In the preface of William Gardens first book “Yacht Designs” is a copy of a letter he received from a couple then in New Zealand. They had sailed from California to the Marquesas Islands then on through the South Pacific to Tahiti. Finally arriving in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand they were working to replenish their cruising fund when they wrote Garden. Their boat, Puffin was one of his designs and this was her second trip to New Zealand. Just over 26 feet on deck with a water line length of 22 feet 6 inches but an ample 9 foot 6 inch beam she was designed in Bill Garden’s words “as a small ocean going vessel”.
One of three built in 1967 at the Y. Chen boatyard in Taiwan she was framed in Yakal and planked with Port Orford Cedar. Her cabin, decking and hatches are teak. While under construction two changes were made to Gardens design. Her cabin was extended one frame bay aft and a bridge deck added, but otherwise she remains true to the original design. Garden would later alter the design, adding a clipper bow, fiddlehead and davits in order to visually draw out its length. Adding those changes Garden would also renaming the design calling it a “Spice Island Cutter” (which is how the design is presented in his book) but Puffin was built before he made those changes with an almost straight stem, no davits and the look of a small ship. She was introduced to me as a “Vashon Cutter” and later I was given a booklet “100 designs etc etc “ by Bill Garden Vashon Island-built cutter Andy Goodwin’s boat”
“Vashon Island built cutter” is how the earlier version of the design was known and it is how I refer to it when asked.
The couple that wrote to Garden wouldn’t continue much further West. They sold her in New Zealand and for a time she sailed the Tasman Sea with her new owner, then Northeast to Samoa where she again was sold and finally returned to California. There, she passed through the hands of several owners. New teak decks were laid and a new interior designed and built by Bob Darr at the Center for Wood Arts in Sausalito. Then in 1980??? Puffin was placed on a barge and shipped to Seward Alaska.
Over the next several years her new owners sailed her from Alaska to Seattle. And back again, finally setting in Juneau. Their lives perhaps became too busy and Puffin began to be neglected. To their credit they didn’t leave her on a mooring to rot. In the hands of a delivery captain she sailed South to Port Townsend. There a bit of work was done before she was put up for sale on Bainbridge Island. That is where I found her twenty four years ago.
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