December 2011 Archives

The Lafitte Story

Lafitte 44 under power.jpgLafitte on beam reach.jpg

When I tell these "histories" of my projects I am working mostly from memory. So from time to time I may get some facts and dates wrong but I will do my best to convey accurately the character of the project and the personalities of those involved.

Obviously I am still struggling with the image management part of the blogging process. Some of these old hand drawing make huge files when digitized.

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The Lafitte project began in mid 1976. I was just 30 years old but my yacht design business was going great guns and I was feeling pretty good about myself and my output of new designs. We had projects lined up. Valiant was quickly making a name for itself with the Valiant 40. Islander was producing the Islander 28 in impressive numbers and I had just started on the Islander 32. Ta Chaio was building the CT 54. Ta Yang was building the Tayana 37. Also in Taiwan the Perry 47 was underway and I was becoming increasingly aware of other boats building in Taiwan that were, to use the colloquial, "rip-offs" of my work. One builder simply took my drawings for the CT 54, put their logo on my sail plan and produced a brochure for their new 54'er. This caused awkward moment in my normally smooth relationship with Ta Chaio. But it passed when I told them I had absolutely nothing to do with that project and I had not sold them the same design. " Intellectual property rights" was a novel concept in Taiwan. Settling down in my business class seat for the flight home one time I noticed that almost every man in the section was wearing a gold "Rolex". I quickly took mine off. You could buy a "Rolex" ( "Fauxlex") in Taiwan for $35 in those days. It was clear that the real action for a young designer trying to get established was in Taiwan. But established designers were afraid of Taiwan quality. I wasn't. I needed the work and I could see the potential in the Taiwan yards. The very first boat of my design that I sailed was a CT54. It was my first grp design.

One of the Taiwan rip-off projects was the Polaris 43. I had been contacted by a fellow, Al Liggett, from Guam. He said he wanted to build a one-off boat in Guam and had in mind a flush deck version of a hull like the Valiant 40. I charged him a really stupid low fee and drew up a design that was essentially a modified Valiant 40, with 12" more freeboard so we could do a flush deck forward. I explained to the client that he could only build one of these boats. It was far too close to my Valiant design to let him build the 43 in series. My contract with Valiant prevented me from designing any other fin keel, canoe stern boats for anyone but Valiant. He said that was no problem. He would build one boat in Airex core construction on the island of Guam. Later he called and announced that he was going to build a mold in Taiwan and produce the 43 is series. I objected and once again explained to him why he could not use my design for this project. But this did not stop him, he was an attorney and production of the Polaris 43 began. It was not a well built boat but it did sail well and Liggett's own boat SUNFLOWER is featured in one of Steve Dashew's books as a well designed offshore cruising boat. That was salt in my wound. I was not being paid any royalties for the Polaris 43's. But the 43 project was at best only limping along so I felt vindicated.

I was in Newport Beach, California, doing business with Islander when I got a phone call at my hotel. The caller said they were in a position to acquire the molds for the Polaris 43 and wanted a meeting with me to see if we could work on the project to resurrect it. I told them that I had no interest whatsoever in being any part of the Polaris 43 project on any terms and further more I would do what I could to undermine their efforts to market my stolen design. The caller asked if I had any ideas on how his "group" could work with me on a boat building project in Taiwan. I explained that I would be happy to meet with them and go through the design steps required for them to have their own, new design that we could build in series. The caller suggested a meeting immediately as his group was all in Newport Beach. I was not convinced this was a real lead. Something smelled a bit fishy so I told them I was too busy to meet with them unless they wanted to meet me at the airport prior to my flying back to Seattle. Fine he said.

As I waited in the tiny terminal of the old Orange County airport a young guy came up to me, introduced himself as Skip and directed me towards another guy who stood with his back to me. It was all very mysterious. As I recall it I keep thinking this guy was wearing a trench coat with the collar turned up. But it was Orange County and there was probably not a trench coat in town. But in my memory he was wearing a trench coat. The other fellow was Rick Lewis. It was an awkward meeting because I thought they were still on the edge of taking over the Polaris project and I was defensive and a bit combative in that meeting. But it became evident that they were serious about working with me when Rick suggested that they fly me back down for a day's meeting with them to see how we could get a new project started. I loved the Newport Beach area. I loved shopping at Fashion Island. I was a bit of a dandy. I liked cruising my rental car down PCH. I loved visiting Islander and seeing my boats lined up in their shop. I said I'd be happy to come back down.

