Sailboats Part I

Blogging about boats has got me reminiscing about sailboats that have owned me.  While I do love my center console fishing boat, at heart, I’m a sailor. 

22  This is a Sailmaster 22.  A boat just like this, except she had a white hull, was my first sailboat.  I was in a partnership with one of my first wife’s co-workers.  And my first long sail was a real adventure.

The boat had been in a yard over on the Eastern Shore for over a year.  David, the co-worker, had put her there for some kind of cosmetic repair, but the person contracted to do the work dragged and dragged and dragged.  When we expressed interest in owning half the boat, we made plans to liberate her from the yard.

David called ahead and had the boat put overboard, and we drove over to near St. Michaels, arriving early in the morning.  Joining us on the trip was Jeff, another of David’s co-workers who claimed to have tons of sailing experience. It turned out not so much.  And we should have paid attention to the “red sky in the morning” adage.  The glowing red sunrise was a portent of a rough ride.

The little boat had no radio, no compass, and little in the way of safety gear.  I was so naive at the time that I didn’t even know to ask.  David had bought a compass, but we had no way to mount it before the trip.  Still, with some food and water stowed below, we set off planning to make about half the trip to Cobb Island up the Potomac River where we planned to keep the boat.  Increasing clouds and a fresh breeze from the northeast helped us make good way south down the Chesapeake Bay.

About an hour into the trip, the centerboard broke.  It just started banging against the hull below the waterline, held only by the wire painter that raised and lowered the board.  It was made of stainless steel, and 30 years of flexing had taken it’s toll.  All we could do was pull the painter tight and sail on.

The boat did have a little motor, but David was a sailor, and he was going to sail.  So sail we did.

We made better time than we expected, and the weather held through the day, but then, Jeff got sick.  He’d been below using a match to try to whip Dacron lines, and the fumes started him to puking.  We lost him for the rest of the trip.  He stayed below, in the tiny cuddy cabin, complaining.

As night fell, the weather started to deteriorate as well.  In the dark, we missed a mark and had no idea where we were.  I finally said to David “Turn west.  We’ll eventually come up on the other shore of the Bay, and we’ll figure it out from there”.  So we took up a westerly heading, and soon a channel marker appeared in the gloom.  Looking at the charts, we determined we’d come across some shoals that, at low tide, would have had us aground.  We set a new course for the mouth of the Potomac, and the thunderstorm began.

I recall at one point being up on the foredeck, no life jacket, not clipped on, dark, 3 foot seas, in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, a thunderstorm raging, and I was trying to strike the headsail.  We had too much sail up, and needed to reef down the main and get the headsail off.  Remember, I’d never been on a sailboat bigger than a 16 foot Hobie Cat in an Indiana Lake.  I was way out of my league.

I got the headsail off, and David and I were both drenched … foul weather gear not withstanding.  It was May, and it was cold, and we were wet. 

David went below to try to warm up a bit, and I took the helm.  I spent a very cold 3 hours at the helm, crouched against the cabin trunk trying to stay a little out of the wind, peering into the gloom for the flashing lights that would indicate we’d made the mouth of the River. 

They finally appeared.

I woke David and took my turn below.  At least out of the wind, it was a less uncomfortable.  Jeff, however, was begging to be put ashore.  We couldn’t accommodate him, of course, and he finally just gave up.

We managed to sail all the way up the Potomac to Cobb Island that night, Far faster than we expected.  As morning broke, we got the doughnuts out and celebrated.  There was no way to make hot coffee, but at least there’d be a little sunshine to warm us up a bit.

Now, this was before anybody had a cell phone clipped to their hip, so when we got to the Cobb Island Marina, we called and said “We’re here”.  On a pay phone, as I recall.  Becky and Joy (David’s girlfriend) were just as amazed as we were that we’d been able to make it all the way in just one night.  We really expected to have to find a place near the mouth of the Potomac and finish the trip the following weekend.  It was the final surprise in a weekend full of them.

It was the first of many adventures with the boat we re-christened “Great Escape”.  I learned so much about sailing cruising back and forth on the Potomac River, and I eventually got to the point that I could, in the right wind, sail that boat into her slip.  Of course, before I learned all that, I had her sideways in her slip trying to go sailing.  But she was my first real boat, and I’d have her back in a heartbeat … wooden spars and all.

But that’s another post.




Filed under Boat, Boat Stuff, Sailboats, Sailing, Thoughts

20 responses to “Sailboats Part I

  1. Greg Koski

    Hi…loved your story…I’m restoring a 1964 Sailmaster 22 up in Maine…hull #44. Her name is Wallilabnu and she hails from Newcastle, Maine, although she’ll be moored in South Bristol. Her sails and rigging have been handled by Doug Pope at Pope Sails and Rigging in Rockland Maine, and must of the hull/deck work is being done at the historic Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol. Eventually I plan to sail her from Eastport, Maine to Key West , Florida, although I’ll probably do the trip northound. Let me know if you’d like to follow the saga of the restoration, etc. Greg

    • Stan

      Came across this post while browsing the web for Sailmaster 22 info. I purchased a sailmaster 22 from my dad’s cousin 2 years ago and have her in a slip in Kennebunkport Me. Built in 1964 Hull #103. I’d be interested in seeing pics and following your restoration.
      It’s hard to find info or other SS22 owners on the web.

  2. tcpatton

    Sure, Greg. Are you blogging about your restoration? I’d recommend a Flickr account, or something similar, as well. Have fun.


  3. Greg Koski

    T…do you have any knowledge or experience regarding the centerboard on the Sailmaster 22? I need to get mine out to inspectd/repair/replce it…I know where the pivot bolt is but can’t figure out how to get it out to drop theboard from the trunk…Greg

  4. tcpatton

    Hey Greg. When we did ours, we literally had to cut the hull around the pivot bolt to get it out and then rebuild the pivot point. I know, it’s in a critical point in the hull, but we didn’t see any other way to remove the pin to get the board out after it broke.

    Good luck.


  5. Hey,

    I loved your story. I purchased my first 22D from a boatyard in Solomons Island, Maryland (1986). I sailed her several years out of Annapolis. I relocated to Eliot, Maine in 1989 and sail out of Portsmouth. The 22D was hit by another boat. I now have a beautiful 22. Alot of great adventures. Lets stay intouch. I have replaced the C-board.



    • Greg Koski

      Hey, John…hope you had a lovely holiday. What’s up with your Sailmaster 22? Would love to see some pictures…

      We had some lovely sails this summer, the best out around Pumpkin Ledges off Damariscove Island…re-doing Wallilabu’s ground tackle this year, putting in an autopilot and hoping to get the sonar and XM radio installed finally. My friend Anne made a lovely canopy for over the cockpit…should be all set for cruising….Greg

  6. Greg Koski

    There are a lot of pictures detailing the restoration of Wallilabu poster on Picasa web. The link is:

    Any Sailmaster owners who are interested in a North American chapter of the Dutch Sailmasters Club should drop me a note.

  7. Edwin Glasgow

    I’m restoring a Sailmaster 22 and am pleased to read all the correspondence. I am going to remodel the small cabin in order to stay overnight. Has anyone rebuild below deck? Thanks , Ed

    • Greg Koski

      Hey, Ed…I’m doing the same thing over this winter…installing a quarterberth on the port side and a combination nav station/galley on the starboard side…using the opportunity to install some new floors (ribs) to further strengthen the hull…will have stowage aft…will be all mahogany and teak. Would love to see your plans…Stay in touch…Greg

  8. Greg Koski

    John…you and anyone else who would like to share information, pictures and experiences regarding their Sailmaster 22s should feel free to contact me at


  9. Hey everyone. I am a fellow Sailmaster owner. It seems like the centerboard is the main problem in this model boat, and a real pain. Everyone I have come across has had to remove/replace that thing including myself. I have not actually performed the procedure yet, and am so close to getting in the water I may wait until the season is over to to fix her.

    Great story by the way. I enjoyed reading it and feel as though I may be experiencing something similar this summer.

  10. christian tosi

    I own Sailmaster 22D #125 All fiberglass with Pig iron encapsulated ballast. Aluminum mast and sitka boom. I have done a full restoration over 10 years. The centerboard: I drilled through 18″ of pig iron and fiberglass to hit the pin within a 1/16th and drilled it out. Made a new board and used a stainless pin with lots o’ grease. Needs bi-yearly maint. Cut out some floors to dry out breached and swelling, rusting iron cells, re-glassed them in. Emptied entire hull and installed re-configured sink cabinet with storage area. Need to install holding tank and bilge pump to be done. Have done the hull over twice. Once just a sand and paint, the next a full strip and re-do. The cracks still come back. Installed snap-furl rollerfurling and LOVE it! Main with one reef, needs another. Both Doyle sails and one of Norm Cressy’s last full-suits of sails before retiring from the trade. (For those who don’t know him Google “Norm Cressy Trophy”). I installed a wood toe rail over the fiberglass flange, enlarged the motor well for an electric start 8hp (2 stroke). So I needed a battery so why not get lights, wind, depth and speed indicators, a portable radio with remote, handheld GPS with charts, and finally a self launching, galvanized Triad trailer. I love this boat. It costs nothing to sail, I store it in my driveway if I cant afford the lot, I self launch, step the mast (2 people min, don’t ask why I know that), burn 6 gallons a year motoring around when absolutely necessary.

  11. George Pelati

    I owned a Sailmaster 22D for 25 years. Did just about everything to her including a new centerboard. If that is you problem i know what to do. Cape Cod Shipbuilding in Wareham, Ma. solved the problem. It is not fastened but hung on a pivot with a slot in the board.

    • Marc Gauthier

      Hi George, I’m about to take on a SM22 centerboard replacement project. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Drawings of pin location. Any pictures you have of the project. Etc etc. Thank you. Marc

  12. mike condon

    i just bought a sailmaster22 in abington,ma, its a weekender in great shape, cant wait to sail her

  13. hervé groleau

    bonjour ,
    je vais bientôt acheter un sailmaster 22 pour navaguer sur le bassin d’Arcachon en France .Et je suis pressé de le préparer pour naviguer dés le printemps . il y a 2 ou 3 sailmaster 22 en France mais je connais personne qui en ai un . je voudrai savoir quelle est la surface des voiles et savoir les performances du bateau .

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