibility of building boats to fill the orders he was creating.
A primary member of the factory team was foreman Glen Neal, who was
born and raised in Catskill. He was looking for work in 1966 to fill
in the winter months that usually crippled his carpentry business.
His timing was good. The Allied Boat Company, going strong at that
time, had plenty of orders gathered from summer and fall boat shows
and racing events.

Neal went to work for $1.50 an hour. He planned to stay there
through the winter, then start building houses again in the spring.
He didn’t know or particularly care about boats, but it was a warm
indoor job during the winter.

He immediately recognized the inefficiency of having too few
pieces of equipment for use by too many employees. His department had
only one electric hand drill and one sabre saw, for example. In order
to retrieve these small power tools, workers made numerous trips to
other parts of the shop, which wasted time and frustrated workers.
After six months Neal presented Foster with his ideas for production
improvements and was rewarded with a promotion to foreman of the
carpentry and finishing department. He stayed with Allied from 1966
to 1972, during what appear to have been their most productive years.

According to Neal, Allied was recognized as a high-quality
boatbuilder – possibly the third best in the world. I was unable to
learn what companies the two other leaders were, but the integrity of
Neal’s interview lends credibility to this statement. Readers may
speculate about the other two.

Neal ultimately led a crew of 35 who did carpentry work
inside and outside: deckwork, handrails, bowsprit, and bulkheads
along with some minor fiberglassing. A separate department did hull
and deck fiberglass work. A third department did the wiring and
electrical installations. The building process was synchronized,
using a progress board and a card system to track projects as work
moved each boat along the assembly line. Neal and his team added the
finishing touches as the boats moved out the door.

Thanks to the efficiency in the plant, few boats were
returned for rework. Allied could afford to give the owner a strong
warranty. Neal occasionally went out on calls to deal with minor
problems, like a blister on a wood bulkhead.

Neal said he prided himself on doing things right and that the
Allied Boat Company was a good place to work. Peak employment reached
about 130, and orders were plentiful during the late ’60s and early

Neal suggested that quality workers should receive top wages.
He recommended to management that they offer a pension plan or an
incentive program to help inspire employee output. He kept records of
the trimming crew’s performance and introduced competition to improve
the quality of work. He was obviously a strong catalyst in the
development of the Allied workforce and in the solid reputation which
the company earned as a result.

Times change

Over time, other models were introduced. The Greenwich 24, by George
Stadel, was the smallest boat offered by Allied. Not as popular as
the other heavier models, the molds were eventually sold off to Cape
Dory and ultimately became the Cape Dory 25. The fleet was expanded
to a 39-footer and the ultimate XL-2, a 42-foot sailboat designed by
Sparkman & Stephens. Orders were plentiful, giving the appearance
that all was going smoothly.

Early 1969 brought changes which would eventually make Allied
flinch and ultimately cause it to falter. Oil prices would soon
escalate from $5 to $20 per barrel. Because it is a principal
ingredient in fiberglass, the steep price increase in petroleum
caused a substantial rise in production costs.

In addition there were some leadership problems and
personality conflicts in the front office, which introduced chaos in
the company and caused many to leave. Assistant plant manager Bob
Jones departed in 1969, closely followed by plant manager Walter
Laskowski. The loss of these key managers in the production area
negatively affected employee morale.

The unsettled mood reached throughout the administrative,
engineering, and labor departments. Together with negative national
and international economic influences, the strains on Allied were
taking a toll. Eventually, officers filed a mortgage foreclosure at
the Greene County Courthouse on March 18, 1969. This notice signaled
trouble in the front office at a time when the cash flow from orders
should have been adequate to keep the company afloat. During this
time increasing numbers of suppliers began to file judgments against
the company. Some information suggests that Warren bought Foster’s
interest in 1971, thus making him the sole owner of Allied.

The period from 1969 to 1974 must have seen some very
traumatic moments. Employees who were experienced and capable were
leaving for other employment. Recognizing this downward spiral,
Warren placed an ad in The Wall Street Journal in 1973 to sell the
company, 11 years after it was formed.


