Isobel: The 75-foot, 8-Inch Smile Machine.

isobel-frontAs a semi-regular feature, we thought we’d look back at some exciting boats from our past, talk about how they came to be, discuss why we love them so. And maybe, sometimes, help them find good new homes.

Isobel is one of our favorites. She the fruit of a long relationship: the fourth boat we designed for the same client over 10-years.  As such, she is not just one boat. But evolution of several, with changes and refinement in tastes and style.  

For the record the boats, in order are: Lena, a long-ended, light and skinny 47-foot daysailer; Goshawk, a 76-foot ocean racer/cruiser of similar form; Ginger, a 50-foot daysailer of radical shape and rig; and finally the 75 foot Isobel, which for us distills the Spirit of Tradition into its bare essence.

But admit it: Isobel is a favorite of ours.

isoble-on-portWith an all-paint, no-varnish, minimalist treatment, Isobel’s classic roots are subtly evident only in her hull shape. It’s a light, slim evolution of a century-old archetypical counter stern, elliptical transom and plumb stem. We traced her back to the Kingston Lobster Boat of the 1800’s Massachusetts Bay. That working lineage is captured in stark simplicity in trim, finish, and superstructure mass. Isobel is unexpectedly light: her 41,000 lb weight places her firmly in the Ultralight Displacement category.

That might lead one to brand her as an out-an-out race boat.  She is  not. Her mission is fast, low-effort cruising and daysailing, though she is pure speed and fun to race. Her owner is more in love with her short-handed abilities. At 68 feet on deck, it’s 75 feet to the end of her modernistic bowsprit; yet we frequently race her with 5 crew. And her owner likes double-hand racing as well.  This is one serious smile machine. Whether seasoned racers or neophyte guests, people have more plain fun whether racing or cruising on her. She’s easy and effortless to sail fast. Ten knots boat speed upwind and mid-teens down are easy to achieve numbers. Everyone goes ashore with grins on their faces.

Her owner says, “The boat just makes people smile.”isobel-inside

For the record there is serious sophistication in the deck plan. Advances were gleaned from races like the Vendee Globe; her light displacement and bobstay-less sprit allows a small working sail plan to be effective in light breezes.  A powerful square-top mainsail increases lift, reduces aerodynamic drag, and automatically de-powers the rig in a blow. Swept-back spreaders take the place of backstays: jibing is as simple as pulling in the mainsheet and putting the helm down. Done. Roller-furling headsails keep foredeck work simple and safe. There is a fixed working jib, a selection of light sails set to sprit and masthead. And an inner heavy-weather jib means balance is easy to find, even in during a howler.

Isobel’s cockpit is split in two—an aft working zone well-set-up for sail-handling. And a forward social zone set deeper in the boat that’s behind the deckhouse for shelter. If the sun or breeze becomes too much, just slide into the same-level salon and drop the windows to stay in touch with the upholstered forward cockpit. Close the windows and turn up the heat, or air conditioning, for full shelter. All without losing your view or connection to the outside world.

Staying comfortable is the best form of fun.

isbole-insideA huge galley is well-laid-out for cooking at sea, and well-connected to the deck salon by a wide-open area under the windshield. A single quarter cabin houses a professional crew member, while another double stateroom provides ample sea berths for cruising or deliveries.  The owner’s’ stateroom forward is capacious and airy, with a centerline double, and ensuite head with a huge shower stall.

Isobel is unusual, and not for everybody. Her speed and ease of handling have given her relatively small accommodations for her length. It’s easy to overlook that when comparing her to other boats of the same scale. But we think the trade off is worth it. And it gives the added bonus of offering real value at this price.

cockpitIf you’re looking for an exciting boat that above all is easy to sail and will put smiles on the faces of your family and guests, we’d be happy to speak with you and give you some time to see if this lovely ship is a match for you and yours. 

Full disclosure: The sooner we find a new good home for Isobel, the sooner we can maybe start in on Boat number 5 for her owner! He has some lovely ideas.