November / December 2021

VARUNA, a 1958 Sam Crocker Gaffer

In the wake of Commodore Ralph Munroe’s PRESTO

The Sam Crocker–designed Presto-style boat VARUNA slips along to windward in Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts, with her new family aboard. She was built in 1958 by Phil Fessenden in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and recently rebuilt by Fred Ebinger and his crew at Green’s Point Boatyard, also of Ipswich.

Will Keister didn’t mean to fall in love with a 62-year-old wooden sailboat. Shoal draft with a centerboard and no ballast keel? Gaff rig? At the time, he owned a fine 33' fiberglass sailboat, but a growing family had him dreaming about a bigger, roomier boat having a head with a shower, push-button winches, roller-furling jib and main.

“When looking for a new boat,” he said, “I had a list of nevers: no centerboards that get stuck and break; no raised decks that are hard to see over and awkwardly curved to shed water; no boats with two bilge pumps, which is a sign to me of hidden problems; no old motors, no backwards steering wheel; and, lastly, a boat that is easy to maintain, which takes out most wooden boats, of course.”

Then he met VARUNA.

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