At this point, a shining star appeared for the company. Robert
Wright, a cruising sailor from Little Falls, N.Y., put together a
partnership with two others and negotiated with banks and creditors
to allow him to start building again. Wright was an electrical
engineer, had obtained a law degree from Cornell University, and was
experienced as a practicing attorney.

He and his partners put up $200,000. That infusion of cash,
together with the backlog of orders equal to six months’ production
and deposits of $177,000, made the future look brighter for the new
company, now called The Wright Yacht Company. Wright’s wife, Jean,
was secretary, and their son, Paul, was plant manager. These three
knew the meaning of work and the importance of customer satisfaction.

During this time, Wright commissioned Thomas Gillmer to
create another legendary Seawind, slightly larger than the original.
This became the Seawind II. A ketch-rigged 32-footer, it had the same
hull as the previous Seawind. The Seawind II served as the flagship
of the new company. Other new boats included the Princess 36,
Mistress 39, and the Mistress Mark III. This nucleus of quality
yachts promised to put Allied back on course as a front-runner in
American boatbuilding. The promise, unfortunately, was unfulfilled.

Anxiety, possibly induced by stock market fluctuations and an
unsettled economy, caused Wright’s partners to retreat, taking their
financial support with them. This left the firm in severe financial
distress. Bills began to mount and liens against the company started
appearing. Operations must have been fairly normal until the third
year of their lease, since the first lien was not filed until July

The Wright Yacht Company was closed and the Job Development
Authority (JDA) became holder and full owner of all Allied equipment,
fixtures, molds, and real estate. The future appeared to offer little
promise of salvaging what was once a successful boatbuilding

Fortunately, the JDA located Stuart Miller, an attorney from
New York City, who owned an Allied Princess. He was familiar with the
company’s reputation and apparently convinced the JDA he could save
jobs for Greene County and make the business profitable once more. He
also planned, coincidentally, to build a 50-foot sailboat for himself.

With Miller as the new CEO, another name change was
introduced: CFG/Allied. I was unable to locate the meaning of these
initials until Ed Hodgens, a faithful 15-year Allied employee,
explained that they had stood for Conception for Financial Growth.

Miller assumed control of the company in early 1979. A report
in a Seawind II newsletter claimed the 100th Seawind II was completed
and delivered to Florida around the same time.

Articles in boating magazines tracked mistakes of CFG/Allied
and reported attempts to rescue the company. One magazine was candid,
placing blame on the company leaders for “not being familiar with
special problems of building and marketing boats.” The doors of this
third generation of the Allied Boat Company were closed in April 1980.

Closing chapter

Once again, the JDA was on the hunt for a buyer. They found a man
with a working knowledge of marketing sailboats. Brax Freeman, a
former yacht dealer, boasted of entrepreneurial skills. He promised
to move the “new” firm, now to be named International Cruising
Yachts, into a place of prominence in the boating world.

Freeman, according to employees, had a flair for
entertainment and gave prospective buyers dinner and show tickets for
evenings in New York City. These enticements were meant to lead to
the purchase of one of ICY’s sailboats. Freeman’s tenure with ICY
lasted until late 1981, when he collapsed under the financial
pressures brought to bear by angry creditors and unpaid tax
collectors. The closing chapter of this fine old boatbuilding company
was being written.

Various letters from JDA seeking buyers for the land (5.05
acres) and equipment indicate their persistent efforts to recoup
money lost during their many attempts to save jobs for Greene County.

Ultimately, the land was sold for approximately $200,000,
buildings were torn down, and an overcrowded complex of condos, each
with a boat slip included, was constructed on the water’s edge. (This
venture, too, has since met with a number of obstacles.) An auction
took place June 20, 1984, at which time all remaining equipment and
molds were sold for $40,000.

Thus, it was done – the Allied Boat Company was no more.

Dan Smith boarded a coal freighter as deckhand in Toledo four days
after graduation from high school. His sailboats have included a
Snipe, a Flying Scot, a Morgan 22, a Dickerson 35, and an Allied
Seawind 30. Hurricane Andrew destroyed Kohinoor, the Seawind, in
1992. Dan bought a Marshall catboat and enjoys winters gunkholing in
the Florida Keys.

