TELL TALES: DOWN THE MEMORY LANE
22 March 2021
During the many years I have been active in the yachting business there has been an almost enormous development in materials, building technique and in the design of yachts. The design of hull shapes keels and rudders have changed greatly, mostly due to the development of new rating rules, starting from the I.O.R. (international Offshore Rating rule) and IMS to today’s rules.
Also styling of the yachts have changed not due to any rules or regulations but just the fact that peoples taste and opinion on styling have changed through the years.
For us that have been and are involved, on daily bases, in creating and developing new designs, new building technique, new materials etc. we sometimes do not realize the pace of the development. You are so busy with your daily activities that you do not spend much time looking back. And sometime when you see some of your “older” yachts, you even get surprised how the sailing world and also you own products have changed through the years.
This happened to me.
It was in the summer of 2002 when I took an unexpected trip down memory lane during a business a trip to the Mediterranean. Purely by coincidence, I happened across a Baltic 46 sitting in a Mediterranean marina, in fact the very first model to have come out of the yard almost 30 years before. I must admit that when I saw it that afternoon, I felt surprised because it looked old, and slightly out of date compared with brand new yachts laying in the same marina. When we developed the Baltic 46, it was under the I.O.R. rules that created pinched in stern hull shape. Also, those days the styling concept of deck shapes was with very flat surfaces and sharp corners not the softer rounded shapes that most of the other boats in the marina had. Looking at the Baltic 46, in the marina, I even felt some degree of embarrassment that I and Baltic Yachts had been responsible for such an old-fashioned boat.
But that evening at dinner, I thought it over a little more, and I was not so tough on myself. It was, after all, built almost 30 years ago. I remember the effort and studies from C&C Design to come up with a very optimized design for us. Even including model tank testing – a process almost unheard of in yachting business at this time. I also remembered materials and methods used for the laminates including sandwich construction and uni-directional fibers. One of our material suppliers even went to the level of producing a uni-direction fiber custom made for us. Also, a lot of other things like rod-rigging standard, used sometimes by racing machines but not very common in serial production yachts at that time. Teak decks were epoxy glued to the fiber deck increasing strength and reducing weight plus many things we did, including a very high level of work quality, to produce a, second to none yacht.
So, when I went to look at the boat again the following morning, I saw her in a very different light. I realized that the Baltic 46 still outshined, by far, most of the brand-new boats in the marina. She looked beautiful. I felt very proud. For a 30-year-old boat, she was state of the art. She might look slightly outdated now, but the first ever Baltic 46 was – and in many ways still is ahead of its time.
First hull out of the mold. White with red stripes. Clear gelcoat under DWL. Clear gelcoat is higher quality/resistant than pigmented gelcoat hence the use of clear under DWL. I recall that we were criticized by some service yards claiming that we saved money by not using gelcoat under the waterline when the reality was that we took the extra costs in order to get a better product.
The” brain thrust” of Baltic Yachts in 1973-1974 in deep discussions with chef designer Rob W. Ball. Occasionally, I miss those days. The cooperation with C&C Design and in particular Rob W. is something I personally remember with great appreciation.
First yacht, produced by Baltic Yacht, the Baltic 46 getting ready for transport to the Hamburg Boat show.
1974, In Hamburg, ready for the exhibition.
Exhibition started. A very young Michael Schmidt, representing our German agent at the time, sitting in the cockpit, probably wondering what he got himself into.
Footnote: Between 1973 and 1977 Baltic Yachts delivered 11 hulls of the Baltic 46. The first hull namned Queen Anne has been in the same family since 1979.
There can be few yacht builders like PG Johansson, who can boast an unbroken career with the company he co-founded almost 50 years ago. In that time PG Johansson has witnessed every twist and turn of a colourful, exciting and technically pioneering industry accumulating a wealth of fascinating stories, some familiar, some still untold. In this blog PG will be recalling his experiences of the yachts he has built, the people he has met and some of the more unusual events on the journey to turning clients’ dreams into reality.
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