It’s a few short weeks now before we shove off. Then our Rawson 30 ketch which has been our home for 2 years will come to life. A sailboat is just a poorly designed barge until it travels. Up until now, Madrone has been a poorly designed barge indeed: 30.5 feet in length and 9 feet wide at the widest point, but tapering at both ends. She could be wider, longer, and above all else, have room for my 6’ 4" height. But if she were wider, she would roll strongly with every rising wave. If she were longer, she would cost too much. If she had room for my head, she would be vulnerable to heavy winds, and not sail into them well.
Balancing these factors is the job of the boat designer. William Garden is the designer of the Rawson, as well as a score of other boats. I admire his ad copy:
“I love to design boats. Rather design boats than eat. Often do. So let’s get going on the perfect ship before you are so old that you have to be carried aboard”.
We are all getting older. William Garden, for instance, just died.
Rawsons were built in Tacoma. Their interiors were finished by the buyer, so the interior of each boat is different, and often really crappy. This has the effect of lowering the price overall on the used market. The previous owner of our boat, George W. Smith of Portland, Oregon, did a fantastic job with the interior. Wherever you are Mr. Smith, thanks! We’ve made a few changes ourselves, the most recent being:
- a copper sink and copper counter tops
- tile back splash
- microsuede settee cushions that are easily removed to reveal storage below
The exterior and general boat systems are another matter, and all seem to be in flux. In the trunk of my car right now is radar and tens of odd screws for various deck fittings, self steering systems, and who knows what else. It boggles the mind, but as long as she floats it should be ok.
So the name of the boat when we got her was Wind Borne. And that is a great name. And changing the name costs money, takes time, and is said to anger Poseidon. So why bother? Well, there are lots of Windbornes (fewer Wind Bornes, but who’s counting?) and I would like people to be able to find my boat on Google. So Madrone it is. A marvelous tree. We made sure to bless the boat, and name it with proper pomp, circumstance, champagne, and the urine of a virgin. That seemed powerful enough magic to please the gods. Time will tell.