Ladyship: Reinventing a Westerly Pageant 23

This article was published in our May 2016 issue.

by Rob Hoffman

In Good Old Boat May 2016, Allen Penticoff reviewed the Westerly Pageant, a 23-foot twin-keel sloop built by Westerly Marine in England. The boat had been highly customized, so we cautioned readers that Ladyship, as she is named, is not representative of all Pageants. In fact, she is unique and well worked on, we thought readers would enjoy learning more about her refit from the man responsible. Here, in his own words, is Rob Hoffman’s story.

Ladyship under sailLadyship started life in 1971 as a twin-keel Westerly Pageant 23, exported from England to a Westerly dealer on the lower Chesapeake Bay. She moved from there to an owner in Virginia and somehow ended up in Corpus Christi, Texas, where she had a couple of owners. We suspect she might have been sunk at some point, possibly the victim of a hurricane, as we found hidden mud debris inside her that could not have arrived there otherwise.

When we found her, she had been confiscated for non-payment of yard storage and was in a salvage yard about to be scrapped. We bought her through an eBay ad. She had no trailer, but had her mast and boom, albeit in sorry shape.


I had been intrigued with twin-keelers for quite a while after reading about Lord Riverdale’s exploits with Bluebird of Thorne, his twin-keel ocean racer. I then read a treatise by Bray Yacht Design in Canada that further served to kindle my interest. This is perhaps the best argument in their favor and is well worth reading: Bray Yacht Design – Twin Keels.

From a practical standpoint, the Westerly Pageant also boasted interior accommodations still unmatched in any other 23-foot sailboat. It has more than 6 feet of standing headroom below and an enclosed head. The storage capacity is also comparatively large and, while not ever considered a “racer,” it was built in the early days of fiberglass boat construction under Lloyd’s Registry inspection. If anything, it is overbuilt by today’s standards and very solid, if comparatively heavy. My challenge was to see if we could substantially improve the performance of this very roomy, comfortable, but rather stodgy old British design and still retain most of her original character and benefits that are so enduring.

Major surgery, we cut our the aft cockpit seats and cut a hole in the hull

Making a plan

I retained the services of Cortland Steck, the same naval architect we had worked with before on our Alubat modifications (Good Old Boat, March 2013). Cort, who had been with Hunter Marine for quite a while, and I worked together to come up with this makeover of our Pageant 23. We decided to call her a Mark II version, as her changes were substantial enough to almost make her a different boat from the original Laurent Giles design. Westerly built 551 Pageants over about a nine-year production span.

There are always things that hindsight would dictate be done differently, but for the most part, we consider the project to be quite successful and the boat has performed well over several cruises and even in a regatta where she garnered second place on elapsed time in a field of about eight other sailboats of various designs, some of them much larger.

As well as generally cleaning and refinishing the boat, we made a number of major changes.


The rig was enlarged a little to add a bowsprit and a removable inner forestay. The new bowsprit is made of ipe, a hardwood that is considerably stronger than teak.
An inner “soft” forestay now carries a small soft-luff roller-furling (non-reefing) lapper jib that is sheeted to new inboard tracks on top of the cabin. It can be easily removed and stored below when we want to use the larger 130 percent genoa on the headstay roller furler.
We use the inner headsail in heavier wind conditions rather than reefing the big genoa, as it has a more efficient shape and can be sheeted closer inboard for higher pointing ability. It replaces the original baby stay, which is no longer needed since we added swept-back spreaders and moved the shroud chainplates aft. Sail area has increased a little as a result and the original tendency to carry too much weather helm has been eliminated by the bowsprit.

Hunter Riddle of Schurr Sails in Pensacola, Florida, designed and built the new loose-footed mainsail and both headsails. As cruisers, we do not normally carry a spinnaker, but the boat is rigged for one.

A new mast tabernacle was fabricated that allows the mast to be stored on the boat when in trailer mode. The pivot point is above the boom, which stays mounted to the tabernacle and does not need to be removed for travel. The original Proctor mast was reused, stripped of its gold-colored anodizing. It was refurbished with new swept-back spreaders that take the shrouds to new chainplates about a foot aft of their original position.

