Living 12,000 miles away during the build – first on a remote farm in Australia and then in New Zealand – added to its complexity, but in Martyn Brake’s MB Yachts in Dorset, Dews found a builder with a like-minded passion for perfection. Photographs and drawings modified by Dews’s sketching and painting bounced to and fro by email across the world as the yacht took shape.
Eventually, Steven and Louise Dews got the yacht of their dreams, one well suited to carrying them in comfort from the UK to Wolfhound’s mooring in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand via extended cruising along the eastern seaboard of America, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The delivery will last at least ten years.
We were invited to spend a day aboard Wolfhound shortly before she left UK waters. Dews, a fit and convivial 66-year-old Yorkshireman whose family is steeped in Humberside seafaring tradition, has sailed all his life and has now been able to distil his thoughts and ideas into one yacht. Louise, also from a yachting background, including being shore manager for the J Class yacht Velsheda in the 1990s, has a gift for design. Between them, and with Martyn Brake’s boatbuilding skill, they have created a gem.
“Why a schooner?” I asked Dews as we motored west towards the Needles in search of wind. “I’ve always looked at the schooner rig and thought it the most beautiful, the most graceful,” he said. But he is also well aware of the schooner’s suitability for short-handed sailing. “I can hoist all these sails by hand,” he said and duly proved it. Only the sheet winches are powered, with the headsails on manual furlers and the main and foresail halyards tensioned with manual mast-mounted winches.
Upwind performance wasn’t particularly high on their list of priorities, although there are signs that Wolfhound will be no slouch on that point of sail. Her forte will be off the wind, her heavily roached, fully battened foresail enhancing what should be a tidy turn of speed.
Timber construction was a prerequisite. Dews was