News

Zen and the Art of Spirit of Tradition Pontoon Boats.

It can take effort to sense the silver lining in the dark cumulus clouds of the custom boat business. We work in a mature market, of a discretionary product, for a flat demographic that makes little sense to the next generation. Boats are like golf, but with waves and even crazier names for sh#t. But there’s at least one ray of hope in the thunder clouds of the yacht-making game: Pontoon boats. Yup, pontoon boats: Floating packages of giant aluminum hot dogs are the runaway winners in the slowly recovering global boat building market, at least according the Boat Building […]

Retro Golden Globe One-Design Racer Gets Lost In Design Time.

Hey, Don McIntyre! You’re the organizer of the Golden Globe 2018 single-handed round-the-world race. You know, the one where anybody can grab a select list of old fiberglass boats and go around the world non-stop, with not much more than a sextant. Is there a rule we missed that says the new one-design for your race has to be a slow boat to China and back? It’s not like we’re not big fans of the coming Golden Globe Race 2018. We flat out love how your GGR will send off a mixed fleet of about 30 professional and amateur sailors. […]

Marine Engineering 111: Why is my cockpit eh … a cockpit?

We all sit in them, we stand in them, haul lines in them, and have lunch in them. But do we know why a cockpit is what it is? In many boats, the answer is no. Cockpits seam to slouch in as pre-ordained stories. And that’s a shame, because roughly 7 out of the 10 of the design choices in a vessel involve the design and function of a cockpit. Cockpits expose the inner guts of a boat to the elements and bad luck. Soles that are too low can sink a vessel through downflooding. And it’s the cockpit that […]

Paul Pounds Sails: Why Handicapping Sail Materials Is a Material Mistake.

Sailing is not golf. Handicapping a sailboat race is a silly, silly idea: Length, weight, sail area, wetted surface are difficult to compare fairly. Nothing comes close to a simple “three-stroke handicap” that captures the subtle mix of tools that make a boat fast or slow. But, still, we sailors want to have fun, we don’t want confusing rules and penalties that are faulty in basis.  Mostly we want to collect our friends and all our different boats, together at the same party, and race. It’s what we do. Today, we’re going to rant about the especially gnarly problem of […]

Bequia Wins Again: A Look at the Candy Store Cup 2017 Fleet.

It may be shameless self promotion, but … one of our favorite boats, Bequia, took another decisive win on the race course earlier this summer. She took first overall at this year’s pretty darn competitive Candy Store Cup, in Newport, RI.  When we find luck on the race course, we like to take a moment to compare the boat to the others on the race course. That way we learn where the speed might have come from; and dig into what we can improve in future designs. The very talented marine photographer, Mark Krasnow, was very generous to share his spectacular race photos. […]

Question of the Month: Should I Varnish My Boat in the Caribbean?

We love boats of all materials– okay, except MAYBE go easy on the ferro-cement. But we’ve drawn a lot of cool boats, boutique boats, and modern classics. Many have been built as custom one-offs in composite wood construction. We’re often tapped for our expertise in building fancy things out of different wood species. And we recently had a reader and a customer pose a question we get a lot: Can I keep my modern wooden boat in the Caribbean year-round? What challenges will I see? To be honest, the brutal conditions of the sun and salt air of the sweeping […]

Marine Engineering 108: Why on earth does anybody pay so much for a custom boat?

And now, the customer: All the elegantly engineered keels, retro-installed electric drives and superyacht-regatta winning hulls matter not a whit unless these yachty wonders wind up into a real, floating boat. And that real boat requires the near magical, impossible-to-design thing: A real customer. We’ve been working the yacht design wheels for nearly 60 combined years, and we know less now about where the good clients come from than when we started. Where does the individual with the means, inclination and imagination come from to create a great boat? We have no idea. But it is impossible to overstate their […]

The Scuttlebutt on the Camden Classics Cup

One of the upsides of sponsoring the Camden Classics Cup is we get to cozy up to the scratch sheet for this year’s racing. Entries are still coming, but so far there will be some distinguished Spirit-of-Tradition yachts, with great backstories, out there on crystal blue Penobscot Bay. Since any time is a good time to jaw about these lovely boats, here’s a couple of favorite designs you can expect to see racing on July 27th. Marie J: This Tiffany Jayne 34 was the cold-molded wood prototype for a successful fiberglass production run of this boat, designed by Paul Kotzebue, […]