We rebuilt the aft end of the cockpit

Stern arch

I’m a big fan of a sturdy arch assembly on the stern, and I’ve used one on both of our boats. In each case they were built strong enough to serve as the structural attachment point for a split backstay. In Ladyship’s case, the arch also holds an elevated top-mounted traveler that controls the boom and the mainsheet. The traveler and mainsheet lines are led down the sides of the arch into the cockpit through blocks and cam cleats. The top of the arch is a fine place for mounting larger solar panels, and Ladyship carries two 100-watt panels as well as antennas on fold-down mounts for travel. The arch also supports the boom and mast when the mast is down and Ladyship is in travel mode on her trailer.

The sides of the arch structure carry a swiveling outboard motor carrier for the dinghy, a hard-case LifeSling MOB (man overboard) device, a center-mounted block and tackle for lifting the main propulsion outboard motor out of its well high enough for service, and a solid attachment point for the lifelines. The “roof” provided by the arch also serves as a connector point for a canvas panel (removable and without any frame) that extends overhead coverage all the way aft from the dodger. All this makes the cockpit very protected and secure. LED lights mounted under the arch illuminate the cockpit at night.

The outboard motor is raised and lowered on slides inside the well.

Outboard motor

A winch powered by a 12-volt motor provides the muscle.

The most invasive and extreme departure from the original design is the use of an outboard motor in a built-in well that allows the motor to be retracted vertically with a 12-volt winch motor, thus removing all prop drag under sail. A pair of spring-loaded bomb-bay-style door panels automatically close and seal the hull aperture as the motor and prop travel upward.

In order to build the motor well, the original tiller and rudder were removed and the stern cockpit locker and a portion of the cockpit were cut away. A new vertical workboat-type tiller controls a new transom-mounted blade rudder via a line-and-block system. The use of a vertical tiller that does not sweep across the sitting area increased the usable space in the smallish and deep cockpit.

Bomb-bay doors close the motor well when the outboard is retracted. The guard around the propeller pushes the doors open when the motor is lowered.

Moving the rudder aft to the transom also required the fabrication of a new rudder mount and reinforcement of the transom to take the additional loads. The rudder’s new location places it in the propeller’s thrust stream power and makes turning in close quarters like having “power steering.”

Ladyship originally had a small Volvo MD-1 inboard diesel. The motor in use now is a 20-horsepower 4-stroke Tohatsu with a normal short shaft and a low-speed pusher prop. It has turned out to be more power than needed, but was originally selected for its larger alternator. In hindsight, I would now choose something smaller like a Yamaha 4-stroke 9.9 high-thrust motor, which would be smaller and lighter and still able to achieve hull speed. The trade-off for lower alternator output has been more than made up for by the 200 watts of solar panels we have on the stern arch.


Both sides of the new motor well are now lockers with removable tops for access. One of these lockers houses the 18-gallon gas tank and the other houses the 12-volt winch motor for the motor-lifting rig, the starting battery, and general storage for fenders and other equipment. Tracks on the tops of these lockers support removable one-person seats on each side of the center motor well.

Both of our boats have a very sturdy boarding ladder that’s permanently mounted on the stern and folds up vertically to be secured under the arch. These ladders can be deployed instantly and extend downward enough to allow the boats to be boarded easily and safely while on their trailers.


Down below, most of the original design and layout was retained. Because the boat no longer carries an inboard diesel, that space was used to install a Mermaid water-cooled air-conditioning system with vents that discharge into the saloon and, via ducting, into the V-berth area. This unit uses one of three Marelon below-the-waterline through-hulls to bring in cooling water for its compressor. As we sail mostly in southern climates, that makes Ladyship’s interior very comfortable on hot and muggy nights in a marina. We have no AC generator, so the air-conditioning is for dockside use only. At anchor, there is usually enough breeze to keep the cabin cool.