A short time later I cam back to Orange County where I was met by what would become the Lafitte group, Mike Lewis, his brother Rick Lewis, Skip Reilly, Pauly Roesti and, Gene LaForce. The one missing member of the group was George Olivit and I would meet him later. George was the one holding out for a totally new design. Gene was a bit older than the other guys. George would turn out to be a bit younger. The rest of them were all close to my age, 30. We had a productive meeting and they were most anxious to get the project started. They said over and over that they wanted to build a "high quality boat in Taiwan". I'd heard that before and I was dubious but I liked the guys and like 30 year olds in 1976 we had some fun with our meeting and it appeared to be a good fit so I went along with their idea. They were very serious. They did want a double ender, a 44', fin keel, double ender. This posed a problem for me as it meant I would have to come up with a hull shape that got around my contract with Valiant. The new 44 could not have my signature tumblehome canoe stern. I'd come up with something.

These old drawings are very hard/light pencil and ink on Mylar. They do not digitize well so I apologize for how feint this lines drawing is. But if you click on it maybe you can see it more clearly
The Lafitte 44 has a stern unlike any other I have designed. I consider it to be a true double ender but not a canoe sterned boat. There is a subtle difference and I was hoping for that difference to keep the Valiant people happy. The Lafitte is heavy by today's standards and had arc-like sections through the middle of the boat. Note the slight hollow to the stem profile. This is reflected in some hollow in the bow sections. When I first walked into the yard building the Lafitte, a subsidiary of Chung Hwa, I looked at the astern on the plug and I thought, "Hmmmmm, it didn't look quite like that on the half model." Seeing both sides of the boat together for the very first time I was struck with the roundness of the upper waterlines through the stern. The Lafitte represented the most complete set of plans my office had ever done. Why? Because we knew they would make sure the boat was built exactly as drawn. We used outside lead ballast which was expensive in Taiwan.  George did a masterful job in laying out all the systems for the boat. Having been a "marine domestic" he had a real sense of laying out gear so you could actually get to it and have room to work on it.We specified each and every joinerwork detail on the boat. Lafitte would use only the best components and no expense was spared to make the boat top quality.

That was my very first trip to Taiwan. The Lafitte guys wanted me to check the plug. In those days boats were hand lofted from small scale, in this case .75" to the foot, lines drawings and so there was room for error. It was always good for the designer to go over the lofting. So off I went, First Class on a Pan Am flight stopping in Hawaii, where George Olivit would get on the plane and from there proceed to Tokyo and on to Taipei. I had still not met George so when I re-boarded the plane after a short stop in Hawaii and looked across the aisle the guy in the adjacent seat said, "Are you Bob?" I said yes. George looked young, the typical SoCal surfer type with blond hair and a "who gives a shit" attitude. I think George was the person to ever call me "Dude". That was what you saw on the surface with George. George turned out to be one of the very best boat builders I had ever worked with. George could do any job in the boat yard from laminate layup to electrical wiring and layout. George could grab a piece of teak, walk over to the band saw and shape exactly what he wanted while the workers watched. On top of that George had worked previously in Taiwan, was familiar with the culture and had a respect for things Taiwanese that quickly won over the boatyard workers. At the yard he was "Georgy". He was perfect for the job.

