The Baba Saga Part Three, the final installment

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,






About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Robert Perry published on May 15, 2014 8:38 AM.

A note from Bob Berg aka Baba was the previous entry in this blog.

Kids can have big dreams is the next entry in this blog.

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