Ladyship has a small enclosed head compartment, which now houses a marine head from SeaLand that sits atop its own gravity-fed holding tank. It has no flush plumbing to clog, just a large foot-operated ball valve. It uses a little fresh water to flush. The tank is connected to a deck pumpout with a Y-valve, so the contents can be discharged overboard via a through-hull with a 12-volt diaphragm pump where that’s legal.

The original stainless-steel freshwater tank located under the V-berth was retained with the addition of a top-mounted inspection port for cleaning. It holds about 13 gallons and is filled through a deck plate. The boat had a foot pump that fed one fixture in the galley sink from this water tank. We added a small 12-volt pressure pump to power this system. It now also supplies flushing water to the head and also to a hose bib mounted in the cockpit for rinsing things (like dogs). This hose bib can be back-fed with a hose and pressure reducer from dockside if desired.

The galley is minimal and includes a small sink with one freshwater faucet. We did replace the old countertop with a new one of Corian. For cooking, we use a non-pressurized two-burner gimbaled Origo alcohol stove. For refrigeration, we carry a single 12-volt Engel MRO40F-U1 fridge-freezer recessed into a cutout in the port quarter berth top adjacent to the galley. We use neither of our quarter berths for sleeping and they now serve for storage only. To access the aft portion of these old quarter berths more easily, we installed a pair of aluminum hatches on the cockpit seats. We installed another matching hatch on the cockpit sole for access to the bilge pumps and the air-conditioner’s cooling-water pump. There is also some storage there for a toolbox.

Ladyship’s saloon has a new fold-up table that lowers into a double-berth position. The forward V-berths are also comparatively large and quite comfortable. We had new cushions made of 4-inch closed-cell foam covered with gray Sunbrella fabric.

The boat originally had a vinyl headliner with a foam backing that had been removed. We elected not to replace any of it, but instead we cleaned the surface and painted it with a single-part epoxy semi-gloss paint over a primer coat mixed with microsphere insulating beads.

As built, the boat had fixed saloon windows and only a pair of small round opening portlights in the head and locker areas. We removed the saloon windows and replaced them with smoke-gray Plexiglas panels that cover the entire area around the cutouts. Four new Vetus opening portlights with screens were then fitted in the Plexiglas. New round Vetus portlights were also installed forward along with a pair of rectangular side portlights for additional ventilation in the V-berth. A forward hatch over the V-berth was rebuilt, reglazed with gray Plexiglas and fitted with a solar-powered vent. New window and cabin interior trim was built of mahogany and stained to match what was left of the original interior woodwork.

The electrical system

The boat had no electrical system when we rescued her. There were remnants of old wiring that had to be removed before we completely re-wired her for both 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC circuits. Shorepower (30 amps) is brought aboard though an external plug aft that has a DEI Marine isolation device on the ground wire. The boat has several internal GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) AC sockets, and the air-conditioner has to have shorepower AC as well.

The boat has a Magnum MMS pure-sine-wave inverter/charger on the DC side that feeds a house bank of two GC-12 golf cart batteries. They give us a house capacity of 360 amp hours, which is sufficient for the electronics, Engel fridge, and all the LED lights throughout the boat.

Our electronic package includes a VHF radio and a GPS chart plotter with Wi-Fi capability. The entertainment system is a Tivoli CD player and FM-XM stereo bookshelf system mounted to the forward saloon bulkhead. The boat has active AIS (Automatic Identification System) installed and uses LED running lights. We have a tiller-pilot autopilot. The instrument package includes a conventional bulkhead compass in the cockpit and a single multi-function display head that displays information from the depth sounder and the masthead-mounted sensor for wind speed and direction.

A custom Blue Seas breaker panel controls both the AC and DC sides. The entire DC panel supply is fed through a DC-DC converter that stabilizes the 12-volt power and prevents any voltage spikes that might kill the LED lights. The boat has several internal 12-volt cigarette lighter outlets and a single fan in the V-berth. One of the 12-volt sockets has a cell phone USB charger built into it.

We use a Blue Sky Energy MPPT solar charge controller to handle the power input from our two solar panels that charge the house bank. Our charging sources for the batteries are the solar panels, the motor’s alternator output, and the Magnum inverter/charger when on shorepower.

