I blog the Baba………………….Part One

21 Apr

The Baba story

Part one

Disclaimer: This is history as I remember it. I could get some facts wrong but I’m damn close.

Also, the blog program likes to correct my spelling. That’s fine but it often screws up Ta Chiao. it should be C H I A O!

Ba30 scotland1.jpg

Back in the 70’s there was still this idea that double
enders make the best offshore boats. I never really went along with that idea
although I always liked double enders. My attraction to double enders was an aesthetic
one. I just plain liked the way they looked. I had been drawn to the double
ended shape since the time I was 15 years old. I was probably 15 when I first
saw Bill Garden’s OCEANUS and that was it for me. While I have serious
reservations about the hull shape of OCEANUS there can be no denying that the
stern was spectacular and it has remained one of the most enduring boat
shapes  in my mind.

Then there came along the Valiant and at the same time the commission
for what would be the Hans Christian 34. Ironically when I was just beginning
both of these new design each client, independently, sent me the very same
photo  of HOLGER DANSK, the magnificent
K. Aage Nielsen double ender. Here was a boat with a stern that had power and
grace. I saw the advantages immediately. My two clients, my buddy Nathan
Rothman and the evil John Edwards sent me the very same note, “Make the stern
like this.” No problem.

Valiant wo CARIA.JPG

I gave this stern type the name “tumblehome canoe stern”.
Tumblehome refers to the fact that the stern profile rolls back towards the
sheer with the aft end of LOA aft of the sheer at the stern. It’s a strong look
and in fact a strong shape. It’s very egg-like and structurally still. The idea
is that by filling out the stern like this I can flatten the buttocks for a cleaner,
flatter run aft to help extend sailing length. I did my best to try to pull as
much volume aft as possible. Many of the canoe sterns you see are to my eye “anemic”
aft with pointy fannies with very little volume where they need it. The pointy
canoe sterns are just along for the ride. You have to have the stern displacing
water in order for it to do any work, i.e. extend the sailing length. I’m not
going to name names but there have been some very successful canoe sterns boats
with what I feel are poorly designed sterns. You hear the term “reserve buoyancy
aft”. Well, if that’s your goal you had better go with a transom because a
transom has far more volume aft that a pointy canoe stern.


There are other disadvantages with double enders. With the
volume you lose aft you lose the ability to have a nice, squarish back end to
the cockpit. This makes fitting seats and lockers problematic in most double

(Oh, while I’m on it I should explain that I consider any
boat with a point on the stern a “double ender”. But I don’t consider all
double enders to have “canoe sterns”. Look at the classic Westsail 32. To me
that is a true double ender.  The stern
post  marks the end of the hull. The
overhang aft is minimal at best. With a canoe stern the profile of the stern is
extended resulting in considerable overhang aft. Not really a lot but compared
to the Westsail type, considerable.  All
canoe sterned boats are double enders. All double enders do not have canoe
sterns. Got it?)

So we have this roundish stern making seat aft awkward and
locker lids hard to fit. If you were after a really comfortable cockpit you had
better stick with a transom boat. In addition, these day people find aft swim
steps, boarding platforms very attractive. I know I do. They make getting to
and from the dink far easier than climbing over the rail. You can’t do this
with a double ender. Not easily. I do have a drawing for a double ender where a
section of the stern drops down to form a boarding ladder. I’m sure it will
work but I haven’t built one yet. With these issues in mind it’s kind of hard
to come up with pragmatic reasons for a double ender.

I think back in the Colin Archer days his boats were designed
as sailing lifeboats and they had to have the ability to heave to in heavy
seas. Having a boat with two bows was probably a good thing. I hear all sorts
of what I call “Moses theories” how double enders part the following seas but I’m
skeptical. They may part the following sea but a transom stern boat with the
additional volume aft may rise to that following sea. I think that if you want
to justify having a double ender the best way to do it is to say, “Boy, I sure
like the looks of double enders.”

Valiant profile pic.jpg

The Hans Christian project got underway but something was
wrong. Through the grapevine I kept hearing about a “Bob Perry designed 36’er
at HC”. What the hell, my design was 34′ LOA. I checked into it with a phone
call to evil Edwards in Taiwan. I don’t remember the conversation verbatim but
it was something along these lines:

Me, “John, what’s this I heard about a 36’er?”

John, “Oh we took your lines and blew them up and we are
building the 36’er before we build the 34’er.”

