Lean and lithe yet sound and fast, the British-built Spirit 46 Bamboozle is a thoroughly contemporary conveyance with the form and soul of a classic. "Yacht Style" from our October 2011 issue.
While McMillan said he’d delivered prior 46s with several different interior accommodations—an open floor plan, one cabin, and two cabins—the Felixes chose a rather standard layout with a V-berth and head forward, a pair of opposing settees and dining table in the central saloon, and the galley and navigation station, to port and starboard, respectively, at the foot of the companionway. The joinery work is remarkable; the 46 is literally a yacht where one “takes the furniture” sailing. The one and only thing the boat lacks down below is a place to stand up; headroom is about five feet two inches.
At left: Bamboozle's interior
“It’s a compromise,” Tina admits, “but it fits the way we really use the boat, which is for daysailing and as a weekend cruiser.”
To underscore the fact that the Felixes’ 46 is optimized for sailing and that they spend the majority of onboard time topside, Bamboozle’s cockpit is two feet longer than those on her sister ships. She’s also the only Spirit to be tricked out with Harken hardware, which Kevin specifically requested. McMillan required some coaxing to alter his usual package of Andersen winches and Fredriksen deck gear—“He’s a perfectionist, and it wasn’t an easy decision for him to vary,” said Kevin—but he ended up as pleased with the results as the Felixes.
As we made our way up Narragansett Bay, it was easy to see why. Bamboozle sailed like a witch.
Though our destination was dead upwind, once we were past the Newport bridge, we couldn’t resist the urge to bear away and ease the sheets, if only for a few moments. While we didn’t record the 21 knots of boat speed that another 46 notched during a race the previous year—many owners enjoy competing in the ever-growing Spirit of Tradition divisions at classic-yacht regattas—the knot meter immediately ascended into double figures, topping off at nearly 11 knots. Unfortunately, too quickly we hardened up back on the breeze; we would’ve soon been halfway to Block Island otherwise.
At my suggestion—I was interested to see what difference it would make, if any—we tucked the first reef back in and were able to lock in the mainsheet and forgo easing it in the puffs to luff the sail. The boat seemed a bit happier, her rudder a tad less loaded, and we gained a few more tenths of speed, up to almost seven and a half knots. McMillan had said Bamboozle was “a pretty slick performer,” so it wasn’t shocking to note that she was extremely close-winded, tacking through 60 degrees. What was surprising, given the rather sporty weather, was her nearly dry deck. Thanks to her light ends and a bit of flare to her bow, rather than plow through the chop, she rose ever so slightly and gracefully up and over each passing wave. It felt like a curtsy. She appeared to be enjoying the outing as much as we were.
The best part of all, of course, was driving. Like an old 6-Meter or 8-Meter, Bamboozle was devoid of lifelines; not only were the sight lines forward clear and unobstructed, but the absence of railings also heightened the sensation of speed and one’s proximity to the water rushing by. It was practically hypnotizing, not to mention addictive. To command a boat this long, lean, and nimble, with a feathery-light tiller, was nothing less than pure joy.
After all, anyone can put an addition on the house. Engaging the elements, becoming one with them, on a yacht that defines the word “uncompromising” is another matter altogether.
Much too soon, the marina hove into view, so we threw in one last tack, luffed up, dropped the main, and motored in. The boat is no slouch under power, either, registering a solid seven knots at 2,500 rpm. Tying up was a letdown. Things became too quiet. Evidently, my adrenaline had been flowing, too.
Part daysailer, part cruiser, part racer, and part classic—it occurred to me that the Felixes’ Spirit 46 is a boat that has multiple personalities.
And as Tina Felix knows, when the mood strikes, just about any old time, you can shake her reef out.
Herb McCormick is CW’s senior editor.
LOA 46’ 3” (14.15 m.)
LWL 33’ 10” (10.3 m.)
Beam 9’ 3” (2.83 m.)
Draft 6’ 6” (2.0 m.)
Sail Area (100%) 684 sq. ft. (63.54 sq. m.)
Ballast 4,464 lb. (2,024 kg.)
Displacement 9,920 lb. (4,499 kg.)
Water 25 gal. (94 l.)
Fuel 13 gal. (50 l.)
Holding 6 gal. (22 l.)
Mast Height 61’ 0” (18.59 m.)
Engine 18-hp. Yanmar GM-20
Designer Sean McMillan
Spirit Yachts, +44-1473-214715, www.spirityachts.com