We moved the house bank of batteries to a more amidships location and left a smaller starting battery aft for the motor. The motor is connected directly to this smaller 12-volt battery and, when it’s fully charged, the engine alternator’s output is then automatically directed to the house bank via a Balmar parasitic charger. The engine battery and the house bank are normally isolated from each other but can be combined in an emergency.

One of the cast-iron keels, the aluminum arch, and the lifelines are all electrically bonded to the mast for a lightning-discharge path to the water.

Rob cut about 6 inches off the bottom of each keel with a gas-powered concrete saw.

Rob cut about 6 inches off the bottom of each keel with a gas-powered concrete saw.

Twin keels

The sail area and the ballast/displacement ratio were recalculated to evaluate what could be safely done to improve performance. Naval architect Cortland Steck determined that our keels could be shortened by about 6 inches to give us a more favorable sail area/displacement ratio in the high teens and also to reduce wetted-surface area. These boats were over-ballasted to begin with and can benefit from some ballast removal. The specified cast iron (about 600 pounds) was removed using a gas-powered concrete saw with a diamond blade — not a job for the faint of heart!

To maintain and improve our pointing ability, we reshaped the keels’ airfoil profiles to make them slightly asymmetrical, as was originally desired in the Laurent Giles design but not implemented by Westerly due to production cost considerations. The inside surfaces of the keels were built up by about ½ inch at the apex of the chord section and the external sides were flattened some by shape sanding before all the corrosion pitting was filled. Both were then faired out and painted with an epoxy barrier. The resulting asymmetrical profile shape tends to lift the boat to weather and also reduces heeling a little.

The keels are attached to the boat with sturdy 1-inch-diameter stainless-steel bolts. We inspected them closely when we dropped the keels to clean and reseal the hull-to-keel joints with 3M 5200 and found them to be in great shape. Because the boat has no inboard engine and attendant prop shaft, Ladyship’s bilges are normally completely dry. The air-conditioner’s condensate never gets into the bilges because it is removed by a venturi suction device powered by the water stream exiting the cooling water circuit.


Artist Bill Barnhart adds finishing touches tothe crazy topsides.
Artist Bill Barnhart adds finishing touches to the crazy topsides!



The boat has an automatic 12-volt bilge pump and a manual diaphragm bilge pump with the pump handle socket in the cockpit.

Externally, we were able to repair and refurbish the original teak rubrail while using an automotive spray enamel to repaint any of the deck and topsides areas that we did not cover with Kiwi-Grip non-skid product.

A new cockpit dodger was built by JSI in Florida, who also built the stern arch and mast tabernacle. They also did the new lifelines and supplied a lot of the running rigging and new standing rigging.

Artist Bill Barnhart adds finishing touches tothe crazy topsides.

We carry three anchors: a primary Bulwagga, a second claw-style on the bow, and a single smaller claw as our stern anchor. I fabricated new PVC chain pipes for the two bow anchor rodes that are now led down into a separated stowage area all the way forward under the V-berth. The rode for the stern anchor is stowed adjacent to the fuel tank locker.

We carry Ladyship on a custom aluminum tandem-axle trailer with surge brakes. The trailer has an extending tongue that allows for launching at most ramps. After the modifications to the keels, the boat now draws 3 feet and, including the trailer, weighs in at around 7,500 pounds. We pull with a GMC 2500HD diesel truck.

The hull’s paint job was done by a friend and fellow sailor we met at Lake Havasu. Bill Barnhart is an internationally recognized fine artist, painter, print maker, architectural designer, and sculptor. He’s also a fine sailor and a boat restorer of considerable skill.


Ladyship is frequently trailered, albeit behind a ¾-ton truck.

