The saga of the cutter NIGHT RUNNER


 First to finish in Division 1984, 1986, 2000 and 006 Victoria to Maui International Yacht Race

First in Division 1989, 1998, 2000, 2004 and first overall 19988, 2011 ans 2013 Swiftsure International Yacht Race

Cape Horn Passage 1996

 And so many more PNW races that I don't have the space or time to list them here.

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NR sail plan (Medium).jpg                                                                                                                                       


Keep in mind that this is history as I remember it. That's the best I can do. If you see something that you feel should be corrected, contact me through my website  and let me know what it is. I'll contemplate the change. I'd like to be accurate.

 Seeds are sown

The NIGHT RUNNER story begins when I was 16 years old. I would drive down to Shilshole Bay Marina on Sundays for the winter racing series on Sundays. I'd get there early and treat myself to a breakfast at THE LITTLE PEBBLE restaurant. My favorite breakfast was called the Fisherman's Breakfast and took two plates to hold all the food and it was expensive, $3.50. But I would have been paid Saturday night for working at the meat market so I was flush and $3.50 was not going to break me. I was working on my breakfast one Sunday morning when I saw a low freeboard, white, very traditional cutter sail down the waterway. I watched the skipper dock the boat under sail with apparent ease. I was impressed.


I finished eating and walked down to the dock hoping to have a chat with the owner of the cutter. The boat was the AFRICAN STAR, a Bill Atkin design. I think the design is designated TALLY HO in the Atkin archives. This was a very salty boat with a very salty owner. His name was Frank Paine. He was gruff and taciturn. We sort of chatted. He said he was going to do a circumnavigation in the boat. I asked if I could come along. He said he didn't want any crew "That way the cook and crew will get along". I remember him saying exactly that. Then he said, "I'll take you as far as Hawaii." Wow! He suggested we do a "test cruise" together to see if we could get along. I was totally up for that. We arranged to meet on the following Friday night at the boat.


My Dad drove me to Shilshole that rainy Friday night. I had some clothes and a sleeping bag in a black plastic garbage bag. This was back in the day before the docks were locked so I walked down to AFRCAN STAR. No one was aboard and the boat was locked. I sat in the cockpit in the rain.  A dodger would have been nice but I had my foul weather gear and boots on so I was a bit cold but ok. After two hours sitting in the rain the novelty of the whole idea was beginning to wear off and I was getting wet.  Reluctantly, kind of, I went up to the phone booth and called my dad and asked him to please come and get me. It was a humiliating phone call. My parents were skeptical of everything I did and I was tiring of having my nose rubbed in my failures. But Dad loved me and he drove the hour round trip to get me home and out of the rain. Can't recall the conversation on the ride home.


I never saw Frank Paine again. I made an attempt to get a hold of him but I could not. AFRICAN STAR faded from my imagination. Years later, not sure exactly when, AFRICAN STAR showed up on the PNW racing scene. "I know that boat!" The owner was then Doug Fryer, a Seattle Maritime attorney of some renown. Doug raced AS in just about every race there was. The boat being so traditional, with big, full keel and outboard barn door rudder was slow but it had a generous rating and the word was that if you could see AS the finish, they had beaten you. Doug raced the boat hard and attracted a very loyal crew. Doug's ability to keep a crew together is a function of how much fun he is to sail with. He can be last or he can be first but he is always enjoying the race. Races are finished at the dock with "ritual rums" with 150 proof rum. Doug would explain,  "150 proof rum is lighter."  I wave wobbled my way down the dock several times after racing with Doug. AFRICAN STAR was a fixture in the PNW racing scene. Doug would later explain to me that Frank Paine had lost AFRICAN STAR in a divorce settlement. I felt bad for the guy. But Doug was happy.

Getting started

I didn't really know Doug. Of course you tend to meet sailors in the club after the race so I wasn't a stranger to Doug. When the phone rang in the office Sally answered it and said, "It's Doug Fryer Bob". Great. Doug let me know he was considering a new boat, a custom build. More great. Then he went on to tell me just how much he loved Brice King's UNICORN ketch, Not so great. Actually it was a "shitski" moment. But Doug was concerned about the hull shape of UNICORN. UNICORN had a very pronounce bustle aft much like the Ericson 39. Doug has heard the Ericson 39 handled very poorly off the wind and he wondered if I would be interested in redesigning the stern of UNICORN to cure this handling issue. By this point in the conversation I am really depressed. " You want me to "fix" a Bruce King design? No, not interested." "Besides why would you custom build another guy's custom design? That's like using his toothbrush!" Doug's a bit laconic so I suppose there was some dead air on the phone at that point. Then Doug said, "What would you ;propose?" I suggested he give me a few days and I would do a preliminary design for him. Doug agreed and said he'd be by on Tuesday afternoon, as I recall. I had about 4 days to come up with an idea for a custom 40' boat for Doug Fryer. No problem.


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I remember staring at the big sheet of vellum, most probably striking a confident pose to impress the rest of the office. Damn! What to draw? BINGO! Doug loves AFICAN STAR. He should, it's a great looking boat. I'll just draw a 41' version of AFRICAN STAR and put a modern underbody and keel on it. Piece of cake. I think I still have that very first drawing. It was just a sailplan, a "picture" of the boat. Doug showed up mid afternoon on Tuesday. Doug is kind of imposing. He's not tall but he's built like a running back. He has a shiny bald head and a deep baritone voice. He says serious things. He smiles when he talks about boats. He stood there, silently, looking at my sailplan. Finally he looked up, smiled and said, "I like it." I had given him a look that he was very familiar with. It was a smart design move on my part.


The design

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 Of course, as mentioned, the overall look for NIGHT RUNNER came directly from AFRICAN STAR. But that's just the part you see above the water. I wanted the new NR to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. At the time, 1980, I was pretty full of myself, imagine that. My two tonner  HEATHER had been dominant to the point that YACHING magazine credited or blamed HEATHER with 'destroying Class A racing in the PNW". UNION JACK my quarter tonner "mini HEATHER" was unbeatable above and below the border. I was pretty sure then as now that I know how to draw a fast hull. But NR would not be an IOR boat. The gloves were off for this one. For inspiration I looked to the old Uffa Fox International 14 One Design Class. I knew these boats well from my own early dinghy racing days on Lake Washington. I'm not sure why that particular hull came to mind but it did. I think if you squint a bit you may see some similarities.


The bow is on the full side. I needed a full line to the deck in plan view to get the character I wanted of an old cutter type. The half angle of entry is 22 degrees. That's two degree finer than a Valiant 40. A modern high performance boat might have a half angle of entry of almost half that. The forward sections ate U shaped but there is some deadrise forward. From this deadrise forward I faired into a midsection with no deadrise. I wanted a midsection that was tangent across the centerline, like an old I-14. My reason for this was I wanted to run the wood veneers unbroken across the centerline. Like the old I-14's. We will talk about this feature more later. Bottom line is that NR has a very dinghy like mid section. Once I got to around station 6 I re introduced the deadrise. I have ten degrees of deadrise at the "buttwater" ( opposite of cutwater?) I wanted deadrise aft even if it wasn't the fastest shape. I hate those "suppository" shape transoms and with some deadrise aft I could add a hint of reverse in the transom to give it a pleasant shape. NR's transom is very pretty. This hull was quite a change to the IOR shapes I had been drawing. Funny thing is that I noticed yesterday, looking at the old, original line plan, that I had laid out fwd and aft girth curves. So at some point I must have worked out an IOR rating for NR. Not sure what it was. NR never raced IOR so it doesn't matter. In 2006 NR had a PHRF rating of 76.

I received a note from my buddy Matt who has sailed many ocean and PNW miles on NIGHT RUNNER:

Bob, I found an IOR certificate for Night Runner.  Back in the day the Vic-Maui required everyone to race under IOR.  Doug raced locally under PHRF, she just wouldn't be competitive in IOR.  When she raced to Maui she was giving time to boats much larger.


IOR L is 39.5 feet. 


She's a great all around boat, pretty much the same performance as a J-35 upwind (speed and point).  She's really good in light air, and trucks downwind, so light on the helm and stable.  When we crossed line on the Vic-Maui in 2000, we were in flat water (no help from the waves), wind in the mid 20's and speed around 12.  There was quite a trough .  But we were pretty happy drinking our rituals from the dog bowls.

 Matt just sent me this email (10-4-14)

I think the thing about Night Runner that makes her truly exceptional is she really doesn't have any vices.  She stays balanced with a light easy helm in every condition I've experienced.  When close hauled and the wind builds, first start out with a little more cunningham and then a flattening reef when you start feeling just a little too much tension in the wheel.  Even when there's tension it's not overwhelming, but it's easy to dial out, fast, and feels so nice to have her perfectly balanced again.  I mentioned she's about the same speed as a J-35 upwind in breeze, we've dragged raced those guys (back when they were a strong class) and we have essentially the same speed and point.  That's not bad company for an old cruising boat.


