When it comes to boatbuilding materials for voyaging sailboats, wood is not often a first choice. Cored fiberglass construction is more widely used and aluminum or steel are sometimes chosen for their toughness and resistance to holing. Wood, however, is both strong and has an esthetic appeal few other materials can match. A great example of this is the 62-foot sloop Passing Wind (more on that name below). This vessel, with precisely fitted mahogany planks wrapped in several coats of glossy resin, has held up after thousands of miles of sailing and after a recent restoration, looks great both above and belowdecks.
Designed by Superior Sailboats owner Vic Carpenter, the boat reportedly took six years to finish before being launched in 1992 at Hangdog Marina, located at Bayfield Inlet on Georgian Bay in the Great Lakes. Passing Wind (Carpenter reportedly had a puckish sense of humor and enjoyed the off-color double entendre of the name), was a personal effort for Carpenter and his wife Hazel. It incorporated many of Carpenter’s signature design ideas, like all dark wood belowdecks and tufted black leather settees. The couple raced and cruised the boat until 1999 when Carpenter was forced to sell due to health issues. After previous ownership left the boat on the hard, it was purchased and overhauled and went on to win its class in the 2006 Newport Bermuda Race. The sloop changed hands again, this time being purchased by experienced racer and offshore sailor Fred Mills, who refurbished and relaunched it for racing and cruising.
As part of the 2020 overhaul, the mast was pulled, serviced and five coats of West System Ultra Clear were applied and then six coats of Awlgrip Clear Coat. At the same time the hull was entirely longboarded back to original mahogany and six coats of West System Ultra Clear were applied and then four coats of Awlgrip Clear Coat. The boat also received a new mainsail and all other sails were inspected and serviced. In 2022 the hull was revarnished with a coat of Awlgrip Clear Coat and the boot stripe reapplied. The engine, winches and coffee grinders were fully serviced and a new Viking stove installed.
The boat had been renamed Van Ki Pass (French Creole slang) by a previous owner, and although Mills revived the original name, he refers to the sloop affectionately as VKP.
The flush-deck sloop is distinctive both for its glowing wood hull and for its inlaid transom that depicts two boats tacking into the rays of the setting (or rising) sun. Another noticeable feature, unusual for a boat this size, is the transom-hung rudder.
Belowdecks the accommodations include a forward double bed ensuite master cabin, with midship living space aft. Aft of midships are 12 berths (six port, six starboard).
Mills wrote in an email, “I think of the boat as a piece of artwork. From the outside, she resembles a modern classic breed of traditional racing that separated the men from the boys. As you walk down the mid-companionway, you are surrounded with rich mahogany that gives the feeling of a gentleman’s lounge with wrap- around leather sofas and open living space. Instead of artwork on the walls, it’s just craftsmanship to every detail including the chainplates that are proudly shown as a feature rather than structural necessity.”
Now Passing Wind will likely change hands again as it will go up for auction on the site Boathouse Auctions (boathouseauctions.com) in November. According to Mills, while he loves the boat, he wasn’t using it as much as he would have liked. Here’s hoping the new owner maintains this custom Vic Carpenter wonder for years to come.