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Ketch Sandpiper of Ynys Las

Ketch Sandpiper of Ynys Las
Sandpiper of Ynys Las, british-flagged yacht, one of the last ocean-going boats to be built in Baltimore, MD, by NASA engineer John Laudadio. She is a customised copy of Ocean Racer Finisterre and takes us through Carolinas, Florida, Bahamas, Cuba and beyond.

This is a communal website for all those who know or are associated with the Yacht Sandpiper, her crew, her history, and her itinerant ports of call.

Origins of Sandpiper

Why I have ended up in this situation as a sea captain isn't that complicated. Since I first encountered the disappointment of how this privileged part of our global community works, I always wanted to escape 'the system'. Opting out, though involves taking your own route with responsibility. 'To live outside the law you must be honest', as Bob Dylan tells us, and to take the financial benefits of the system is to be part of it too.

The only real way to not be part of the problem is to live wholely of the grid. On a midnight watch somewhere off Madeira in the mid-Atlantic, I realised that living on the 'other' seventy five percent of the world – The Seas - was a possibility, as I 'worked my passage' back home from a travelling episode. But I would need a boat.

I started working in a commercial but relatively honest environment, which was at least creative and hopefully educational, but really it was a deal I was doing with my conscience that I would use the money to buy a boat, upon which I might be really self-sufficient, generating my own electricity, travelling by wind, fishing as necessary. I was an idealist, but what can we do if we cannot dream? And so I found the ketch Sandpiper, rotting in a dock in downtown Baltimore, USA.

Interrupted by meeting my partner, and deciding to fully restore the boat before taking to the waves, it took years of working, flying back and forth from one desperate work environment making money into another desperate working environment spending that money. And slowly we reached a point where we knew all about the boat. Google came into existence, and my self-teaching became easier. I had two english degrees so I could read dense instructive texts. This, and some inspiring role models, made me think I could do anything. I still had a lot to learn.

I learned some of it, however, and now we have lived more or less on the boat for the last two years, and sailed it five and a half thousand miles around East Coast America and the North West Caribbean, and we can occupy the a-cultural demographic of 'the Mariner', alongside our cuban fisherman brothers in arms, and our mexican 'marinero' friends. All of our best friends know us through our work, which is as it has always been, through the storms we have survived, the repairs we have had to do, the shoals we have scraped, and the spare parts and tools we have swapped. And we, like our friends, don't have two pennies to rub together, nor do we want them most of the time, and I preoccupy myself with working for an organisation which does less harm than most in their pursuit of changing the world for the better.

As a student broadly interested in Social Control and the Freedom of Thought, I was sufficiently struck by Barthes observations of contemporary culture, as recorded in the brilliantly playful 'Mythologies', to recover an element of post-theistic faith in the Structurallist movement as a whole. Having seen media influence through colonial perspectives in Africa, the Structuralist Anthropology of Ferdinand de Saussure struck a chord, and with the idea that reality only exists as a projection, I started to look at my own life in terms of my mythologies and their enactment, and to imagine the potential in each of us to 'become who we admire'.

Experimenting with the manifestation of a 'life outside' the Capitalist World which I found so unethical, I made practical projects and forays into worlds beyond the ordinary. Bob Dylan writes that 'to live outside the law you mus be honest', and I started to look at rules and social structures which were valid beyond the mainstream.

I am told that Benjamin Franklin once said that the two things in life which were certain were Death and Taxes. I am not so sure. Maybe I am susceptible, having been brought-up by naturallists in the tradition of Antarctic explorer Edward Wilson, but I have always conceived of nature as a mystic and spiritual force. For the last two years I have been living continually, as many in this world do, with an outlook which is based on movement of Sea, Sky, and Planet. The way your day is managed around these flowing factors makes you realise the true nature of life's constants.

With the best will in the world, and the best science, we can only approximate as to the behaviour of the environment At Sea. And it is with this awareness that, for generations, mariners have found as much sense in superstitions as science about the world around. Tales abound: the Ancient Mariner rears his head in almost every salty tale, and this is no exception.

