243 Anclote Road
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
she said, "OK",
The SeaPearl 21 was the invention of two guys, George and Jim, looking to set the world on fire with their idea of the perfect sailboat. However, the fellow who must get most of the credit designed a few such boats in his time, L. Francis Herreshoff. His boats were usually close to perfect for whatever purpose he designed them, and in this case it was a design intended to ply the skinny waters where the mother ship could not go. The mother ship was the Walrus, designed for coastal exploration and the Carpenter as the perfect tender, designed to take over in the shallow waters. She was to have the sailing characteristics of a whaleboat, able to take a good sea and sail handily, while having the beachability of a dory. NOTE: Both of these boats are featured in Herreshoff's "Sensible Cruising Designs."
In order to make her more perfect, as a family daysailer and beach cruiser for two, it was decided to lengthen her from 18 to 21 feet, while keeping the same proportions. This gave her a beam of 5 1/2 feet and a length to beam ration of 3.8 to 1, the same as the Carpenter. She was to have the same soft chines and the hard flat dory bottom of the original design. The transom was modified from sharp double-ended to tombstone to easier mount a kickup rudder. The bow was modified to provide more deck space forward and give her a more modern look.
In 1979 George and Jim formed a partnership, Marine Concepts and built the first boat. It was a sloop rigged centerboarder, with a bubble shaped cabin, a far cry from Herreshoff's Carpenter. They built a mold of the hull and proceeded to build nine more boats over the course of two years. Each of the nine boats had different decks. Several were rowboats only. All of them had one thing in common, the beautiful hull shape. These different deck and cabin shaped led them to hull number 11, with leeboards and an elegant and practical deck design. This completed the plastic search. They had found the right combination. The leeboards opened up the interior for sleeping room, and the simple lug rig added convenience and practicality.
They were low on money and needed a deck mold to go into production. They knew they had created something worthwhile, and advertised for an investor. I answered their ad and flew down to Florida to investigate. It was this creation, their final effort that I fell in love with. I moved to Florida in January of 1982, bringing a small amount each of money, advertising sense, business experience, and design knowledge. I came to a partnership that had fallen apart! Jim had gone, taken what money was in the cash drawer and left only a note, which said, "I am burned out, you two can split my share of the business if you want to continue." I was still in Indiana when George told me this and I recall our conversation.
George read Jim's note and asked, "Do you still want to come down?"
I asked him, "Do you have the knowledge and skill to build these boats by yourself?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "I'll be there. I don't discourage easily."
We entered the 1982 Miami Boat Sow in February with hull number 11. All of the teak and the mahogany spars were highly glossed with seven coats of spar varnish. The early Pearls had lots of teak including massive teak rub-rails and a teak rudder stock. We look on hull 11 as number 1, since it was the first of the production design. I am glad to say that Stan Jankowski, who bought that first SeaPearl 21 on the last day of the show, still owns it and it still looks as good as it did then, or better!
The SeaPearl 21 as we know it today looks much the same. They all have the same hull and deck design. I designed several rigs including a wishbone rig, which led to the Marconi rig we have today. I redesigned the leeboard hardware. I designed the water ballast tanks and the reefing goosenecks in 1987, shortly after Shane St. Clair returned from his 5,000 mile Voyage Through America. Shane gave the Pearl a good test in all kinds of situations over this nonstop, six month period and suggested these as possible improvements. About hull 200, in 1989 our molds started showing their wear, and were remade. I took this opportunity to lover the rear cockpit seats and deck. This gave better headroom for the helmsperson and offered better backsupport. I also designed the ballast tanks as a hull liner. Which enabled us to include them as a standard feature. They were offered as an option from 1987 to 1989.
George and I split up in 1991 after a few rough years of financial difficulties.George went his way with other fiberglass projects, as Fiberglass Finesse, and I continued in the SeaPearl business as Marine Concepts. the boat has remained unchanged since then. At 65 years of age it was time to turn over the helm to someone with renewed energy. My brother-in-law, Jim Leet is continuing with the same brand of customer service that George and I established over twenty years ago.
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