Downwind she is a dream.  We've had her out in blue water with full sized ounce and a half with winds in the low 30's and there's still no crankiness (note: this still doesn't eliminate anxiety in the helmsman).  You can get some cross swell that would make other boats squirt off in different directions and Night Runner will just roll it off and continue straight.  If you don't want to sail on the edge in these conditions or if it's a little reachy, the reaching chute is the ticket.


She's not the type of boat that's going to roll into the mid teens off a swell or squall.  But she keeps a high average speed, not slowing down too much.  You know as sailors we are always trying to compare ourselves to the other boats.  For the Vic-Maui in 2000 I was talking to one of the other boats about the first nights conditions and they were bragging about how they got the boat up to 19 knots!  Hmm, I thought to myself we never touched 13 but we still put 20 miles on you guys the first day (cue smug smile).  


That nicely balanced, forgiving boat gives you the confidence to drive hard at night on these ocean races, when there are big gains to be made.  She's really stiff too, what with 11000 pounds of lead 8 feet below the boat.  I think her RM at one degree is pretty close to 2000 foot pounds.


She's really a blistering boat in light air.  I know people aren't going to believe a big heavy boat can do it but she really creates her own wind.  I think a lot of it has to do with the big foretriangle and the area that allows, tall rig, momentum to carry through the lulls, and a slippery hull.  Our rivalry with Jim Marta was fun, he ended up nicknaming us Lazarus because every time he thought he had us put away we would come clawing back.  "Here comes Lazarus" he'd grumble.


  Case in point, we were doing my favorite race, Protection Island which is about 90 miles starting from Seattle, heading out past Port Townsend and around Protection Island and home, typically on one of the longest days of the year in June.  We had decided to head out into the Straits as night fell to pick up a more consistent breeze.  Right next to us was Bandito, a C&C 44.  The boats are pretty similar sizewise, the rig heights within a few inches, waterline within a foot, the C&C having an advantage in weight by about 3000 pounds and Night Runner having a longer J dimension.  So the breeze is fading fast on a nice sunny evening, we both have our half ounce chutes up reaching as close to the wind as we dare.  Unfortunately for Bandito they let their spinnaker collapse and it was game over for them.  Last we saw they had a baggy drifter, mast straight up.  Doug told Frank Shriver (who was driving) to hold course and nobody trim the sails.  We were just dialed in and left them at the whim of the current.  We managed to cut Protection Island a little too fine and ran aground.  After about 45 minutes of trying to use the spin pole to pry us off and failing at that, we got the boat spun around enough that we could hoist a chute to heel us over and get us off.  We got around the island finally and headed home, about two hours later we saw the second place boat, I think it was a Santa Cruz 50, still heading out to the Island.  That was a pretty epic race, I think we finished about three or fours ahead of everybody else despite the reef detour, and all on account of her light air performance.  


Don't believe me about the light air performance?  How about Swiftsure, Sunday morning in the light air coming home.  We walked past a Cookson 12 meter by at least a knot that morning.   Light air performance is pretty nice in the open ocean too, you'll never see jerry jugs lashed to the rail on Night Runner when she's out passage making.  That's for candy asses as Doug would say.


I know Doug and Bob go back and forth about Night Runners forward sections, I think they had some pretty animated discussions during the design.  Bob thinks they could have been fined up.  It would sure help reduce the upwind resistance.  But Doug points to the dry foredeck when we've got the full sized spinnaker in 30 knots and there's no worry about going down the mineshaft and thinks he's right.  Where do I land on this?  I think of Vic-Maui 2000, when I actually drove the boat hard enough that about a whole bucketful of water came over the stem.  Once.  In a 2300 mile race. And the crew commented on it like it was some incredulous thing.  So I say yes a little finer.  But not too much Bob, it's nice to have some margin when it's dark and windy and you're cold and beat and not on your best game.


So I've been waxing about Night Runners wonderful sailing characteristics but I would be remiss not to mention that the few times when something has gone wrong, any of the crew turned from atheists to believers in short order.  We broached during a Smith Island race once (when the replacement skeg, which wasn't faired very well, stalled).  It was a nasty broach, we were in the midst of starting to gybe and Doug called to release the sheets.  Well since we had both sheets and guys loaded for the gybe, we had about a 50% chance of releasing the wrong one and we did.  The sheets flew and wrapped around the shrouds at the first spreader so we were kind of stuck.  I was holding onto the shrouds and standing on the mast, the spin pole came down the track at about 100 miles an hour and pieces of hardware went flying everywhere.  The mast end of the pole started back up, spinnaker collapsing and refilling, pole slamming on the end stop again and again.  Helm unresponsive and we're going deck first through the water at about three knots (that's hull speed when oriented that direction).  Now that 2000 foot pounds at one degree of heel gets to a be a little more when you're at 90 degrees, the boat is totally loaded up.  I got a little nervous when it occurred to me that if the shroud broke it could be bad for my survival, so I decided to drop down to the lee side (underneath the angry spinnaker pole) and haul the number 3 back onboard.  I don't remember how long we spent that way until we came back up, but we were a little sheepish the rest of the way.  I have a lot of respect for boats with lots of righting moment as a result.


I'll leave with one last vision of Night Runner sailing, the first couple days of Vic_Maui 2000.  We have a moderate westerly, slight haze in the air, close reaching SSW on the rhumb line with a jibtop and genoa staysail underneath.  Three to four foot swells nicely spaced, she's totally dialed in doing 7.5 to 8 knots, two finger helm pressure and just sliding over the seas for about a day and half. That was fourteen years ago and I relive it like it happened yesterday.  Pretty much a perfect sail in a perfect boat.


Yes, I did give NR a skeg hung rudder. I was still big on skegs back then. I also think that considering Doug was coming off the mother of all full keelers, AFRICAN STAR, a spade rudder would have been a hard sell. I honestly don't remember discussing it. When, many years later cruising up the coast of Mexico the skeg feel off Doug called me and asked for some drawings so they could get it rebuilt. I asked him how the boat handled without the skeg. He said, "Better."


NIGHT RUNNER has gone through three keel mods. Originally the boat drew  7'. A couple years later we added a 12" deep timber shoe to increase the draft. A couple years after that the wooden keel shoe was replaced with the same volume of lead and that amount of lead was removed from the top of the keel and a timber spacer was put in place. The  fin is a NACA A010-12 foil in the middle of the span tapering down with the same half breadths towards the root and tapering up with the same half breadths towards the tip. In other words at any waterline, at any chord location, say 40%, the thickness of the foil would be the same. This had worked well on HEATHER and UNION JACK. My thinking was that a fin stalls first at the tip so why not have a fatter foil there. And, with the hull providing an end plate of sorts at the root why not have a thinner foil there? I was very scientific.


The rig was designed to have that old cutter look with a big foretriangle for carrying genoa and staysail. The J of 22' is a bit excessive and I probably should have moved the mast forward or shortened the bowsprit but the resultant look might have been a bit odd. Short tacking NR with that huge 150%+ genoa was a bit of a chore. But the boat went to weather fine and loved a good power reach.


The interior layout was based on Doug's requirements and has port and starboard pilot berths and a nice galley. I used an indented, offset companionway to open up some room in the aft cabin where I tucked in a double berth for Doug. This worked very well but with that companionway moved forward of the aft end of the cabin trunk a dodger is impossible. At the 30 year anniversary party for NR I talked to Doug's wife and she complained about not having a dodger. I told her that I could fix that easily with a nice new 50' version of NR. She said she had suggested that to Doug but his response had been, " They will have to carry my dead and lifeless body off NR before I get rid of it," Damn! I always dreamed of a 50' ULDB version of NR.



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Here's a post I found on SAILING ANARCHY that I liked:

Ahhhh Night Runner!!
As the founder of the Van Isle 360 I get to sail on some pretty cool boats, Night Runner being my all time favorite. It's not just that the boat is totally cool but the crew with a combined age of around a thousand are a joy to sail with. I also had the pleasure of sailing on Dragonfly when we put ourselves in harms way smack dab in front of Night Runner in breezy conditions at a start in Deepwater Bay. I can attest to the fact that Night Runner's bob-stay looks extremely intimidating climbing over the aft beam of a stalled formula 40 cat. I may be the only guy to get up close and personal with both ends of NR. I like the view from the back of the boat far better.
Wayne Gorrie 


The build



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J.J. Cale sang:

 "After midnight we're going to let it all hang out."

Well, it' 12.02am so I'm going to "let it all hang out".

He also sang.:

"After midnight, all's going to be peaches and cream."

I have to tell you that it wasn't peaches and cream when I had to deal with Cecil Lange, the builder of NR. Not sure what the problem was. Probably it was a case of the old smart ass versus the young smart ass. I didn't even like the way Cecil shook hands. I'm a guitar player and I have an intimate relationship with my fingers but Cecil's hand shake could leave indentations on a yellow cedar 2 by 6. I like a firm hand shake but really? The good news was that while the old Kiwi Cecil ran the yard it was his son Bob Lange who did the actual building and Bob for sure is a peach.