The Lafitte group did everything first class. At our business luncheons we drank bottles of Chateau Lafitte 1966.  No amount of money was going to be spared to insure that we produce a quality boat and have a damn good time doing it. So I sat back and enjoyed the comfort that my long legs needed on that flight. We arrived at the small, old downtown Taipei airport and it was jammed with people. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to get to the baggage carousel to get my bags. George just said, "Watch me." He then proceeded to push and shove his way through the crowd until he emerged with his bags. "That's the way you have to do it here." From the airport it was off to our suites at the Grand Hotel owned by Madam Chang Kai-Shek.  And I assure you, this hotel was grand in a very classical Chinese architectural way. It was huge and my suite was huge. I remember calling my wife and telling her I'm not sure what room to sit in by myself. I had an expansive balcony looking out over the jungle that surrounded the hotel. The hot and humid air was full of loud insect and bird sounds and  smells that were all new to me. "You are not in Ballard anymore Bob". The Lafitte yard was in Kaohsiung at the other end of Taiwan but we would spend a few days in Taipei so I could visit Ta Chaio and the Universal yard where the Perry 47 was being built. I had a great time taking the taxi around Taipei and eating exotic meals. I loved it. But the third morning I woke up with a major disturbance in my stomach. I barely made it from my bed to the bathroom. Whatever I had eaten wanted out and it wanted out NOW! I quickly found out why they put a phone right next to the toilet. I was prepared to conduct my business from there all day if I had to. I was certainly not leaving the bathroom. But things calmed down after what I remember as about two hours and I thought I'd go down to the tiny drug store in the basement of the hotel. I'd go look for something that would cure my stomach ills. The drug store was dark, about 10' square and stocked floor to ceiling with medicines, mostly Chinese, in no particular order. There was a little Taiwanese lady working there. I pointed to my stomach and said "This not good."  I spoke no Mandarin at that time. She nodded knowingly and said, "You need Ex-Rax!" NO! Not Ex-Lax! Just then an American woman came in and realized what was going on. She said, "You need Pepto Bismal." I was soon cured and that was the only time I ever got sick in Taiwan. I may have been showering with my mouth open. I don't know. I was always a pretty adventurous eater in Taiwan but I did not drink the water and I avoided the food carts on the streets that served from bowls washed between customers in a bucket of grey water. I just ate smart. In time I found a small hotel in Taipei, the Santos Hotel, San Der in Mandarin. It was more to my liking than the huge Grand Hotel and the staff at the San Der was always very willing to help me with my efforts to learn the language.

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I would hook up with George every time I went back to Taiwan. George ended up living there for quite a while during the build of the first 44's and then again when we did the Lafitte 66. George had no trouble learning the rudiments of the language and may have been the reason that I took on that challenge too. Sadly and for reasons I'm still not sure of George and some of the other Lafitte guys eventually went to jail. It involved a "conspiracy" conviction and I'm pretty sure it involved pot. George went to prison in Arizona where he sowed thumbs on leather gloves for 6 months at the same time he was managing the Lafitte projects. Gene and Rick both died some time later. Not sure why Gene died but Rick had a very bad car crash that he pretty much never recovered from. Mike Lewis, who was the actual President of Lafitte, and I have stayed in touch and visited each other several times.
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lafitte cabin.jpgThe Lafitte 44 layout was unusual in that there were two companionways. One lead down into the owner's cabin aft and one lead down forward into the galley area. To go forward from the owner's cabin you walked through the aft head. But I designed this area so that with the doors in the open position they closed off the w.c. and the basin so you did not know you were in a head. It was just a passageway. And the quality that George got out of the yard was amazing. It was the talk of the industry when the boat first came out. It was good enough that Ted Hood's Little Harbor Yacht Sales became the dealer. When the Lafitte 66 was introduced at the Annapolis Show Ted Hood came aboard and spent an hour on the boat. When he came out into the cockpit I said, "How did you like it?" Ted is very taciturn to say the least but he looked at me and said, "I think it's as good as a Huismann. I said, "A lot of people think Huismann is as good as it gets." Ted said, "That's right." And that was that. I felt like I had received the Papal blessing,. Within months Ted was setting up his own Little Harbor yard in Taiwan. You see, Taiwan could produce a quality boat. I don't have any drawings of the Lafitte 66 digitized but I'll get some and edit the blog to include them. Only one 66 was built and it was bought by Bob Mosbacher, brother of the famous 12 meter sailor Buzz Mosbacher. This was a feather in our caps and Mr. Mosbacher was very happy with how the 66 sailed. One of the really stupid things I did preparing for my first trip to Taiwan was to buy a camera. I knew almost nothing about cameras so I thought I'd be fancy and get a Polaroid, i.e. instant gratification. The result of that is today I really have no  decent photos of those early trips.

