Preview: Rediscovering a Fiberglass Classic, A “New” Graves Constellation

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For years we have been noodling around with the idea of picking up an old-time, bullet-proof fiberglass sailboat, sawz-alling off the deck and trunk cabin and rebuilding her with a new deck and classic house-top. This video features guys taking a shot at the concept. How do you think they did with the idea?

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30 Responses So Far to “Rediscovering a Fiberglass Classic, A “New” Graves Constellation

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    John Wujack says:

    I’m always delighted when some of OCH’s earlier videos recycle to the top. Do you do that or is it happenstance triggered by members comment? In any event, four years on and with my hope that the young sailors are still enjoying their father’s effort(s). A really beautiful boat!

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    John Swansey says:

    The hull lines are exquisite. Need some gold leaf on that transom glinting in the afternoon sun.

  • James Winthrop Sargent

    James Winthrop Sargent says:

    Wonderful video!. But I had to laugh about “ removing a leaky deck and an ugly cabin trunk one afternoon with a sawzalll”. I’m doing it to a 1972 CCSB Marlin, like the one featured in the beginning of the video, and it took a whole lot longer than one afternoon!! But be that as it may, it’s a fantastic rewarding experience.

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    Jonathan Mc Donald says:

    In Southern California, it’s impossible to find slips that allow wooden boats. I like how they found a plastic classic, cleaned it up, modernized it and made it sail well. It was nice to see how thick the glass was on it too. Nice video

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    Ralph Johnson says:

    GREAT VIDEO! Beautiful boat. I own a Cape Dory Typhoon (18’6″)with very similar lines. I thought about doing some redesign to the cabin. Either that or maybe will just sail her..

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    Chris Martin says:

    Love it. Thanks for the details of why. I previously enjoyed watching some of the construction but had some questions that were answered here. Lots of little details make it special. Great description of the concept and explanation of some of the changes. Well done.

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    Chad Brown says:

    W-class miniature pony! Nice job, love the topside color.

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    Terry Smith says:

    No wake and a neutral helm. She moves so easily through the water. Another OCH treat.

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    Chris Noto says:

    Well done, as always, OCH. I’d seen this boat in the TotalBoat series on YouTube, but the conversations with the owner, builder and naval architect add a new dimension to my understanding of the process. Also, getting to see the owner and his boys enjoying the boat, there at the end, was very sweet. Keep up the good work, y’all. :)

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    Peter Taylor says:

    Finally, hot-rodding old models with a bit of class has come to sail boats. There will be some real surprises amongst club racers as this trend starts to take hold. No more judging boats on their livery instead of their lines.

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    George Hill says:

    I’m pretty sure that the plug for the Graves Constellation was an Alden Triangle Class sloop.

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    Henry Wing says:

    What is the cost of this project, aside from the original cost of the boat?

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      Mike Zani says:

      I told my wife, I would never speak of that, but just between us about $60k including rig, rigging. A lot less than a 30ft. Alerion and we can mop them up on the race course.

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    Richard Mau says:

    For yearsI’ve enjoyed OCH videos emmencly. These days they no longer play. Other videos play just fine, both YouTube and vemio. I have as my only device an Apple iPad which is up to date

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      Jay Knight says:

      Same for me, I have to touch the little gear in the corner and reduce the resolution to the lowest setting. Seems to work.

    • Steve Stone

      Steve Stone says:

      Hi Richard. Vimeo recently “upgraded” their quality settings, and the player automatically defaults to the highest quality that it thinks your local connection speed can support automatically. Usually the “auto” setting works best, but sometimes you have to click it down a notch in quality for smooth play (it’s the little gear icon bottom right on the video player).

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    Donald Jones says:

    She wasn’t fun to sail as a Constellation?

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    Ken Weinstein says:

    Spruce Green – I’ll file that one away for a future project, too. Both the design and construction are beautiful. I learned a lot. Wish I lived in Bristol and could have seen this one in process.

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    John Supan says:

    Great video & story and a beautiful boat.

    As a fiberglass boat owner, it perfectly addresses my comment on OCH’s recent survey.

    Another reason to be a proud life member.

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    michele del monaco says:

    Great, I own since 22 years a 1966 Illingworth sloop Alpa 9, and that’s exactly the kind of project I was thinking about for years!
    Great idea to have a classic and well-performing hull at a quite low price

  • David Tew

    David Tew says:

    In a discussion with Dan Shea about this project he thought that Graves, the Constellation class designer of record, may have adopted hull design notions from LF Herreshoff, his neighbor in Marblehead.

    I’d be eager to do a (similar, smaller scale) version of such a project with a Cape Cod Shipbuilding Goldeneye, with more seating and a self-bailing cockpit all the way to the forepeak:

    • Avatar

      Mike Zani says:

      David – We talked to Halsey Herreshoff about this and he said, “it might be an LFH design”. However, the best Graves Constellation historian, believes that it is E. Selman Graves. We may never know, but clearly E. Selman was positively influenced by his friend, LFH.

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    Philip Myer says:

    Hi Steve- I think you guys have the balance right, 1 story on plastic boats to every 1,000 on wood and timber boats! Plastic it may be, but it is pleasant on the eye.

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    Bill Theurkauf says:

    Never been a fan of “tupperware”…until now! Amazing transformation.

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    John Wujack says:

    Lovely. Good for you and your boys. I think I know what inspired your paint scheme. Is it an off- the-shelf product or did you custom blend?

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      Mike Zani says:

      There is a boatbuilder in Nantucket (Alfred “Alfie” Sanford), who builds perfect Alerions. He painted one of the boats in the Nantucket fleet the same color scheme as the Graves. I took a picture of it 2.5 years ago. The credit goes to Alfie (or that boat’s owner). The color is not on the AwlGrip chart, but it is called Spruce Green.


      Mike Zani

  • Avatar

    Eric J Nelson says:

    really cool, I love that you can make an old plastic classic into something so nicely done.


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