My first trip to the yard during the actual build process was to check the lofting. This was 1980 and computer produced and faired lines were still a ways off. NR's lines were drawn by hand at ¾" tom the foot scale. To get this to full size for pattern making required the age old skill of lofting, i.e. drawing the full lines plan on the floor full size. This is necessary because at ¾" to the foot even a highly skilled draftsman is going to have some error. I learned lines drawing from a true master of the arty, Yves-Marie Tanton, when I was at the Carter office. I knew my lines were as fair as any but full sized lofting was still required.


I pulled my big Mercedes into Cecil's parking  lot and even before I could get out Cecil walked over to me and said, through the window, in his Kiwi accent, "Now don't get excited Bob but your wife just called and she thinks she's going  into labor."  Great. There I was in Port Townsend and my wife is going into labor in Seattle with our first child. I went in to check the lofting. Years later when Chuck Schiff was lofting MERIDIAN he called me and asked, "What's the tolerance for lofting?" Tolerance? Tolerance? There's not tolerance in lofting! You are either spot on or you are off and you must correct so that all intersections agree, in all views, plan, profile and sections. Cecil's lofting of NR was a mess. It was clear that while he had drawn all three views full size he had not bothered to resolve the small intersection differences required to produce a fair hull. I carefully explained to Cecil exactly what I wanted to see and how to go about it. Cecil nodded. When I got in the car to drive home Cecil walked over to the car and said, through the window, "I'm not going to draw more lines on the floor just to be drawing lines on the floor. I'll fair the hull with battens after I have the mold frames up." I knew this was one way to do it but I also knew it gave Cecil some license that I did not want him to have. I wanted all the control over the shape of the hull. But I lost that argument. To his credit Cecil produced a very fair hull faithful to my lines as far as I could tell.


A kind of funny moment, kind of occurred when Cecil was interviewed for a magazine article. The article was highlighting his New Zealand origins and his "old world" approach to boat building. NR was under construction at the yard at that time so Cecil took the reporter out to the yard and commenced to show her the "old school" way of establishing the centerline of the cabin trunk  top. Cecil would have to do it the old way because he "did not have enough details from the designer". I read this and went bat shit. I called Cecil up and said, "What the hell are you talking about. I sent you a drawing, deck lines, with dimensions all over it for the cabin trunk." Cecil responded,' "I know Bob but I had to do something to show her my boatbuilding skills." Something like that. And that is why to this day the cabin trunk on NR has never looked right to my eye.


The next head butting episode was over the number and thickness of veneers in the hull. I wanted eight thin veneers. Cecil wanted four thicker veneers. His was saved labor. He won that argument. The Cecil announced that he would not wrap the veneers across the hull as I had spec'd. Too much labor spiling both sides of the boat separately. His way you only needed to spile ( shape) the veneers on one side and duplicate that spiling on the other. I lost that argument too. Many years later Doug would tell me that my way was probably the better way.


But these minor hiccups faded away as the beautiful NR took shape. The boat was launched and it floated right on it's designed lines. Everyone was happy, especially Doug. If memory serves I think the build cost of NR was a bit over $150,000. Times have changed.



NR deck plan (Medium).jpg

 I just got this email from Doug:

Yes I got it. I've actually been out on NR since last Thursday. The earlier race history has pretty well faded into the past. I know we won our class in Tri island several times and in Center Sound did well. One first in class Grand Prix. Probably the best is Swiftsure 1st overall 1998, 2011 and 2013. 1st in class 5 times, a 2d overall in 2000, 3d overall 2004. 1st div II Van Isle 360 in 2009. 1st to finish in division Victoria Maui 1984, 1986, 2000 and 2006. 


Her sailing qualities are best illustrated by a delivery trip, not a race. In 1986 four of us sailed her back from Hanalei Bay, Kauai, in the Hawaiian Islands to Port Townsend Washington a distance of about 2500 nautical miles in 12 days, 17 hours at an average speed of 8 knots. We had five day runs of 200 miles or better. The best day was reaching with a double head rig and two reefs in the main and we averaged better than 9 knots for 24 hours. . The bow hawse pipes were whistling. She is easily driven and has the most responsive yet gentle feel at the helm of any vessel I have sailed. If I were to build another boat I cannot think of anything I would change.


In my next blog entry I'll talk about sailing  and racing NIGHT RUNNER.

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Please visit my web site

Many thanks folks!

Thanks for all the kind and encouraging words about my early drawings. They were labors of love.  The "client" names you see in some of the title blocks are usually names of my friends or people I made up. I was trying to look "official".
People have been asking if the drawings are for sale or are prints available. Yes on both counts. The original will sell for $2,500 each and prints can be had for $100 a print. While I am not keen to part with the originals I'd rather see them mounted and framed rather than just to roll them up and stick them back in a tube in my archives to be forgotten again.

I'm thinking about my next blog entry. I have received some requests to tell the entire NIGHT RUNNER story. It's a good story and an ongoing saga. I usually write my pieces in my head while walking my dogs. A few more dog walks and I'll be ready to write about NIGHT RUNNER.

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Kids can have big dreams

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I was a sophomore in High school. I was a percussionist in the school band. I played the snare drum. I was getting "creative" one day in band class when the teacher, a bit of a numb skull, announced that I was now kicked out of the band. Wait till I tell my parents. I was marched off to the office where I sat down with the vice principal while he tried to decide where to put me. It was half way through the quarter and the potential class choices were minimal. "We'll put you in mechanical drawing." " Cool" I thought. I had always liked to draw.


Off I was marched to the mechanical drawing classroom which was a very interesting classroom. It had drawing boards, drafting tools and Mr Kibby. Mr. Kibby was about 6'5" and 300 lbs. We affectionately called him "the walrus" because of all his chins. But we all liked him. He had a firm and gentle way with rambunctious boys in an all boy class. He kept a tight ship without threatening us. I took to mechanical drawing. In about two weeks I owned that class. Me and a kid named Jay Spearman. Jay was very quiet. But there was no mistaking the fact that we challenged each other to be the first to finish each drafting assignment and to turn out the best work. Before long Mr. Kibby arranged for me to buy my own drafting board, about 30" by 40", a T square and a couple of triangles. I had a job after school and I had the money and buying through the school I was able to get the drafting gear pretty cheaply. I wanted to pursue mechanical drawing at home. I credit Mr. Kibby with almost everything I learned about drafting. " It's all about line weight Perry" he'd say. "Lettering! lettering! Work on your lettering Perry!" Mr. Kibby was a great guy.


So, there I sat with my little drafting board and my new drafting gear. What should I draw? I had just started sailing. I was quickly getting interested in sailing yachts. " I know, I'll draw a boat!" What I drew was my version of a Civil War iron clad battleship. I had no curves and the MERRIMAC type shape lent itself to using a straight edge, But before long I realized that I really wanted to design boats. I had seen a cover of POPULAR BOATING that had a nice cover shot of a Chesapeake 32 on it. I looked at that Rhodes design and to my 15 year heart I thought I had never, ever seen anything quite so beautiful designed by man. "I must do this." I slowly began buying drafting gear suitable to draw boats. I still have the very first French curve I ever bought. They cost $3.50 each back in those days and I'd save my dough so I could buy them. The full set was about $120 dollars and came in a beautiful wooden chest. $120 was not within my reach but one at a time I collected a good set of curves. But curves limit you to their curves. Sometimes you want a curve that doesn't exist on a rigid ships curve. I tried some flexible curves but they didn't work worth a damn. You just couldn't get a fair line with them. Something was missing in my drafting gear arsenal.


One day I was reading SEA MAGAZINE, an article about a hydroplane designer, Stan Jones, had caught my attention. There was a photo of Stan at his drawing board. Across the top of the drawing board were these "things". "What the hell are those things?" They looked kind of like whales with prongs stuck in their faces. He had about a dozen of them all in a row. " What ARE they? I found out later they were spline weights and used to draw curved lines when used with a flexible spline

(See the blog entries on old drafting gear). Spline weights were expensive, $3.50 each and you really needed about ten of them to draw a reasonably long curved line. Shit! That's $35 That's not going to happen.  But one by one I began buying spline weights with the money I earned working at Ray's Meat Market. My parents gave me three weights one Christmas. To me that was a huge gift. I still have all those old spline weights. They are very well used.


Then my geometry teacher Don  Miller became aware that I was drawing boats during class. Like Mr. Kibby he was a kind guy who probably realized that I was not a worthless screw up but a kid that needed some directing. Mr. Miller suggested I join the Corinthian Junior Yacht Club and start sailing My earliest sailing adventures had involved really crummy rental boats and some near disastrous misadventures usually with my non sailing friend along, Jim Barnaby. " Are you sure this is the way you are supposed to do it?" " No." Then Don Miller suggested I call Bill Garden and arrange to visit his office so I could see what I real yacht designer did. I called Mr. Garden, "Call me Bill" and my Dad dropped me off at his office one Saturday morning. I was 15 years old. I showed Bill some of my drawings and he was kind in his response. Bill took me to lunch (you can read the French fry story in my book) and sent me hitch hiking  home with a big roll of some old prints he had laying around. To me they were veritable treasures. I would visit Bill from time to time. Bill didn't really coach me on designing boats but offered some encouragement and he answered my questions. He'd usually say, "Buy a copy of Skene's" and let it go at that. But for me to be in Bill's presence was like walking alongside Buddha. I absorbed.


