November / December 2020


A 63-footer conceived for singlehanded sailing

Author Reggie Townsend designed his 63’ LOA boat, RAINBOW, for shorthanded or solo sailing. His sail plan is based on Chesapeake Bay bugeyes, with leg-o’-mutton sails that would be easy to hoist.

"How many does it take to sail something like this?” That is the question I am most frequently asked by people meeting RAINBOW for the first time, and they’re always surprised when I answer that I not only sail this 63' boat singlehanded but also maintain her mostly on my own. It’s a matter of economizing effort: like playing chess, RAINBOW is the result of many years of having to think a few moves ahead.

I built RAINBOW to my own design, which I conceived to be sailed either singlehanded or shorthanded. She does marvelously well at this, but with a top speed of a bit over 11 knots, she’s no slouch for speed, either. She is easy to handle, with only three halyards and three sheets to tend. She points as high as any “modern” cruising boat and has an easy motion at sea. The rig, which is derived from the traditional Chesapeake Bay “bugeye” type, is easily balanced and has plenty of power. Her standing rigging is minimal. She has no auxiliary engine, but for close-quarters maneuvering I use a push boat powered by a 20-hp outboard motor.

I built the boat in Indonesia, after a longstanding connection to the Pacific region that began with my youth in the late 1950s and early ’60s in post-occupation Japan. My father moved there after retiring from the U.S. military. He purchased a 46' sailboat and moved into a house on the shore with my stepmother, leaving me to be the full-time “night watchman” aboard the boat. With no television and no radio other than the boat’s short-wave receiver, I began teaching myself the fascinating mysteries of traditional sailboat design, including drafting, lofting, and calculating such things as center of effort, center of lateral resistance, center of buoyancy, displacement, and stability.

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