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
What It's All About
Elysium shoulders her way purposefully up the Miles River as Dave spins his yarns for the Ballards and me. In just three hours, we've been through the calms and squalls that make the Chesapeake in summer so famous. The wind blasts from zero to 30 out of a black electric sky; the V.H.F. radio says it's blowing 60 down around Point Lookout. But eventually all of that passes, and a gentle southwesterly fills in to carry us on to St. Michaels and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where we'll tie up alongside one of the traditional bugeye ketches that John Cherubini so admired. Indeed, the bugeyes were among his several inspirations for the 44.
"I'd had the boat's concept in mind since the late 1940s and did dozens of drawings through the years," John Cherubini said in a 1978 Cruising World interview. "I'd draw on anything that lay flat and didn't move-plasterboard, cardboard boxes, paper towels. I even scribed on Formica at times."
After years of working it out, John finally finished the design for the 44 in 1971. "It had been like having a mirage in mind all that time, and finally the appropriate dream took shape on paper." This boat, he said, was his favorite of all his creations.
It's easy to see why. For as much as we love to court novelty and innovation, some of the best things in this life are timeless. John Cherubini in his own life worked both sides of that dilemma, even seemed to glory in it, and we today are the happier for his not having surrendered too easily to either side. Elysium under full sail plants her ample tumblehome into the river, settles in at a moderate heel, and gathers speed with a seakindly deliberateness. She communicates power, comfort, and performance all at once. Yes, her displacement-to-length ratio of 208 may be higher than today's average, but that only means she's less prone to accelerate and decelerate in every gust and wave. While other boats pitch in the bay's chop, Elysium's motion is all forward-driving speed. Her sail area of more than 1,100 square feet keeps her moving in all but the lightest zephyrs. Indeed, her sister Silhouette won the 2007 Marion-Bermuda race, beating 71 other boats. You can imagine arriving at the end of a long, fast ocean passage like that feeling rested and cared for by this boat.
That's the moment Dave and Joanie Ballard look forward to, when they'll sail to the Caribbean next year with Dave's brother, Tom, and arrive in the Virgin Islands aboard this boat that's at once so new and yet so familiar to them.
As for Dave Cherubini, he's doing exactly what he wants to be doing right now. "I'm a simple guy," he says. "I can live in a van or a truck; I don't care. Because our success is within our day. At the end of our lives, it's what we left behind-something that somebody else is going to appreciate. It's about what we can do. I'm just telling you. That's the truth of it."
Tim Murphy is a Cruising World editor at large, a 2009 Boat of the Year judge, and an independent book editor living in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. His most recent book project is Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict Into Strength by Diana McLain Smith (Penguin/Portfolio).
Cherubini 44 Mark II
LOA 50' 0" (15.24 m.)
LOD 44' 2" (13.46 m.)
LWL 40' 0" (12.19 m.)
Beam 11' 6" (3.51 m.)
Draft 4' 10" (1.47 m.)
Sail Area 1,138 sq. ft. (106 sq. m.)
Ballast 12,000 lb. (5,443 kg.)
Displacement 29,800 lb. (13,517 kg.)
Water 135 or 200 gal. (510 or 757 l.)
Fuel 75 or 125 gal. (284 or 473 l.)
Mast Height 55' 0" (16.76 m.)
Engine 75-hp. Yanmar
Designer John Cherubini