Spice, SeaRunner 37 Cruising Trimaran
Instead of going on to college as all his friends did, Tim graduated a year early from high school and spent his senior year building a 25-foot SeaRunner trimaran designed by renowned multihull designer Jim Brown, in a friend’s driveway in Palo Alto, California. When his friends were having their graduation night party, Tim was 20 miles off Point Sur (near Monterey) headed south around the world in that little boat, with $100 in his pocket.
He soon found out that both the boat and the amount of money were way too small! Tim stopped in Santa Barbara, sold the 25-footer, and built a 37-foot version of the same boat. This was a SeaRunner 37 trimaran designed by the renowned multihull designer Jim Brown, and named Spice. She had big comfortable DRY bunks, a nice galley (kitchen to you non-boaties), and even a SHOWER!
(Below) In the Ron Radon boatyard in Santa Barbara, California, 75 feet away from the main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad; Spice is ready for sea, with her mast, all her rigging, and even a self-steering wind vane.
He had Spice for 6 years, and sailed her to the Marquesas (near Tahiti) in 1976, then spent a year cruising the Hawaiian Islands in 1977 before settling down in Hawaii (to build a bigger boat) and selling her.
There’s an interesting story about the following photograph that Tim took of Spice while she was in the Marquesas:
First, cruiser’s parties are always held on the boat that has the most deck area. Spice wasn’t always the longest boat in the harbor, but at 22 feet wide, she had more deck area than most 60-footers, AND had the biggest “boom tent” for shade in the whole anchorage, so she had more than her fair share of parties.
Second, Tim took this photo with a Nikonos V waterproof camera: no light meter, no through-the-lens focusing, and none of the other modern camera features that make for great photos these days. Luck.
Third, Tim had already had three rum punches when he climbed to the top of the 50-foot mast where he took this photo, with no safety harness on (hey, we’re all young and bulletproof once!). Again, Luck.
Fourth, this photo somehow found its way onto the cover of the first edition of “The Dinghy Book” by Stan Grayson, in all its glory. Someone didn’t like the trimaran part of the photo, because it was Photo-Shopped out in subsequent editions (check it out; look for “The Dinghy Book” on Amazon; you’ll recognize the photo immediately). You’ll also recognize Tim’s unsinkable yellow foam-and-fiberglass rowboat; it’s the one with the dagger-board trunk slot visible (bottom left of the photo), because it was a sailboat as well as a rowboat.
(Below) Same party, safely back on deck (or was this before I climbed the mast?).
(Below) The cruising life wasn’t all parties; the Marquesas was where an old friend, Chuck Raymond, taught Tim to catch yellowfin tuna while trolling under sail. This changed Tim’s whole life, and led to the next boat, the 56-foot sailing fishing boat Tropic Bird.
(Below) Tim always had a cat on Spice; although they’d sometimes jump ship when tied to the dock, and walk right out of his life. Like some girls. This is Ipo (Sweetheart), in Hawaii; she and her brother Akamai (The Smart One) lived on Spice until they went ashore with Tim to build another boat.
(Below) Spice sailing off Kawaihae in Hawaii, with the Big Island in the background.
(Below) Spice romping somewhere in The Blue Zone, with No Island in the background. (Thanks Chuck and Nancy for the photo!)
The life sounds perfect, right? What Tim found, though, was that he had to stop every six months or so when he ran out of money and pick up work to replenish the cruising kitty. This meant getting a job, and living aboard in a stinky polluted harbor near a big city, and was never much fun.
Tim had learned to catch fish aboard Spice in the Marquesas, and that seemed like a good way to make money without having to stop and get a job. But Spice had a fault: with no fish hold, no refrigeration, no ice-maker, and nowhere to buy ice out in the small islands he loved visiting, Spice had to fish close to the harbor and get the fish back within an hour or so, before they started to spoil.
So Tim started dreaming of a trimaran that was designed from the ground up to be a fishing boat; with refrigeration, bait wells, and all the “stuff” that goes with commercial fishing boats. His idea was to keep cruising and feed people along the way; earning a living at the same time.
He couldn’t find anyone with a practical sailing fishing boat design in the size and type of vessel he wanted, so ended up designing his own 56-foot sailing fishing trimaran, Tropic Bird, then building her himself in 1977-1978.