An interesting local boat has come up for sale. Jim Creighton wanted a boat to do extended solo cruising in, and he has a passion for junk rigs. He found a design for a boat called the North Atlantic 29, and built it over an extended period. Jim now resides in Dartmouth, NS and keeps his boat, the Marco Polo III, at the Armdale Yacht Club, where he is either Commodore or Past Commodore. I did some small work on the boat with Jim when he was just finishing up hull construction in West Dublin, way back in 1983-84. I have no professional or financial interest in the boat or her sale; I just thought the boat interesting enough to warrant a posting here. Details about sale can be found at www.sunnybrookyachts.com.
From the broker's write-up (this is Jim's hand - the broker just reprinted it)
The design of the North Atlantic 29 has its origins in the first Observer Single-handed Transatlantic (OSTAR) race in 1960, when Blondie Hasler joined with Sir Francis Chichester to lay down a challenge.
Blondie converted a Nordic Folkboat (same hull on which the Contessa 26 is based) to a whale-backed junk rig, a.k.a. Chinese lug rig, or, technically speaking: “fully battened, balanced lug rig”). She proved very easy and safe to handle. (Blondie thus introduced the junk rig to English yacht design.
Blondie later wrote a book with Jock MacLeod, “Practical Junk Rig” which explains the rig in great detail and provides the necessary tools to design your own rig.)
Her name was “Jester” and Jester eventually made a total of 14 Atlantic crossings, all single-handed but one, most under the guiding hand of Michael Ritchie who became her new owner. Unfortunately, she was very Spartan and Blondie was asked to design a larger version that could comfortably accommodate two persons for ocean cruising. He teamed up with Angus Primrose to produce the “North Atlantic 29”.
A total of six were built, four in fibreglass by a company in California and two by their owners, from scratch, including Marco Polo III.
Marco Polo, like Jester, is easy and comfortable to handle. All lines lead back to the cockpit. Also, all lines can be reached from the circular “hurricane” hatches so there is no need to go on deck except to anchor.
Apart from the junk rig, the unique feature of this boat is the steering station. It is a kind of vestibule, a small cabin separate from the saloon, from which the boat can be managed in a sheltered, dry environment. Halyard and main sheets are stowed on reels in the steering station. You can stand, leaning against the hatch coaming, or, sit on an athwartship, swinging seat. Or, one can sit inside on the cushioned seat. While seated on the swing-seat, a rotating, pram type hood can be pulled up for protection from the elements, leaving the sailor protected but in good eye and ear contact with the environment for lookout, ready to jump up to take action on short notice. A chart portable table could be fitted on the leeward side if required.
The rig really comes into its own, off-wind. The battens hold the sail firmly, presenting a large well supported area to the wind. Marco Polo frequently outran other boats her size with similar sail area, especially on a broad reach or directly down wind. The sails like a fully battened spinnaker. We have shocker more than one would–be contestant. The junk rig’s main weakness is close windward performance, especially in light airs. The harder the wind blows however, the better the performance as the battens bend the sail into a more aerodynamic shape.
Most cruising, in the real world, is not done to windward, unless really necessary. When it is necessary it would usually be in strong winds. The junk rig does its best windward sailing in strong winds when the battens take their most aerodynamic shape. If it is necessary to tack frequently, as in an estuary, for example, tacking the junk rig is as easy as just putting the tiller over. No foresail handling necessary. So, one can tack many, many times without tiring; an important fact in a storm. Annie Hill, author of “Voyaging on a Small Income”, built and sailed with her husband Pete, their junk rigged Benford dory, “Badger”. She told me that it is the wives in cruising couples who first recognize the virtues of the junk rig for cruising because, even with their diminished strength they can easily manage a junk rig alone in the middle of the night, with out male assistance.
She was raced only twice. In the first race, called “The Harbour Island Classic”, in Halifax Harbour, she left the whole fleet far behind on the downwind leg, to everyone’s chagrin. The returning upwind leg was the challenge.
The owner's plan in building Marco Polo III was to cruise from her home port of Halifax in ever increasing arcs of distance, testing my boat and myself to see how far I really wanted to travel. Unfortunately, family illness intervened just when the window of opportunity was opening to go abroad and then came an unexpected marriage together with a lot of land based responsibilities. So it is with reluctance I hand over my boat to someone who can appreciate her potential and the freedom to exercise it.
The boat was built over a period of 12 years beginning in rented space in the old Acadia Sugar refinery building at Woodside, Dartmouth. It was moved to the owner's mother’s back yard when that building was torn down. After a year there, building the deck and cabin, she was moved to West Dublin where the owner set up a boat building business with a partner. She was later moved to Chester where the owner worked on her with a hired boat builder on trim and interior joinery. She moved again to Armdale Yacht Club where she was finished under cover and launched in July of 1988. Further work was done in the following years.
For its size, this boat is very spacious. The interior is light and welcoming.