Tom Larsen in the process of building my new fabulous web site urged me to go through my old files. I always do what Tom says. Rummaging around I found a tube marked "Historic 1". I opened the tube up and found a roll of old drawings going back to when I was 17 years old. I have older drawings and I suspect there may be another tube marked "Historic 2" with the older drawings. But as I unrolled these old drawings a couple thoughts crossed my mind. I was blown away by the love, care and craftsmanship these drawings showed. Sure I drew them. But I no longer know that kid so it's not like it's me complimenting me. Is it?. I have distanced myself from that high school kid by 51 years.


So now we can cue up the soundtrack for this blog entry, MY BACK PAGES by Bob Dylan,  for dramatic effect,  BYRDS version, this verse works best for my purpose here:

All together now!

In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My existence led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now.

Bass riff fade,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


I'll give you a tour through some of my very earliest design efforts. Remember, I was a kid without a tutor or teacher. I was learning from reading magazines and books. I was learning by asking questions of anybody I met who knew sailing.  If I had met me back then I would have taken me under my wing and tried my best to help this, tall and skinny, weird kid who wanted to be a yacht designer.


Here's a good one to get started with. ( see upper left hand corner image) Not sure what I was tinking with any of these but this one looks pretty good today. I see a spade rudder on an obviious cruign boat. That was a bit radical 1964. I was 17 years old. Sheer and profile look alright.

I need to do some work re-sizing some of these early images. The blog mechanics don;t like the huge files. Give me a bit of time and I'll figure it out and post more of the drawings from when I was a kid.

Thanks for looking at this stuff.

45 KETCH.jpold (Medium).jpg

This ketch shows the very beginnings of my work that eventually lead to the CT 54 design. Yes there is too much rake to the masts but it does look "rakish" doesn't it? All in all I think the proportions aren't bad and the strong sheer sprig is attractive.

Old 21 SLOOP (Medium).jpg

This little gaff sloop has attracted a bit of attention in the past two days. I have one fellow who wants to buy my original drawing. I told him $2,500 and 'm sticking to that price. This is ART damn it! Look at that sheerline. I sure wasn't afraid to bend that batten back in those days.  I think this little hooker would probably sail quite well. I would add roller furling to that jib. My "widow maker" sprit is a bit daunting.

Old 34 SLOOP SAIL (Medium).jpg

Here I am, back in the tail end days of the CCA rule. It looks like I was trying to channel Bill Tripp with this drawing. It look all right to me today considering I was a kid. Rig looks like it is in the right place.

old 45 SLOOP (Medium).jpg

I think this is probably the oldest of the drawings presented here. Clearly I was doing my best "Phil Rhodes" impression. That's OK. Much of my early work involved trying to imitate the design of a famous designer. In doing so I was trying to get a feel for each designer's drafting and design style. Like a piano student playing Bach's WELL TEMPERED CLAVIER. It appears I was working hard on my lettering. I give me an A- for lettering. I think Mr. Kibby might have given me an A.

Old 36 CUTTER (Medium).jpg

This double ender is pure "Bob's fantasy". I would dream of having a double ender and sailing around the world looking for a Viking Princess to marry. I eventually found on. But she was working at Ray's Boathouse, across the street from my Shilshole office. We married and had two fabulous boys and now we have two grand children. I still don;t have my salty double ender though.
Old 37 PILOT (Medium).jpg
Now I am getting serious. I put some real effort into this drawing. I was clearly very heavily influenced by Bill Garden's SEAL ketch. That's OK, I was young and looking for inspiration. Who better to try to copy than Garden? If you squint you might see the eventual origins of the Valiant 40 in this drawing.
old HEIGHTS (Medium).jpg
Yes, I also was working hard to learn how to draw hull lines. It was a challenge at first but I had the time and the energy so I stuck with it and learned the process required to produce a fair hull form. This is a 12' ferro cement dinghy. The keel sweep is straight from C&C. The rudder is no good at all but the foil is correct. With the table of offsets and the care that went into preparing this drawing it is obvious I was starting to take my modest effort seriously.

Why did I publish these old drawings? Pure self indulgence, I guess. I just enjoy looking at them and I thought they might also entertain sailors who are interested in the evolution of yacht design and how students of the craft develop their skills. I hope you had a chuckle. I did.

Brigadoon 2.pngChapter three

The Baba/Panda/Tashiba saga continues


Baba 40 reaching pic.jpg 

I'll do my best to make my recollections accurate but I can't guarantee they will be spot on. I'll just make stuff up when I get stuck. It's the precise sequence of events that gets a bit hazy for me. Not sure it's critical and maybe Bob Berg will help me sort it out.

Baba 30 tara.jpeg


A word on some of the images:

Some of the drawings will be very hard to read. The lines plans were drawn pencil on 4 mi, double mat mylar. Some of the lines are on one side of the mylar and some of the lines are on the other side. That's how lines are drawn so you don't keep erasing your "grid" while you correct the hull lines. I used as 9H pencil for my grid and a 6H pencil for the lines. A 9H pencil is like drawing with a nail! A 6H pencil is not much better. But I need these very hard pencil leads to get the sharpest and thinnest line I can get for accuracy. I could have gone sloppy and used 4H pencils but I would not have been fooled and I would have just made more work for the loftsman. But,,,you would have had nicer images o look at here. The ability to draw an accurate set of hull lines is the mark of a true craftsman. Each set of lines takes up to a week to finish. Many thanks to Donn and Kerry Christiansen for the photos of BRIGADOON. And, thanks for letting me drive in the race.


The Baba 30 was rolling along. Bob Berg was working with Flying Dutchmen and selling Baba 30's. Then I was asked to design a bigger Baba, a 35'er. I jumped at this  I jump at all new design commissions) because I saw it as a way of correcting some of the errors I had made on the Tayana 37. Despite the fact that we always called this design the "Baba 35" in my office the brokerage, Flying Dutchman, decided to market the boat as the Flying Dutchman 35. This was a bit confusing to everyone but I think some friction was building at the brokerage that I was not privy to. Maybe Bob Berg will chime in and give us some insight here. But Bob's the type who never, ever says anything bad about anyone, like me, so I doubt we'll hear from him on this. There was one guy at Flying Dutchman who drove me nuts. I'll call him Norm. When I disagreed with Norm his response was just to repeat what e had said butt slower and louder. Kind of like, "Maybe you didn't understand the first time." It was very annoying. But we built the boat at Ta Shing with Ta Shing's usual top quality work.

I look at this nice photo of TARA the Baba 30 and I think to myself, "Bob, you old,  toplofty fart, you did some pretty nice boats."


Baba 30 tara 2.jpeg 

I love the deck on this boat. The side decks are broad and there is a lot of shape to the cabin trunk. It's a very harmonious look. The hull shape was a derivative of what I had done on the Tayana 37. When the first boat came in it was floating a bit stern high and light! Light? From Taiwan? This was a first. I added some trim ballast aft of the internal ballast slug in the keel. This kept the VCG low. Then I redesigned the ballast slug to add some additional iron and move the LCG aft a wee bit to correct the trim.


The boat looked great but I wasn't wild about the way it sailed. Essentially it sailed just like the Tayana 37. That wasn't a bad thing but I did not feel I had advanced the performance of the type with the 35. I had sort of gone sideways. That kept me from warming up the the 35.


baba 35 profile.jpg 

But then along came Donn and Kerry Christiansen with their pilot house 35. Donn  and Kerry were looking for a boat they could live aboard and eventually do some offshore cruising. They settled on a pilot house Flying Dutchman 35. It was in "fair" shape when they bought it. But Donn and Kerry are both very resourceful so with a lot of energy, a lot of great ideas and some money thrown in for good luck they have restored BRIGADOON to the great shape she is today. They love their boat. Donn is a musician so we hit it off right away.  Donn has a strong Irish tenor voice. I have a weak Ballard Baritone voice. But I can belt it out,,,when I'm drunk. In fact while they live aboard I am storing his father's guitar in my office. But I was a bit surprised when Donn suggested that they might sign up for the Race Your House regatta. This is a race for live aboards only. I thought it was a fun idea so in a moment of weakness I told Donn I'd be happy to crew for him in the race. Many weeks went by and then I got an email to the effect, "See you at the gas dock 9am Saturday." WTF? I tried to think of ways to get out of it but I didn't come up with one so off to Shilshole I went Saturday morning. I was met on the dock by Donn and my Australian buddy James Judd aka Juddy aka Trickypig. Donn had bumped into James the night before on the dock and James had volunteered to race with us. Now this was really good news. Juddy is a world class racer and on top of that a  fellow Australian and fine fellow to have fun with. Off we went to race Donn and Kerry's house. This was serious.


