The One That Got Away
Small Craft Advisor|January - February 2020
The One That Got Away
That Boat You Wish You Still Had
Phil Tarman

For many of us, owning just one boat has never been an option: We can’t stop daydreaming about other small-boat models that might be more efficient; better for camp-cruising, faster or otherwise more desirable than the craft in our driveway. The downside of serial boat trading is that we often let some great boats head down the road to new homes… and we later have regrets.

We recently asked SCA readers to share their stories of boats they loved, but sold or otherwise lost…and wish they had back. The ones that got away.

Here are some of their stories.—Eds

Two Got Away; One Came Back…

I have two stories of ones that got away, and one that came back. The first one was a beautiful Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 named Sampaguita that I lived on for six or eight years (depending on who you ask). I’d always dreamed of l iving aboard, and several times even shopped for boats that might work, but finances and timing hadn’t come together to make it happen. After seeing a Flicka in Ferenc Matè’s book, Best Sailboats to Build or Buy, I became obsessed with the design and thought it would be an ideal liveaboard for my needs. The Flicka is small, easy to singlehand, inexpensive to moor, with standing headroom— not only sturdily built, but in my eyes very beautiful.

Sampaguita made my dreams come true. We shared many adventures, cruising the San Juan Islands several times after safely crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and she was a comfy and cozy home when not under sail. I even turned her into a darkroom for printing black and white photography at night! I loved her, but also loved another, and when the economic downturn of 2009 reached its peak I could no longer afford to live in two places, so I sold Sampaguita to another dreamer and moved back on land with my other love. The Flicka is cherished by her new owner, and has traveled farther with him than she ever did with me. I miss her every day, and for me she will always be “the one that got away.”

The second one that got away was The Donkey, a West Mersea Duck Punt designed by John Milgate. This is a 16-foot hard-chine boat intended for one person, with no rudder, keel, or daggerboard—only an oar or paddle braced over the side for directional control. They can be sailed in less than six inches of water; use an inexpensive drop-in Optimist rig , and are cheap and quick to build.

Being without the Flicka I needed a boat to sail, and having just finished a master furniture-making program I wanted a project, so I decided to build a Duck Punt after seeing one on Dylan Winter’s excellent YouTube channel, “ Keep Turning Left .” Although Dylan built a simple Duck Punt in two weeks, it took me about six months, but once the boat was finished I enjoyed it on many of the local shallow waters around Puget Sound.

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January - February 2020