What’s it like being steeped in the knowledge of older designs such as the Searunner 25 trimaran, Piver 25 trimaran, or even the larger cruising Searunner 31 trimaran? See for yourself ;-)
This post comes to us on behalf of sailor and trimaran enthusiast Fred Goldfarb. As you’ll see, Fred is a veritable goldmine of information when it comes to 20th century trimarans, especially those now considered vintage. I can only say, “Thanks Fred!” for sharing a little bit of your story, along with these great photos, from decades ago. — Small Tri Guy
The Searunner 25 and Searunner 31 Trimarans
by Fred Goldfarb
I was 20 when I “discovered” boats & sailing, which has for better or worse affected the rest of my life immensely. I’ve studied engineering and small craft design, worked in naval architecture (large ships) and small craft (did a short stint with Cherubini yachts, some survey work, worked on all kinds of sailboats including wood,wood/glass, ferrocement, glass, building/repairing boats, taught sailing with the Offshore Sailing School, taught sailing, seamanship & navigtion with the Coast Guard Auxilliary, delivered boats from New England to Miami (including the Intracoastal Waterway), sailed on the East & West Coasts, some lakes/rivers, up with the Toronto Multihull Cruising Club, plus owned a folding sailing Kayak (a Klepper, my first boat), some dinks, the Brown 25 and 31, etc. While up in Victoria, Bill Kristofferson showed me and my buddy his first Kismet 24, with 6′ or so standing headroom – that was around 23 years ago.
I’m very familiar with older multihull designers such as Norm Cross (who I had the pleasure of meeting once on a 32’er of his design), Jim Brown, Ed Horstman (with whom I had an ongoing correspondence and met his better half once while on a business trip to California), plus many others. I have a personal boating library of design, construction, navigation, how to sail, sailing/cruising stories, etc., going back in some cases to the 1970’s. At last count there were between 400 and 500 items, including some boat plans (the original Trekka plans from Laurent Giles, a Roberts 24 somewhere).
I’m one of those whose life was changed by boats & sailing, and have an almost obsessive and savant – like interest & knowledge about a ton of stuff relating to the subject area. For example, my “sailing instructor”, whom I met 3 years after actually learning to sail, was famous single handed sailor Jean LaCombe, who was one of 5 participating in the first OSTAR (Observer Single Handed Transatlantic Race) along with Blondie Hassler, Valentine Howells, Sir Francis Chitchester, etc. Jean sailed a production 21′ glass Golif. When I met him he had been across the “pond” no less than 5 times singlehanded, and he showed me stuff I hadn’t yet learned, like sailing without a rudder, etc.
We became somewhat friendly after that. I have his book “A Moi Atlantique” about his first transat voyage in the 18′ wooden boat he designed and built, “El Hippocampe”, though since it’s in French I’ve yet to get it translated and actually read it! (I love passing on that info and knowledge to others).
Years ago I worked in naval architecture long ago, and was in a joint mechanical engineering/small craft design program between the college & Westlawn School of Yacht Design (the name back then). I’ve a long standing interest in good design, interesting design, how designers (and builders) solve problems, and have felt since I can remember that if a designer can do a good job with a smaller boat it says fare more than his designing a larger boat with vastly more room.
I guess I’m more interested personally in boats with some cruising accommodations though daysailers have and always will be more affordable, probably get more use, and are just as much fun when you get down to it. I once saw the original Transatlantic Val trimaran that looked like big version of the Tremolino 23 tri, etc. My best friend had a Piver 25 stretched to 27′ about the same time as I had the Searunner 25. I also know a fellow with a Newick Wing Val (formerly “Peggy”) which is one of the very few made in foam core glass. It was in a transatlantic race originally, and while not competitive today, still can get up to the high teen’s in speed under the right conditions.
A guy in my neighborhood has a small glass cabin tri in his garage, and in the 15 years I’ve lived in my town I’ve yet to see anything done with it. I tried talking with him about it once, even offering to buy it cheap to get it off his hands, but he wasn’t interested. Can’t understand why. I’m not sure of the make, but it’s probably a production tri from the late 1960’s to early 70’s from the looks of it. Like a glass Piver 25 maybe.
First, here are a couple of photos of my old friend Steve’s Piver tri, about a 25′ — stretched to 26′ or 27′ according to Steve …
Piver designed 27 (stretched 25) “2XS”, owned by Steve Steinberg.
Piver designed 27 (stretched 25) “2XS”, owned by Steve Steinberg.
Small Tri Guy Note: I found the following webpage while surfing the net one day. It features scanned images from Arthur Piver’s original trimarans catalog.