Me, “Great. I look forward to receiving royalties on both

John, “Oh, you’re not getting any royalties on the 36’er.”

Me, “Really,,,,,,,,,,,,,well then I withdraw all design
support for the 34’er.”

In fact I never finished the design of the HC 34. It is a
rare model but reported to sail well. The 36’er went on to become the father of
a whole skad of 36′ double enders, all carrying my name despite the fact that I
had nothing to do with the actual design. These boats include the Mariner
Polaris 36, Union 36, Mao Ta 36, Univeral 36 and God knows how many others. My
name is still stuck to them. You would be very surprised at how many owners of
these boats are convinced they are my design. I met a couple on the dock. They
had one.  They went on and on about how
much they loved the boat. Then  I said, “But,
it’s not my design.” The woman started to cry. I felt bad.

I was pissed. I was poor. In was trying really hard to get
my design business going and I was not making much money. Now I had two
fallings out with Edwards. The first being the CT54 fiasco with Ta Chiao. It
was clear that I would get no more business from evil Edwards. I wanted
revenge. I wanted to fly to Taiwan and punch him in the nose. But Edwards was
about 5’5″ tall and looked a lot like Wally Cox so a physical confrontation was

Then along came my friend Will Eickholt, the “Flying Dutchman”. Will was starting to do business in Taiwan and was importing 41′
ketches from Ta Chiao. Will said he wanted to do a boat, a double ender, the
popular style of the day. The yard would be a new yard, Ta Yang, but they were
connected to Ta Chaio so the boat would be called a Ta Chiao something. Will
suggested a boat like the HC 36 and I jumped at it. Here was my chance to get
my revenge by targeting the HC 36 with a much better design. I produced the
lines for the “Ta Chiao 37”. Will was not really my client. The yard was but Will
was my “go between”. My arrangement with the yard, in order to keep design
costs low, was to produce basic drawings but no structural drawings. Fine, I
needed work of any kind. The Ta Chiao 37 went into production and was selling
very well. I was excited at this new river of royalties.

TY 37 anchored.jpg

I began seeing Ta Chiao 37’s roll past my office window on their
way to the yard for commissioning. I called Will and asked, “When do I start
getting my royalties?” “What royalties ?” Will said. “There is nothing about
royalties in your contract with the yard.” ????????????WTF! I checked the
contract and he was right. How the hell did I do that? Stupidity is the only
possible answer. Will said he would see what he could do. He came back to me
with a proposition. The yard would like full structural drawings for the boat
and in exchange they will pay royalties. I agreed. Shortly after that Will showed
up at my office with Y. P Chen, the manager of Ta Yang. The boat was now being
called the Ta Yang 37 and they had built 40 of them. Y.P. produced a check for
40 royalties. I was amazed. I had assumed the royalties would start with hull
number 41. I thanked Y.P for his generosity and said that this was more than I
expected. I wrote Y.P a check for half the royalty amount. I’s split it with
him. He was very happy with that deal. As you probably know they went on to
build more than 600 “Tayana 37’s”, George Day of BLUE WATER CRUISING once wrote
that there are more Tayana 37’s cruising the world than any other single design.
This pleases me.

TY 37 in borneo.jpg

The first Ta Yang 37 to come to Seattle was owned by a TV
lighting technical director, named Bob Berg. Bob’s TY37 was a ketch version and
it sailed fabulously. In fact I always preferred the ketch version of the TY 37
to the cutter version. The ketch just balanced better.

There you have chapter one in the Baba story. Bob Berg would
soon leave his work at the TV station and go on to become a dealer fo4 Ta Yang.
He made frequent trips to Taiwan where the workers found it difficult to pronounce
“Bob Berg”. They started calling Bob “Baba” Mandarin for “Dad”. Pretty soon almost
everyone who knew Bob was calling him Baba. Bob is a kind and soft spoken,
patient man. The Taiwanese liked Bob.

baba in slings.jpg

This article was syndicated from YACHT DESIGN


  1. Don Braymer

    Dam Sam, I learned a bunch in just a minute or two. And everything you said was in very easy normal English. “if a hull part is going to do any work, it has to displace water”. One sentence, a world of learning. Do you know anything about how and why the CT 47 ended up being built in Taiwan, with a C&C sheerline molded in? I have one, it sails fine, but it is titled “swan rig”, and indeed it has the tall sloop mast on the ketch. 1981 or so. Alden project I understand, designed by Kaufmann and Ladd, they ended up being the Skye 51 and the CT 47/49

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