Up and At 'Em
A California couple's voyaging dreams see the light of day in New Morning, the cruising sloop designed by Chuck Paine and built by Lyman-Morse to take them anywhere they want to go. "Yachtstyle" for our September 2009 issue
On this early November afternoon, despite the sunlight burning through hazy clouds, the 10-knot southwest breeze that blew across the water was losing its summer warmth and made a windbreaker welcome as we beat south out of Narragansett Bay, past Castle Hill, across to the shore along Rhode Island's southern coast, then tacked off shore again. Much of America was at work on this Tuesday, or perhaps they'd taken a break to visit a polling place to elect a new president. We, on the other hand-Fay Mark, Russ Irwin, and me-had all, for various reasons, cast absentee ballots. They'd done so because they were bound for the Caribbean and wanted to vote for the eventual winner, who'd they supported early and richly; me, well, I work some distance from home and wanted my vote to count, too. And so it was that we were free to guiltlessly enjoy this spectacular afternoon and ride on New Morning, their Chuck Paine-designed sloop. The drop-dead gorgeous 54-footer was built in Maine by Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding.
From her proud stem to sugar-scoop stern, I quickly concluded that New Morning is very much a sum that's greater than any of her parts. She draws her charm equally from the powerful lines of her designer, the meticulous craftsmanship of her builder, and the very distinct wish list that her owners brought to the table via a Russ-authored design brief that stretched on for some 15 pages.
Because Russ and Fay are laid-back in that West Coast sort of way that turns a new acquaintance into a willing accomplice-they're recovering Silicon Valley techies-my dockside visit to see New Morning a day earlier quickly evolved into an afternoon-long exploration of the boat and how it came into being as well as an offer for an Election Day sail to see how all the details worked together out on the water. And those details were in abundance. Russ and Fay had taken what they'd learned from buying and sailing a Swan 44 Mark II on San Francisco Bay, added details they'd admired from Van de Stadt-designed Trintellas and other boats they'd visited while on charters and at boat shows, then wrapped them around what they intended to be the perfect means to reach the Caribbean and their home once there.
Here's what they wanted: A 50- to 60-foot circumnavigator that would sail primarily in the tropics but could be comfortable anywhere 50 degrees north or south of the equator. The boat was also designed primarily for a couple who'll live aboard all but six to eight weeks a year; 85 percent of the time would be spent at anchor, the rest under way. The taller owner (Russ, who stands six-foot-one) needs headroom; the shorter is a gourmet cook. Both enjoy their time together, but each appreciates his or her own space. Need to know more? Visit their website (www.newmorning.info) and download the entire design brief. Want to know how it turned out? Read on.
Approaching the boat dockside during its Newport, Rhode Island, stopover while en route from Maine to Bermuda, I recognized at once that New Morning had the signature lines of a Chuck Paine cruiser: the elegant and gentle sheer, the low cabin top, a hard dodger, robust rubrails. Climbing aboard, I couldn't help but notice the solid feel of the boat, the clean deck layout, and the beefy Harken electric winches and hardware intended for shorthanded offshore sailing.