I’ve been here before. This is not my first time taking part in a new boat build. It was 1978, and I was 23 years old when my first husband Jim and I decided that we wanted to build a bigger boat, so we could make a living doing sailing charters. Jim had built boats before, and he had been working at Kehi Drydock in Hawaii just before I met him. He was a professional, so I figured, “How hard can this be?” Ha!
We named her SUNRISE, and she was a 55-foot cutter, but it took many, many long hours in the boatyard to get her there. We considered building the hull ourselves, but when we found a company in Costa Mesa, California building a Bruce Roberts design that suited us, we put our money down. We rented their mold and had their crew lay up the hull to our specs. We wanted solid fiberglass, not a cored hull, and we paid extra money to leave it in the mold to cure for 30 days.
I remember the day the boat mover truck arrived at the DIY boat yard in Ventura, California. We arrived at first light, and there was the truck driver asleep in the cab. When he climbed out, I was standing there, gazing up at the boat admiringly.
I said, “She sure looks like she’ll go fast.”
Without so much as a pause, the truck driver said, “Well, she did about 50 on the way here.”
I can’t begin to explain how different that experience was from what Wayne and I are doing with Mobius today. In those days there was no such thing as CNC machinery, and everything in the boat was cut to fit. We did everything ourselves, and there was no lovely boat shed to protect us from the sun and the rain.
We had no yacht designer to get us from that huge bare hull to a completed boat. We designed our own deck, cabin structure and interior. The price of lead was high at the time, so we bought scrap steel rods from the companies doing off-shore oil drilling, cut it into 3-foot lengths and stood them end in the keel–ten thousand pounds of them–then poured resin in to lock them in place. We built integral tanks, fabricated the mast step, and laminated the deck beams.
I worked as a waitress the whole time, but nearly every day of those three long years, I went to the yard and worked before or after my shift. I fiberglassed in bulkheads, sanded and filled surfaces for the overhead and the shower stalls, and I held the other end of the wood as Jim worked his magic on it. We did the interior in solid black walnut and cherry wood, no veneer, and I must have made tens of thousands of plugs, including for the teak on the decks.
SUNRISE was a special boat. Jim was a master woodworker, and he did all the inlay and carvings, while I did all the finish work and the stained glass. Most anyone who ever saw the boat, remembered her.
We sailed her from California through Panama to the Caribbean, up to Florida and back to the Caribbean a few times. By the time we sold her in 1996, we had owned and sailed SUNRISE for 15 years, and raised our son, Tim on board until the day we sold her and got divorced. Sadly, Jim died a couple of years later.
Recently, I dug up lots of old photos, some of them very damaged after years of storage on board boats, and I made this little slide show about those years we built SUNRISE.
These days, Wayne and I are enjoying watching several of the YouTube channels that feature the new generation of young cruisers chronicling their lives afloat. Recently, one of them said, “I really wish I could find the original owner of this boat. I would have so many questions for him.”
That comment got me thinking. I wondered if SUNRISE could still be afloat today, 38 years later. What if her current owner would like to see that video and know more about her construction and her story? So, I went to the US Coast Guard Documentation database and looked up SUNRISE. Now, there are 90 some vessels in that database named SUNRISE, but only one of them is 55 feet long and was launched in 1981. It’s got to be the same boat.
So, I have decided to see if I can use Facebook and the Internet to track him down and get photos to see what she looks like today. Here goes.
I am trying to locate the boat owner by the name of Jonathan Wright and the boat’s hailing port is Fairhaven, Massachusetts. And below here is the most recent photo I have. It’s one that a previous owner sent me about 15 years ago. He added the hardtop and bimini and some big davits on the stern.
If any of you have seen this boat or if you know of anyone who has, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let the hunt begin!