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I loved working in Taiwan. I wasn't too keen on the humidity and the heat but it was just part of the exotic atmosphere. Taiwan beer is very good and I drank a lot of beer. I loved the food. I spent as much time as I could hanging out at the various boat yards and I particularly enjoyed working on the deck plug with the workers who almost never spoke English. One Sunday I went to see the deck plug of the Lafitte 66 with George. We were met at the yard by the owner of the yard and the foreman. George and I after studying the plug decided we would make the opening gate into the raised cockpit 2" wider. I picked up a piece of chalk and in my very best Chinese characters wrote on the plywood plug "plus 2 inches". The foreman looked at my writing and looked at the yard owner and said, "I think he is God." I have seldom felt so proud. "Gate" happened to be one of the very few Chinese characters I knew and I got a chance to use it. I look back on the Lafitte days very fondly. We were young guys doing what young guys like to do and while we were doing it we built a great boat.

One Lafitte 44 owner was an English gent, Mike Hardy, who was the Director of Operations for Cathay Pacific Airlines. He would come to Seattle to be wined and dined by Boeing. Part of his regular "entertainment request" was dinner with Bob Perry. So off Jill and I would go to the swankiest restaurant in Seattle to drink the swankiest PNW wines and eat the swankiest PNW foods while I had to sit there and listen to this sailor rave about his Lafitte. I loved it. The photo of the Lafitte beating up the coast of Scotland under full main and staysail is Mike's boat.

The Lafittes are getting a little old now and most need a good amount of upkeep. But they are very strong boats. When Lafitte wanted to do an Airex cored version they simply split the single skin laminate and added the Airex in the middle. Now that is strong. And expensive. Lafitte was eventually bought by Bernie Wahl in Buffalo NY. Bernie owned the company in its last days and he was a good owner and a nice guy. He was about as different as the young guys who started the company as you can imagine. But he got along well with them. George went on to marry a lady from Singapore and become a yard manager in Malaysia at a yard that serviced mega yachts. The last I spoke to George he was sailing around the world with his family in a 45' ketch. Pauly became a commercial pilot. Skip was an attorney and I lost track of him. He left the Lafitte project in the early days. Mike Lewis left Lafitte, did nothing for a while then took a job as a manager of a small northern Californian airport. While there he did some small grp repairs on  private planes and this lead to working on race car bodies. Then he was called in to help with a "secondary containment" problem for a gas station that was having trouble getting their new tanks up to EPA standards. Mike looked the situation over, gave it some thought, called them back and said, "You are doing it all wrong." Mike went on to get numerous patents in the field of gas station secondary containment and related areas and founded a company called Western Fiberglass. He did very well but is pretty much retired from it now. He's a great guy.

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I just got off the phone with George Olivit. He is now an organic farmer in Maui with two teenage daughters.
Pauly runs a large car dealership in Arizona.
George confirmed that Pacific Far East Industries the company that the Lafitte guys set up was there to give the group "legitimate" incomes while they went about their "import" business. I knew something was going on back then but I was to naive to figure it out and I never felt it was my place to ask directly.

Merry Christmas To You All!

Spike Sub 2010.jpgAnd thanks very much for visiting my blog.

Here is a little sketch I did for 7 year old Orlando Yen in Australia for Christmas.
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Here is a sketch that Orlando did for me this Christmas!

My little house

bob's house.JPGI originally posted this on Cruising Anarchy but then I thought it might be fun to put it on my blog. We had been discussing small houses and I had this design sitting around for the past five years. It combines my own life style with my ability to work with small spaces. Hope you like it.

My house

560 sq. ft. not counting the upstairs office.


My house was designed at a time when I was reacting to sciatic pain and the stress of building what to me was a huge and overly complex new house, the Taj Ma Jill. I used the exercise of mentally designing the house in my mind, in acad of the mind, to help me get to sleep at night. Later I decided to actually draw it up to see if my mental files were accurate. With minor adjustments they were fine. The house has an upstairs office area but I'm not going to show that. It's just an office. Keep in mind that this house is designed just for me, one person. I expect company on occasion but I have made no concessions to extra people in the house. The house is exceedingly simple yet very complex in its ergonomics. I have tried to make it economical to build.