Good Old Regatta fun


Ladyship participated in the 2015 St. Petersburg Classic (Good Old Boat) Regatta, a charity event for Meals on Wheels put on every year by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and St. Petersburg Sailing Association. Bill Wright crewed for Gabi and me and we were amazed at how well Ladyship performed. We raced in the Good Old Fun class that consisted of older boats of many different designs. Our class was not under any handicap rules; the boats were placed simply on elapsed time over the usual triangular club-racing course on Tampa Bay. We came in second in a field of about eight other boats and even beat a few others on elapsed time that were in the faster handicapped classes. Most of the race was in light-air conditions in which any stock Westerly twin-keeler would have found herself barely able to finish. Many of the other boats were DNF due to light air. One skipper was certain we had our motor on — LOL. We had it fully retracted!

Timeline for Sailboats Built In Japan

This article is relating to an article in the January 2014 issue.

by Michael Robertson


  • International Marine building wooden boats based on Herreshoff 28-foot design.
  • Okamoto Shipyard building 35- and 40-foot wooden ketches designed by Garden and commissioned by Hardin.


  • Clair Oberly founds Far East Yachts, builds wooden versions of the Alden/Oberly-designed Mariner 31 and Garden-designed Mariner 40.


  • Bill Hardin shuts down Okamoto Shipyard, moves operations to Taiwan.
  • Kawasaki Dockyard Company, Ltd. (later to become Kawasaki Heavy Industries) purchases both International Marine (which became TOA Yachts) and Far East Yachts (which became Far East Boats).
  • Yamaha parlays its FRP expertise to begin building a few small (<15 feet) open boats.


  • Far East Boats adds two boats to lineup: Garden-designed Mariner 35 and S&S design #1738, a 40-foot full-keel sloop.


  • Far East Yachts builds first hull molds to begin fiberglass construction.


  • Far East Yachts ceases construction of wooden boats.
  • Far East Yachts introduces Mariner 31.


  • Far East Yachts introduces Mariner 32.
  • Far East Yachts introduces Mariner 40.


  • Far East Yachts introduces Mariner 36.
  • Kawasaki Heavy Industries shuts down Far East Boats and TOA Yachts.
  • Fuji Yacht Builders builds a couple of one-off boats using Mariner 36 hull mold.


  • Fuji Yacht Builders introduces Fuji 35.


  • Fuji Yacht Builders introduces Fuji 45.


  • Fuji Yacht Builders introduces Fuji 32.
  • Yamaha introduces Finot-designed Y29 for sale in Europe.


  • Yamaha introduces Y33, Y24, Y25 for sale in North America.


  • Fuji Yacht Builders introduces Fuji 40.
  • Yamaha introduces Y36.


  • Fuji Yacht Builders ceases operations.
  • Yamaha introduces Y35.


  • Yamaha introduces Y30.


  • Yamaha introduces Y37.


  • Yamaha ceases exports of recreational sailboats.

Mariner, Fuji, and Yamaha sailboats built for export

Japanese Boats Table

Sailing Performance & Other Features of the J32

This is a supplement to the article printed in Good Old Boat magazine, July 2010.

by Durkee Richards

A fast, easily handled cruiser/racer

One man, one woman, one J/32 Article

Anatomy of a J/32

When we began looking for a boat, we had in mind something in the 30- to 35-foot range with a fractional rig that would sail well with a modest-sized jib. This was what first attracted our attention to the then newly introduced J/32. It has a 7/8 fractional rig with a relatively small J-dimension of 11.0 feet on an overall length of 32.4 feet. This means the mast is stepped relatively far forward and the mainsail provides most of the drive. Even with a 150 percent genoa, my wife, Mary Jeanne, can sheet home the jib in any breeze where it is reasonable to carry such a sail.

Sailing performance

I find this boat a delight to sail. It’s very responsive and easily handled by a retirement-aged couple. Our J/32 is relatively stiff, stays on her feet well, and exhibits excellent static and dynamic stability. Weather helm builds slowly as the wind increases and gives plenty of warning about the need to reduce sail.

