I blog the Baba......................Part One

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!

Ba30 scotland1.jpg


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.

Valiant wo CARIA.JPG


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."

Valiant profile pic.jpg


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.

TY 37 anchored.jpg


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.

TY 37 in borneo.jpg


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.

baba in slings.jpg

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Robert Perry published on April 21, 2014 9:38 AM.

Happy Easter Spike! was the previous entry in this blog.

More Baba blog Part two is the next entry in this blog.

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