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Old 10-30-2011
PennCove's Avatar
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Northwesterner in transition

Iíve been sailing for over 40 years, and Iíve decided that it may be time to get a boat with a head. I grew up sailing on the Hudson River and Long Island Sound, and kept an 18í Billy Atkin Bluebird at the 79th Street Boat Basin in the decade I lived in Manhattan. I moved to Oregon 21 years ago to teach architecture at the UO, and while teaching in our grad program in Portland, I bought a beautiful cold-molded William Garden Eel canoe yawl to sail in the lower Columbia.

I then moved back to landlocked Eugene to get married, and spent a few frustrating years as a trailer-sailor. To correct this problem, five years ago I built (and continue to build) a cabin on Whidbey Island, where I can moor my boat within sight of the house for the summer. In the winter, she goes into her shop under the house, which protects her all-brightwork (except for the decks) finish.

But it has recently become clear that if Iím ever to induce my Kansas-bred wife and ten-year-old daughter to sail more with me, I need a larger boat with some accommodations beyond the pup-tent level, and a head with a door. (Maybe an engine too. When the wind dies now, I pull out the nine-foot oars.) Iíd probably like a larger boat myself Ė unlike the rest of the Northwest in the summer, Penn Cove has very good winds much of the time (being lined up with the end of the Straits of Juan de Fuca), and as I age, I find myself less interested in sitting on the rail while beating homewards on a cool NW evening (Iím not in Long Island Sound anymore.) So in September I bit the bullet and sold the Eel, and will deliver her to Seattle next spring, after a last winter in the shop.

Iíve always been a reader of Wooden boat Magazine, and a fan of traditional cruising boat designs Ė Herreshoff, Garden, Atkin, Alden, Rhodes, S&S, etc. But lurking on Sailnet in recent years, reading very insightful posts by Jeff H and others, Iíve had to acknowledge that there may have been some advances in knowledge and ideas about boat design in the past 50 years that it would behoove me to understand. Iíve also had to admit that no matter how beautiful it is, a Bristol Channel Cutter may not be the perfect boat to meet my current sailing needs. (My Eel may have a bowsprit and a mizzen, but it also has a SA/D ratio of 26, and Iím not ready to move on to a slow boat.) I even made a foray into defining the ideal boat for this stage of my life, arriving at a design for a 26-foot, center-cockpit, aft-pilothouse, cat-ketch. But after ascertaining that this would cost upwards of $150,000 to have built, Iím back on the used boat market.

So over the next few months, as I try to find the ďperfectĒ boat for the rest of my life (hopefully single-handed daysailing and coastal cruising into my 80s, with occasional pre-teen and eventually-older girls as passengers), Iíll be following relevant threads here on boat design, and probably submitting some questions of my own, to gain the benefit of your collective expertise.

Salish Sea, Washington

William Garden Eel
1983 Schooner Creek
18'-6" LOD, 25' LOA
(but I have just sold her)
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Old 10-30-2011
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I think you should buy a Garden Ketch and let me crew for you.

You best make a decsion quick though. It gets pretty hard to talk young ladies over the age of ten into such adventours. Clocks ticking.

As far as the admiral...the fastest boat the you can sail upright for her is probably a good bet.

The Thunderbird boats a fairly popular around here. Heel angle may be an issue in your case though. They are a hard chine boat. 26' and very customizeable. One of the guys on the lake here owns one. He built it himself and kits are still availible AFAIK. Sounds like a project you would enjoy. Lots of them have enclosed heads while others are gutted out racing machines.
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Old 10-30-2011
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Your take on my life is spot on. The most tempting boat I've seen on the market is Garden's Swoop - the gorgeous 34' pilothouse sloop built in 1975 by Jesperson. The asking price is incredibly low, but I know I could never keep up with the maintenance.

The ten-year-old is hooked on rowing, so I am indeed hoping to piggyback on that into sailing this summer. The current attraction seems to be inviting a friend along for an overnight cruise. Two cabins are starting to sound good.

You're also right about sailing upright for the admiral. The biggest plus would be a pilothouse. Sailing on a friend's 56' Colin Archer on a chilly day, she never left it. But I haven't seen a pilothouse boat under 32' that's really a boat rather than an oddity, and even then they all seem to be very compromised sailers. I may have to let that one go and leave her behind except for the warmest days.

A Thunderbird is definitely on my list. One of the few boats readily available in the NW, in varying conditions. I'm beginning to like that retro mid-century styling, and I will certainly try to track a few down to try out. I am a reasonably capable woodworker, and while I don't have time to build a boat from scratch, I could certainly adapt a Thunderbird to my needs.

Thanks for the advice, and if the lake you're on is Washington, keep your eyes open for my Eel - it will be moving there in March.

Salish Sea, Washington

William Garden Eel
1983 Schooner Creek
18'-6" LOD, 25' LOA
(but I have just sold her)
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