In December 2011, I had my first up-close-and-personal look at a Gunboat catamaran. Phaedo, sixty-six feet of bright orange catamaran – who finished third across the finish line in last year’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) – had just pulled into her slip at St. Lucia’s Rodney Bay Marina. It was her third trip across the Atlantic last year. Her owner, Lloyd Thornburg, was aboard for all three, including 2011’s TransAtlantic Race from Newport to England, in which they went up against the megayacht Maltese Falcon. Which is interesting, because as Lloyd admits, Phaedo was actually designed and built as a cruising boat.
Phaedo, though miniscule in comparison to the Falcon, was ultimately classed against her in a head-to-head, no handicap race-to-the-finish over the 3,000-mile course.
“We changed leads four or five or six times,” Lloyd told me. “We saw her in the fog. It kind of looked like a ghost ship; all you could see was the skeletal structure of the mast and the crossbeams. You couldn’t see the sails, you couldn’t see the boat, you just saw this like skeletal structure on the horizon. That was really cool.”
I got to know Lloyd and his crew over a couple weeks in St. Lucia, and had the privilege of going aboard the boat a few times and had a good look around. The Gunboat is a heck of a looker, especially in bright orange. But, as Terry Boram discovers in this month’s feature story on Gunboat’s new manufacturing facility in North Carolina, the boat is far exceeding its original design brief. Founder Peter Johnstone wanted a light and fast family cruiser, and he got one, in spades. Phaedo’s success on the racecourse last year also proves that the boat is quite capable around the buoys and offshore.
For Lloyd, building Phaedo was a chance to design his dream cruising boat to take him around the world, and quickly, something Gunboat Founder Peter Johnstone surely understands. For the carbon-fiber multihull producer, things are decidedly looking up, and a city of skilled boat builders heretofore unemployed or in different industries has a newfound reason for hope as the new factory is creating jobs.
Despite Phaedo’s success on the racecourse, the Gunboat remains in spirit a cruising cat. For Thornburg, the ARC was a chance to sit back and let the autopilot do the work, not worrying so much about hand-steering or sail trimming.
“The worst moment for us on the ARC was when we ran out of ice cream,” he joked. That the boat is exceedingly fast is certainly not a downside.
This month we welcome new Gulf Coast writer Lisa Overing, who some of you may know as Lisa Hoogerwerf Knapp from her column’s in various yacht and luxury lifestyle magazines. Lisa brings us a fresh perspective on the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, and profiles a yacht owner who at the age of 85, is still going strong and getting out on the water. Look for Lisa’s columns in future issues of All At Sea Southeast, as she brings her unique Gulf Coast vibe to the magazine.
There’s also coverage this month of a standup paddleboard competition in Wrightsville Beach, yet another new area of waterfront life that we’ll be covering going forward. Glenn Hayes is back with the fourth installment of his Outboard Engine Roundup. And finally, don’t miss our exclusive look at the new mooring balls recently installed by the city of Carolina Beach, on the ICW.
As usual, direct any questions, comments or story ideas to [email protected]. Thanks for reading All At Sea