Covey Island schooner to have modern rig

Schooners built in Nova Scotia just have to have gaff-rigged sails, right? Not according to Covey Island Boatworks which is set to build a 62-foot schooner to replace the traditionally-rigged Maggie B, which was lost in the fire that destroyed the boat builder’s yard last year. This new schooner, dubbed M2 for now, will carry two unstayed, rotating carbon fiber masts which will sport “fat head” sails. A different look indeed for a Canadian Maritimes-built schooner.

From the press release: An innovative and original sailplan has been unveiled for the 58′ (LOD) schooner to replace 62′ schooner Maggie B, lost to fire following her circumnavigation. The new schooner, tentatively named M2 and scheduled for launch this summer, will be the result of the same talents that produced her predecessor: visionary owner Frank Blair, renowned designer Nigel Irens and award-winning yacht builder Covey Island Boatworks.

M2 will carry two unstayed and rotating carbon masts with “fat head” sails like those developed in recent years for the America’s Cup, Volvo and countless other racing boats. The masts are being engineered and built by Ted Van Dusen of Composite Engineering, Concord, MA. The sails come from North Sails Atlantic, which used design data from Nigel Irens and mast data from Ted Van Dusen &mdash and a software system &mdash to analyze sailing forces.

 The difference between Maggie B’s schooner rig (which utilized fibre shrouds) and M2’s simplified version reflects the overall differences between the projects. M2 is an evolution of Maggie B, much in the same style. However, M2 is built for the shorter voyages. As Frank Blair said, Maggie B was purposely built to sail around the world, and she proved herself perfect for the job. The new boat has a different mission. She needs to be a little handier, to require less crew.”

The build method and materials for M2 will be essentially the same: composite wood/epoxy construction, using mostly recycled lumber. The lack of supporting shrouds has led to the inclusion of several hanging knees, additional bulkheads and a much strengthened deck to transfer the rig loads to the hull.

The M2 Team: Owner/Captain Blair, a Chicago businessman, has shown faith in the same designer and builder that worked with him to create Maggie B and her many 200+ nautical mile days.

Nigel Irens’ is currently part of the Alinghi design team that has created Alinghi 5 to defend the America’s Cup for Switzerland. Covey Island’s international reputation is the result of thirty years of building custom wood/epoxy yachts for the world.

The yard lost its Petite Riviere, Nova Scotia plant, in the same fire that claimed Maggie B. Yet Frank Blair said, “There never was any doubt in my mind that I would build the next boat at Covey. We all knew each other even better, could communicate better, and we could build on the experience. While the fire destroyed many things, it didn’t touch Covey’s most valuable asset: the skills of the people building the boat.”

 In an unplanned but successful evolution of its own, Covey Island is now based in Lunenburg, with its manufacturing plant in nearby Riverport.

By Ocean Navigator