Dropping in on Seraffyn

Serafyyn prepares to weather another storm, this time in Marshfield, MA. Photo courtesy George Dow.

Word was spreading through the local grapevine that the celebrated wooden sailboat Seraffyn was residing in her winter home at The Wooden Tangent, just down the road from my house, so I decided to stop by and take a look. Sure enough, I found the regal little vessel in one of Dave Peterson’s storage buildings, undergoing minor maintenance prior to her spring launch.

Larry Pardey and George Dow. Photo courtesy George Dow.

Avid sailors already know that Seraffyn, a 24 1/2’ Lyle Hess-designed sloop patterned after an English channel cutter, was home-built by Lin and Larry Pardey in the late 1960s. The Pardeys sailed her around the world, and later published a series of popular books of their adventures aboard Seraffyn.

And now here she was, not 2 miles from my house in Mattapoisett! Peterson, the owner of The Wooden Tangent, gave me a tour of Serafynn, pointing out some of her unusual features, including the cunning, custom-designed self-steering mechanism and the external chain plates. He also marveled at how solidly built she is, noting the closely spaced 2” by 2” mahogany frames. No wonder she was able to withstand some rough ocean crossings, including a knockdown in the North Sea.

Seraffyn's rudder and mechanical self-steering system. Photos by ##http://newenglandboating.com/author/tom## Tom Richardson##

Eventually I climbed aboard and took a peek inside. Belowdecks, the cabin is beautifully varnished, yet awfully small. I found it hard imagining a couple spending a weekend aboard, never mind many months on end. Clearly, the Pardeys get along pretty well.

Topside, looking aft.

Seraffyn is currently owned by retired photographer and classic-boat aficionado George Dow, who sails her out of Marshfield, Massachusetts. Dow, who came to appreciate wooden sailing vessels after growing up around powerboats (he spent his formative years aboard a Mackenzie bass boat), purchased Serafynn 6 years ago from her previous owner in the Chesapeake. He has since gotten to know the Pardeys, and even got to sail with Larry in 2011 when the couple visited Massachusetts. “I learned more about Serafynn and sailing in general after sailing [with Larry] than you’d learn in a lifetime,” he said.

After sailing Serafynn from the Chesapeake to Cape Cod, Dow shares Peterson’s admiration for her construction. “You just can’t believe how solid and rugged she is,” he said. “She feels more like a ship.”

To watch a short video and article on The Wooden Tangent and Dave Peterson:

A Visit to The Wooden Tangent

Photo Gallery:

A much-weathered winch.
The external chain plates.
Seraffyn's sleeping quarters are snug, but check out the framing on this rugged boat.
View from the helm.
The original compass tells a tale of hard open-ocean travel.
The cramped but functional cabin features a stove and small sink.
Another look at the rudder and self-steering device.
More weathered hardware.
Seraffyn's classic navigation lights are peppered with verdigris.
The name of a legend.


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