When skipper Mark Schrader set in motion his plan to sail “Around the Americas,” he knew he’d need a strong, versatile vessel built not only for the rigors of the Arctic Circle and the Northwest Passage, but also one capable of quick, safe, reliable passages across vast expanses of blue water. During an extensive search for the perfect boat on both sides of the Atlantic, he found what he was looking for in the relatively tranquil waters of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Ocean Watch is a 64-foot steel cutter designed by Bruce Roberts that’s been outfitted and laid out for extensive long-range voyaging and expedition-style sailing.
Built in Havre de Grace, Maryland, in 1988, Ocean Watch is a stout, rugged yacht displacing 44 tons with a draft of 8-feet and a beam of just over 16-feet. Built of ¼-inch steel plate, the center-cockpit sailboat’s underbody configuration is a deep fin with a skeg-hung rudder. The double-headsail cutter rig consists of a high-clewed yankee jib, a staysail, a powerful mainsail with three deep reefs, and an asymmetric spinnaker for off-wind sailing. For the last decade, Ocean Watch (ex-Danzante III) has been utilized as a marine-science research platform and live-aboard cruising boat off the coast of Baja California.
Following his purchase of the boat in the spring of 2008, Schrader and a crew that included Ocean Watch first-mate and project manager David Logan delivered the 64-footer from La Paz, Mexico to Seattle’s Seaview East Boatyard on Shilshole Avenue near the Ballard Bridge, where she has since undergone a complete, stem-to-stern refit by a talented group of craftsmen including Logan, engineer Paul LaRussa, Andy Gregory, Jon Sebaska, the shipwrights Bakketun & Thomas, and many other local businesses, volunteers and supporters.
“From the word go, the Ballard boating community believed in the Around the America’s project and really stepped up,” said Logan. “There’s a long history and real spirit of maritime adventure in Ballard, and the Ocean Watch refit is the latest example of the local community coming together and working towards a common goal.”
In preparing the boat for the 13-month, 24,000-nautical mile voyage, Logan, LaRussa and their team have addressed, overhauled or replaced Ocean Watch’s wiring, plumbing, systems and electronics. The boat has been re-powered with a new 135-hp. Lugger diesel engine and a 12-kW Northern Lights generator. The new suit of working sails comes from sailmaker Carol Hasse and her colleagues at Port Townsend Sails. North Sails built the spinnaker.
A wide range of other national and international marine businesses also played a major role in Ocean Watch’s complete transformation. The boat is now equipped with a complete suite of Raymarine electronics, Icom radios, Lewmar hatches and winches, Samson running rigging, a Winslow life raft, Helly Hansen apparel, a Monitor emergency rudder and outstanding support and hardware from EuroMarine Trading, Inc. Much of the original interior layout was stripped out and the forward and aft cabins have been rebuilt with additional bunks for Ocean Watch’s permanent crew of four, as well as the scientists, educators and voyagers who will rotate through during the course of the expedition. It’s been an epic effort.
Other Washington-area suppliers and artisans who played an important role in prepping Ocean Watch include Fisheries Supply, Sure Marine, Canvas Supply, Always Perfect, Hatton Marine and Seattle’s Miller & Miller Boatyard. The crew of Ocean Watch is in awe of the collective efforts of everyone who transformed a well-used cruising boat into an oceangoing expedition craft. No one would be going anywhere without the talent and commitment of everyone who’s made the voyage possible.