When J. Foster Fanning and Catherine Brown set eyes on their 1988 S-2 9.2C, they were immediately taken. They loved the 30-foot boat’s trailerability and its well-equipped interior, which includes a full V-berth, a master aft cabin and a salon big enough to host two couples for dinner. They can often be found sailing Aquila on Lake Roosevelt, in Northeast Washington.
Tell us about your boat’s name.
Our old boat, a Lyle Hess 27, was named Osprey. One evening as twilight fell we were sailing Osprey on a gentle reach, snuggled together under a blanket in the cockpit and talking about upgrading. Out of the twilight a bald eagle flew up to our masthead and attempted to land just 30 feet above us, its talons clicking and clacking against the metal masthead gear. It was an amazing occurrence watching the eagle back-flapping its six-foot wing span to steady itself on its precarious perch. It tried twice before giving up, circling the boat and flying off into the settling darkness.
After we upgraded to the S-2 and began the search for a new name the memory of the eagle came to us. Aquila is Latin for eagle.
Have you owned other boats before this one?
The Lyle Hess 27, a MacGregor 26 and a Kent Ranger 18.
Tell us the story of how you found your boat and what makes it special to you.
We live in Northeast Washington and are part of the Rickey Point Sail Club on Lake Roosevelt. Our upgrade had to be to something trailerable. When we saw the 48° North ad for a 30-foot on a custom trailer in La Conner while visiting the boat show in Anacortes, we had to look. It was love at first sight. The vessel was immaculate! It was owned by college professors from Kansas who sailed four months a year and were upgrading to a trawler. The owners took a liking to us and we to them, and the deal was a win-win for both parties. Six years later, we just sent them photos from this year’s cruise for the holidays.
What’s the history of your boat?
Due to the transportability of the boat, the college professors trailered from Kansas and sailed the Florida Keys, the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and the Pacific Northwest. They began annually cruising the Northwest often enough that as I understand it, their son, Jeff Oaklief (Seattle sailing fame), decided to finish his education in architectural engineering in the Northwest and has been here ever since. It was Jeff who took Catherine and I out on the sea trials before the purchase was complete.
What do you like best about your boat?
Besides that she’s paid for? Let me answer this by saying we are cruisers, not racers. This is a cruiser’s boat; oh, she can hold her own when the wind pipes up, but aa a 30 center-cockpit she’s beamy for her length and has more freeboard than many boats her size. Lets go back to the “we’re cruisers” and note that this design, with a master aft cabin, a full forward V-berth, complete galley and large head is a very comfortable boat to live on for several months at a time. She’s an easy vessel to rig, a fun boat to sail and while at the lower end for a moderate-sized cruiser, we can still host two other couples for dinner either in the cockpit or the cozy salon below.
What do you know now about your boat that you wish you’d known when you bought it? Would that have changed your mind?
Nothing. The sellers were totally honest. I surveyed the vessel myself. There were no brokers in the deal. Maintenance of the vessel was superb, the price was right and we’ve enjoyed it ever since.
What’s your favorite story involving your boat?
I’m glad I’m writing this and not my mate, Catherine; she may have told you about the first year when the pup launched into a perfect dog-dive off the bow to chase deer while I was setting up to anchor, resulting in us running aground on a sand shoal, but for me … It is probably the late winter/early spring cruise we did in the Gulf Islands a few years ago.
Ever had Montague Harbour to yourself? We got to meet the transient community of old trawler skippers on the dock in Conover Cove and sample their homemade blackberry wine. Or crossing paths with the next larger S2, an 11C, with bluegrass musicians Eric and Catherine and playing music late into the night. Or maybe the Summer Solstice we had Deep Bay on Jedediah Island all ourselves (not counting the island’s resident goats browsing on the cliffs above us in the twilight). Aquila, like many of your readers’ sailing vessels, is our magic carpet transporting us to wonderful places and through great adventures.
Describe the most challenging situation you’ve experienced on your boat and how it performed.
A downwind run in 30-plus knots for six hours. Once we found the correct sail trim/reef and rhythm, it was great. As I oft said of our Lyle Hess vessel, “The boat sails better than I do.” The same is true for Aquila.
Tell us a little about your boating background.
I have enjoyed messing about in boats since the early 1980s, logging approximately 15,000 miles and averaging 60-plus days a year aboard. All of our sailing has been in the Pacific Northwest, much of it on the remote and sunny surface of 150-mile-long Lake Roosevelt (with 600 miles of shoreline and vast, empty beaches) We are longtime members of the Rickey Point Sail Club. Catherine is the club secretary and myself the commodore.
Where do you plan to take your boat? Do you have a dream destination?
With that transportability option it’s tempting to dream of the Keys, the Great Lakes, and other far-off points, but retirement is right around the corner and a summer’s cruise to Alaska is in the planning stages, with a visit to Haida Gwaii and a circuit around Vancouver Island. After that the options are open.
If someone gave you $10,000 that you could only spend on your boat, what would you do with it and why?
I’d custom-build a removable hard dodger to house solar panels, some instruments and comfort features tied into a full Sunbrella/vinyl cockpit enclosure. I’m a pilothouse kinda guy (see below). That comes from sailing in all seasons and all kinds of weather. The benefits of a hard dodger and cockpit enclosure are readily apparent, but considering the trailer transport of the boat it would have to be a removable unit. That’s the challenge, although I do have one in draft design.
If you could have any other boat, what would it be and why?
A Nauticat 33 (old-style, 1988 or so). My first cruise to Alaska was in the 1948, 38-foot fishing trawler The Hope. Loved that trip and loved that boat, although it rained much of the two weeks we took to do the cruise. There’s something about piloting in the cold, downpour rain from the cozy confines of a pilothouse with the oil stove going, the windshield wipers slapping time and a good mugga java in hand. Remember, I’m not a racer. The Nauticat 33 is the right size, quality built, great pilothouse and, in my book – the perfect Northwest cruiser.
What didn’t we ask you about your boat that you wish we had?
What’s it like to hunker down at anchor in a secure cove when the wind howls?
Aquila carries an oversized Fortress anchor that has never given way. We use it as a storm hook and a Delta claw as the main anchor. We have ridden out some 40-plus knot blows when both hooks are set in the correct formation. Aquila doesn’t sail much at anchor (hardly noticeable below).
Oil lamps secured and burning brightly (yes, we have 12-volt lighting but really enjoy the trawler-style oil lamps). Our thwartship berth with custom mattress is very comfortable, and with four portals and one large hatch in the master cabin we have plenty of ventilation. I love catnapping in a blow, with a portal open just a bit for fresh air. I’ve mounted a compass over the berth and if needed we have GSP/depth alarms to arm for the night. The warm, cozy berth to return to after an anchor check. The knowledge of “all’s well” and as long as we take care of the boat, she will take care of us. What a great relationship!
What are the technical details pertaining to your boat?
- LOA 9m = 29’ 11”
- DWL 25’
- Beam 10’ 3”
- Dry displacement 9,800#
- Fin keel 4’ 11” with encapsulated lead ballast of 4,000#
- Spade rudder
- Sail area 468 sq. ft.
- Mast above DWL 43’ 6”
- Diesel fuel 30 gallons (1 quart per hour = approximately 100+hours)
- Water tank 37 gallons
- Hot water tank 10 gallons
- Holding tank 30 gallons
- Yanmar motor 18 hp, model 2GM 20F
- Mast height 40’ off deck
- Yanmar motor 18 hp, model 2GM 20F