In the early 1980s, there were few blue water pocket cruisers in the Northeast that we had heard of, even though there were a number of weekenders and smaller boats. We always wondered why the only boats that had headroom and no motors hanging off the stern with some livable conditions tended to be as large as 30 feet or more.
What You Wanted
In a haphazard study, we talked to boat builders, naval architects and people who had sailed long distances and lived aboard for extended periods. We came up with some pretty significant factors needed for an ideal blue water pocket cruiser:
A smaller boat that could sail along a coast or offshore (and sailing along the coast is often more hazardous than offshore) has to have at least a 20 foot waterline. The boat also had to have some significant displacement, at least three tons or more. A sail area to push it along as we were told the average wind speed was five knots, which meant approximately 400 square feet of sail. It was felt a traditional design with a cut-away forefoot in a full keel was the safest and most stable, could take a grounding better, and be more comfortable to sail in various conditions.
Filling Your Needs
This came to a 24’ to 26’ heavily built little vessel with roughly a beam of 8’ 6” and a draft of 3’ 8”. Obviously a naval architect would have to work out the details for easy sailing and a stable platform with all the rest of the things needed, but this was the background of a preliminary plan.
Added to that were the people things. Regardless of what you hear, people like to stand up when they walk around the inside of a sailboat. So the boat needed full headroom, adequate ventilation when closed up, as well as a marine enclosed head, complete galley, a place to work out some navigation, and some privacy, which meant two separate areas, as well as a comfortable table for two or more to eat. We also needed three or four berths—even if some were not used much except for storage.
Incidentally, as a blue water capable boat, it had to have significant storage and a means of propulsion—in either an outboard hidden in a lazarette or an inbound diesel.
We Began Our Search
We looked high and low. We talked to builders, looked at present boats, plans of boats we had never seen, talking to most of the designers in the Northeast areas with names like Crocker, Phil Bulger, Alden Hunt, Carl Alberg, Eldridge/McGinnis, etc. Basically, they said that you can’t get that into a 24’ to 26’ boat and should extend it. Inevitably, they would bring out a plan they had drawn and wasn’t built yet or couldn’t do because they were tied up with what might be a competing company. We reviewed the present boats that either were being built or we liked the plans.
Pacific Seacraft had just come on the scene with a 25’ cruiser with no headroom (this was before the Flicka). Cape Dory had a small 25’, Chuck Paine had come out with his Frances ’26, which at that time had no trunk cabin. The 23’ Stone Horse was out and we thought the interior with no headroom would not fit. The 24’ Eastward Ho had some headroom but soon lost it going forward. These, in our opinion at the time, were the only blue water cruisers, although there were a number of other boats. We were intrigued with the lines of the 23’ Blue Moon, which was a rugged blue water sailor that had a great reputation, but no head room and hard to modify.
We talked to a marine management consultant. He said two things that we remembered. The first was that there were too many boat builders. He didn’t think it was a good idea if we went into business, as it would be very difficult to make any money with a niche product such as this. The second was that any good business man that has a burning desire to do something can do it. He pointed out the owner of Sabre that came down from Canada and was building a line of small boats at the time and running it successfully as a business—not just building boats.
He said if you want to do this, “I can’t stop you, but this is what you need: A good design and a business plan and this is what that entails. If you come up with this let me know.”
Our True Beginning
Two years later, in 1983, we made a second visit to the marine management consultant’s office. His first words were “I remember you and I thought I’d never see you again.” We left the new design and business plan with him. About a week later, he called and said this is do-able—if you run it as a business. We were off.
The New moon was the second boat we designed. It was created by a number of people who loved the boat, but did not want to pay “that much” for a 25’ boat.
At shows, as they sat in the cockpit, people would ask if we could build a semi-custom one that cost $10,000 to $20,000 less. Price is usually an issue. After a few years of hearing this, we set out to come up with another model. For the sake of trying to identify it, we called it the Coastal Cruiser, although it was coming from the same moulds and design as our one and only “flagship!”
The interior was simplified by not having all the fiberglass covered by teak, and with fewer drawers and cabinetry. It was painted white with cherry trim, which gave the traditional Herreshoff style a brighter look. In lieu of all the teak wood, the cabin sole of teak planking became the typical yacht sole. The design of the interior was whatever met their needs from two to four berths, a larger head or navigation area or whatever!
The basic hull went to all fiberglass in lieu of the cored hull, but the cored deck piece stayed the same. The trunk cabin sides were replaced with more fiberglass in lieu of cored. All these changes reduced the cost by $15,000 and offered a new look to what now became a two-line boat company. Below is a sample of the interior look for the New Moon with some exterior shots. We hoped this would answer those questions of “What can you do to reduce the price and still have a very rugged, traditional semi-custom boat built for me?”
We leave the 25’ models and move to our 22’ weekender. At shows, people would ask us, “Do you have something traditional with some wood and classic lines, something smaller? We don’t need that big of a boat, but in many of the smaller sailboats we look at we don’t like them or they have a keel that doesn’t fit our purpose or needs.”
After a lot of looking and thinking about a new design, we think we found the answer. It is a design taken from the lines of a 44’ pilot cutter of the early 1800s when boats were built to perform.
The lines were reduced to half the length, but everything was kept in proportion so she would retain the speed, comfort, and—most importantly—the seakeeping ability of these highly respected predecessors. These pilot boats have a 400-year history. Operating independently to pilotage, they had to be on hand to meet incoming ships night or day, in any kind of weather, and obviously the first to the ship got the job. They had to be fast enough to beat their rivals—sturdy enough to withstand anything—yet handy enough to be maneuvered by one man. The result was a cutter rig with a plumb stem, long counter and as handsome as it was seaworthy. The narrower beam not only helped make them faster but more seaworthy.
Formerly built by Captain George Jenkins of Northport, Maine, years ago, they were referred to as the Rolls Royce of day sailors and you’ll see some still around—mostly of wood which now have gone to fiberglass.
Eastsail offers them in workboat fashion or Bristol Fashion with power supplied by an outboard in a well or a small inboard diesel. They can be sloop or cutter rigged. As we worked them into our line-up, it was obvious this was a true weekender, so again Spalding surveyed the situation. He took measurements and put appropriate designed cabin on her with a head-galley and two berths. So that’s the background on these two models.
If one finishes them off, especially in Bristol Fashion, they are real head turners as well as beautiful sailing boats—even in rough waters with a shallow draft.
The Traditional 31
The background on these two models is pretty simple, for years we heard from people looking at our Eastsails, “We love this little boat and we are moving down [commonly from a 42’ to a 35’] but this is a little cramped for us. Do you have a larger model?” We thought the major manufactures were building the 32’ and up, so felt that market was well served by not only production builders, but semi-custom builders as well. Upon study, it appeared most sailed at 32’ and went up.
As you know, there can be a lot of difference in a boat’s interior, displacement, with just a foot or two. But, we got tired of hearing this and asked our designer, Eliot Spalding, if he could design the prettiest 30’ as a sister ship to our 25’ series. He did this with all the traditional things that go into a design like this.