Sailing yachts

Philip Rhodes gaff cutter

(REF: 18284)


  • Designer: Rhodes, Philip
  • Builder: Casey of Fairhaven
  • Year: 1930
  • Location: Brittany
  • Length on deck: 48'
  • Beam: 12'6"
  • Draft: 7'
  • Tonnage: 27TM

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Full specification

Wooden Ships Comments

Designed by Philip Rhodes and built by Casey of Fairhaven in 1930.

Philip Rhodes was one of the most respected prolific marine architects in the USA with many famous yacht designs still sailing today.  His designs included the 12m Weatherly which won the 1962 Americas Cup, little day sailers, commercial vessels and motor vessels from launches to minesweepers for the US Navy.

By 1948 he was in on the early development of grp for hull construction  with the Rhodes 18 sloop and although Skal’s gaff rig was probably old fashioned by the time she was built it was probably chosen for it’s more effective performance in a reaching race. By the 1960’s Rhodes was running a large design office and remained the inspiration of the company’s work up to his last design in 1970. He died in 1974.

Skal was ordered by two well-known yachtsmen for the 1930 Bermuda Race where she came a respectable 11th out of 42 starters when she weathered some very bad conditions which forced many of the fleet to retire.  They also found her to be a comfortable cruising yacht as described in Richard Henderson’s 1981 book, “Philip Rhodes and his Yacht Designs”,  ‘a dry boat with little water on deck, excellent sea-keeping capability and a comfortable motion’ .  Her design shows a long keel but cut-away forward to reduce wetted surface and a full brandy-glass shaped midships section which with her generous beam helps her to stand up so well to her canvas. The remarkably flat buttock lines explain why they found her to create little quarter wave with consequent reduced drag.  She has the classic Rhodes sweet unexaggerated sheer line and freeboard and with relatively short ends she is a compact boat with nothing too excessive about her.


Richard F Lawrence bought her for the 1931 Transat,  the second smallest yacht in the fleet. The race was famously won by the Olin Stephens designed Dorade and while she has traded on this win ever since, Skal has been largely forgotten despite coming second in the 20 day race with a crew of 8, at one stage covering 823 miles in 4 days. While Dorade took a more northerly course from the start, Skal stayed with the fleet to the south, only cutting up to the north and crossing Dorade’s track on the approach to Ireland before turning south east a little late to approach Lands End thus losing valuable time to Dorade.  Approaching Plymouth she encountered near gale force winds and rain squalls but stood on still carrying her topsail and overtaking both a steamer and a steam trawler!


She remained in UK after the race and little is known of her history in that period save that she was believed to have laid in Cowes until bought there by a young naval officer, George Hepple in 1947/8. The original rig is said to have been burnt in bombing in the War and subsequently replaced as a bermudian sloop.  Cmdr Heppel sailed her as a family yacht out of the Helford River until his death in 1986 when she was laid up.

In 2003 she was sold by Wooden Ships to the present French owner and sailed over to Brittany for the major refit she now required.  As work progressed it became apparent that the original structure had become very tired and only an extensive rebuild would return her to her original strength and capability.

The work was carried out by Hubert Stagnol in his Benodet boatyard 2006 – 2009.  In 2007 she won the Belle Plaisance Race out of Benodet finishing ahead of the great Pen Duick, another famous yacht owned by the late Eric Taberley.

She took part in the 2015 Voiles de St Tropez regatta when she once more raced against Dorade.


Length on deck                                                 48′

Length waterline                                              37’6″

Beam                                                                    12’6″

Draft                                                                      7′

Thames Tonnage                                             27TM


Planked in Long Leaf Yellow Pine, a resilient timber.  Some new planking, including Garboards fitted in Iroko.

Fastened with copper rivets and bronze screws to laminated oak frames, 80% replaced.

External iron ballast keel with stainless steel bolts new in 2007.

All through hull fittings replaced in 2012.

New deck in 2007, 12mm Oregon pine yacht laid over a 15mm marine plywood subdeck.  New deck beams and beamshelf.  Deep toe rail all round.

New coachroof built to original design.  Varnished mahogany coamings with bronze port holes and sheathed plywood coachroof deck.

Self draining cockpit with a wide bridge deck and radiused coamings.  Wheel steering with a varnished steering box on the aft deck carrying the original Reid patter worm drive steering gear.  New rudder and hangings 2007.





Gaff cutter rig on a solid keel stepped pole mast.  Varnished slab reefing boom, varnished gaff and bowsprit.

Galvanised wire standing rigging, new 2007, all hand spliced to original bronze rigging screws to external stainless chain plates.

All new running rigging 2007.  Traditional elm blocks new from Blokken.

4 x cockpit sheet winches.

Full suit of sails, working sail area of 1280 square feet.  Mainsail, staysail, jib, flying jib, topsail all in good condition.




Yanmar 45H3 100hp diesel installed new in 2006.  Approximately 150hrs use.

Conventional shaft drive to centreline 3 blade Maxprop with sinlge lever controls.

8 knots cruising speed @2200rpm.

2 x 12volt batteries for domestics, engine starting and anchor winch.  Charged from 180 amp engine alternator or shore power system

350l of diesel in 3 separate tanks

390l of fresh water in 2 separate flexible tanks

50l black tank for heads.




6 berths with two separate double cabins and a forward twin cabin.

Totally re-designed interior from the major refit to make maximum use of the space.

Steps down from the bridge deck with a door either side to the quarter cabins each with a double berth and nice oak joinery.

Forward into the main saloon with the galley to port and chart desk to starboard.

Chart desk faces outboard with electronics above and storage below and a pedestal seat.

Galley has a Force 10 4 burner gas stove with oven, twin stainless sinks with hot and cold pressurised water and a top loading freezer.  Ample storage space around the galley.

Main saloon has a U-shape seating area to port with a dropleaf centreline table.  Starboard is a snug settee, able to be used as a childs berth with a lee cloth.  High quality joinery in oak, mahogany and elm.

Heads compartment to starboard of the mast with shower cubicle to port.  The doors close off the passageway making a private and large ablutions area.  Blakes Lavac sea toilet discharges into a black tank.  Shower with hot and cold pressurised water.

Centreline passage into the forward cabin with two large single berths and ample storage.



Full specification and details available upon request



These particulars have been prepared in good faith from information provided by the Vendors and are intended as a guide, Wooden Ships cannot guarantee or warrant the accuracy of this information nor warrant the condition of the vessel. The Purchaser should instruct his agent or surveyor to validate all details as necessary and satisfy himself with the condition of the vessel and its equipment.


Wooden Ships classic yachts brokers have an extensive database of boats for sale. With a wide range of sailboats, classic yachts, motor yachts and small classic boats, Wooden Ships has one of the largest selections of traditional wooden boats and yachts for sale in the UK.


These particulars have been prepared in good faith from information provided by the Vendors and are intended as a guide, Wooden Ships cannot guarantee or warrant the accuracy of this information nor warrant the condition of the vessel. The Purchaser should instruct his agent or surveyor to validate all details as necessary and satisfy himself with the condition of the vessel and its equipment.