The Boat - Mai Tai
|824 sq ft|
In the 1940's, the Annapolis Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, USA, took delivery of 12 wooden yawls designed by Phillip Rhodes. These yawls were used to develop seamanship skills in the young naval cadets that would one day take to the high seas as commissioned officers in the US Navy. The yawls were used in collegiate sailing regattas and were very fast and strong for their day.
Nearly 20 years later, in 1961, Bill Luders designed Weatherly, the 12 meter that won the 1962 America's Cup. The Annapolis Naval Academy asked him to up-date the Rhodes designed yawls in order to replace the original wooden boats. At that time, the US Navy was sub-contracting some of the construction of coastal patrol vessels for the Vietnam War. One company in particular, had done extensive research in fibreglass construction and it was decided that the new Luders Annapolis 44's would be built in fibreglass. The company that received the contract to build these vessels was Uniflite, in Bellingham, Washington.
In 1963, twelve yawls were constructed for the Navy to extremely rigorous standards. In fact they had to be strong enough to be loaded on flatbed rail cars, on their sides, for the trip across the USA to Annapolis from the West Coast. In addition, they each had a ring on the top of the mast in order that a Navy frigate could lift them out of the water and set them onboard with a cable to this ring in the truck.
There were a small number of owners/investors in Uniflite at this time, six of whom were avid sailors. They decided to build six more boats, identical to the twelve for the Navy except for the interiors and the rig. This was in the days of the CCA racing measurement rule and a cutter rig was seen as more competitive by that rule, so the six new Annapolis 44s were rigged as cutters instead of yawls. The interiors were re-designed for "yachting" and the navy pipe-berths were eliminated and replaced with mahogany-ply settees and storage lockers. These were truly the highest quality yachts that money could buy in 1963, and they won almost every yacht race they entered for the next 8 years. The Annapolis 44's were at the top of their game and absolutely beautiful to look at. However, because of Uniflite's construction standards, they were far too expensive for the market at that time and only the six built for the partners of Uniflite were completed.
Mai Tai was one of these six cutters which became available for sale for the first time 25 years after she was launched. The original owner, Arthur Wood, at the age of 78, decided he and his wife should think about getting a power boat. They traded Mai Tai to me in 1989. Since then - 17 years ago - I have re-fitted Mai Tai with a new engine, self-tailing winches, an electric anchor windlass, a new interior more suited to short-handed long range cruising, and many other items that have made her a wonderful offshore vessel for us.
Mai Tai - List of equipment:
Yanmar 44hp (rebuilt in 2006)
The Annapolis 44 provides many design benefits.
- The full keel provides space for water and fuel tanks under the floors, which in turn allows a great deal of stores to be placed under the settees for easy access.
- Her full displacement hull allows her to carry a huge amount of gear and stores without greatly affecting her performance.
- She has no exterior wood to keep varnished as all handrails are S.S. so there is almost no upkeep on deck.
- The cutter rig makes reducing sail much easier even though, so far, we have refused to install roller furling headsails. These sails tend to be too heavy for light air and too light for heavy air, so they are somewhat of a compromise in our minds. They also put a lot of weight high up in the rigging even when they are furled.
- Her narrow beam prevents her lee rail from “tripping” the boat and rolling her over when broaching or falling down a breaking sea, which has happened to us in a couple of storms.
- Her large cockpit makes a lovely place to live outside in the tropics under the awning. The cockpit is where you live 90% of the time when cruising, so it must be comfortable. There is a small down side to this, as we have filled the cockpit a few times at sea but it takes really severe weather to do this and when it did happen to us, she was still able to stay buoyant enough while the water drained away.
- Her fine entry and narrow beam give her excellent windward ability, especially for a full displacement vessel.
- She has plenty of lazarette storage on each side of the cockpit and in the stern. We feel this is essential for a cruising boat because of the extra gear one has to carry.
- She is an easy boat for two people to sail and consequently we have only 2300 hours on the Yanmar diesel in fifteen years of extensive cruising.
- Her decks and cabin top are foam cored fibreglass and her hull is solid fibreglass. This givers her tremendous strength without the concern of a rotting wood core material such as plywood or balsa.
- Because of her large cockpit, her interior is smaller than modern day 40 footers. However, we cruise as a couple and therefore are happy for the compromise of having a nicer living space in the cockpit and smaller interior space.
- We have recently built on a hard dodger to replace the old canvas one. This will improve the protection from weather in the cockpit and make long passages a little more comfortable.