Brigadoon 1.jpg 

The fleet was mixed to say the least. The biggest boats were up near 50' and the smallest around 27'. All types were represented. The only qualifier being that you had to be a full time live aboard. We had a good 10 knots of breeze at the start. I drove, Juddy called the start tactics. Donn trimmed. Kerry sat below in the pilot house muttering things like, "Why did I ever agree to this?" Donn is not a racer but he is competitive and he quickly got into the mood and his crew work was fast and efficient. He clearly enjoyed the close competition.


Brigadoon races 2.jpg 

Here we were on the first weather leg, pilot house, full keel,  double ender, dingy in davits and full cruise gear, charging up the course. We did have one real advantage in that we had brand new Carol Hasse sails. At first the other boats, many with fin keels, looked over at us, waved and smiled. But we drove the boat hard and Juddy made good tactical calls. Kerry by now had totally gotten  into navigating us to the marks and was having a good time. By the last leg, a beat in about 15 knots true, rail down, we were well ahead of almost everyone in our class and nipping at the heels of much bigger boats and even passing some. We weren't getting the friendly waves anymore. Now it was more like, "What the hell are you doing up here?" We were second in our class to finish and second on corrected time. To us it really felt like victory. I was very proud of my design. We showed many boats what a full keel boat can do, with a dinghy in the davits! My appreciation for my design soared. It was one of the most enjoyable races I have ever raced. Everyone had a thoroughly great time. We did kick some ass.  Kind of makes you wonder how fast an equally equipped non pilot house version sans dinghy  would have been.


Heres a pic of lovely Kerry fixing Donn some nutricious smashed tofu. They do eat like that. Sort of.


Kerry in galley.jpg I think what makes me the very most happiest in this design business is to see people like Donn and Kerry enhancing the enjoyment of their lives with one of my creations. It's humbling.


Donn and Kerry.jpg 

Bob soon came to me with the commission for the Baba 40. It was 1979. I knew I didn't want to use the same basic hull form that I used for the FD35 and the Tayana 37. I knew I needed some new inspiration. I pulled out the lines to the Valiant 40 and studied them. I'm not the type to just copy one of my own hulls but I was looking for something that made the performance of the V-40 so good. I finally decided to abandon the round, arclike mid sections I had used on the FD35 and go with a harder turn to the bilge and more distinct deadrise for the new Baba 40. I also flattened the hull rocker. It worked. The Baba 40 is one of my all time favorite designs. It is superbly well balanced and goes upwind in a breeze like a freight train. Example: I was looking out the front window of my Ballard house one Sunday afternoon. The wind was blowing maybe 20 TWS. Beating down the sound I saw this boat. It was too far away to recognize so I got my binoculars. This boat was really chewing up the Sound. Ha! It was a Baba 40. I have often thought that the layout on the Baba 40 was one of the very best I have ever drawn. That's probably due to Bob Berg's influences.


My friend Tim Morganroth owned a Baba 30 and loved it. He came into the office one day and said he was thinking about buying a Baba 40. Tim is about ten years younger than I am. I told him that the Baba 40 was "an old man's boat"  and he was too young for it. He didn't care. I suggested then that we soup the boat up a bit with a taller rig. The original rig was on the short side and the boat was no light air flyer. My suggestion was to add 6' to the "I" and go with double spreaders. I also suggested a dolphin striker so he could get good headstay tension. Tim said OK. AIRLOOM is dark green and a very attractive looking boat. It has the original narrow cabin trunk. Tim started racing the boat. His competitors called it the "Furniture 40". Fine, go ahead and laugh. Quickly Tim was winning races, lots of races. Including:

In Tim's words:

My trophy case is seriously packed with hardware acquired over the years, but some of my sweeter victories include a couple of firsts in Foul Weather bluff.  As far as first in class finishes go, I show a few Swiftsures (Flattery course), Oregon Offshore, and tons of Puget Sound kinda stuff.  Our big adventure in '92 to Hawaii (Pac cup) netted a 4th in class, but like I said, it was a big adventure.

Airloom heeled bow.JPG If I was sailing a Beneteau I'm not sure I'd want to get into a portstarboard situatin with AIRLOOM bearing down on me.
Airloom heeled stern.JPG

This is a great fanny shot of AIRLOOM. I am pretty sure That Tim really likes his boat.

 I have raced with Tim and he keeps a happy ship and his results are impressive. I feel very fortunate that I have someone like Tim out there racing one of my boats so effectively.


Baba 40 sail plan.jpg Here is Tim working on AIRLOOM. See that gaggle of duck decals on the stern. These are port and starboard and indicate winning and placing in the Lake Union Duck Dodge. I have always liked the white bottom paint on AIRLOOM.

Airloom Tim.JPG

Airloom pink.JPG 

Bab 40 layout.jpgA funny thing happened at the yard while tooling was being done for the deck of the Baba 40. There was the deck plug of the Baba sitting on one side of the shop and on the other side was the deck plug for the Norsemen 447, another one of my designs. Both plugs were about in the same stage of completion but the workers were having a problem. There two are very different boats and the workers were having trouble understanding the very diverse detail treatments of the two decks. In my very best Mandarin, rudimentary at best I told them,  pointing to the Baba 40," Zhe ge fanchuan  zhenzhu." Pointing to the Norsemen I said, "Na ge fanchuan  zuanshi." Meaning ( I hoped) " This sailboat, the Baba,  is a pearl. That sailboat, pointing to the Norseman, is a diamond." They understood immediately. The rounded and soft contours of the Baba deck were is stark contrast to the sharp and faceted deck details of the Norseman.


We also designed a pilot hose version of the Baba 40. This is one of the very best interior layouts I have ever drawn. But unfortunately I can't take credit. It was Bob Berg directing my pencil in every detail. This layout has two full sized stateroom both with double berths. The salon or pilot house, with it's raised dinette and sunken galley (my idea) works extremely well. I used a neat trick on the deck to get a wide pilot house. I just bumped the house sides out abruptly where the pilot house starts. It was done with some art so the final result is a very good looking motor sailer. The cockpit and treatment of the aft end of the house I worth some study. This was well done by one of my draftsmen at the time Gary Grant. Gary was a great, artistic designer with a very god eye for details.


Baba 40 PH.jpgBob began marketing the Baba 40's himself now  but now under the name Panda 40. Bob had lost the use of the name Baba in a dispute with Flying Dutchmen. Imagine that, losing your own nickname. In time the yard would take over the marketing and again change the name. The new name was Tashiba 40. I thought that was a bad name . It was too closed to the Japanese "Toshiba". Too confusing. So we had the Baba 40, Panda 40 and Tashiba 40 all the exact same basic boat. As time went on small changes were made to the design details to help reduce the cost. But hull and rig remained the same. They did do a second deck. I never understood this. They widened the cabin trunk. I prefer the wider side decks myself but I think someone was after more volume below. Funny though, that additional volume is not good for anything. The added headroom is all over furniture. You can't stand there anyway.  But no one asked me. Wonder why.


We eventually were asked to do a ketch rig for the Baba 40. I have no problem with ketches. I'm not keen on the added clutter in the cockpit and the mizzen shrouds can be a nuisance.  But several ketches were built. My pal Jeff has one and just finished rounding Cape Horn in his. He's convinced this is a great boat.


Baba 40 ketch sail plan.jpg 

In about 1985 B.K. Kuo, manager at Ta Shing and great guy came to me and asked about updating the  Tashiba line. They would keep the 40 as is but they wanted a new boat to replace the Baba30 and another new boat to replace the Flying Dutchman 35. I was hot to do this and agreed to start right away on the two new models. The only unusual stipulation was that B.K. wanted to come to Seattle and be in the office everyday while the new designs were being produced. Paul Fredrickson  aka "cleat" was my design associate at the time and big Paul was a great guy so I thought this could work. But where would  B.K. Stay while in Seattle. I got it. My house! I had room. My kids were so excited that a Taiwanese man was coming to stay with us. It went very smoothly. B.K. even got up at 5am with me every morning to go to the gym for a workout and a swim. He was a gamer. He even ate my cooking without complaint.

Here is a shot of staff at the time the Tashiba's were designed. I'm on the left, B.K. is obviously the Asian guy, Cleat aka Paul Fredrickson is in the back and Caroline my secretary is on the right. You can easily date this photo by the IBM Selectric typewriter you see peaking out of the right side of the pic.