My house is situated on a gently sloping, long grass and mountain weed covered hillside that eventually runs into the woods below. I can see the Cascade Mountain range in the not too far distance. It is sunny and about 72 degrees, it's around 4:40pm and the dogs are off chasing things. The cat is off killing things. I am puttering.

I have a pretty big veranda with two long benches for relaxing and napping. There is a chair without arms that is well suited for playing the guitar. There is a rustic coffee table for important stuff, like my pipe and my tea. I picture me and my cronies sitting on the veranda playing and singing good old tunes, and passing the Jack Daniels well into the balmy PNW night. I'll sit and smoke my pipe on the veranda. I won't allow myself to smoke in the house. The dogs will love napping on the veranda. It will have that satisfying , almost hollow sound when you walk on it .

The front door is centered and stepping into the house you have a bench seat to port so you can sit and remove your shoes. I absolutely HATE shoes on in the house. The shoes can tuck under the seat. Mini partial height walls divide the entry area off from the living areas.

To port there is the dinette and galley. The dinette has a nice view of the field in front and also a good view of the TV mounted on the opposite wall. There is stowage under the bench seat. The galley stretches along that port wall terminating in a large refer/freezer. Beyond that is my clothes washer and dryer stack. Across from that stack is a pantry/linen lkr. combo locker. The galley is laid out so I can work left to right starting with a leg of the counter to collect my ingredients, moving to the sink for washing then onto the cutting board for the chopping then onto the range. There is space each side of the range for hot pots. There is no dish washer. It would be very easy to work one into that leg of the counter if I took the angle out of it. But hell, I'm living by myself and I can wash up what few things get dirty.

Spiral stairs take you up to the office.

The living room is designed so that I can sit and watch TV with the sound muted while I listen to beautiful music coming from the Epos 12 bookshelf speakers flanking the fire place and the sub woofer in the corner. The hi-fi gear and turntable are all visible in the cabinet on the aft wall. A magazine bin sits next to one chair with my guitar du jour next to the hi-fi cabinet.  I'll stow the rest of my guitars up in the office. There is LP stowage below the TV and bookshelves above the TV. There are more bookshelves/ lp stowage on the other side of the fireplace. There is an end table next to one chair for me to put my tea cup on or my pipe or my magazine or my note pad or my tobacco tin.

Can't say I'm wild about the idea of a spiral staircase. Imagine trying to carry a very expensive guitar down that without knocking it. I added the office when I was done with the downstairs. It was an after thought. The spiral staircase is the only way I can figure out how to get upstairs without going to an external staircase. It rains too much here for that. Maybe I can find space for a dumb waiter just to transport guitars up and down. No, that would be to expensive. I am trying to dream with a budget. My pal Paps in Oz is working on some stair ideas for me. He's a master staircase builder.

The chair closest to the front door can be moved to be centered on the two speakers flanking the Norwegian JOTUL fire place. These speakers are on 8' centers and when I am listening carefully I want my chair centered in the "sweet spot" of the room for the best stereo imaging. I think that settee could be a pull out bed type so I have an extra bed for company.

I guess I'm going to have to give up my vast collection of cd's and go to a half-vast digital storage/Ipod type system. They make some very sophisticated and expensive units. I like new hi-fi gear. Now I have a whole wall full of cd's and I like to browse thru the cd's. I sure would keep my LP collection though. I'm an analog kind of guy.

The double berth is high to gain stowage space below it. Note that the wall separating the sleeping area from the living area is only half high so that I can lie in bed and look over that wall and see the fireplace. I can also see the TV from the bed. But I've never had a TV in the bedroom so I'm not sure I'd watch TV from the bed. I do like to read in bed.

The head and shower area is enclosed, snug and adequate. There is a relatively large hanging locker with shelves next to the head area.

I want good stowage for outside things like lawn mowers, tools and all those things you don't take in the house. I don't need a work bench as I am hopeless with tools. I just need a space for some basic tools. There is also a wood bin out there near the back door. During the retirement in my mind I plan on burning a lot of wood cut from trees on my own lot out behind the house. I'll keep my charcoal Weber out in the breezeway. My Laser on a trailer can slide right in there for the winter. The lake is 5 miles away.

