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