Following the loss of Frank Blair’s schooner Maggie B in the tragic Covey Island boatyard fire in August 2008, the yacht’s replacement, the so called “fusion schooner” named Farfarer, had its first sail on Oct. 14, 2010.
Blair’s new boat, built at Covey Island’s new facility in Nova Scotia, Canada, and designed by Nigel Irens, who also designed Maggie B, is named for Farley Mowat’s book chronicling the Norse exploration of North America. This is Covey Island Boatworks’ first new build since the fire and has been a technically challenging and exciting project.
After a successful circumnavigation with the 62-foot Maggie B, Blair, always the visionary, returned with many new ideas, many of which have now been realized in Farfarer. The new boat is slightly smaller at 57 feet, four inches long with a much simpler rig, but when compared to Maggie B no power or speed were sacrificed in the trade.
The hull profile is similar to Maggie B. It has a relatively shallow full keel and hydraulically controlled centerboard. Above the waterline, the hull is every bit an ocean racer with a fine bow entry, full stern and straight and powerful run aft. Unlike Maggie B, the boat has an outboard rudder.
The rig has changed dramatically. While a schooner rig, Farfarer’s two carbon fiber masts are free standing and feature modern racing style square headed, full battened sails by North Sails that rotate on bearings fabricated by Ted Van Dusen of Composite Engineering — the same bearings used in Boeing 747 tail sections.
Like Maggie B, Farfarer is built from mostly salvaged Douglas Fir. The hull is strip-built composite sheathed in glass and epoxy.
It is unclear what Blair’s plans are once work has been completed on Farfarer, but one thing is for sure — they will be ambitious. A cat schooner, fusion schooner, call it what you will, but Blair’s new boat will be setting a new standard for design and performance and turning heads wherever Farfarer takes him.