Office shot with BK.jpg


Tashiba 31 sail plan.jpg 

I now had the very successful Baba 40 behind me so there was no doubt as to the direction for the hull shapes of the new 31 and 36. I would once again use the firm bilge, deadrise sectional shape combined with flatter buttock and rocker. I pulled the leading edge of the keel as far aft as possible could. Paul and I worked hard on these two boats. Paul drew the lines for the  36 and I drew the lines for the 31. In all my years in the office Paul was the only help I trusted drawing hull lines for a "Perry design". Paul did lines for the CT56 and Passport 37 also. I would draw a quick preliminary set of lines and Paul would produce the working set of lines. B.K. cracked the whip and Paul and I produced two good designs. Effort was made during the design to try and keep the build cost down by simplifying some of the details. When Bob Berg drove the project labor cost was never an issue and Bob's boats were quite complex in their detailing., The B.K. driven boats would be simpler, cleaner and far more to my taste.


Tashiba 36  SAIL AND SPAR PLAN.jpg 

I think with these last two additions o the Tashiba line I proved that "full keel" boats do not have to be slow. Both the 31 and the 36 are even better boats than is the 40. They are deceptively quick and beautifully balanced. For fun we did a pilot house version of each boats but few were sold. I think the Pilot house Tashiba 36  is the very best looking pilot house boat you can find at 36', anywhere, by anyone. Of course in aesthetics it is closely followed by Donn and Kerry's beautiful BRIGADOON. The tricks we learned on the 35 and 40 pilot house models were used on the 31 and 36 PH models. Both of these are hard to find models, I think they built only two of the 31 PH models. Of course, like almost all full keel boats with the prop in an aperture they don't back up with any style and grace at all. But in time you can learn to muscle them around in  reverse. Or, install a bow thruster.


Tashiba 31 PH deck plan.jpg 

I'll post this blog as is. Over the next few days I'll think of new things that I had forgotten and I endeavor to add them to the blog as time goes. I hope you have enjoyed reading my personal recollection of the Baba story. It may not be totally accurate but it is the way I remember it happening.



Airloom bow on.jpg 

Via con Dios.


A follow up note on part three from Bob Berg: 

Just got this email from Bob Berg akak Baba. I'll post it here in it's entirety. Bob fills in a lot of the details.

Read Bob's email slowly. There is a lot of humor in it. Bob is so softly spoken and gentle he would stand next to me while I launched into an emotional tirade and at the end Bob wuld say something like, "That's one way of putting it" and smile. It's really great to have honest friends like Bob.

Bob P.


Like always, you have done another great job of describing the evolution of the Baba-Panda-Tashiba saga.


Some things that come to mind:


People ask me how you can tell the difference between the boats when you see them out sailing. It's easy; the 30 has four ports in the side of the house, the 35 has five and the 40 has six.


You say that the Baba 35 gave you "a way of correcting some of the errors that you made on the Tayana 37". Jezz...since I had the first CT-37 (as it was called in the early days) to ever hit the water, I always thought that my boat was perfect and "error-free" and that you were God. It's almost like saying that there really is no Santa Claus!


Yes, there was some friction brewing at Flying Dutchman at that time we started the Baba 35 (what do you expect when you have three equal partners), but that is a completely separate story that shall remain unwritten. You mention a guy called "Norm" at Flying Dutchman. I checked in my computer, but I found that someone had hit "Ctrl-Alt-Delete" and that name is no longer in my vocabulary...sorry that I can't be of more help on that subject.


You are talking about the Baba-35, but you show a picture of the Baba-30 (remember four ports in the house side). You mention that the 35 was a bit stern high. I had forgotten all about it. I do remember we had the same problem with the first Tashiba-36. I still remember handing down lead trim ballast to you as stood in the bilge of the boat! I always thought that the 35 was a bit tender...perhaps we were still using wood spars on the first of these boats.


I developed the Baba 40 for the Ta Shing yard and not Flying Dutchman. FD owned the design and tooling for the 30 and the 35, but the Ta Shing yard paid for the design and tooling for the 40 thus it was their project. Of all of the boats that I was involved with, the Baba30, Tashiba 31, Panda 40 and Pilot House 40 all had special meaning to me. They all seemed to fit like a well-made suit. The reasons behind the name changes made to the 40 would be a completely separate chapter that also shall remain un-written. My recollection of the new tooling for the second deck for the 40 is that the yard did this at the time the new Tashiba 31 and 36 designs came out. You made some very good improvements to both the front of the house and cockpit designs for these boats and the yard wanted the 40 to also follow these improvements so their "family of boats" looked the same. I disagree with some of the small changes that the yard made to the boats in order to make them simpler and cheaper to build like reducing the size of the ports to save a few bucks...but it's their project, not I just paid them a bit extra money to put back in the larger ports when I would order a boat!


You may want to correct the date when BK came to Seattle if you haven't caught it yet. By the way, whatever happened to Paul Fredrickson and where is he now?


Best regards,






A note from Bob Berg aka Baba

I contacted Bob Berg when I began writing this blog series on the Baba's. He was a bit slow getting back to me but he did yesterday. I think I'll just post Bob's email to me as it clears up a few details that I was wrong or fuzzy on at the time.


Thanks Bob.



Sorry to be getting back to you so late. Both Arline and I have had acute bronchitis  & other problems for last three weeks and it has taken all of our "get-up-and-go" energy. I'm now on the way back and Arline is just starting to feel better.


Re retail price of the first Baba-30's. In looking back, it appears that the first few boats sold in 1977 for somewhere around $33,000 f.o.b. Taiwan, or about $38,500 commissioned on the West Coast. The price was set for the first few boats and then went up once the yard found out their true costs of building the boat.


I am not sure of the number of 30'd built. My best guess is somewhere around 150 to 200. I had sold out my interest in Flying Dutchman who owned the tooling for the 30 and 35 when I started working with the yard on the Panda-40/Tashiba-40. So I don't know when the yard stopped the Baba-30 production and started the Tashiba-31 production in its place.


The Baba-30 tooling and first group of Baba-30's were built by Shing Sheng Dockyard (the Ta-Shing yard was not built at that time). It was only after the 30 production started that C.M. Juan and the yard saw the future of the boats and built the new Ta Shing facilities to build the sailboats. When I took the 30 hull lines to Shing Sheng, they were building crude Taiwan fishing boats. But I found that they were also building a beautiful small Japanese ¼ tonner sailboat. This project was being supervised by Mr. Shiga Ota. I think that the quality that Ta-Shing was able to achieve had a lot to do with the close friendship that C.M. Juan had with the owners of the Fuji yacht yard in Japan who were advising C.M. Juan on the ¼ tonner. I remember a few nice lunch and dinners with C.M and the Japanese Fuji builders.


I think that fast trip between Tainan and Taipei came about the time we introduced the Baba-35 hull lines to Ta-Shing.   We had our final lunch with Ta-Shing, but had to get back to Taipei for a dinner appointment that same evening with the folks from Gold Island to talk about the Tatoosh-42 that was just starting the tooling at their yard in Keelung (that project was later passed on to Angel Marine in Kasoshiung). While I don't remember too much about that day, I do remember having to make sure you got back to your hotel and were tucked in bed that night! I think we all did remarkably well considering the Black Label/Taiwan Beer & Chinese plum wine. The Gold Island manager also passed out that evening!

Those were good times...


I'm not sure just what pictures I still have in storage of the early Taiwan days. Sorry to say, we had two large picture albums of early Taiwan boat building stolen from our Panda-40 exhibit during one of the early boat shows in the Kingdome.




Blog entry 5-2-14


Bob old office.jpg 


This was an interesting week. I was working very hard Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I flew down to San Francisco to give a lunch talk at St. Francis Yacht Club. SFYC is by far my most favorite YC. They have always made me feel very welcome and I had had the privilege of attending two of their Tinsley Island Stag Cruises. This is a marvelous four day event on a private YC owned island up in the Sacramento River delta.


Wednesday I got up at 4am, drove to the airport, checked my ticket and saw that my flight was at 8:40! So it was a long day for me. But SFYC was generous and flew me first class so I was comfortable. I was picked up by Ron Young in his fancy Mercedes 500 SL sports car. Ron drove me, very quickly, to the YC. There I met Wayne Shen who was to be my guest for the event. I met Wayne on Facebook and he is one of a growing group of Taiwanese sailors that I have become friends with. I now belong to the FBYC and as far as I can see I am the only non native Mandarin speaker in the club. But, "Wo ce ce can" I do my best.

Wayne is a very active SF sailor who does a lot of teaching. Wayne owns one of my Tayana 37's.  He's a great guy and very involved the the emerging sailing scene in Taiwan.


Bob and Wayne SFYC.jpg 

I was also met at the club by a whole group of old friends. Most I had not seen in years so it was a real treat to see them again. There were quite a few members there that owned my boats. My talk went very well. I have the knack for that. But these days, after losing Spike, I can often at any moment go into "full panic" mode. It's not fun and while I used to laugh when people mentioned "panic attacks" I will never laugh at them again. They are very real. But thank God the day went without any panic issues and I felt totally comfortable and at ease giving my talk. Wayne drove me to the airport and I was home by 8pm. Long day. Very satisfying day.


