Cherubini 44 Mark II: Rhapsody in Blue
The recent launch of Elysium, an exquisite ketch-rigged Cherubini 44 Mark II, promises new life for one family of longtime sailors and another family of old-school boatbuilders. "Yachtstyle" from our October 2008 issue
The Art and the Science
On this June weekend, the Ballards and I are sailing aboard Elysium with Dave Cherubini. (His family's name is pronounced with an initial "k" sound.) At 42, he's the president of Cherubini Yachts and our living link to the clan that played such a leading role in America's early composite-boatbuilding industry. But don't let his executive title fool you: Dave Cherubini is a craftsman in his heart and his soul and his hands. He was 13 back in 1979 when he first went to work at the Cherubini Boat Company that his uncles John and Frit founded. Like most of his cousins and siblings, Dave reckons he was fired half a dozen times over the years; whenever that happened, he'd go build and restore pianos, often with his dad, Richard.
But these days, Cherubini's full attention is on boats. Ask him about virtually any detail aboard Elysium, and before long he's waxing rhapsodic. "The interior of this boat is built mostly out of one tree," he says of Elysium's Honduran-mahogany joinery. "One tree that we had for a long, long time."
|A smiling David Ballad enjoys his new yacht. Interior woodwork was created almost entirely from one mahogany tree.|
He points out the coamings at the base of the cabin house. "See this? This was all done by hand. You can see that there were two boards, but it was the same tree. One board was early in the tree. It was a little pithier than the other board, where the old growth was stronger by the limbs and where the photosynthesis happened, where it carried the nutrients, and they got trapped in the tighter grains. What we did was we resawed the planks, then book-matched them, brought them back over, then split the sides."
Ask him about virtually any detail-about the hull's laminate schedule, say, or the deck construction, or about the 44's design history or the particular improvements featured in this boat-and you'll soon understand that here's a company president who knows his product to its finest details.
Elysium, hull number 34 of the Cherubini 44 line, is built of hand-laid fiberglass in Derakane vinyl-epoxy resin, all carefully squeegeed out for an optimal fiber-to-resin ratio. In fact, this hull came in 10 percent under the 6,000 pounds of previous polyester-resin 44s, allowing Cherubini to reallocate almost 600 pounds directly into ballast. A web of unidirectional fiberglass takes the rig loads amidships. A watertight bulkhead protects against a breach or any leaks around the bow thruster. In the laminate under the cockpit, more than 100 square feet of copper foil provides counterpoise should the Ballards decide later to install a single-sideband radio.
Elysium's deck is built of AA marine-grade fir and okoume plywood, overlaid with heavy E-glass. It's vacuum bagged and infused with epoxy. In places where deck hardware is installed, Cherubini added G-10 Garolite bolsters to facilitate bedding and to prevent water from wicking into the plywood. The deck is bolted to a massive sheer clamp that's integral to the hull.
"The decks were always done this way, with deck beams and carlins and real through-bolted cabin sides," says Cherubini, "because that's what Frit wanted. He knew the boat could withstand 30 tons of water pressure anywhere. And that's pretty much how it's been. Every boat is still sailing."