Rockland, ME (03/01/2010) - When I started planning to build the Barbara Ann in 1999, I had specific goals in mind. I thought of the new boat as a culmination of all things I liked about all my earlier boats. I had always sailed high performance boats starting with International Finns and 505s
when I was a teenager, moving to a Scampi half-ton racer in my twenties and later to a J-24 and Baltic 37 as I got older. All of these are great sailing boats with nimble performance.
I was looking for a larger boat that could be suitable as a live-aboard and would still be able to be sailed easily by one person. I wanted all the creature comforts that would make the new vessel comfortable in a New England or Canadian winter. This included heating for sub-zero temperatures, internet access, satellite TV, and a galley to match any home kitchen.
I selected Sparkman and Stephens for the design and Covey Island Boatworks for the construction. S & S had a reputation for designing the finest custom yachts as well as America’s Cup contenders. Covey had a reputation for sound construction, and great joinery.
Following discussions with S&S, I decided to meet the goal of single handed sailing by choosing an unstayed, Aerorig from Carbospars, a leading European manufacturer of carbon fiber spars. This would be the second such vessel designed by S&S.
I also decided on a pilothouse design that would be open and light in the long New England winters.
The S/V Barbara Ann was launched in LeHavre, Nova Scotia, in late 2001. It was too late in the season to make a run to Boston, so my wife and I decided to winter on-board in Nova Scotia. About a month after launch, we were hit by a hurricane strength winter storm. We had to make a run for cover through blinding snow and winds of 150 km/hr. We broached twice under bare pole, possibly causing some damage to our spars that aggravated a manufacturing defect that emerged a few months later. After some repairs, we holed up in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia until spring. Then sailed the Nova Scotia coast, making many new friends, and finally sailed for New England in April.
That spring, I started noting stress cracks in the mast and boom, excessive tenderness in the boat, and more mast flex than would be expected. We discovered that these were due to a construction defect that was masked by the spar builder by adding many layers of fiberglass over the carbon fiber mast. The mast was over 50% heavier than specified and was showing signs of fatal cracks.
After a few months trying to find solutions, we determined that the mast had to be replaced. By this point Carbospars had gone out of business and we had to find an alternative design. Since the entire structure of the hull was designed and reinforced for an un-stayed rig, this turned out to be a huge problem. Fortunately, Ted Van Dusen (http://www.vandusenracingboats.com), Robbie Doyle (http://doylesails.com), and Bruce Schwab (http://www.bruceschwab.com), turned the near disaster into an opportunity to add a near perfect rig that met my original design goals in a much simpler and efficient design.