Notes from Sprit Factory craftsman - SailNet Community

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  • 1 Post By GoodOldBoater
  • 2 Post By Southron Spirit
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Old 02-23-2014
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Notes from NA Spirit Factory craftsman!

Hey folks - got this email and had to share - AWESOME!

Dave, my name is Mark;

I live in Austin and spotted your 'Good Old Boat' blog while looking for photos of the Spirit Yachts we used to build.

I got a kick out of your blog and was pleased to see the old Spirit 23 get a new life. I used to work at the Glastron/Spirit factory, and may well have been there when your boat was built.

I worked my way through engineering school at the University of Texas, and was a manufacturing engineering tech at Glastron. We built the 21, 23, and 28 foot boats until the late 1970s energy crisis took a toll on the recreational boating industry. I got laid-off in the spring of 1979 as the company started downsizing. They eventually moved production to a much smaller factory in an old German town called New Braunfels (just north of San Antonio), and I think they phased out the sailboats a year or two later.

I chuckled at your comment about burning through the rear brakes when hauling her back to your house. One of our biggest problems with sales people was that they would convince people their cars were powerful enough to tow boats... but the real issue wasn't about getting going - it was about stopping with the momentum of a big, heavy boat pushing from behind.

You should be pleased to know that a ton of engineering work went into the structural design and construction of your boat. Some of my work involved the manufacturing process design and data acquisition for quality control. We had 20-30 engineers on staff, and a lot of energy went into making our sailboats durable enough for offshore stresses. Hopefully yours has been able to withstand the tests of time.

Glastron was already making some of the best engineered motor boats in the mid-1970s, and had vast experience in working with fiberglass. Most of our competitors in that era were small shops that were able to get a fiberglass mold and then cranked out low volumes with learn-as-you-go design. At Glastron we had teams that did nothing but destructive testing in the lakes and in the Gulf of Mexico, and that helped inform our entry into the world of sailboats.

I recall that our Spirit Yachts carried the stigma of being associated with ski and fishing boats, and that the Catalinas and Pearsons used that to their advantage by denigrating Spirit's heritage. Even with Glastron's international dealer network I think most of our sailboat sales were concentrated in the southwest. Still, I think we had a pretty Robert Finch design and made a respectable product.

I was in my early-to-mid 20's at the time and regret that I didn't file away some old brochures to look back on. Even with the power of Google and the internet it is hard to find much info or collateral without doing a lot of digging (which is what I was doing when I found your blog).

Anyhow, it seems you love your boat and hopefully my email can help fill in some of the blanks.

Etna's Spirit likes this.
1977 North American Spirit 23
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Old 02-26-2014
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Re: Notes from Sprit Factory craftsman

very cool , let him know there are a lot of folks who love there spirit's
S/V Erin Go Bragh
Spirit 23
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Old 03-19-2014
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Re: Notes from Sprit Factory craftsman

That is Awsome! Thank you so much for posting it. We love our '79 North American 23!
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Old 03-27-2014
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Re: Notes from Sprit Factory craftsman

i would like to know if they used a lot of catalina parts in the spirit
S/V Erin Go Bragh
Spirit 23
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