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"Solita" sailing San Francisco Bay.

Click on any photo for a larger view.

After reading Lin and Larry Pardey's book, "Cruising in Seraffyn"
I was convinced that I wanted a Lyle Hess design for my next
cruising boat.
So, in 1977 I purchased the hull, deck, rig and ballast for
Hull #6 of the Lyle Hess, Bristol Channel Cutter.
She was laid up at the Sam Morse Co yard (Crystaliner) in Costa Mesa, CA.
The photo on the right is a sister ship still in the mold.

But her cruising life got off to a shaky start when she was stolen in San Diego, CA., loaded down with weapons by two young Navy men.
Whatever fantasies they had, Solita spoiled their attempt because she did not have an engine and they were becalmed and captured.

The story is at the bottom of this page


Ready to install the 4800 pounds of lead ballast


Knowing that it would be at least three months before the ballast
was installed, the rig built and the delivery to Santa Cruz, Ca. I spent
a number of days at the factory taking measurements, tracing patterns
and going over some of the other boats in the area that were being
built by other owners.

At left, the late Sam Morse looks on as I take notes. Sam was a
very generous and helpful person.

After renting space in Moore's boat yard (where the Moore 24 is built)
I setup a Sears 10 x 10 metal shed for my cramped work space.

First load of teak brought in on my VW.


While waiting for the truck to arrive with the hull and deck, I
started building all the hatches, cabin doors, bulkheads and just
about anything I could in order to be ready when the boat arrived.
It was going to be November when it arrived and so I needed to
make her weather tight as soon as possible

On the same day the boat arrived, we jacked the deck up about
ten inches high and passed the plywood bulkheads thru the
opening and into place.
All the hatches went on as planned and in a matter of two days
the boat was reasonably weather tight.



I arrived at the yard at 6:30am one cool November morning to find
Solita sitting in the driveway and the driver asleep in the truck..


Using jacks and blocks to unload her next to the
work shed.


Placing hatches in place to help seal up the boat


All this in one day!

On day two the bulkheads
got the final fitting and were
installed with the first layer
of fiberglass.
Note the warm clothes..
it turned cold right away.



All major bulkheads are installed


Most of the main cabin was Hawaiian Koa wood.


Loading more teak at Spar Lumber in Long Beach, CA.

As I recall this truckload of teak cost around $1,700. It was nine dollars
a board foot then. Today in 2012 teak is twenty eight dollars a board foot!


Getting ready to do the cover boards (cap rail)

Laying 5/8 inch teak over the transom.


Mooring bits installed

Mooring bits secured to the samson post
and anchor locker bulkhead.

Cabin sides are varnished maple.

All the wood in the forward cabin is
"Blue Gum"

The sink was fabricated from a copper salad bowl and installed in a drawer.
When used the drain goes directly into the head. This eliminates one more thru-hull.


Work bench located in fore peak.

Scarfing all the planks to make the bulwarks and wale strakes.

Bow sprit in place and one wale strake installed on the port side.

All six wale strakes installed.

Scarf in cover boards

Left: Knight heads are mounted in preparation for the bulwarks.

Above: Boomkin and knees for the
taff rail.

Taff rail was laminated from layers
of 1/2 inch teak.

Bulwark stancions are thru bolted thru the hull/deck joint
with 1/2 inch all-thread stainless.

Wale strakes, bulwarks, chain plate channels and chain plates are
all installed.
Note the mast under Solita.


The mast and boom were all setup with internal lines. Halyards,
outhauls and reef lines were all internal.

Now that we were ready to launch the boat, I couldn't find a truck that would come tow here the two and a half miles to the harbor.
So I borrowed a trailer that had was a converted truck frame.
Using the jack and block method that the trucker had used when he delivered her, we jacked her up, took the wheels off the trailer and dragged the trailer frame under the cradle.

Then replaced the wheels and with the help of a friends old Studebaker truck,
I pulled her forward beside another boat to load the mast.

We placed 4 x 4's across the decks of both boats and using tackle we
raised the mast to deck height and secured it for the short trip


  After a very slow trip to the harbor, we spent the night onboard and was visited by
a would-be thief who climbed up the rudder with plans to take whatever he could.
Unfortunately for him, it was a long way to the ground without a ladder

With the help of a friend and his tow truck, Solita was lowered down
the launch ramp.

The cradle didn't want to let go.

Well, we got it to the harbor on our own, launched her on our own, so why not raise the mast ourselves?


Using our Zodiac and outboard, we position Solita under the highway bridge that crosses Santa Cruz Harbor.

Once in position a tackle was lowered from friends on the bridge.
The mast was hoisted from on deck, lowered to its keel step and the rigging connected.


After moving her forward away from the bridge by using the anchors, we finish setting up the rig.

Two months later, we are heading south.

Entering Newport Harbor.
Photo by Lin Pardey


A dinghy for Solita


After a short stop in San Diego, Solita was left at anchor in Glorietta Bay with a friend keeping watch on her.
We had driven back to Oakland, CA. to leave the car and say goodbye to family and friends.
Two days after our arrival, I got an early morning phone call from Larry (the caretaker) saying that he "put the anchor light up the night before, and this morning when he woke up, Solita was gone".


click on each image to read the story



After Solita was returned to us, NIS wanted to impound the boat as evidence and keep her at the Navy Yard.
This would mean that we would have to find someplace to live, while we waited out who-knows how many months for the trial of the two men.
At the second court hearing we requested permission to stay aboard, since the boat was our legal and only residence.
The judge said he would allow us to stay onboard as long as the boat was kept at the San Diego Harbor Police Dock.
We agreed and moved Solita to the appointed dock.
After a few days of various visitors that were curious about our situation, we were visited by one of the Harbor Police Officers that we had befriended before the theft.
One evening he came by with a nice bottle of wine and made a few comments that made us re-think our situation.

Basically he heard that the Navy was going to come get the boat after all. Then he continued saying that it was "going to be a moonless night, very dark. The tide will be going out about 10:00PM and didn't we have dark colored sails?"
We got the point, rushed up to the local grocery store, loaded all onboard after the Harbor Police Office was closed.
We waited until the tide was right and all was quiet on the docks.
We hoisted sail and rode the outgoing tide outside and sailed south with all sail set.

That was the last we heard of that situation.

But as our luck would have it, we stumbled onto another stolen yacht while anchored in Turtle Bay, Baja. Months later that boat, with our help, was recovered and we received a hansom reward. But that is another sea story............................




Lin and Larry Pardey were a huge influence when I really got serious about cruising and decided to build Solita.

They stopped in at Santa Cruz on their way back to Newport Beach after an eleven year circumnavigation. I was just finishing Solita at this time.
Here are some interesting pics...

Right is Seraffyn leaving Santa Cruz and heading across Monterey Bay.







Seraffyn and Solita share a mooring in Newport Beach, CA.


Larry tries out Solita


Note the windvane selfsteering on the backstay linked to the trim tab on the rudder.
The plans for this can be downloaded FREE at  Windvane
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