TOUR

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“Libra” is a custom, Bill Tripp Jr designed, 60′ fiberglass, center cockpit Ketch.  The construction was completed in Germany, in 1969. This was one of his last custom design-builds before his death in 1971.

 

William H. Tripp Jr Design 1967-1969 | Originally Designed for Gerald W Holden
Year Constructed: 1967-1969
Buider: Abeking and Rasmussen, Bremen, Germany
Hull Material: Fiberglass
Displacement: 36 Tons (72,000 lbs)
Overall Length: 60 feet
Lenght at waterline: 48 feet
Draft: 6 feet board up 16 feet board down
Number of Centerboards: 2
Centerboard Material: Aft – Bronze | Main – Stainless Steel
Fuel Holding: 540 Gallons in 5 tanks
Water Holding: 450 Gallons in 4 tanks
Spar Material: Aluminum
Air Draft: 69.5 feet
Anchoring: 1200 feet 3/8 chain on 2 80lb danforth
Accomodations: sleeps 12 – 3 private staterooms, salon, pilot birth
Heads: 2
Rig: Cutter / Ketch
Propulsion: Yanmar 175 HP Turbo Diesel
Generator: 12kw Kubota
Electrical: 12/32 dc | 110/220 ac

 

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HISTORY

William 'Bill' H. Tripp Jr

William (“Bill”) H. Tripp, Jr. had a knack for building beautiful boats that were faster than their ratings.  Classic lines, simple beauty and efficiency of design were Bill Tripp’s key criteria in building the perfect boat.  As one of America’s most successful yacht designers in the 1950’s and 60’s, drawing custom ocean racers for a distinguished clientele and smaller boats for production builders like Seafarer and Columbia Yachts, Tripp’s talents were highly sought-after and well-renowned.

Sadly, Tripp died suddenly, in a car crash at just 51 years of age. He was included in Bill Robinson’s The Great American Yacht Designers (1974) and the more recent collection (2005) by Lucia del Sol Knight and Daniel MacNaughton, The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers and will be forever remembered as an innovative, elegant yacht designer.

We are honored at SailLibra to be able to share the experience of offshore blue water sailing on a vessel Bill Tripp, Jr. himself put so much thought and time into.

"How much boat can one couple handle offshore?" - that's how it starts the 1979 Sail magazine article on Libra. Apparently there wasn't an absolute answer, but there was some sort of consensus : " (...) a hull about 50 feet overall and a rig, preferably divided as a ketch, of 1000 square feet with no sail larger than 500 square feet." Grenville Holden and his wife Jean pushed the limit of the two-handed offshore cruiser to a whooping 60 feet with 33 tons of displacement and almost 1500 square feet of sail when they asked Bill Tripp to design their new cruiser boat. Together the Holdens sailed Libra upwards of 25,000 miles from 1969 to 1979.

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We are very grateful for the Libra's pictures that the Holden family gently sent us, and we hope that we are able to continue Libra's legacy for many miles and years!

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Sail magazine article written by Jeff Spranger with photographs by Christopher Cunningham (February 1979)

 

THE REFIT

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Captain Ryan first spotted Libra at the end of the pier where he worked everyday, running his day sail business ''Orange Beach Sailing Adventures". It was a long courtship. He met the owner and helped him doing tasks on the boat, taking time to know her and her history, and hoping that, one day, when the owner was ready to sell, he'd give him a call first. He did, in 2013. And Captain Ryan started the long journey to bring her back to her old glory...

From 2013 to 2015 Captain Ryan did a major rebuild, preparing Libra for sailing offshore again. It took him two years, a lot of personal effort and commitment (he was running his day sail business during the day and raising two small children) and a lot of help of his friends and good professionals.

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All the dated systems and improper/badly installed items were removed, keeping the classic interior build quality while adding modern systems and electronics.

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The original plumbing was all nickel-copper, with custom bronze valves for diverting manual bilge pumps. The manual system was removed and a Rule 8000 electric pump - that would run off the 1400 amp-hour house bank for a prolonged period -, was installed. It's easy to operate and is also the key to remove large amounts of water quickly. All freshwater plumbing and tanks were replaced and a new user friendly tank selector switch was installed.

The new primary pumps are 32 volts @ 2000 Gal per hour.

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All through hulls were replaced, 22 in total.

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All old wiring and electric panels were removed and all the new wiring rerouted. A new custom made electrical main panel providing 12 and 32 volt DC and 110 / 220 generator / shore power was installed.

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The systems were updated to include basic modern amenities such as USB power at each berth, recessed LED lighting with dimmers and live internet tracking and satellite communication while offshore. Throughout the electrical updates, time was taken to make sure that the electrical system was expandable to add renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

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The navigation desk was outfitted with new modern electrical navigation equipment and includes an onboard PC-based navigation system as well as a redundant backup system.

