Easy Breezy

Still cross­ing oceans af­ter all th­ese years, the ruggedly built, deck-stepped shoal-draft AL­LIED SEABREEZE has stood the test of time.

Cruising World - - Contents - Clas­sic Plas­tic by Jim Car­rier

The Al­lied Seabreeze is still an ocean crosser.

Art Hall, an en­gi­neer by trade, a man schooled in pre­ci­sion, likes to say, “Ev­ery­thing on a boat is a com­pro­mise.” Which raises the ques­tion: What cor­ners or fea­tures or qual­i­ties must be shaved from a sailor’s dream if he wants a used, rea­son­ably priced, high-qual­ity fam­ily cruis­ing yacht that can also be raced for fun?

For Hall, and a hun­dred other boat own­ers, the an­swer is the Al­lied Seabreeze, a 34-foot6-inch shoal-draft deck­stepped cen­ter-boarder that is be­tween 45 and 55 years old.

Al­lied pro­duced sev­eral hun­dred sturdy sail­boats at its Hud­son River fac­tory in Catskill, New York, but none have stood the test of time like the 135 Seabreezes built be­tween 1963 and 1973. The rea­son, in large part, is an own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion that shares tips on main­te­nance and up­grades, and an­swers such ques­tions as, “Where can I get a bronze port frame for my 1965 yawl?” Re­mark­ably, the as­so­ci­a­tion lists the where­abouts of 107 of the boats.

A sec­ond fac­tor was cheap oil at the time they were built, which al­lowed Al­lied’s work­ers to slather lay­ers of glass rov­ing with gal­lons of resin, in part to add weight not con­sid­ered bal­last. The hull in places is 1½ inches thick, which has me ant long life with­out blis­ters, and easy re­mod­el­ing.

From its birth, the Seabreeze was a com­pro­mise. It claimed to sleep six, but never men­tioned four bunks with no pri­vacy. With its bilge filled with a 380-pound bronze cen­ter­board, it came up short on stor­age and tank­age. But the cabin was quite roomy, thanks in part to a deck-stepped mast, a fea­ture that still gives some pause. Joe Field, aboard Ven­ture, hull No. 14, says, “For liv­ing aboard, I would like some­thing 10 feet longer. But she sails like a dinghy.”

Modeled af­ter Car­leton Mitchell’s fa­mous 39-foot wood Fin­is­terre, many of the early Seabreezes were yawls whose mizzens al­lowed them to sail through a rac­ing-rule loop­hole. They sail ef­fort­lessly once bal­anced. A fa­vorite in stok­ing winds is jib-and-jig­ger (reefed jib and mizzen).

Its full keel was built like a tank, which al­lowed sailors like me to nudge my Seabreeze, with its draft of 3 feet 10 inches, close to shore and into man­grove mud in hur­ri­cane holes. It doesn’t point as high as mod­ern deep keels, but I found in 12-foot mid-at­lantic break­ing seas that it rode like a gull, heel­ing to 40 de­grees, then slid­ing off the tops of spume-fling­ing waves.

With a deeply raked stern, a spoon bow and teak bright­work, the Seabreeze is con­sid­ered by many sailors to be a clas­sic beauty. Hall, who sails in Maine, says, “I can sit on my porch af­ter a day of sail­ing and ad­mire a boat that looks right to my eye. There are hun­dreds of choices out there in fiber­glass boats, but only a few that have low free­board, sweep­ing sheer and el­e­gant over­hangs. The pro­por­tions are spot on. Af­ter all, life’s too short to own an ugly boat.”

Over time, Seabreeze own­ers found one weak­ness: chain­plates made of a type of stain­less steel that, hid­den away in a glass box, rusted and broke, some­times in heavy weather. Also, in 1967, the bronze board was re­placed with a 115-pound alu­minum board, which cre­ated cor­ro­sion and noise is­sues on some boats.

In prac­tice, the Seabreeze is a great cou­ples boat that can be sin­gle­handed. Most of them sail within sight of a coast, al­though one of our mem­bers went to South Amer­ica and back. I sailed my hull No. 107, Ranger, across the At­lantic and half the Mediter­ranean.

As own­ers re­luc­tantly age, there al­ways seems to be a Seabreeze or two for sale. Ask­ing prices range from $12,000 to $35,000.

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