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Lucky Boats

“LATIFA is the lucky one,” said the classic-yacht broker Barney Sandeman. He was speaking about the magnificent Fife yawl on the cover of this issue and featured beginning on page 64. The yacht, designed by William Fife III and built by the Fife yard in Fairlie, Scotland, has been in commission since her launching in 1936. Unlike many of her Fife sisters that were laid up in mud banks during what was a sort of Dark Ages for classic wooden yachts, LATIFA has been consistently maintained, upgraded, and appreciated. Her current owners have made careful upgrades that are sensitive to her originality, and at this writing she is poised to head into the Pacific Ocean, bound for Tahiti and thus continuing a remarkable voyaging career.

Like LATIFA, MESSENGER III, a 75-year-old power vessel based in Victoria, British Columbia, has enjoyed a life of good stewardship. She is one of the few remaining examples of a mission boat, built to serve outposts once scattered along the length of British Columbia’s long, convoluted coast. Tad Roberts, the yacht designer and an authority on British Columbia’s maritime history (his every-other-issue design review appears on page 56), notes that her builder was “decent, but not high-quality….” Their boats, he said, “were built to a price and intended to do a job.” Her longevity, he reasons, is thus due to the exceptional maintenance of a succession of caring owners. The priorities of the stewards of boats such as LATIFA and MESSENGER III are worthy of study and emulation by any would-be wooden-boat owner.

And then there’s CLARALAN (see page 34). She’s the luckiest boat of all in this issue—and among the luckiest I’ve ever encountered. On February 24, 2014, as Bruce Stannard tells us beginning on page 34, she grounded on rocks at Thistle Island, South Australia. The crew, including her designer-builder Andy Haldane, were able to abandon her without injury. What followed would have relegated the boat to the scrap heap, for most owners. Over the next several hours, and before Andy could return with a salvage vessel, the boat rolled onto its side, and in the surging seas the entire starboard side was worn away. His salvage team, reporting on the boat’s condition after diving on the submerged starboard side, reported, incredulously, “it just ain’t there.” The photographs in the article bear witness to this.

Andy’s response to this disaster had the appearance of a Herculean rebuild. But for Andy, we learn, the job was a sort of relaxation—a meditation. While I’m sure he would rather have had his boat for the seven years it took to put her back together again, his answer to the question of what motivated him through the rebuild project will, I’m sure, resonate with many readers of this magazine—even though they may find the scale of the CLARALAN project difficult to grasp. “I’ve been building boats all my life,” Andy said, “and that’s what I love doing. I do it because I want to do it, because I derive a deep-down personal satisfaction from my work.” A lucky boat, indeed.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Nesting Dinghy
Page 24

One for the Road

by James Guzzwell

To take my grandchildren sailing on Utah’s mountain lakes, I needed the largest dinghy that I could easily transport in a vehicle capable of carrying a standard 4' x 8' sheet of plywood.

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CLARALAN
Page 34

Don’t Give Up the Ship

by Bruce Stannard

There is a region on South Australian tourist maps blithely designated as the “Shipwreck Coast.” It is home to a powerful tidal current that, in 2014, contributed to the loss of the cutter CLARALAN.

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MESSENGER III
Page 56

Maintenance with a Mission

by Alex Zimmerman

In 2000, Bill Noon of Victoria, British Columbia, embarked on a program of restoration and improvement projects on his 50' powerboat, MESSENGER III, that he thought would take 15 years to complete. The work has now stretched beyond two decades.

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LATIFA
Page 64

Aboard: LATIFA

by Matthew P. Murphy • Photographs by Benjamin Mendlowitz

LATIFA, a 70' yawl designed and built by William Fife III, was commissioned as a fast, comfortable cruiser in 1936 by Michael Mason.

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ALKA B
Page 72

ALKA B

by Text and photographs by Nic Compton

I’m sitting in the cockpit of a pretty little 22' wooden cutter moored up in Dartmouth, on the southern coast of England. All around me are varieties of wood, lovingly fashioned into various components and finished off with an array of bronze and galvanized-steel fittings. Amidst this highly traditional boat setting, the conversation is rather surreal.

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Gartside
Page 77

Paul Gartside

by Nic Compton

Aside from her unusual rig and custom interior, ALKA B is in many ways the quintessential Paul Gartside design.

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Hastings Beach Punt
Page 80

MAD RAY OF RYE

by Peter Rolt

In 2020, when John Raymond-Barker sold his 38' EDITH GRAY, which he designed in the Bristol Channel pilot cutter style and built for himself in 2011, he thought that would mean the end of his adventure-sailing days.

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From the Community

Boat Launchings

Boat Launchings

SHADOW

SHADOW of Gig Harbor, Wa USA. Maiden voyage April 14th, 2024.

Classified