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The primary navigation is provided by Raymarine redundant units, located at the navigation station and at the helm. The system is a complete NMEA 2000 compliant system with Wifi ability for mobile devices.

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The original galley was removed to the hull and all cabinetry was custom rebuilt, with mahogany topped with sea blue granite countertops, an under-mount double sink and recessed LED lighting. The old engine-driven compressor system was replaced with a more basic modern electric fan-cooled evaporator plate, running a large top-loading fridge and freezer that supplies over 15 cubic feet of cold storage for long passages. A new Dickson 3 burner stove and GE microwave unit were installed.

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The salon, v-berth and owner's cabin were all rebuild with with mahogany, maintaining the original layout of the vessel.

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The original wood overhead was falling off in several places, with a lot of missing pieces. It was replaced with tongue and grove PVC bead board with around 100 recessed LED lights on dimmers. We choose to be more practical and prevent water damage.

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The primary engine was new when Libra was purchase, with little over 100 hours on it. However, the engine had sat for 10 years inside the boat without being run for prolonged periods of time, so it had to go through some general maintenance, specially those rubber hoses/belts that don't age well.

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A Phasor 14kw Generator set was already installed. The system was tested, rewired, and has provided plenty of electrical power having only 1200 hours on the engine when purchased.

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All heads were reconfigured, to keep with the original plans for the vessel. New electric 32 volt Raritan were installed, replacing the worn Wilcox original manual heads. Granite counters were added and cabinetry paint was redone.

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The large, deep cockpit was designed with safety and comfort in mind. The layout was maintained, the helm panel was redesigned and the original wheel was replaced with a larger diameter wheel. A NavPod GP2080 system was installed, adapting the pre- existing helm to a more modern one.

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Libra is equipped with 2 centerboards, with the main board adding 10 feet (around 3 meters) of draft for a total of 16 feet (around 5 meters). The mainboards were removed and the media blasted to remove years of growth and paint. The boards were checked, new lifting cables installed and pins checked and replaced.

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A new set of sails were made by Schurr Sails, a new self-tacking system was created for the staysail and all running rigging was replaced.

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The rig was all replaced.

New nonskid paint was added and the forward deck was reconfigured with a new anchor routing system. The older system was cluttered and working on the foredeck was therefore dangerous. We took a more simple approach in working the anchor, eliminating many tripping hazards on the deck.

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The original toe rail had been busted in so many places that a complete replacement was necessary. New material was acquired in Biloxi MS, in stock of 20-foot lengths of original Honduran mahogany. The process of milling and steaming the wood to bend the curves of the deck was time-consuming, but the end result was a stronger and more uniform toe rail. We were lucky that the original 1969 plans came with the boat, so the original dimensions were used for the milling process.

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A new Mantus 125lb anchor was placed as the primary anchor on the bow.

 

THE HARDTOP

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When Libra was purchased, the original plan was to add a hardtop…but we wanted to know what items and design style were more appropriated and decided to wait for a couple years before building it.  After 3 seasons and roughly 35000 nautical miles offshore with a canvas bimi and dodger, and facing a costly replacement canvas top, we decided to build the top in the summer of 2018, in Alabama, in 100-degree heat...everyday...for 90 days…

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The design was all in Captain Ryan's head. We wanted a full finished look, strong dodger and top, with easy access to the boom and the possibility to add solar panels. We were also aware of the challenging aesthetic choices…after all Libra is a classic boat designed by Bill Tripp Jr. and thus carries a legacy of slender and elegant lines that we wanted to respect as much as we could.

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We decided to build it in fibreglass over high density foam, which combined made a strong and lightweight top. The dodger was build with a Coosa board combined with 3/8’’ thick tempered glass for ultimate strength. A template was made for the custom dodger’s windows and sent off (it took us 5 weeks to get the windows back!).

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Everything was built on site. The structural foam was laid over a jig built using 2x10’s boards. When we were building the jig, it was important to be able to make changes easily, so we could test different sizes of material in order to create a strong and safe structure.

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The aft hardtop supports are 3" custom stainless steel legs with broad supports made from tugboat propeller shafts.

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The entire cockpit and surrounding areas were repainted.

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On the inside, we installed PVC cross strips and bead boards, hard wood grab handles, VHF radio, recessed lightning and even a color changing LED strip light! It was completed with a full ison glass enclosure to keep the occupants dry and warm, even if once in a while some mist or a splash would sneak in.

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The entire process was long, hot, and itchy. First Mate Bo Higginbotham was essential to the project, helping every step of the way for 3 months. We worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week.

The end result exceeded our expectations and every time a wave rolls across the windshield or we hear a giant splash from a wave blow across the hardtop we fell grateful that we are perfectly protected and dry inside the cockpit!

 

THE PAINTING

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