‘F’ is for Freedom : which is a bit ironic right now !
Blog time : It’s early April 2020 and right now i should be at sea , starting my long awaited voyage around the UK in my little centerboard Liberty. WABI”’ should have been launched 2 weeks ago but like many UK boaters i got caught out by the complete shut down of boatyards…..my boat would have been the first one back in the water after the boss’s own boat and i missed my chance by just 2 days. Instead, that’s my little boat behind the locked gate although the boatyard boss is being very helpful about me going aboard to do essential jobs as i can walk there and so make it part of my ‘once a day’ exercise !
I couldn’t decide whether to put this post under ‘F’ or ‘H’ because although most of the boats with this idea were marketed under the Freedom banner most of them were designed by Gary Hoyt. As it is i think that both ‘G’ and ‘H’ might be a bit busy with some other designs and designers so i’ll slip it under ‘F’. This post then is about boats that i greatly admire but haven’t sailed or owned myself , with regard to this designer the nearest i ever got was when i put an offer on one of the few Freedom 25’s in the UK but it was turned down. I did seriously think about going to see a little Freedom 21 that came up for sale and they are a great little boat , except that by then i already had the Liberty and she fulfills that role perfectly.
Back when i was sorting out the Deben 2 tonner in Ipswich there was a Freedom 21 on a mud berth near to Inanda and he often slipped out for a sail on the tide and mostly he always sailed : that little boat seemed very ‘handy’ even in the tight confines of the moorings there. On my actual voyage with the Deben i took this picture of the Freedom that i would most like to own as a long term cruising boat and liveaboard : the Freedom 35.
‘F’ is also for fantasy boat.
We all have them, fantasy boats that is ; the ones that we would like to own one day but can’t, usually due to the cost. I vary a bit in what i think my ultimate fantasy boat would be, most days it would be a Freedom 35 with the full carbon rigs and a centerboard but some days it’s a slightly smaller Nigel Irens lugger and right now it’s a 30 foot Roger Martin designed Presto Sharpie. And yes….some days it’s Meadowlark and so on and so forth……so many boats, so little cash !. I know that the boat i would love to build if i had the space and the funds is the Roger Martin Presto-Sharpie which is so much my own boat’s big muscular sister.
If you look at my little boat, the Hunter Liberty, and then quickly look at the earlier Freedom designs and the more recent Roger Martin ‘Presto’ design you’ll see many similar characteristics. Each of them have simple, unstayed ‘2-stick’ rigs and most of them have either long keels or variable draft and will sail in shallow water and take the bottom easily. I know that some of the Freedom’s will need beaching legs and they did put an odd stubby fin on one of the 35 footers but aside from that one the general idea is of a hull/keel shape that will sit upright with little help.
Gary Hoyt designed the first of his ‘Freedom’ range back in 1976 with his own boat which , as i understand it, was an engineless 40 foot unstayed cat-ketch based on a Herreshoff hull shape…..my apologies if iv’e got that wrong. I remember the first time i saw one of Gary Hoyt’s designs, i think it was in the Hamble, and that i really didn’t understand the hull shape or the rig. I can freely ( sorry) admit that the fault was all mine because i was so immersed in the whole IOR idea of bizarre twitchy hulls and fragile multi-panel rigs on top of narrow fin keels that anything else looked weird. That one of the early Freedom 35′ s won it’s class at Antigua race week left me a bit confused !
Now, many years later i don’t see any pleasure in sitting-out the rail on a wet one-tonner in the Irish sea…..now, i’d much rather be back aft under the sprayhood of a similar sized Freedom 35 with just my partner on board and not 6 or 7 smelly-wellied rail-riders. Today, to me , the hulls look chunky and sea-kindly and their rigs simple, safe and bomb-proof ; no endless tweaking of multiple sets of shrouds just to get the right ‘tune’ or anxiously minding the runners during a crash gybe.
I did once go and take a serious look (to buy) a Freedom 35 locally but it was the wrong version for me ; that one had the odd fin keel stub and an internal layout that didn’t make sense. The version i prefer has shallow draft, a centerboard and 2 berths in a cabin aft along with the linear galley one side of the board….i could well imagine both sailing one of those long term and living aboard semi permanently.
In terms of ‘my size’ boats in this style there are really only 2 : the Freedom 21 and the much more rare Freedom 25. The 21 is a very small boat inside, doesn’t have a split rig and does come in several different keel options. When i was based in Ipswich briefly a couple of years ago i watched most days as a local bloke came down and took his out for a short sail most days….and he looked happy. We had a Freedom 25 based near us in the Hamble some years ago and i went for a look-see when it came up for sale : i think it was called ‘Squirrel’ and i liked it well enough except that it was a much more conventional hull with a narrow fin keel and even then i realised that it wouldn’t work for me unless i could change the keel.