Joe Weber began sailing late in life. After owning a 38-foot Holland powerboat built by Malcolm Pettegrow of Southwest Harbor, Maine, Weber ventured out in a Rhodes 19 on Lake Lanier, Ga., to give the wind a try, and he was hooked. His interests quickly moved to bigger boats, and given his experience with Down East craftsmanship, it was no surprise he was soon knocking at Steve Whiteï¿½s Brooklin Boat Yard door.
Soon designer Bob Stephens was busy laying down the lines for Va Pensiero, a custom Brooklin Boat Yard 39-footer, solid coastal cruiser and light passagemaker. That was 1999. Little did Weber know back then that he would eventually be the owner of two Maine-built sailboats named Va Pensiero. Today, Weber, who was very pleased with the 39-foot yacht, has taken delivery of yet another Stephens design, this time a 48-footer of the same name and breeding.
The new yacht is fractional-sloop rigged and has lines similar to that of the 39-footer but with much longer overhangs that enhance the boatï¿½s classic look. Stephens designed the yacht with a modified full keel ï¿½ from Mars Metal, of Burlington, Ontario ï¿½ that is notched out to reduce wetted surface and improve maneuverability. According to Stephens, this is a concept Herreshoff employed. The most unique feature of the underbody is that the rudder is mounted in an aperture to reduce the risk of fouling on lobster-pot warp, a mishap that, along with fog, is the bane of the Maine cruiser.
Va Pensieroï¿½s rig includes a GMT carbon-fiber mast, Leisure Furl aluminum in-boom furling system, a Harken headsail furler, Sailtec vang, and Andersen winches. Weber chose the in-boom furler because he often sails short-handed and it is easier to reef, but mostly for the ease of getting the boat underway ï¿½ and put away. ï¿½I like to get going quickly and not have to deal with flaking sails and putting on sail covers at the end of the day,ï¿½ he said. So far he has been pleased with the system. The sails are from Doyle and cut from D4 fabric. The stainless-steel rod stays are from Ocean Yacht Systems, based in Christchurch, England.
The yachtï¿½s layout is similar in many ways to the smaller Va Pensiero. Forward there is a large centerline double berth in the ownerï¿½s cabin and a full head and shower running athwartships. The head and sink are to port, and the large shower area is just about on the centerline with a foul-weather-gear locker to starboard. Moving forward from the main cabin, one must pass through the shower area (as in the 39-foot Va Pensiero) to get to the ownerï¿½s cabin. At first this might seem strange, but it is a clever layout. The shower is no longer squeezed into the head in what often becomes a dark, foul-smelling place. Instead, it doubles as a teak-grated passageway that improves ventilation forward. In many ways the interior space may seem small for a 48-footer, but the space is beautifully managed in Stephensï¿½ design. All of the joinery below is cherry and offset by painted surfaces in Herreshoff style. The interior upholstery was done by Acadia Sails of Southwest Harbor, Maine.