Ive been the fortunate witness to the rebirth of a boat and the inspiring maturation of a boy. And Practical Sailor readers have unknowingly been along for the ride. For the past five years, boatbuilder Robert Helmick has allowed his Endeavour 42 Lost Boys to serve as a test platform for a wide array of sailing gear featured in these pages.
After corrosion destroyed the water-lift muffler aboard his 1972 Irwin 37 (above) and he could not find a replacement, subscriber Gene Millard fabricated his own.
Its hard to mistake the Stiletto 27s appearance-typically with blazing topside graphics and aircraft-style, pop-top companionway hatches. Its also hard for the average sailor to appreciate the sophistication of the Stilettos construction-epoxy-saturated fiberglass over a Nomex honeycomb core. There is probably no production hull built in the U.S. with a better strength-to-weight ratio than the Stiletto. And although the design is 40 years old, the Nomex honeycomb fabrication is still impressive.
This summer, Stiletto Manufacturing will be launching the all-new Stiletto X-Series, including a foiling catamaran, with the first boats expected to splash about the time this article went press. Carrying on the Stiletto tradition, the 10-meter X-Series models are being marketed as high-performance boats that are fast, beachable, trailerable, and affordable, as well as easy to handle and ideal for coastal family getaways.
Hunter Marine began building auxiliary sailboats in 1974, largely as the result of the first oil embargo and the new energy consciousness that followed. Founded by Warren Luhrs, Hunter began as a division of the powerboat-maker Silverton Yachts, which was interested in expanding its offerings and taking advantage of the new interest in saving fuel.
If you grew up sailing in Florida in the 1970s and 80s as I did, you probably spent many hours daydreaming and looking at Hunters, or if you were fortunate, sailing one. Those memories might not exist at all were it not for bit of luck and perseverance. While the U.S. economy was caught in a global recession, the Hunter Marine plant in Florida was still churning out sailboat hulls by the dozens.
The first fiberglass auxiliary sailboats were built in the late 1950s. The burgeoning industry reached full bloom in the early 1970s, but the 1960s saw a rapid increase in the number of builders hoping to cash in on the new miracle material of fiberglass. No seams, no rot, no water absorption...or so we thought. Still, the claims were largely accurate, and even though the ad agencies were quick with hyperbole, the public bought it. By 1961, a handful of European builders were also working with woven glass fibers and polyester resin, laying up hulls in female molds. In Canada, one of the first was Grampian Marine Limited of Oakville, Ontario.
This 26-footer is totally unlike familiar racer/cruisers from Pearson, Catalina or Hunter. For openers, it looks like a hot rod. The fine entry of its plumb bow and reverse transom give it a grand prix look, as does its 8' 8" beam. The boat displaces only 2,900 pounds on a 22' 0" waterline. It has a 7/8 rig supported by a pair of swept-back spreaders. Standing rigging is 3/16" wire on the uppers, forestay and lowers, 5/32" on the intermediates and running backstays. Ease of movement along wide decks is assisted by inboard shrouds.
When you first see this boat, either in the water or on paper, the two things that immediately strike you are the sheer and bow. Edmunds put the low point of the sheer at the right place, about two-thirds of the distance aft from the bow. But the bow seems awfully high. In fact, when you walk forward along the sidedecks, you have the definite sensation of walking uphill. Too much, we think, though the look certainly sets the Princess apart from boats with flatter sheers (again, the Pearson 365 comes to mind).