Archive for March, 2012


Friday, March 2nd, 2012


Here’s FRANCES II’s new sailplan. Because her deeper and much more effective keel gives her more stability than the original, she can carry a taller rig with a genoa jib. The combination of a very stiff platform and a much more powerful sailplan will make FRANCES II much faster to windward than her predecessor. The keel is only two inches deeper, but shorter in length with a perfected foil section and narrow trailing edge, so little is lost in the draft department and much gained in her pointing ability. For more information please click here


Friday, March 2nd, 2012


This is where the famous FRANCES 26 design started- a flush-decked, shoal draft cruising yacht without an engine. Dick Cross sailed KARMA from Maine to the Caribbean for the winter in 1977.  It is still a fine design but in my retirement I thought I would bring her up to date with a host of improvements. Over 200 of the yachts are now sailing, but they are getting a bit long in the tooth. If you would like a brand new FRANCES with full headroom and a much more effective keel, look no further. The drawings are nearing completion and if you hanker after the finest small adventuring yacht ever designed, I challenge you to find anything better.  Renamed La Luz and now fitted with an engine, she is presently in the Galopagos after a quick passage from Panama. I’ll just quote a recent email from her owner:
“Just saw my boat LaLuz ex Karma on the Chuck Paine blog. Do  you recall which hull number she is? I had heard that Art Paine did some of the original interior work. I also remember reading bits and pieces about Dick Cross and a sinking during an early BOC event.
We are currently in the Galapagos islands. We made the trip from Panama in 7 days, 6 hours. We never started the engine and were becalmed 30 hours. Granted we had a nice 1 knot current behind us, but she really flew along wing and wing in the 15 to 22 knot NE breeze.Our Windpilot self-steerer has an easy time keeping  her balanced sails and hull going straight, and all we have to do is stare at the wake and dream about cold-beer and fresh water showers. We thought she was as good as it gets??….”
For more information please click here


Friday, March 2nd, 2012


Whatsa matter you would-be adventurers? If diminutive Bee can live aboard her 24′ “Carol” and use it to see the coast of Australia, why not you? Mark Fitzgerald has generously returned the design to me so that I may sell building rights to a new generation of ocean adventurers. This just may be the finest small double-ended sailing yacht ever designed. They never show up on the brokerage market- their owners love them too much. Why not buy a set of plans from LLC and build one for yourself… it will change your life immeasurably for the better. For more information please click here

Rebuilding a Herreshoff 12 1/2

Thursday, March 1st, 2012


I’ve enjoyed my retirement, really I have. Sure I miss the process, the challenges, my genius employees and the beautiful yachts we created, but I love the small boats most of all, the ones that attracted me  to a life of sailing. So when I phoned my brother from the midst of a winter holiday in New Zealand and he hit me with, “we’ve got this Herreshoff 12 ½ up at the boatyard and we can’t find ANYONE with your skills to restore it”, well…

The boatyard is on Cranberry Island, reachable only by a small wooden boat from Mount Desert Island, and this is the middle of winter. The commute itself is, can be, downright dangerous in an easterly wind. We leave at 6:00 in the morning and when we get to the island climb into a rusty old truck, an “island truck” that deteriorated beyond any hope of passing inspection twenty years ago, and spew a plume of blue oil-smoke another mile to the yard. This is a “real Maine” boatyard that forgot to leave the 19th century. There is no bathroom- all of the employees are male and find a spot out in back of one of the sheds for this necessity. But if you can find them beneath a century’s worth of too-good-to-discard chunks of hardwood, shelves of every color paint ever chosen by boatowners long departed, and modern batts of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resins– the bins full of ancient tools left behind by craftsmen sadly no longer available at any price in our benighted land are balm to a restless artisan like me who appreciates the  heft in his hand of a tool that was not made in China to look good in a blister-pack.

Next week I will be in Rome studying Carravagios and Da Vincis. What a life!