Fred Hall has always loved power boats so it was only natural that when he decided to build a large trawler as his water home, he would choose a strong material, mild steel, which has a low carbon content (up to 0.3%). It is neither extremely brittle nor ductile and becomes malleable when heated. He chose as his plan a Charlie Morgan design that he found in PassageMaker magazine – the result is a sturdy, seaworthy vessel. Hall and his wife, Linda Olson, now cruise aboard Cheshire Too, named for Olson’s love of both cats and “Alice in Wonderland”.
The trawler took four years of working 24/6 to build. The hull was built at Green Cove Springs, with St. John Fabricators, in Florida. She is 55’ with an 18’ beam and a 4’6’’ draft. When the hull was finished she was moved to Black Creek, Jacksonville, Florida, where Hall finished the interior while Olson, a fabric artist, tackled the aesthetics. One enters Cheshire Too from the cockpit through a huge double steel exterior door featuring a large, grinning Cheshire cat in stained glass. The cockpit, 18’ by 6’, has two built in lazarettes – one is a kitty litter box, with its own entrance, for Twink, their cat.
Hall recalls, “I installed bulkheads working from bow to stern, with a woodworking shop in the salon. The helm station desk, liquor cabinet, galley cabinets and chart table are built in.” Fishing rods line the ceiling in the 12’ salon and a large TV/DVD screen with two recliners adds comfort as well as a homey setting. Brass electric lanterns and a Tiffany lamp emphasize a country feeling. The Diamond SeaGlaze windows have wooden rattan blinds.
Stairs down from the salon reveal two staterooms with two heads, a washer/dryer and all of the extras that make a boat a home. The floors and walls are Cyprus. Over the master bed there is a large cargo hatch allowing for large furnishings to be lowered. Olson quilted the bedspreads with a cat motif featuring feline sayings from “Alice and Wonderland”.
The pilot house, up from the salon/galley, is gorgeous and “state of the art”. The steering is hydraulic air over oil with a Robinson AP 35 autopilot—a commercial grade that shrimpers seem to prefer. Hall has a Garmin Chart Plotter, an ICOM Radio & a standard Horizon Radio with a Furuno GPS. There is a large table with very comfortable seating on three sides; the steering wheel came from a steam tugboat named Katiba that one of his neighbors, a Commander in the Navy, helped to decommission.
When asked what problems he had in building Cheshire Too, Hall replied, “The learning curve was, for me, very steep. It was much more time-consuming than I ever dreamed. The joy was in being finished.
“In 2003 we cruised the Bahamas, returned to Florida, went through the Okeechobee Waterway, motored across the gulf to Mobile and went up the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway to Paducah, Kentucky where we stayed for the hurricane season – a good plan as Florida had more than their share of hurricanes that year. We then returned to Florida and left for Venezuela, cruising down the island chain.” They have been cruising the Caribbean ever since. Personal touches, as well as engineering mastery, make Cheshire Too their home and a testament to what hard work, good taste and lots of planning can accomplish.
Nancy Terrell has lived in the Caribbean for 20 years, is an international free lance writer, and holds an MA Degree in Literature. A trawler, Swan Song, is her 6th boat during 40 years of sailing.