A yacht custom-built for gunkholing

ON BOATING

Boating

July 20, 2000|By Gilbert Lewthwaite

Most sailors can only imagine their dream boat. Annapolis advertising executive George Sass has just taken delivery of his.

It is the product of his years on both sail and power boats, designed in Annapolis, built in Edgewater, and now berthed at the end of his yard on Spa Creek. Delivered June 30, it is being readied for the family's annual cruise to New England.

At 43 feet, it is the latest model in the Thomas Point series off the drawing board of local naval architect Mike Kaufman, who worked closely with Sass to enable the new owner to have the some of the joys of a sailboat with the speed and comforts of a cruiser.

What Sass remembers most fondly from his sailing days is the gunkholing, or pottering in and out of secluded inlets and bays, dropping the anchor, and enjoying the peace and quiet.

This convinced him to leave a noisy generator off his new boat, to rely on natural ventilation rather than air conditioning, and to install an icebox as well as a refrigerator.

"We prefer not to go into marinas," said Sass, president and creative director of Sass & Associates, a major communications agency that trades in the international marine and high-fashion worlds.

"We still run the boat like gunkholing sail-boaters. The last thing I would want to do is annoy anyone with a generator - or annoy myself," said Sass.

He previously owned a small Folkboat and a 37-foot ketch, built by the Dickerson boatyard, in Trapp, before he moved on to power with a Grand Banks 42, then an Eastbay 38.

Simplicity was the keyword as he and wife Stacey went over the plans for their new boat with Kaufman.

"I was getting tired of the maintenance of complex boats," he said. "What I started with was how could I make a boat simpler."

Said Stacey: "Boys will have their toys. I like being on the water. And the best thing about being on the water is not to have to fix things."

Sass decided to investigate the possibility of building a custom boat rather than buying a production yacht.

"I said, `Why don't we start with a clean sheet of paper? We know ... we can decide what we want for the family.' Stacey said, `A custom boat - that's going to be more expensive.' I said, `I don't think so, if we spec it right.'"

He estimates a similar boat, without electronic add-ons, would retail at around $350,000.

In Edgewater's Mast and Mallet boatyard, where his previous yachts were serviced, he had seen Joe Reid building the Thomas Point line of Kaufman-designed boat, and he liked what he saw.

He met Reid and Kaufman, sitting around a table saw, which doubled as an office desk. They suggested he draft a paper on the boat he wanted. Many of his priorities were influenced by his experience as a marketing consultant for major marine clients, including Alden, Grand Banks, Tartan, C&C, Concordia, Eastbay, Nordahvn, and U.S Paint, makers of the ubiquitous AWLGRIP.

"We were designing stuff as we built it," said Sass. "I enjoyed the fact that it was a kind of dynamic, always-moving process."

His first priority was to install a single engine rather than twin motors. Reckoning that one is easier to maintain than two, he went for a CAT 3208, choosing the V-8 over the Straight-6 for power and smoothness.

"It's bullet-proof," he said, noting that a single motor also allowed him to protect the running gear by having the prop shaft run through the keel.

His second priority was a cruising range of 300 nautical miles and a speed of 20 knots, with a top speed of 25 knots. This would enable him to complete the 208-mile run from Cape May to Block Island, the longest leg of his annual migration north, in daylight with a safety margin of fuel. In his old 8-knot Grand Banks, the trip took 26 hours.

He has decided the optimum cruising speed would be 18 knots.

"At that speed, I still have time to look at my charts, figure out where I am, not run into anybody, and still enjoy the scenery," he said.

His third desire was for a quiet boat. So he chose to have the boat built of western red cedar sheathed in two layers of 10-ounce fiberglass.

The wooden core helps absorb sound, and the fiberglass cuts down on maintenance. He reckons the combination saved 6,000 pounds in weight over an all fiberglass boat. He rejected a fly-bridge to save more weight and avoid extra windage.

Instead of the classic teak and holly cabin sole, which scuffs so easily, he chose a sheet vinyl floor covering, more commonly found in the foyers of banks or on the floors of department stores. It is hard-wearing, attractive, and quickly wiped clean.

His attention next focused on the interior layout: a roomy V-berth state room in the bow for himself and Stacey, with separate head to port and shower to starboard. The head is hand-operated to avoid the complications of electrical power.

Behind the accommodation is a single-bed cabin for their son, Dmitri, 9, and opposite it is a chart and workstation from which Sass can communicate with his office while afloat.

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