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    My first sailboat

My 18' Atkin designed plywood Hardanger faering
plies the waves in early '80's Gig Harbor bay.
That's me at the helm, with my wife and kids
for trim ballast.  This photo was kindly supplied
by Bruce Smith.

The Hardanger faering

Al Swanson of Parkland (a righteous Swede) built her of plywood in the mid '50's according to an Atkin plan in Rudder magazine.  My Dad bought it from him and left it to me before his passing in '81.  Instead of a centerboard she had a long skeg, and was sloop rigged, which was good. The traditional rudder was more of a brake, so it took some touch to handle, but handle she did.  The boat turned out to be a Lightening killer.  Here's how I found out:

I was teaching myself to sail.  After surviving three solo trips, an SORC retiree named Perry  hitched a ride with me for my fourth.  He was an Irish Jew from Connecticut,  a veteren of two heart-attacks and a stroke, hiding out West with his Norwegian wife.  He raced in hot pink shirts and with a hipflask of brandy.  But this was no race today, or so we thought.  Perry trimmed the sails while I took the helm.  His first words to me were, "You can't teach a dummy how to sail."

Threatened with such a curse, I paid him strict attention.  He taught me to trim for the slot, and how sail-chokers overtrim and lose races.  Smoke from his cigarette gauged the wind for ghosting.  Then we espied a Lightning and gave chase.  I was lazing back with the tiller over my shoulder as we tacked in pursuit.  Perry looked back and snarled,  "Get off your ass, this is a race."

The Lightening should have walked away from us, what with their waterline, sail area and decent centerboard.  Maybe it was something in Perry, a something that came from deep within him that science can't help us with.  We were still closing when the wind died, so both boats just sat there.   A motor boat from the Tides Tavern zipped over, circling us.  Her skipper hollered questions about my boat.

"Is that a Drascombe?"
"No," yells I, " it's a Hardanger Faering".
"A what?"
"It's a Hardfinger-f....r" yells Perry.

And so it goes.  We not only killed a Lightning with a stupid Norse three-plank lapstrake cod boat, but we did it for a large  audience at a popular dockside  tavern.  Not bad for a master and his dummy.

This boat attracted notice everytime I took it out.  Painted  the colors of the Swedish flag (by me), she was pretty on the water.  One time I was following a motorboat caravan to the harbor entrance.  I had her on her ear, keeping up with them.  One skipper looked at me, then looked at his instruments.  He turned back, signalling my speed with his fingers. I was making something between 6 and7 knots.  Those were the days, when we knifed the water together without a wake.

If I'd have taken care of her, she'd be sailing today.  She was built in the '50's, and in good shape when I got her.  But I squandered my inheritance, and now she's pattern stock.  I'd trade my Columbia 26 for one like her straight across.  I miss that skateboard feeling of being near the water with the waves slapping on her plywood.  I believe Noah had  plywood.  He had to have, because our ancestors were actually smarter than we are, and we have it.  My thanks to Bruce Smith and his Significant Other for the photos I have of her under sail.  I learned from their sense of history and eye for art to take lots of pictures, because the things you love tend to fall apart while you look at them.

Next up:  The "NSF", my Columbia 26 Mkll
               Adventures in paradise...

  Here's our 3 ton floating living room. Don't be fooled,
   she's fast.  I made Blake Island from the mouth of Gig
   Harbor in 1 hour, 45 minutes during a nice South wind.

The C-26

This Wm. Tripp design fits the bill for bateau-hippii like us.  We got her in '89 from a fully gruntled Swede (another righteous one, judging from his taste in boats).  She's fast, even with original sails (circa '71), but a little snotty when trying to hoist away while motoring into the wind, due to sailplan and forward windage.  The high freeboard and flush deck are a nice touch.  The Blake Island run mentioned above exceeds her hull speed.  We were towing a dinghy that night.

One yacht broker told me of a C-26 owner who sold his cow and lit out for the Queen Charlottes, up the B.C. coast.  On returning he smacked into a rock and tore a hole in her.  He sailed her home to Gig Harbor, and left her anchored out for a year or so before hauling out for repairs.  C-26's are bulkheaded forward, enough to take a few bumps.

Another rumor came from a magazine, 48 Degrees North if memory serves, where someone in Mexico met a circumnavigating couple in a C-26 who had a kid enroute, and ditched the motor to make way for Huggies.  I don't know if I'd test a short fin keel on that kind of trip, but with God all things are posssible.

There are lots of these boats still sailing back East, and many on Puget Sound as well.  A web search will turn up online manuals and support groups.  Yes, it's a disease.

 Paradise lost...but only for a moment...

A well-balanced boat...

The NSF is blown off her mooring in storm,
 held upright by obliging trees.
The water came back, so we were
able to drag her off...

She ain't no flower pot yet...

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Page by  Arne Herstad                                                                                                                      Back to Homepage