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Featured Boat

September 2022 – GREYA

By Anthony Darrall-Rew

I grew up in Bermuda and got to know Paul Johnson, designer of Venus gaff ketches. I loved the double-ended Colin Archer type designs and yearned one day to have one for myself.

By 1992 I finally had saved enough money and Paul designed a 32 foot Venus for me. I had the hull and deck built in Devon and fitted her out at Combes Boatyard in West Sussex.

I sail single-handed, and from the start I found the gaff ketch a handful to handle alone. On my first Atlantic crossing I read Annie Hill’s wonderful book “Voyaging on a Small Income”. Everything she said about the junk rig seemed to make sense, and on that crossing I decided to change the rig.

Upon arrival in Antigua I sent away for Badger’s sail plan. Antigua is a very expensive place to have this sort of conversion work done as it is in the expensive “super yacht” trade where money is of little consideration. However, I was told that if I cared to stay through the summer, when trade for the Antigua craftsmen dried up and they had no work, I could get the work done for competitive prices, provided I could put up with the hurricanes. Many of the craftsmen go away for periods of the off-season so I would have to put up with the work being done at their time scale. I ordered Douglas fir from the USA and had the masts built by Jerry Bardoe (“Chippy”), probably the best carpenter in the Eastern Caribbean. They are solid 10 inch by 2 inch planks, glued together by WEST system. Total Fabrication made the partners and other metal fittings. Chris Scanes made the sails in Devon, and air freighted them out. Half-bulkheads were fibreglassed in place to take the lateral strain of the masts. Rope was bought locally and after four months and one hurricane I had Badger’s rig set up. I then spent the next three years sailing up and down the Leeward and Windward Islands getting to know the rig and how to get the best out of her.

I sailed to Bermuda, spent a year there, then up to Newport Rhode Island for the summer of 1999. Then I sailed down the East coast of the USA, including a memorable trip down Manhattan’s East River, until finally reaching the jump-off point of Beaufort, North Carolina and back to Antigua, then more Caribbean cruising. In the summer of 2001 I sailed from St Martin via Bermuda to Crosshaven in Ireland, where I stayed until 2006. Since then, I have been based in Nazare, Portugal.

 The junk rig has proved to be       marvelous. The only change I have   made is to replace the fir battens   with lighter aluminium ones.

 The whole rig is easy to handle, a   joy of simplicity and highly   satisfactory.

 With my Aries self-steering she will   cruise along for days at a time   without problems.

All my control lines are more stout than Badger’s (I met Badger in Crosshaven) so I have had minimal chafe problems. My trans-Atlantic crossing took 30 days which I consider to be fair.


 For short-handed cruising I consider her to be the ideal boat.

Greya was featured in the Nov/Dec 1999 issue of Watercraft.

Our Featured Boat (or "Boat of the Month") Archive is here, and the forum discussion for comments and candidate suggestions is here


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