by Kurt Hoehne
January 31, 2014
The Francis Lee story is part love of craft and part love of sailing. The combination is simply the best of sailing and a showcase for the Pacific Northwest’s boatbuilding skills. (see complete list at end of article of those who contributed)
Love of Craft
It’s hard to find someone with greater love of craft that naval architect Bob Perry. At age 67 he continues to come up with elegant solutions for wide ranging clients. These particular clients, Kim and Susan Bottles, were already long time friends, which made the experience that much richer.
Perry and the Bottles shared an affinity for Bill Garden’s Oceanus design, which led to a close study of L. Francis Herreshoff’s drawings of the “Ultimate Sailing Machine.” The path started becoming clear, though Perry said “You want long waterline, I can do long waterline. But it will be mine, not his.” And so started the 4-year process that ended in January’s launch of the Francis Lee.FLrhp2
This was, from nearly the outset, to be a Pacific Northwest project to showcase the region’s boatbuilding expertise and give a shot in the arm to the local marine industry.
But it became much more than that when the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building was chosen for the construction. The School’s enthusiasm for the project spread and soon just about every skill and talent necessary to create this vessel came together around the boat.