The multihull tradition runs deep on the island of St. Croix. It all started in 1956 when well-known boat builder, Dick Newick, stopped on a beach in Frederiksted to cook some fresh fish en route home to the U.S. from Europe. Newick ended up staying nearly 17 years on St. Croix and in that time designed and built a number of catamarans and trimarans based on ideas originating from his time in the South Pacific. Today, the multihull tradition lives on. Newick is gone, but Gold Coast Yachts continues to build innovative multihulls as do private boat builders, such as George ‘Moose’ Silver, who splashed his latest build – a Mongoose 25 – in January.
“The Newicks were family friends,” explains Silva. “Dick is the father of the modern multihull. My family moved to St. Croix from Annapolis in 1963 and I watched all of Dick’s landmark boats – Cheers, the Atlantic proa; and Three Cheers, which was designed to race in the OSTAR (Observer Single-Handed Trans-Atlantic Race), and others – built here. That was quite a to-do back then and I fell in love with multihulls.”
In the 1970s and for many years after, Silva worked for Teddy’s Charter Service sailing the 36ft Newick Tricia, Viti Viti, twice daily over to Buck Island and back with day charter guests. The Viti Viti was the hot boat back then, and as such, it sowed the seeds for new and faster designs in the creative minds of captains such as Silva.
“Back then, to hit 20 knots was the holy grail,” Silva says. “Nowadays boats routinely hit 40 knots. Hull and sail shapes have come a long way. Today, my hulls are very different. By using lifting bodies that rise with forward motion and force water to flow under the hull instead of around it, reduces drag exponentially. With the use of CAD, buoyancy centers can be designed to shift quickly to self-correct pitch. The result is a very stable, very fast boat.”
The impetus for Silva’s latest build came when Herb Alderson, who 35 years ago owned one of the early production trimarans that ultimately didn’t fare well in Caribbean waters, approached Silva to build him a new daysailer. The deal was sealed over cocktails and Silva began his sketches on a napkin. Thus, the Mongoose 25 was conceived.
“First, I started by sketching and roughing in the key lines and ideas,” Silva explains. “I still prefer old fashioned drafting with my curves and a pencil. So I pull out the Mylar and draw a scale picture. Then, I enter those lines in a CAD program and refine them. After that, I print full size patterns and build the molds. I built the armas first in reversible half molds and then the main hull. This boat is foam core, so the sheet foam is cut into strips and bent or heated into the mold then fiber-glassed. Essentially, it’s built from the inside out.”
The Mongoose 25 is an ocean going daysailer capable of crossing from St. Croix to the BVI. It’s easy to sail with a rotating aluminum wing mast. It has a large cockpit. And, it has open wings with trampolines.
“I love a ‘back porch’, or open stern, for easy access and fun at the beach,” says Silva. “This puts the rudder under the boat instead of a transom hung kick up, but makes it more efficient. The boat also disassembles into three major parts joining in the middle. This was done to make it easier to move for shoreside assembly or shipping.”
What makes the Mongoose 25 most special is that it’s locally designed and built for the waters around the Virgin Islands using modern techniques, directional fabrics and epoxy resin. In this type of rig, some sections of the vessel are under much less stress and this allows for a strong yet light build.
Silva worked with fellow Crucian, Carlo Pedrini, to build the hulls and then finished the rest along with the occasional help of a few friends. The trimaran took Silva a year working alone to complete after the hulls were built.
“Sadly, over the years hurricanes have decimated the multihull fleet on St. Croix,” says Silva. “There are still a few left such as Llewellyn Westerman’s Mongoose 37, some Newicks and the Gold Coast boats. I hope this boat will spark new interests.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.