The Best Of Boat WorldsTM

We, like many other admirers of fine “classic plastic” sailing yachts, consider these little Rhodes Chesapeake 33s to be some of the loveliest of boats, with their spoon bows, low cabin houses, and old time charm. This 1963, GRACIN, is a well priced example.

The Chesapeake came from the desk of the great Philip L. Rhodes, born in 1895,  who was a prolific and versatile boat designer, with a career that spanned more than five decades from 1919 until his death in 1974. His range and versatility was amazing, crafting everything from 123′ motorsailers to 7′ dinghies, from hydrofoil racers to giant motor yachts. His clients ranged from the Rockefellers to Sears and Roebuck.  His 12 Meter Weatherly, won of the most famous yachts of all-time, won the America’s Cup in 1962. 

Robert Perry, a celebrated yacht designer in his own right, still speaks with awe at the memory of Rhodes’ pinup. Like a model with all the right curves, the Chesapeake 32 reportedly has been used in ads to sell Top-Sider shoes, Rolls-Royces and more.

Cruising World

Robert Perry was a high-school sophomore taking mechanical drawing when he spotted a sailboat on the cover of Popular Boating magazine. It was a Chesapeake 32, designed by Philip Rhodes. “I had never seen anything quite so beautiful designed by man,” he would later write. “To my eye there was not an ugly line on that boat. This design is the specific design that made me determine to become a yacht designer. I wanted to design things that beautiful. Still trying.”

Rhodes designed the boat for George Walton, a Maryland yacht broker, and 95 boats were produced between 1960 and 1965 by two Danish yards, Danboats and Sanderson. The boat combined the classic Rhodes sheer lines — a spoon bow, a traditional low cabin house, a dip amidships rising gently to long overhanging stern — in a fiberglass production boat that retained the old-time look of a wood yacht.

The boat was laid up with heavy, thick fiberglass, encasing a short lead keel and, in the practice of the time, embedding the chainplates. With an 8-foot-9-inch beam, a 4-foot-9-inch draft and 3,750 pounds of ballast, the Chesapeake 32 displaced 11,500 pounds.

Cruising World

GRACIN was built in Denmark, and remains in solid condition. Listed in Plattsburgh, New York for $19,500.

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