This boat seems to have been carefully designed to be sailed by a single watch-stander, something I find essential for extended coastal cruising as a couple. The following features contribute to this:

  • The boom-end sheeting and traveler controls for the main are easily handled from the helm.
  • The primary winches can be reached and used with one hand still on the wheel.
  • The halyards are brought aft to line clutches atop the coachroof.
  • A responsive and powerful rudder allows one to quickly bear away from close-hauled, if necessary, without having to first ease the main. (I well remember a heavy-air night race in the Strait of Juan de Fuca aboard a 35-foot passagemaker where we could not bear away to round the weather mark until someone released the mainsheet from its winch.)
  • The hydraulic backstay adjuster enables quick changes in mast bend to flatten the middle and upper mainsail as desired.
  • Single-line reefing with a winch and line clutches at the edge of the coachroof make it possible to tuck two reefs into the main without leaving the cockpit.
  • If further sail reductions are needed, the jib can be furled and the boat will sail nicely under main alone (like the J/30 reviewed in Good Old Boat in March 2007). With a second crew on deck, I generally choose to partially furl the jib first, which requires stepping outside the cockpit to move the jib fairlead cars forward.

Cruising attributes

Down below: The interior is surprisingly spacious for a 32-foot vessel and has a light, airy feel about it. The V-berth is generously sized with good stowage for extended cruises. The settees make comfortable sea berths, particularly with leecloths rigged. The starboard settee makes into a double, but this feature is best used by a pair who are good friends. We believe that the first owner of our boat chose wisely to forgo the quarter berth option and keep the starboard locker for gear stowage instead. We can still sleep five for a while without it.

The fold-up dining table contributes to the sense of a spacious, open main cabin. This choice would not work for a passagemaker where the table must be stout enough to hang on to, or fall against, at sea, but it does work well for coastal cruising. Eight opening portlights and three hatches assure good ventilation and the two dorades provide fresh air when under way in foul weather.

Crew coming below find easy access to the head compartment, which includes a convenient hanging space for wet gear. The galley is compact, but has sufficient space to serve its purpose. (We do plan to add a fold-out workshelf.)

Cockpit: The cockpit is very comfortable for two, and reasonable for four. The cockpit seat cushions are a welcome addition when cruising. The dodger and side curtains contribute to crew comfort, especially on a long travel day in foul weather. The dodger does not interfere with sail handling but can hinder forward visibility when docking for drivers less than 5 feet 10 inches tall.

Decks: The sidedecks are relatively wide and allow easy access forward. The foredeck provides plenty of room for handling ground tackle. We keep our primary anchor on the anchor roller and the secondary anchor (a 22-pound Bruce) in the anchor locker, which is quite spacious. Even with a windlass mounted on a shelf inside the locker, there is still room for two rodes: 400 feet of 1/2-inch Brait and 300 feet of 1/2-inch three-strand.

Tankage: Standard tankage for a J/32 is 50 gallons of potable water with an option for a second 50-gallon tank (plus six more in the hot water tank), 27 gallons of diesel for the 27-hp Yanmar 3GM30, and a 20-gallon holding tank. The propane locker holds one 10-pound aluminum tank to supply the Force 10 two-burner stove (with oven). These supplies give us all the range we need for our cruising style.

Racing impressions

We race our J/32 in club events and are reasonably competitive. However, some of the design features that make her a delight to cruise do compromise racing performance. Among them are the spacious interior and V-berth. This results in a fuller bow than a racing model and the half-angle of the bow is larger than that for the racing Js. Because of this and the higher displacement/length ratio, a J/32 does not point quite as well as a racing J/Boat or racing designs from other companies, and needs more wind to reach hull speed.

The relatively small foretriangle that first attracted our attention to the J/32 has a negative impact on downwind performance against most other boats in our fleet. Because of the small J-dimension and the fractional rig, the standard spinnaker is also relatively small. Once we turn downwind and set the chute, we are adding proportionally less sail area than the masthead rigs, which also all step their masts relatively farther aft. In theory, this is all taken into account in our PHRF rating. However, we find that the reduced horsepower downwind means that we must have an excellent upwind leg in order to save our time on the competitors.

Bottom line: Coastal cruising is our first love. This boat fits us very well and gives us the confidence to explore remote anchorages far up the coast. We can enjoy the camaraderie of club racing as well. But if racing were our primary passion, we would opt for one-design racing in one of the racing Js.

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