Friday, July 23, 2010

Who Died and Made Me a Boat Reviewer?

This week I received the August 2010 issue of Cruising World and was surprised to find my review of the Newport 27. I submitted the piece more than a year ago and was paid upon acceptance. One thing I've learned about writing magazine articles is that you never know when something you've sold will be published. Unfortunately, they didn't use a picture of the first Del Viento (I didn't really have any good, representative pictures of her to send).
Now I'm inspired to write reviews of two boats I've learned a lot about in the past year: the Fuji 40 and the Fantasia 35, both relatively obscure boats that I'm sure Cruising World has not featured.
What is so cool about the review is that the information I documented now becomes part of a very small body of available knowledge about the Newport 27. Very little information is available about many older fiberglass sailboats. Granted, companies that are still around, like Catalina Yachts and Beneteau, maintain records and specifications and histories of their old designs. But many more companies are no longer around and the scant info available about the boats they produced, is prized.
For example, our Fuji 40 is one of only 13 to 16 (nobody seems to know for sure!) that were ever built, over a two-year period in the late 1970s. The company that designed her (S&S) is still in business, but they retain only architectural drawings (and these are available only at a high price). The Japanese company that built the Fuji 40s is long gone. The California company that imported them is long gone. I suspect all of the paper records of these defunct companies are gone.
Now that we are in the digital age, and because these fiberglass hulls will likely outlive us all, it is a good thing to document as much of their history as we can. Fortunately, magazines like Cruising World and Good Old Boat dedicate a portion of their publication to do just this.
-- MR

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