Earlier Boats we have owned along the way...
This page shows all the boats we have owned over the years...
My second boat - Hotspur - a 40' Owens Cutter
Around 1972, we sold Circe and started shopping for a bigger boat. I had been racing on an Owens Cutter and had become fond of them. It didn't hurt that they usually sold fairly inexpensively because, now that fiberglass boats had been invented, not too many buyers wanted the maintenance of wooden boats.
My first boat - Circe - a 28' Gulfweed Ketch
I bought my first boat around 1970. It was a John Hanna designed Gulfweed ketch, 28' long, with a hand-cranked Sabb diesel. This was an extremely reliable diesel engine and I later became a dealer for this Norwegian manufacturer. The boat, Circe, was a smallish wooden boat with traditional lines. Sorry I don't have a picture available. This boat taught us how to sail. We would head out for Catalina Island from Los Angeles Harbor and would arrive at wherever the boated wanted since we weren't good enough to actually demand very much. This was not a fast boat - she did about 4.5 knots under sail or power. I think that she would have done the same speed if you dropped her off a building. But she was good training wheels for us and we learned to love Catalina Island. The children were still very small at this point.
I had always wanted to live aboard a boat - don't ask me why. We owned this boat for a year or two and then started looking for something big enough to be a home.
My third boat - Duende - a 40' Cal 40 sloop
Around 1973, we sold Hotspur because we wanted to get a fiberglass boat. The years of paint and varnish work had taken their toll. I needed a bit more simplicity to allow me to do something other than work on a boat. By that time, I had been racing on an Cal 40 and was impressed at not only the performance, but the interior layout that effectively gave each of the kids their own little bunk. We found the boat very comfortable and easy to sail as well. I was racing on many weekends on a friend's Cal 40 and whatever I learned there, I brought home. The boat we bought had been raced ever since she was new so she had a ton of sails included. We spent a year shining her up and she was the prettiest Cal 40 in the fleet.
The Cal 40 was a breakthrough design by Bill Lapworth. Being fairly flat forward, this light boat would surf under the right conditions. During the 1975 TransPac race to Hawaii, I got to see how that felt as we surfed for several days. But our boat was always a home first. We once had a party with 13 guests for dinner! Domestic life got a bit upended the year that the old Graymarine gas engine died and we replaced it with a Sabb diesel (hand-cranked like the one on Circe, but bigger). I put it in myself which made a mess of the boat for a couple of weeks. But it worked great.
We took the boat to San Francisco in 1977 and got pretty beat up in the strong winds off the Central California coast. This was my first experience with how nasty the ocean could actually be. And we were not even in winds over 40 knots. But we had to go upwind in a Cal 40 and found that the flat sections in the bow would create horrible pounding. Ughhh! On the other hand, the trip home was a dream - 23 hours from San Francisco to LA.
As we lived on Duende, I started actually practicing what I had been studying for years - yacht design. I had a drawing board in the pilot berth and started turning out pages of drawings. At first they were't all that impressive, but they improved over time and finally it was time to actually get one of these boats built. We reluctantly sold Duende and moved into a house for the first time in 13 years so that we could build a boat. I couldn't find a picture, so here is a sister-ship:
My fourth boat - Shearwater - a 28' Custom Cat-ketch - my first design
We launched Shearwater in 1982 after an arduous and expensive construction process. I learned a lot about boatbuilding from master builder Craig Ashby. I worked on the boat whenever I wasn't at my job, but Craig was the one who made it possible. The boat came out to be a jewel, winning prizes in wooden boat shows at once. She was quickly featured in Woodenboat Magazine and Dan Spurr put her in his book "Cruising Sailboat Kinetics" as one of the cruising boats of the decade. She was a perfect boat for the East Coast where the water is mostly very shallow. Shearwater could sail in two feet of water and could sail right up on a beach. She was trailerable as well. She got my design work a lot of attention as she had (as far as I know) the first carbon-fiber masts ever, free standing masts in tabernacles, and a lot of other fairly radical ideas. She won races from time to time, too. I don't have very many pictures any more, but this was my favorite.
My fifth boat - name forgotten - a 26' Contessa sloop
After 5 years, we sold Shearwater and were boatless for a while. As a stopgap, I had a chance to buy a 26' Contessa. This is the same kind of boat that Tania Aebi, a teenage girl, sailed around the world. We sailed this boat off Ventura, California for a year or so. I don't even remember what we called her and don't have any pictures.
My sixth boat - Sevillana - a 38' Sparhawk cat-ketch - my design
I had designed this boat several years earlier and watched seven of the 36 foot models get built and then two of the 42 footers. I didn't think that I would ever get to own one as they were priced out of my range. But then one of the dealers had a personal tragedy and the demo model that he had came up for immediate sale. I moved quickly and soon owned my own boat! This proved to be a fun boat. We won lots of races with it although it was so different from the other boats that it either won or lost big. When it had it's day, look out. A sister ship won her class in the big Newport to Ensenada Race.
One of the great days in my life came when my Dad came up to visit me and I decided to enter a race to keep him entertained. My daughter and son-in-law joined us to fill out the crew (although the crew duties usually involved drinking beer - there wasn't much work to be done). This was one of our days - we finished the race a half-hour before any other boat and were sitting in the Yacht Club bar when the next boat came in. Dad got to steer at the finish line and I know that it was one of his peak days, too!
Andrea entered my life while I owned this boat and I introduced her to sailing on it. It was the boat of our courtship and so it always had fond memories for us. We cried when we sold her so that we could get a bigger boat to go long-distance cruising.
Andrea's first boat - no name - an 8' El Toro dinghy
While we were living on Saeta and getting ready to go cruising, Andrea took sailing classes from the University of California at Santa Cruz. But then the classes were over, she had no way to practice - so we got an El Toro. Tens of thousands of young people have learned to sail in these little boats and now Andrea is one more:
The Owens Cutter was a very nice design by George Owens, Professor of Naval Architecture at MIT. His students challenged him to design a fast racing boat and he rose to the challenge. This boat was much lighter than other wooden race boats of its size because it used diagonally bent pieces of plywood under its thinner than normal planking. My boat was built in Solomons, MD by a boatyard that had been building PT boats for WWII and when the war ended, they had a supply of prime boatbuilding woods that the government had confiscated from boatyards all over the country. So the boat was built with all the right materials. And she was fast. I've never had a faster trip home from Catalina Island than we did in Hotspur.
By this time, I had been racing on other people's boats and had learned a lot more about controlling a boat. We had some great trips to Catalina and Santa Barbara Islands. We repainted and revarnished until she looked like a million dollars. Here is a picture of her anchored at Santa Barbara Island: