Sailboats Part II

Staring at a blank page with very little to write.  I guess it’s time to pull out Part II of my Sailboats Series.  This one is a little odd.

I can’t find a picture of a mid ’60’s Irwin 27 anywhere on the web.  This is as close as I can come, and it’s a very poor image.

Irwin 27

Can barely tell anything, can you.  I think the saddest part is, I can’t for the life of me remember what we named that boat.  I recall having many discussions about it, and I know we decided on a name, but I honestly have no clue.  But the boat still holds many fond, and some not so fond, memories.

We acquired the boat when Becky was pregnant with Jenni.  David and Joy, our partners in “Great Escape” were also interested in upgrading, so we put the Sailmaster on the market and went searching for a new boat.

We found the Irwin down southern Virginia, as I recall.  She had a deep maroon hull, teak weather rails, and a tiller … we hadn’t graduated to a boat with a wheel just yet.  She was powered by a little 4 cylinder gasoline engine, which turned out to be a bad decision, but more on that later.  Down below, she had a real galley, an enclosed head, a spacious “V” berth forward and a narrow captains berth just under the cockpit.  The settee also converted into a bunk.

I’m not sure why we needed to make repairs to the gas tank, but it may have been the installation of a fuel gauge.  I remember epoxying a gauge into the tank, and it seemed to work just fine.  It was a simple mechanical float gauge … no big deal.  David had approved the repair.  He was the experienced sailor.  But I’m not writing to play the blame game.

I learned a lot about boat maintenance on that boat.  I installed a second battery system, and still have the scar where my knife crossed the terminals of the 12 volt battery as I was cutting away the post protectors.  The little wire circle burned off my Swiss Army Knife in a fraction of a second.  It fell on my leg and branded me with a little circle.  If I hadn’t been holding the plastic handle, it honestly might have killed me.  A brand new battery with probably 750 cold cranking amps … I never really thought about it much before now.  I also wasn’t grounded … sitting entirely on the fiberglass hull of the boat.  But I guess I came close to having my number called that day.

Anyway, I also fiberglassed in the battery tray.  It was an older boat, and it was a good learning experience.

By the time we found the boat and got her outfitted, Becky was painfully pregnant, and we took something of a break from sailing.  Though we did spend time at the marina, walking around Cobb Island, trying to induce labor.  Cajun meatloaf finally did the trick on that.  Jenni was a week old when we first took her to the boat.

We put her carrier in the captains berth, and putt-putt-putted from a work slip at the marina to our regular slip.  A ride of maybe 5 minutes.  But I’ve told Jenni since she was old enough to understand that she was first on a boat at a week old.  Maybe that’s why she’s always been so good around the water.

We spent some good times aboard that little red sailboat.  I distinctly recall being on the Wicomico river, which feeds the Potomac, when a summer storm blew up.  Lightning everywhere, big wind.  It was one of the rare times we were sailing with David and Joy … and we sent the girls below, shortened sail, and hunkered down in the cockpit keeping her under control.  It passed as quickly as it came up, and we sailed home with little additional excitement.

But eventually, the friction between us and David and Joy began to manifest its self.  We wanted to keep some baby things on the boat.  We didn’t sail together often, but it was just a huge pain in the butt to drag all the baby stuff to the boat every time it was our turn to sail.  We tried to rig the captains berth so that it could be a baby bed.  Still, David was a racing sailor at heart, and didn’t want any extra weight on the boat.  He gave us a hard time once about an extra roll of paper towels aboard.  We kind of knew at that point that it was time to dissolve the partnership … but like most such things, we hung on too long.

Then came the day David neglected to sniff the bilge before he tried to start the engine. He’d re-fueled the boat, and either didn’t run the blower and/or didn’t open the lazarette to see if there were any gas fumes.  Only he and Joy were aboard the boat, and there was an engine fire.  Not a terrible one.  No one was hurt, and there was really little damage.   But David blamed my less-than-standard fuel gauge installation for leaking gas into the bilge.  That may actually be true, but he really needed to check before hitting the key.  We both knew the partnership was done.

David and Joy agreed to buy out our share of the boat.  They say that the two happiest days in a boat owners life are the day he buys it and the day he sells it.  I have to say I’ve found that not to be true.  When I turned over my set of keys to David, I cried. 

We didn’t go long without a boat, however.  We started looking almost immediately for something we could call our own.  The years we spent sailing with David were confidence building.  I don’t regret it for a minute.  We managed to remain friends, but David and Joy had their problems.  After the fire, the boat went up on the hard for repairs, and I don’t know if she ever went in the water again.  Joy was not really big on sailing, and without us, David, I guess, couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to get her back in the water. 

After we’d moved on to a bigger boat in bigger water, I remember going once back to Cobb Island and seeing her, up on jack stands, becoming one of the derelicts that you often see in a boat yard.  I have no idea what eventually happened to her, and as I said at the top of the post … I can’t even remember her name.




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

3 responses to “Sailboats Part II

  1. David Fann


    Florida Sea Grant is building a database of boats in Charlotte County, Florida, as part of a regional waterway management system project. We need to determine draft of vessels using the waterways, and our crews photograph boats they can’t identify so we can research them later.

    Google sent me to your page that mentions lack of photos of early Irwin 27s on the Web. I have some pictures of what may be a very early 27. Alas, she is in very poor condition. We would appreciate your confirmation of the ID or suggestion of what she might actually be. How can I send the photos to you?


    David Fann
    Florida Sea Grant

  2. Nice and usefull post, thanks, this is one for my bookmarks!

  3. Tim

    Hi TC,

    I think I know your boat. Was her name “Sea Breeze”?

    There can’t be more than one red Irwin 27 on Cobb Island MD. She’s sitting on stands at the Schmanski boatyard. She’s up for sale and I’ve got my eye on her.

    I came across your blog, looking for pictures. Small world!

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