Seattle Yacht Club contacted me last Sunday and asked if I would come down and give a talk at SYC. I told them that the chance of that was very unlikely. SYC is not SFYC. While I have some great friends who are SYC members the club has not treated me well over the years and I can't see spending half a day to go there and entertain them.


Perrywinkle dink.jpg 

The other interesting this going on this week has been the installation of solar panels on the roof of my beach shack. It should be completed today and I'll report back later on the success of the system. I am hopeful that it will be as efficient as I have been told.


That's about it. I am going sailing with Kim on Sunday for a photo shoot with my pal Neil Rabinowitz. Neil is as good it gets when it comes to marine photography and I have known Neil for many years. Neil will be shooting for two magazines, SAILING and the German magazine, YACHT. Kim is not wild about the publicity but he is doing this as a favor for me so my work will get more exposure. There is no question that I would love to see more SLIVER type boats get built to my designs.


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Sail safely. Sail quickly.

More Baba blog Part two

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The Baba Story         Part two


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Once again: If my memory fails I'll make something up that sounds right and makes me look good.

When we left the story Bob Berg had quit the TV station and was working full time as a broker. I think the brokerage was called Flying Dutchman, started by my old buddy Will Eickholt.  They were selling Tayana 37's with good regularity.


One day Bob came in the office and said he had an idea for a new boat. He wanted a 30' version of the Tayana 37. It should be a heavy little boat with the emphasis on the interior layout. Bob already had the interior laid out in his mind down to the last detail. My work on this layout was simply to draft of Bob's ideas. So while I would love to take credit for the interior of the Baba 30 I can't. It's all Bob Berg. The office joke was, when you open a drawer on the Baba 30 inside it you'll find another little drawer. Bob didn't let a cubic inch go unused. I was skeptical.


But I'm not going to design a hull without doing my very best to make it a good performing boat. That's a challenge with 12,000 lbs. on 30'LOA. I essentially used similar shapes to those in the Tayana 37. The Baba 30 would be a chunky monkey but curvaceous. I'm sitting here now, at my computer, staring up at the Baba 30 half model on my wall. I'm trying to figure out what In did that was "special". Can't see it myself. But we'll get into the performance of the 30 later. On my wall the half model of the Tayana 37 is right above the half model of the Baba 30. There are more similarities than differences. One thing I notice as I stare at the photos and the model is that the leading edge of the "full keel" is farther aft on the Baba 30 than it is on the Tayana 37. This may account for the better helm balance on the Baba.


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We tore into the design of the 30 and before long the boat was being built in Taiwan at a new yard, one I had never heard of, Ta Shing , Mandarin for "Big New". I have always translated Ta Shing as "Big Star" "Shing" meaning "star". But I was recently corrected. I hate looking stupid. With the build well underway Bob thought I should make a trip to the yard to check on the progress. I met Bob in Taiwan and he was accompanied by his inspector, Tim Ellis. Tim, an Englishman about my age lived in Taiwan and really knew the ropes.  We met early in the morning at the hotel in Taipei and off we drove almost the length of Taiwan to the new yard in Tainan.


Ta Shing was located down a narrow lane in a series of co-joined brown brick buildings that looked less than impressive. The approaching lane was narrow and I had to move chickens out of my way to get to the front door of the yard. The actual Boatbuilding area of the yard was small and dark. There was the Baba 30 to one side and a quarter tonner being built for a Japanese client on the other side. I just stared at the 30. It looked to be perfect in every way. I was blown away by the quality and level of finish. It was a handsome little hooker all dressed up with teak everywhere. But that was Bob's style. i.e. put teak on everything. Keep in mind that this build was at a time when labor was cheap in Taiwan. I would question a client on a labor intensive detail and get the reply, "Forget labor cost. It's nothing." So, here were the first two Ta Shing boats I ever saw. Two boats that could not be more different, an IOR quarter tonner and a very heavy little double ender. Both built beautifully.

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Everybody was happy. The yard wanted to take Me, Bob and Tim to dinner. The problem was that we had made other dinner plans back in Taipei. This was a problem. The solution was lunch with the guys from the yard. Off we went for a "modest" lunch. The Taiwanese are not good at doing modest meals. I was the guest of honor and along with about six men from the yard we sat down to an extravagant feast in a private room at a nice restaurant. These plush, private rooms were common in better restaurants in Taiwan. The room layout was simple, a series of big armchairs lining the four walls and a big circular dining table in the middle.


The Taiwanese don't drink during a meal the way we do. If my observations are correct the Taiwanese only take a drink after they have toasted the guest. They employ an unfair tactic here. They gang up on the guest. I was the guest of honor so I was the toasting target. I had six guys toasting me in quick rotation. Each toast was "gumbei" or bottoms up. We were probably drinking Taiwan beer which is most excellent beer. I don't know. I passed out. I woke up in one of the overstuffed chairs with a wet towel over my face. As I came to and removed the towel I looked to my right and there was a Taiwanese guy, Jackson, passed out with a towel over his face in the next chair. Leaving the restaurant I said to Tim, "I must have lost face passing out like that." Tim said, "No, Jackson passed out first." You're fine.


Tim, Bob and I were not in too good a shape for the drive back to Taipei. But off we went in Tim's little car, cruising down the brand new end to end of Taiwan highway. The highway was not finished but this did not deter the Taiwanese drivers. They sped down the divided highway totally oblivious of which side of the highway they should be on. There were abrupt 4" high changes in the highway level at frequent intervals. Small Taiwanese cars that had never been driven over 40-mph were lined up, broken on both sides of the highway. Tim always prided himself on his ability to take advantage of the free form style of Taiwan driving rules so to keep us awake he would do very strange things on the highway. It was exciting.


We pulled up to my hotel THE SANTOS to find our dinner party waiting for us in the lobby. Great. I asked for time to clean up before dinner. One of the dinner party went up to my room with me. I don't remember his name but he was about my age, maybe even younger. He was extremely curious about all the things I traveled with. I travel heavy. He literally went through my bag asking what each item was for and how much I paid for it. I thought it was funny and I truly admired his curiosity and keen effort to learn. I have no recollection of dinner at all. It was a very long day.


I just called Bob Berg. I wanted to know what a Baba 30 cost when they were introduced. Bob is going to get back to me on that. But in conversation about my blog I askd Bob if he remembered the time I passed out at lunch. His reply was, "Well, that happened several times." Some friend he is.


It would take me some time to realize that it was socially OK  to say ,"Ee pan" meaning "one half". Avoiding the bottoms up trap. Also in time I got to the point where just couldn't take the "let's drink the big nose under the table tactic any longer. I devised my own plan. When asked to dinner by a hospitable builder I would decline explaining that I had a previous dinner engagement. This worked well. But in time it back fired and dinner invites became few and scarce. I was left to fend for myself at dinner time and Taiwanese food is not best enjoyed alone. But eating alone in a crowded Sichuan restaurant did at times lead to some interesting situations. My favorite place to eat by myself was Y. Y's Steak House on Chung San be loo. They knew me there and I never had to order. They would just bring me the exact same thing I had eaten the previous time at the very same table: Fried salami appetizer, a gin and tonic, corn chowder, salad, a fabulous New York steak and a bottle of Torres Sangre de Toro Spanish wine. I never had the heart to change my order. I thoight it would have dissapointed the, The head waitress was Jessica. I felt at home there in that strange steak house with an ambiance of a mixture of Scottish hunting lodge and African safari bungalow. One night I returned from Kaohsiung late and went straight to Y. Y's. I had called and made a reservation. When I got there the help was sleeping on the bench seats in the deserted dining area but they got up and sprang into action when I walked in. Y.Y. had his four year old son there. I ate my dinner while Y'Y's son stood at my table singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over and over. Y'Y's is probably my most favorite restaurant in the world.


An aside:

You have probably noticed that I don't call the people of Taiwan "Chinese". This is a very thorny issue and I am not smart enough to explain it in accurate detail. But the way I see it is this: If you came to Taiwan before Chang Kai Shek you consider yourself Taiwanese. You probably speak Taiwanese when you get together with your friends. If you came to Taiwan with Shang Kai Shek  or after Mao took power in China, you probably consider yourself Chinese and you would speak Mandarin first and Taiwanese as a second dialect. However, today, my young 30 something Taiwanese friends are fiercely independent and I get a very strong feeling that they want to be Taiwanese and totally separate from China. This is causing some problems.  Attending Wayne Chen's mother's 80th birthday party everyone was speaking Taiwanese. I asked why they were not speaking Mandarin and I got an earful. Dui bu xi ( I'm sorry). Thanks to my Taiwanese friend Wayne Shen for going over these details with me and correcting me.