The house has plenty of compromises. I will have to compact my life before moving in. The office will be smaller than what I have now but that's OK. It would be nice to have more living space but then the cost goes up and so does the clutter.


I don't have any drawings for the outside. I picture kind of a rustic, country/western look with a red tin roof. Maybe a log cabin or Panabode type of construction. Simple strong lines and big overhangs on the eaves so there is more tin roof for the rain to bounce off and create that nice ambient sound track.

If I was by myself then this is where I would want to live.


YONI lines.jpg


Yoni-stb-8- 153.jpgI thought what I would do from time to time is to go back though my designs and pick a few that I found to be the more interesting projects and go into detail on exactly how that project worked. I know some of the boats I pick will also be in my book YACHT DESIGN ACCORDING TO PERRY but I had layers of editors when I wrote the book. I don't have an editor for my blog. I suppose you figured that out already.So in the blog I am going to tell the stories behind the boats in a little more personal way. I promise to run them by the dogs and the cat. But if they object they can just HTFU.

Big John Carson worked at the brokerage next door to my old Ballard office. One day he walked over and asked me if I would be interested in talking to a friend of his about a custom boat. Of course I was interested. Business was a bit slow and I was ready for something new. A few days later John came over with Daryl Dalhgard, a Seattle dentist. Daryl was looking for "the ultimate offshore boat" and he had some concrete ideas on what that boat should be. We talked for over and hour, Daryl left a retainer and I got to work. Just like that. Together Daryl and I with the help of a great building team produced YONI ( Sanskrit for "abode") a marvelous example of one man's long range sailing vision.

Daryl really liked the hulls produced by Ted Hood's design office. At the time those hulls were the design work of Dieter Empacher. YONI would have a Hood like hull form. The boat would be 47' LOA and have a cutter rig. I dug in and in a few months had completed a nice 47'er for Daryl. Daryl took Wednesdays off and would spend many Wednesdays sitting next to me at the drawing board while we pondered design options. So when the Wednesday came that I told Daryl the design was finished I was surprised when Daryl said to me, "OK. Let's  start over again. If I built this 47'er I'd feel like a guy who married the first girl he dated. Now I want a 50'er that weighs 50,000 lbs and has 20,000 lbs. of ballast". I was not used to being told how much ballast to put into my designs by the client but I knew enough to know that I could get 20,000 lbs. of lead into a 50'er weighing 50,000 lbs.. So I rolled up the drawings for the 47'er and went to work on a 50'er.

It just happened that 500' from the office there was a Little Harbor around 50' LOA hauled out at Seaview boatyard. Daryl showed up one day with a hand full of carpentry tools and informed me that we were going to go down and measure the deadrise angles on the Hood hull. Fine, that sounds like fun. So with that data and a good long look at the Hood hull I began the hull shape for YONI. One of Daryl's primary goals for the new boat was that it have a Limit of Positive Stability of at least 135 degrees. That can be a challenge for some cruising boats but knowing that was our target from day one I told Daryl that I could do that. I began drawing lines. I drew numerous versions of this hull and Daryl would take the drawings home and come back with a change. Slowly we came to agreement on the final hull but this was only after Daryl hada series of full hull models CNC cut out of high density foam so he could really see the lines. Sitting there looking at the final three hull models I said to Daryl, "Hell, I can't even tell the difference between these hulls. How is the water going to tell the difference?" We decided on a final set of lines that day.

You can click on each of the drawings if you want to see them larger.

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YONI layout.jpg


Many thanks to Ryan at SWIFTSURE YACHTS for getting me these photos.

Daryl's ideas on layouts were pretty much fixed after we had done the "dry run" exersize with the initial 47'er. The new 50'er would have a raised pilot house with a comfortable inside steering station with nav table and a raised dinette. The big galley would be down, forward. Daryl wanted a mini-dinette adjacent to the galley. I questioned this feature several times but Daryl wanted it so we got it. This is where you would eat if you were at the dock and wanted some privacy, away from the big windows of the pilot house. There is a washer and drying forward of the mini-dinette. There would be a guest stateroom forward off to port and a large head with a shower stall off to starboard. Wanting a true long range cruising boat Daryl wanted and got a huge focsle.

