The Boat – A Love Story

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I wasnt looking for an F27 when she found me. Oh, I went out keel kicking every so often, but I thought I was done sailing. Too expensive, too consuming, too….much. Little did I know.

She came unbidden out of the fog and mist of a Northwest winter. Her history is murky – she may have been sold by Helms Yacht Sales in San Francisco in the late 90’s, but her trail was cold. Perhaps once a San Francisco flyer, she washed up nearly dead in Seattle. I could relate.

She is one of Ian Farrier’s F-27’s, number 142, born at Corsair Marine in Chula Vista California in 1990. She lay dormant and ignored in the Seattle rain for five long years until the multi-hull boffins at CSR Marine rescued her from back moorage purgatory, gave her some lipstick and put her up for sale. They figured if she didnt sell, they could race her in the Wednesday Duck Dodge races on Lake Union until she died. Her previous owner must have been unable to handle such a high-strung lady – she probably hated the bastard and she scared the shit out of him till he skedaddled. She got free of him, but she was scarred, listless and abandoned.

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She had no trailer or engine. Her electronics were shot. Her sails were ancient, her rigging outdated. Her mast had never been upgraded with the now-standard second set of spreaders. Her anchor was satisfactory – for a pit stop – not overnight in a Bahama’s blow. Her rode was a rusty mess. She had a bowsprit, but the whisker stays were criminally attached with stainless steel lifeline and pelican hooks – Pelican Hooks! – to her amas. Her bobstay was irresponsibly – or perhaps naively – attached to the bow eye. Her carpet (carpet??!) was wet and smelly, her cushions flat and mildewed, her forward compartment filled with the tanks and plumbing of a porcelain marine head – hard, heavy porcelain. She had the original Origo alchohol stove – corroded beyond retrieval. Her windows were crazed and dull, her sail cover threadbare. Her main was Dacron and billowy, her indeterminate jib wrapped on a huge, great, primitive Shaeffer roller-furler. She had an asymmetric spinnaker in a sock, but no sheets. She was just this side of a wreck. I was in love.

CSR had her open on stands in a corner of their yard – mast up and rigged. They removed all the old decals and Corsair logo and she was clean and lovely white underneath, with the usual F27 beige non-skid. Her winches worked, her running rigging was serviceable, her nets damn near new and she had those unmistakable, beautiful, smooth F27 floats – the early ones. Her hull, beams and floats were sound.  I offered low, they countered, we agreed, shook on it and whoops – I owned another boat – my second F27. I called her “Maravilla” – Spanish for Wonder.

First order of business was to get a trailer. It was important to get a good, stout, durable one as I intended to take this boat a long way. Using Ian’s specifications, I ordered an aluminum I-Beam construction with 4-wheel disc breaks and LED lighting. This trailer could go anywhere! After it was built, I delivered it to CSR, who kindly set Maravilla on her new wheels and rigged all the supports properly. Off we went to park next to the house where the real resuscitation would begin.

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Perhaps its best to start with what I scrapped. The head – tank, plumbing and commode – scrapped. The stove – scrapped. The instruments, including wind sensor, depth transducer – scrapped. The cushions – tossed. Pound after pound of old, soggy, useless line – scrapped. Her smelly carpet – scrapped. The old anchor rode – scrapped. Main and jib and furler – scrapped. Extra battery and cable – tossed. The old stainless standing rigging on mast and bowsprit (except intermediate and lower shrouds) – scrapped.

F27’s – the Sailing Hall of Fame F27 – are worth this level of renewal. They are remarkable boats. Easy to sail slow, thrilling to sail fast, they are simple, tough, reliable with sufficient accommodations for a couple to beach cruise and raid at will. They are capable of long distance open water cruises for the hardy, but are at their best zipping along the beach and running out to the islands. They may not be the hottest thing at the party, but they are respectable performers and are magic sailors. Trailer them to a new cruising ground, put the bows down and do some fast exploring!

Maravilla‘s renovation is complete.  She sports new 4 inch thick deluxe cushions fore and aft. She has Colligo Dyneema Dux standing rigging at her forestay, cap shrouds and newly installed upper diamonds. Her bowsprit rigging is Amsteel and a new stronger, soft termination was created below the tow eye for her bobstay. A new jib and screacher from Ullman Sails  and a main from Elliott-Pattison bend the breeze for her now. A six horse Tohatsu Sail Pro outboard sits in her well. A Jet Boil supplemented by a Magma grills the grub and there is a Thetford Curve  porta potty in the head. A Rocna anchor and a new chain/rope rode sits in the anchor locker. A Raymarine A65 plots our position and measures the depth under the keel, while a ST2000 Tiller pilot takes the helm. A 100 watt GoPower flexible solar panel mounted on the aft deck gives all the juice the new battery needs.

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A year after bringing her home, a year spent ordering parts and installing gizmos, filing and drilling holes in masts and hulls, splicing Dyneema and Amsteel, researching and purchasing equipment she is ready.

She inspired me, did this boat. She cast her spell and I followed. A nearly dead F27 sailboat somehow convinced me to bring her back to life – to make her sparkle. Some say she is a siren diverting me from respectability, a dangerous and irresponsible obsession. I prefer to think she is the manifestation of all I care about. She is my art, my true voice, my expression. It is said that a violinist can convince himself God lives in his Stradivarius – I dont know if that is true of Maravilla, it may be, but I DO know the deep and vibrant joy she gives me is as close to heaven as I am likely to get.

So, we are to go exploring – details of our upcoming journey you will find in The Plan. It’s important that this journal – committed to sharing the inspiration, education and entertainment inherent in trimaran sailboats – has a trimaran of its own – and sails her. Makes us legitimate somehow.

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I will never get the money out of Maravilla that I poured into her – but that’s not the point. The point is, she is returned to her former glory to ignite the dreams of her owner and accomplish the epic journeys her designer had in mind when he first lofted her beautiful lines.

Maravilla’s resurrection has been a work of passion, art and great joy. As I saved her, so she saved me. She is my treasure, my heirloom.

Below is Loick Peyron beaming aboard his petite jaune trimaran Happy. I know how he feels.

Fair winds all – and see you out there!

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3 Comments:

  1. Hi, I saw your story about your F-27. I own hull no. 222 from 1991. Still in good condition, but not enough time to use it.
    Werner

    • Hi Werner – We are wintering in Georgia after an extensive road trip from Washington State. Maravilla remains a joy to sail and we are looking forward to a Bahamas cruise this spring. Its a shame more F27’s arent out there cruising – they are still a remarkable boat and maybe the best value around.
      Barry

  2. rannmillar@gmail.com

    I just read your “The Boat-A Love Story.” Captivating. I am in the process of selling my Searunner 34 trimaran and downsizing to an F-27. Like you, I would like to find one I can refurbish and put back into pristine shape. All the best on your cruising.

    I just finished a long leg on a Gemini 34 Cat “MatchBox” from Los Angeles to San Jose del Cabo at the tip of the Baja Peninsula of Mexico. there is some data on her on Sailblogs.com.

    Fairwinds,

    Rann

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