Xie xie loaoshi. ( Thank you teacher)


When the first Baba 30 came to Seattle I was pleasantly surprised at how well the snug interior worked. Bob was right and I should not have been skeptical. But how did the little "brick" sail? It sailed very well thank you. It is very light on the helm and well balanced. It is surprisingly quick in light air. One weekend of the Perry Rendezvous we had an informal race to the harbor. Due my son's soccer game I got a late start and began motoring the Valiant 40 down the Sound. Up ahead was the Rendezvous fleet with a Baba 30 in last place. It was flying a big, colorful cruising chute in the light Northerly. Well hell, I couldn't just motor over or under the Baba 30. That would be really bad form. So I did the only thing I could do, I put up the sails on the Valiant 40 and started sailing. About what seemed like an hour later I pulled ahead of the Baba 30. Mind you I did not have a big cruising chute but still. I thought the Baba 30 was moving very well and I gained more respect for the boat that day.

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There was a brick layer from Baltimore who did a solo circumnavigation in his Baba. He sent me post cards along the way. I have friends that love their Baba's. There are a handful of my designs that surprised me in that they turned out better boats than I had anticipated. I'd count the Baba 30 in that lot.

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In time Ta Shing would go on to become the biggest and most prestigious yacht builder in Taiwan. Their new yard is amazing.  The Baba 30 would lead to the Baba 35 aka Flying Dutchman 35 and from there to one of my all time favorite designs of mine the Baba 40. I had the honor of racing a Baba 35, pilot house version a year ago and we did amazingly well and surprised a lot of people. The boat can go despite its ultra traditional look. In the next chapter I will go into more detail on the 35, 40 and the change over to the Tashiba brand.


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The Baba story

Part one

Baba 30 leaping.jpgDisclaimer: This is history as I remember it. I could get some facts wrong but I'm damn close.

Also, the blog program likes to correct my spelling. That's fine but it often screws up Ta Chiao. it should be C H I A O!

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Back in the 70's there was still this idea that double enders make the best offshore boats. I never really went along with that idea although I always liked double enders. My attraction to double enders was an aesthetic one. I just plain liked the way they looked. I had been drawn to the double ended shape since the time I was 15 years old. I was probably 15 when I first saw Bill Garden's OCEANUS and that was it for me. While I have serious reservations about the hull shape of OCEANUS there can be no denying that the stern was spectacular and it has remained one of the most enduring boat shapes  in my mind.


Then there came along the Valiant and at the same time the commission for what would be the Hans Christian 34. Ironically when I was just beginning both of these new design each client, independently, sent me the very same photo  of HOLGER DANSK, the magnificent K. Aage Nielsen double ender. Here was a boat with a stern that had power and grace. I saw the advantages immediately. My two clients, my buddy Nathan Rothman and the evil John Edwards sent me the very same note, "Make the stern like this." No problem.

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I gave this stern type the name "tumblehome canoe stern". Tumblehome refers to the fact that the stern profile rolls back towards the sheer with the aft end of LOA aft of the sheer at the stern. It's a strong look and in fact a strong shape. It's very egg-like and structurally still. The idea is that by filling out the stern like this I can flatten the buttocks for a cleaner, flatter run aft to help extend sailing length. I did my best to try to pull as much volume aft as possible. Many of the canoe sterns you see are to my eye "anemic" aft with pointy fannies with very little volume where they need it. The pointy canoe sterns are just along for the ride. You have to have the stern displacing water in order for it to do any work, i.e. extend the sailing length. I'm not going to name names but there have been some very successful canoe sterns boats with what I feel are poorly designed sterns. You hear the term "reserve buoyancy aft". Well, if that's your goal you had better go with a transom because a transom has far more volume aft that a pointy canoe stern.



There are other disadvantages with double enders. With the volume you lose aft you lose the ability to have a nice, squarish back end to the cockpit. This makes fitting seats and lockers problematic in most double enders.


(Oh, while I'm on it I should explain that I consider any boat with a point on the stern a "double ender". But I don't consider all double enders to have "canoe sterns". Look at the classic Westsail 32. To me that is a true double ender.  The stern post  marks the end of the hull. The overhang aft is minimal at best. With a canoe stern the profile of the stern is extended resulting in considerable overhang aft. Not really a lot but compared to the Westsail type, considerable.  All canoe sterned boats are double enders. All double enders do not have canoe sterns. Got it?)

So we have this roundish stern making seat aft awkward and locker lids hard to fit. If you were after a really comfortable cockpit you had better stick with a transom boat. In addition, these day people find aft swim steps, boarding platforms very attractive. I know I do. They make getting to and from the dink far easier than climbing over the rail. You can't do this with a double ender. Not easily. I do have a drawing for a double ender where a section of the stern drops down to form a boarding ladder. I'm sure it will work but I haven't built one yet. With these issues in mind it's kind of hard to come up with pragmatic reasons for a double ender.


I think back in the Colin Archer days his boats were designed as sailing lifeboats and they had to have the ability to heave to in heavy seas. Having a boat with two bows was probably a good thing. I hear all sorts of what I call "Moses theories" how double enders part the following seas but I'm skeptical. They may part the following sea but a transom stern boat with the additional volume aft may rise to that following sea. I think that if you want to justify having a double ender the best way to do it is to say, "Boy, I sure like the looks of double enders."

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The Hans Christian project got underway but something was wrong. Through the grapevine I kept hearing about a "Bob Perry designed 36'er at HC". What the hell, my design was 34' LOA. I checked into it with a phone call to evil Edwards in Taiwan. I don't remember the conversation verbatim but it was something along these lines:

Me, "John, what's this I heard about a 36'er?"

John, "Oh we took your lines and blew them up and we are building the 36'er before we build the 34'er."

Me, "Great. I look forward to receiving royalties on both boats."

John, "Oh, you're not getting any royalties on the 36'er."

Me, "Really,,,,,,,,,,,,,well then I withdraw all design support for the 34'er."


In fact I never finished the design of the HC 34. It is a rare model but reported to sail well. The 36'er went on to become the father of a whole skad of 36' double enders, all carrying my name despite the fact that I had nothing to do with the actual design. These boats include the Mariner Polaris 36, Union 36, Mao Ta 36, Univeral 36 and God knows how many others. My name is still stuck to them. You would be very surprised at how many owners of these boats are convinced they are my design. I met a couple on the dock. They had one.  They went on and on about how much they loved the boat. Then  I said, "But, it's not my design." The woman started to cry. I felt bad.

I was pissed. I was poor. In was trying really hard to get my design business going and I was not making much money. Now I had two fallings out with Edwards. The first being the CT54 fiasco with Ta Chiao. It was clear that I would get no more business from evil Edwards. I wanted revenge. I wanted to fly to Taiwan and punch him in the nose. But Edwards was about 5'5" tall and looked a lot like Wally Cox so a physical confrontation was out.


Then along came my friend Will Eickholt, the "Flying Dutchman". Will was starting to do business in Taiwan and was importing 41' ketches from Ta Chiao. Will said he wanted to do a boat, a double ender, the popular style of the day. The yard would be a new yard, Ta Yang, but they were connected to Ta Chaio so the boat would be called a Ta Chiao something. Will suggested a boat like the HC 36 and I jumped at it. Here was my chance to get my revenge by targeting the HC 36 with a much better design. I produced the lines for the "Ta Chiao 37". Will was not really my client. The yard was but Will was my "go between". My arrangement with the yard, in order to keep design costs low, was to produce basic drawings but no structural drawings. Fine, I needed work of any kind. The Ta Chiao 37 went into production and was selling very well. I was excited at this new river of royalties.

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I began seeing Ta Chiao 37's roll past my office window on their way to the yard for commissioning. I called Will and asked, "When do I start getting my royalties?" "What royalties ?" Will said. "There is nothing about royalties in your contract with the yard." ????????????WTF! I checked the contract and he was right. How the hell did I do that? Stupidity is the only possible answer. Will said he would see what he could do. He came back to me with a proposition. The yard would like full structural drawings for the boat and in exchange they will pay royalties. I agreed. Shortly after that Will showed up at my office with Y. P Chen, the manager of Ta Yang. The boat was now being called the Ta Yang 37 and they had built 40 of them. Y.P. produced a check for 40 royalties. I was amazed. I had assumed the royalties would start with hull number 41. I thanked Y.P for his generosity and said that this was more than I expected. I wrote Y.P a check for half the royalty amount. I's split it with him. He was very happy with that deal. As you probably know they went on to build more than 600 "Tayana 37's", George Day of BLUE WATER CRUISING once wrote that there are more Tayana 37's cruising the world than any other single design. This pleases me.

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The first Ta Yang 37 to come to Seattle was owned by a TV lighting technical director, named Bob Berg. Bob's TY37 was a ketch version and it sailed fabulously. In fact I always preferred the ketch version of the TY 37 to the cutter version. The ketch just balanced better.


There you have chapter one in the Baba story. Bob Berg would soon leave his work at the TV station and go on to become a dealer fo4 Ta Yang. He made frequent trips to Taiwan where the workers found it difficult to pronounce "Bob Berg". They started calling Bob "Baba" Mandarin for "Dad". Pretty soon almost everyone who knew Bob was calling him Baba. Bob is a kind and soft spoken, patient man. The Taiwanese liked Bob.

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Happy Easter Spike!

Your Dad loves you more than ever and I don't care if the world knows.
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