Thursday, December 11, 2008

Boatsmith Raises the Bar

I've just returned from four days of working for David Halladay at the Strictly Sail Boat Show in St. Petersburg, Florida. This time the job did not involve making sawdust or even picking up a power tool. Instead, we spent the entire time hanging out on Abaco, his Pro-Built Tiki 30, showing her to crowds of visitors who steadily streamed in and out of the cockpit and climbed down in the hulls to look around. Surrounded by gleaming production yachts such as Catalinas, Tartans and Island Packets, we spent a lot of time explaining the Wharram design philosophy to the many who were fascinated by this very different craft.

It was indeed the differences that drew all the attention, and Abaco showed very well with her superb fit and finish that far exceeds the typical homebuilt Wharam cat. Awlgrip paint, professional canvas, custom teak woodwork and top notch gear and fittings put this Tiki 30 in a class all by itself, and David has gone out of his way to insure that it can live up to the quality Boatsmith is known for.

I had not seen the boat in person since last April, when I built the mast and the hulls were just being turned upside down for sheathing. Needless to say, I was blown away by the finished results, which can only be appreciated when viewed as a whole package.

David has made a commitment as the first licensed U.S. Wharram builder to raise the bar when it comes to the quality of these fine boats in an effort to attract more people to the designs. While many homebuilt examples are also finished to a standard of excellence, there are also far too many on the other end of the spectrum that give these boats a bad rap among the general sailing public.

Seeing the final product, has of course, inspired me to get moving again on my own Tiki 26 build. David has incorporated many of the ideas I had planned to use on my boat and has come up with many of his own. In an effort to remember everything I saw, I took lots of pictures of the details. Since there are far too many to post here, I've put them in an online gallery so others who are interested can check them out. There are probably ideas and inspirations here for all Wharram owners, regardless of the size boat:

Another thing that I found quite positive and encouraging about this boat show was the number of people who came to see it who were Wharram owners or builders. Over the course of four days we met folks who owned or had owned just about every popular size and model of Wharram cat. The Tiki 30 also appealed to sailing newbies who could just sense that it felt right when they stepped aboard, as well as quite a few old salts who said they knew a good sea boat when they saw one.

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