I first discovered Jim Brown’s Searunner 25 trimaran pretty early on, since I was interested in multihulls from the age of 20 (or 1968). Getting the Trimaraner mag helped. So did seeing some multihulls around NY. Symonds Sailing helped, as they were exclusively a multihull sailboat dealer.
This design attracted me because I got and read everything I could get my hands on re: boats & multihulls, including catalogs. Brown’s were very complete; plus he had a fantastic ability to convey excitement and to “market” his ideas. Specifically, I was interested in lots of designs, but very, very few were around.
The Newport, RI multihull sailboat show had a few boats, including Steve Callahan’s modifed Cross 28 Tri and others. Not many were for sale locally either and when I saw an ad for one I called. The local multi broker, Denis Blaise (school teacher & multihull sailboat broker) showed me the boat. It was in pretty good shape, sailed very well, and I went for it. The center cockpit is a great place to sail and handle lines from, though it really chops up the interior. It was great for daysails, overnighting, etc.
I bought this Searunner instead of building one myself. Although, over the years I had it, I worked on the cockpit, fixed bulkheads, literally made new A-frame structures (including cutting threads in stainless steel rods for bolting the A-frames on), and after the original and overbuilt mast broke at the spreaders (it was fiberglassed over the wood and the rot wasn’t apparent), I designed and built a new, lighter mast. That counts I think.
My Brown 25 was a very cool boat. Not much room below, a single berth w/head under forward, single berth aft with a seat, small galley/nav areas ahead of the berth, cockpit to seat 2 or 4 people max, and I loved going out on am ama while steering with a long tiller extension, and watch my own boat sail while sailing it!
The longest cruise I took my Searunner 25 on lasted 3 weeks. It was taken with a very “game” girlfriend at the time. We did a 3 week cruise from City Island, up the Connecticut river to Hamburg Cove & Essex (the next day), went to Stonington, CT, then off to Block Island, anchored in close to shore in Great Salt Pond where we spent 4 days, partially due to needing some rigging wire to replace some that was unraveling, then back to Stonington, back to the lower Ct. River, sailed a few days on an O’Day 25 to Coecles Harbor (Long Island), then back on Flying Cloud to City Island.
Getting ready for the season at City Island, NY. Jay Rothbaum on ladder duty, Steve Steinberg in the cockpit, and your’s truly, Fred Goldfarb, supervising from the stern.
On the way back we spent a night up in Branford, CT. tied to a gas dock while a hurricane went through. I still recall seeing people in foulies in dinks going to retie sails and boats breaking loose! We had a tarp used as a boom tent, which really helped. That trip we did have the outboard hanging off the stern. The only problem wasn’t with the boat, but the simple fact that even the cockpit was kinda small to even try making some kind of double berth.
My Searunner 25 performed great under most conditions. Speed was greater than equivalent sized monohulls, (though perhaps a better measure would have been equal displacement, since most 25?er had better interiors). If a gust hit, you sped up, sometimes fast enough to make you lose your balance, like flooring the pedal on a sports car. It tacked just fine, was very maneuverable, though you need to be watchful of your sail trim, if you needed fall off quickly for example.
Launching the Brown Searunner 25 “Flying Cloud” at City Island. Note the “solid” trampolines between the hulls.
While crossing Block Island Sound in 4? to 6? waves, it would look like you’d get washed off by a wave, when the bows would rise so fast that while changing jibs my knees were left a few inches off the deck as the bow dropped off the wave top! In stronger winds you reefed appropriately and made sure to keep the boat moving, or you’ll stop very quickly if you’re going to windward. In the years I had the boat I rarely used the outboard, and mostly never even had it aboard.
Finally, here are photos of my Searunner 31, “Moonraker” with my wife Ilene, some friends …
Jim Brown designed Searunner 31 “Moonraker”, on her mooring in Oyster Bay, NY. She was donated to the US Olympic Committee who put her up for sale. The local multihull yacht broker I bought my Searunner 25 from had called me about this great boat I just “had to see”. My new fiancé and I went to look at the boat and after thoroughly inspecting it and having it surveyed decided to buy it.
Moonraker’s mainsail with the manta ray Searunner logo and the vessel size (31), plus her sail number for local Long Island Multihull Association (since defunct) racing.
The skipper, Fred Goldfarb, at the tiller of Moonraker in Long Island Sound. Note the mainsheet traveler at the aft end of the “sterncastle”, or aft cabin.
Ilene sailng Moonraker around Oyster Bay in the fall.
Ilene and friends of ours sailing Moonraker in Long Island Sound.