The owner's stateroom would aft, tucked under a long bridgedeck. I questioned the lack of an aft head but Daryl said that he thought walking 30' to the head at night was not a hardship, "I walk father than that at home." But for emergencies Daryl had me put in a large basin in the bureau. Just in case. The aft double berth was designed to be athwartships as Daryl, and a lot of other sailors I know, think this is the ultimate sea berth. This aft berth is a standard queen sized berth. The layout turned out very well. Of course it didn't hurt to have Bent and Eric Jespersen's crew up in Sidney, BC doing the finish work. Eric's crew is as good as they come and Daryl in short time was just as much in love with the building process as he was with the design process. Daryl was one of those clients who enjoyed the entire process. There are numerous detail touches to the interior that are the work of the Jespersen crew. I'll gladly take credit for all of them but in truth those guys made me look really good. I provided 1" to the foot, hand drawn, interior drawings so almost every space was very well defined prior to build commencing. Daryl and I went over each locker and drawer. If I could have changed anything in the layout I would have eliminated the mini-dinette and moved the head back into that space allowing more room for the forward stateroom. But as my first client informed me in a snotty letter one day, "It's not your boat Bob". Oh yeah, I forgot that.

YONI construct.jpg

Daryl wanted an aluminum boat from day one. We looked at steel construction and even visited a yard expert in steel construction but in the end we chose aluminum as it gave us the most options in terms of builders. Luck would have it that while visiting Jespersens Daryl met Brian Reilly, a Kiwi and an craftsman in alu construction. Brian was the best. He was truly an artist with aluminum. He was smart. He was fast and he had an amazing way of visualizing the sequence that you needed to eliminate any building surprises. I chose fairly heavy alu scantlings with 1/4" plating for the topsides through the turn of the bilge then 3/8" for the sides of the keel fin and 1" plate at the bottom of the fin. This would be a very rugged vessel. I like working in aluminum. It allows the designer to tie all the structural elements together easily and weights are far easier to predict than grp construction. The 20,000 lbs. of lead ballast would be internal. I am happy to say that YONI weighed exactly what I predicted and floated with grace and panache exactly on it's lines. Yahoo! Daryl would have had my ass if it didn't. That big Perkins diesel nestled in the bilge was so quiet that you would have to listen for the splash of the cooling water to know the engine had started.



Daryl wanted a cutter, a true cutter. Daryl even knew exactly where he wanted the mast. We did not agree on this mast location but as usual I lost the argument and I ended up wit the mast where Daryl wanted it a bit further aft than I would have chosen. But due to the layout of the boat's weights I was able to move the keel aft to insure that the boat be well balanced. I hate too much weather helm. I have this theory that while you can always adjust sail trim to alleviate lee helm with some boats there is just nothing you can do about weather helm short of major surgery. I like to start with a near neutral helm. You can always find some weather helm if it's lacking. YONI was the first boat I did with a Leisure Furl mainsail. The main rolls up inside the boom. I hear a lot of people being critical of the Leisure Furl system but I really like it. It gives you infinite reefing options, you get a reasonable cruising roach and you get about 65% of the normal draft of a non boom furling sail. When YONI was a pup my wife and I went for a sail with Daryl. When time came to drop the main we adjusted the boom angle and proceeded with the douse. It was quickly apparent that our boom angle was incorrect as the main was piling up at the tack. We raised the main again and began to drop it again, this  time successfully. My wife said, "I like this."

The headsails were arranged so that a light air and reaching genoa was carried on a furler forward with a working genoa just aft of that also on a furler. The staysail would also live on a furler. It's a convenient setup as it gives you a wide variety of options. The bad news is the windage you get carrying three headsails permanently on rollers. This can make docking in a breeze a bit of a challenge.YONI sailed very well. It was very stiff and it tracked like a train. It had a very gentle and w3ell balanced helm and moved well in light air. I never had the opportunity to sail YONI in a breeze but from the reports I received it was good ride when the wind picked up. John Guzzwell, a pal of Daryl's, helped Daryl bring the boat down to its slip in Seattle and they picked a very stormy weekend for that trip. The only complaint John had was with the windage around the dock.