I had been weaned on the heroics of humanist establishment mystics. Scott of the Antarctic, George Mallory, unorthodox and unlikely heroes of noble non-conformism. The sea played the backdrop against which the stories were told, as my father's passion for wildlife irrepressibly overflowed on holidays around cliffs, headlands and beaches. No surprise, then, when I bought a ruined boat and pursued a life 'outside' the margins of land. I had always suffered the affliction of being driven by principle, rather than financial gain, and this became my new religion. Not so much the life, but the capacity in us all to live exciting dreams, should we chose. The religion of never cheating ourselves of life. Liminal, or marginal studies seemed to loom, and lead to an 'Anthropology of the Outsider'; the Romantic Quest in some kind of modern culturally accountable setting.


35 ft(38 ft overall) Keel-Centreboard Cruising Ketch. Perfect for Bahamas and other shoal-draft areas, but with a world-cruising capabilities, this pedigree Ferro Cement classic has been immaculately restored, refitted, and is currently cruising in Chesapeake Bay.
She is very much a hands on traditional sailing boat with hank on sails and a classic bronze windlass and barlow winches. Fast, comfortable, beautiful and unique. Built over-strong by NASA engineer John Laudadio, this is one of the last five boats produced in Baltimore in the 1970s and as such is allowed to parade in the Baltimore yearly historic regatta.
An all-round Chesapeake classic - traditional Skipjack above deck, on a racer-cruiser hull (Finisterre: http://sparkmanstephens.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/design-1054-finisterre.html).
We have upgraded the systems for blue-water cruising (including re-wire, hot water etc.) over eight loving years.
She was kept in fresh water and launched and raced/cruised seasonally until two years ago. We have found her to be ideally suited as a cruiser live-aboard vessel, with her roomy and airy living quarters and a 4ft shoal draft with a drop keep centre-board which makes total draft 8ft 9” when down.
She is currently on the hard in North Chesapeake, having returned from a North West Caribbean adventuring to Bahamas, Cuba, and Mexico.
Many photos and cruising blog at www.rupertallan.com

Full set of sails with 120% Genny, brand-new storm jib, spinaker and spare mizzen – all in very good shape with a couple of minor strengthening repairs made on the main clew by Irish sail lady in St Augustine.
Dinghy – Brand new Westmarine Zodiac inflatable with Mercury 7.5 outboard
Two fold-up Dahon bikes for shore side wanderings.
Water – galley hot water pumped from engine, manual salt water and fresh water rinsing taps in galley, hot water tap as above and fresh water tap in head. Three water bladders with capacity for 420 litres of water. Also extra water storage in four jerry cans carrying 100 litres in total
Living quarters -
Teak lined throughout, with Perko bronze portholes and insect screening. Ample storage under cushions in Saloon also in bilge and deck lockers.
V-berth, Saloon, Galley, Head and Navigation area. Boat has 5 berths in total (double in V-berth, two pullman berths in saloon and one storm berth in navigation area.) All cushions recently reupholstered in teal Sunbrella by a professional seamstress.
Force 10 stove in galley – two burner with grill and oven.
Force 10 stainless steel barbecue on deck.
Adler barbour 12 v cold machine refrigeration, in built-in large capacity well-insulated ice chest.
Engine – 35hp 3HM35F Yanmar, approx 1500 hours, with new 80 amp alternator, and two fuel tanks holding 40 gallons fuel in total. Two jerry cans with 10 extra gallons on board.
Lots of spares come with this engine including hoses, filters and alternator.
Self steering – Navico/Raymarine WP5000 Wheel Pilot
Depth/Speed - NASA
GPS – Garmin 210 plotter
VHF Radio Uniden Seahawk
Handheld GPS/VHF Uniden Mystic
SSB radio ICOM 600 with AT150 Tuner
Radar: Autohelm ST50
On deck
Full set of sail covers, bimini and dodger in Pacific Blue Sunbrella.
Ground tackle -
45 lb CQR, 35lb Max, 25lb Danforth, 200ft of 3/8th chain and 300ft of rode on CQR, 20ft of chain and 200ft of rode on Danforth, solid Plath/Simpson Lawrence bronze Gypsy Windlass.
Brand new AirX wind generator and four Siemens solar panels giving 180 watts.
Parachute Drogue/Sea Anchor, and 600ft of spare rode.
Hull is sound – boat was hauled and repainted inside and out last year and there are no problems with structure of boat. Teak and mahogany cap rails have also been refixed and finished to ensure ongoing dependable protection of ferro cement below decks. Decks are resheathed – epoxy over ferro cement.


There's something about this dreamy piece that makes me want to 'disappear' on a boat- I certainly would disappear, as I have no nautical skills. It's a good reminder that living differently is possible, but that getting off grid completely takes incredible commitment.