November / December 2021


Joy of boatbuilding


Guy and Estelle Curwen built RAIN BEAR, a 37’ Paul Gartside–designed motorsailer, over the course of 21 years. They took on the project with the intention of cruising British Columbia in their retirement.

When I first met Guy Curwen, he was standing under the shapely and powerful hull of RAIN BEAR, the nearly completed boat that he and his wife, Estelle, had been building for the past two decades. The boat was sitting on the hard in its building shed behind a fringe of trees on a quiet rural property on the Saanich Peninsula at the south end of Vancouver Island, north of the capital city of Victoria, British Columbia. Guy had the demeanor of someone who had just completed a marathon; tired, possibly exhausted, but serene and confident in the knowledge of what he had accomplished. I was in the presence of a compelling dream that, after 21 years of construction, had been realized.

Dreams and visions have power. Henry David Thoreau, in Walden, famously wrote: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

The Curwens dreamed of cruising the magnificent coast of British Columbia in their retirement, living aboard a comfortable, beautiful motorsailer designed uniquely to their requirements and wishes, a boat they would build by themselves, fulfilling one aspect of their philosophy of creative expression. Central to their design brief was that Estelle’s requirements for the boat be the key to the design. “I know too many couples,” Guy said, “where the man decided what he wanted and his wife’s needs were not considered in the purchase or build, with the result that she doesn’t really like sailing.” A partner’s needs must be considered.

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