YONI deck pl.jpgI really like this deck layout. The big cockpit is in a T shape with the top of the T forward. The wheel is mounted on the bridgedeck and flanked by three big winches each side. The mainsheet trav is directly ahead of the wheel. The cockpit well itself is small but there is an extended deck area aft of the well big enough to throw some cushions for sleeping comfortably on deck. There is a big, flush hatch into the lazaretto in the aft deck. Propane lockers are port and starboard forward with room for four gas bottles, There is a deep swim step aft with a fold down ladder than extends deep enough into the water so you can easily climb out wearing scuba gear. The cockpit coamings are high with a series of bins in each coaming. There is a 5" tall bulwark running full length of the boat. Daryl did not want a teak cap rail so he paid to have a custom extrusion made in exactly the shape of a teak cap. Note that the stern pulpit extends forward to the aft end of the pilot house. The deck is festooned with hatches and Dorade style vents to insure good light and air below. There are also a series of opening ports in the hull topsides. There is a solid boom gallows across the pilot house top. This comes in handy as a reference to judge the boom angle when furling the main. There is a sturdy arch across the stern that is home to the davit system for the dink. The companionway drop boards are a one piece, counter weighted arrangement that lets the single drop board drop into a drained aluminum pocket under the deck. This detail was masterfully handled by the Jespersen crew.

I'm waiting to see if Daryl has any photos of the boat that he can email me. With a dark blue hull YONI was very beautiful. I would have preferred a contrasting white strip under the red bootstripe but that's another argument I lost. When the boat was being launched I stood there with Bent Jespersen and Bent said, "It should have had a white stripe between the boot and the bottom paint." "I know." If I get photos from Daryl I'll amend the blog to include them.

Daryl and I became fast friends. Daryl was passionate about his pastimes, his toys, whether it be his garden, wine, music, cars or hi-fi gear. When Daryl got into something he really got into it. I figured for all his fastidiousness with the design I could probably trust him with my teeth so he became my dentist. I trusted him. Daryl had an unusual way of making you comfortable in the dental chair. He'd put headphones on you and play nothing but down home, authentic blues. Daryl was into the blues. So I got the blues when I went to the dentist. Daryl loves live music and had a lot of contacts in Seattle with people in the music industry. This meant most excellent seats for just about any artist that came to town. Daryl took me to see DIRE STRAIGHTS, BOB DYLAN, BB KING and one of his all time favorites the California blues guy Doug McCloud. Daryl bought a boat to keep in his slip while they were building  YONI in order to maintain his slip at Shilshole Marina. When YONI was finished I bought that boat from Daryl and I own it still. Daryl moved up north so now he's about 45 minutes away from my house and a frequent dinner guest.

So you ask, "What happened to YONI?"
Daryl found YONI  a bit much for one person to handle. He was just not using the boat like he thought he would so he put it up for sale. It was bought by a Canadian pilot and enjoyed for a summer or two. Then the new owner became intent on adding a hard dodger. I tried to talk him out of it. His wife tried to talk him out of it. Eric Jespersen kind of tried to talk him out of it but it represented work for Eric's crew. I did my best with the shape and Eric did his best with the construction on the dodger but in the end it was hideous. REALLY hideous. Eye numbing ugly. My poor, beautiful YONI was transformed into,,,I'm not even going to try to find the words. Unfortunately that owner got very sick and the last I heard he was beyond using the boat. He was a nice guy even if he wanted an ugly dodger. I don't know where YONI is today and I don't want to see it. I'll just remember it as it was when launched.

YONI was one of the very last boats I drew by hand. The drawings are amazing, pencil and ink on mylar. I really like these drawings. Everything on YONI was detailed. Even my plumbing drawings, made with the help of Daryl's fastidiously prepared sketches, are works of art and I really don;t like doing plumbing schematics. But Daryl was a generous client willing to pay me for my very best work and he loved the creative process. If I was asked to pull out a set of plans to show someone what I could do it would be YONI's drawings I'd pull out. Then I'd stand back with a self satisfied smug look on my face waiting for them to say, "These are amazing drawings." "Yes, I know. The boat wasn't bad either."

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