Any Alden Caravelle owners out there?

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,671
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
There is an article in Points East, a small magazine about our Gulf of Maine coastal area. Several Caravelle owners get together, etc. Made me curious to know more about the Caravelle. I was onboard one in Camden a few years ago. Larger and quite similar to the Challenger, beautiful boats.

I wonder if anyone knows how many were built and if there is any info available about the design.
 
Jun 22, 2004
47
Hunter 35 St Augustine
Caravelle

Tom
We also had the first caravelle. A really woderful boat. We had her for 14 years and I did alot of cruiding on her. Her name is windsong and is in Marblehead and also visits Maine every summer.
Bill
 

CaravelaofExe

Alden Forum Moderator
Jan 24, 2006
221
Alden Caravelle 42 / Northern European waters
I'm one, based in Denmark. More info once I find out if this works; third time lucky?

Iain McAllister
"Caravela of Exe"
 

CaravelaofExe

Alden Forum Moderator
Jan 24, 2006
221
Alden Caravelle 42 / Northern European waters
Re: I'm one!

Owner of believed to be only Alden Caravelle based in Europe (Denmark), "Caravela of Exe". Yawl rig; Halmatic built and finished 1966-1969 for Ted and Mary Lyne, Royal Cruising Club/ Ocean Cruising Club, who circumnavigated her 1976-1996. Fibreglass deck and house (the raised aft end option with “Jaguar” car back-to-back teardrop windows). Lots of external teak, including all hatches, cockpit coaming, aft cockpit lockers at mizzen... Many identical to Challenger maintenance issues but deep, encapsulated lead keel; no centreboard. I have a full set of Halmatic drawings including that chain plate top hat frame detail. I'm a bit dubious about the continuing original structurally designed integrity of the cutting out and replacing the backing plate by opening up the top-hat frame method. I'm not experienced enough in fibreglass structures for that to be anything more than skepticism... but is it really possibly to restore the top-hat frame's original strength so simply? Isn't the top-hat frame almost more important than the backing plate? On “Caravela of Exe” as bought, extra (apparently 316 SS) studs have been set through the chainplate into the backing plate between the obviously inferior quality original SS studs. There are no visible problems otherwise.

Iain McAllister
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,671
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Welcome Iain to the board.

I would love to see some photos of your Caravelle. I haven't seen one with that port configuration. There is one in our local harbor I was lucky enough to get on board. Beautiful boats.

We do share alot in these boats so I hope you stick around and give us your Caravelle experiences.

I'm amazed that your boat has the same faux pas with the backing plates. Alden told me they were very surprised to find Hallmatic used the mild steel plates, and not happy. It must have gone unoticed for a long time.

Having cut the slot in one of my hat frames, and there will be more to come, I share your thinking. The hat frame is the structure and the backing plates serve no more purpose than threaded plates for attachment.

However, I feel it's quite easy to grind down the glass area and build it back up to the original thickness and strength. If one was concerned, the hat frame could easily be increased in thickness and strength but it would require enlarging the deck slots a bit as the chainplates would be pushed inboard by that added thickness.
 

CaravelaofExe

Alden Forum Moderator
Jan 24, 2006
221
Alden Caravelle 42 / Northern European waters
Caravelle photos

Hi Tom,

Too late here for technical words now; more soon. Re photos, I’ll take the lazy way out for now and refer you to ex-editor of "Classic Boat" magazine Nic Compton’s web site

http://www.saltydogmedia.com

Click on “archive”, then “boats”, then “cruising boats”, then “Caravela of Exe”. You’ll see two good photos of us cruising in Sweden in 2003.

Cheers,

Iain
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,671
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Stunning boat. And a raised cabin house too.

Where was the boat finished? I was thinking some were done here in Maine. The one in our harbor is straight cabin topped and has smaller rectangular ports, I believe it is either a wooden cabin or has a veneer?. This one is a yawl as well. Frankly, I find your boat more appealing with the larger ports and raised dog house.

These must be powerful boats with their longer waterline and larger sail area but held to the same 11 beam and deeper draft.

I just got Nic Comptons book Classic Yacht Revival and he makes some mention of the Nicholson 36 which has some similarities to the Challenger in that it was finished in wood on the glass hull at the same time. In fact, it's even more so with wooden decks and beams. I was unable to find much about the Nicholson 36. Adler Cole owned one I'm told and I'm looking for a copy of his Heavy Weather.
 

CaravelaofExe

Alden Forum Moderator
Jan 24, 2006
221
Alden Caravelle 42 / Northern European waters
Caravelle backround

Yes, the Caravelle is a fine, powerful, incredibly stable, well behaved, pretty boat. Knowing her pedigree and roots, sometimes when she’s revelling in her ideal conditions - downwind in a good breeze – and fully laden for serious cruising comfort one can almost imagine she’s carrying home a hold full of fish and the mizzen has suddenly sprouted to become a huge schooner main…

CARAVELA OF EXE (Alden #992J) was moulded and finished by Halmatic at Havant, Portsmouth, England. Some later finishing work was supervised by local naval architect/ boat builder J.J. Bickford on the Exe estuary (West Country England). Her hull completion date is 1966 but she wasn’t finally completed and launched until 1969. She’s one of only two Caravelles fully completed by Halmatic – see below. As I mentioned before, her first owners took their time sailing her round the world 1976-1996.

Between 1965 and 1969 Halmatic moulded hulls and decks for 12 Caravelles, 9 of which (4 sloops and 5 yawls) were finished with wood trunk and interior by Poul Molich at Hundested, Denmark. I’ve only ever seen pictures of Molich finished Caravelles with a flush topped wood house and smallish rectangular ports. Interestingly Niels C. Helleberg, presently chief naval architect at the Alden office, was serving an apprenticeship under Molich at that time. As you know many Challengers were similarly finished by Molich at that time.

Of the other 3 Halmatic hulls, 2 (my yawl and a sloop for an Italian client) were finished by themselves and the other (a yawl) was finished by Morse Boatbuilding Co., Thomaston, Maine, 1968-1969.

In 1971 Hodgdon Bros., E. Boothbay, Maine began production of what the Alden office describes as the “Caravelle Class 71” version, with all GRP hull, deck and house. The house was similar to the Molich finished boats, with small ports but with the after two slightly larger. Hodgdon built 6 boats 1971-73, the last one being Alden #992S (there was no #992I). I’m not sure if they acquired the moulds from Halmatic or whether they started from scratch?

So, 18 Caravelles were built.

Scott Kraft, who sails the first Caravelle BOUNDING HOME (992A) out of Stonington Harbour Y.C., CT., acts as our class co-ordinator and is gradually finding the boats. There’s a nice photo of her bounding at

http://www.shyc.us/id44.htm.

I have a suspicion that the green hulled Caravelle yawl SERENITY currently offered for sale by Jordan Yacht as a 1969 Hodgdon may in fact be the 1968 Morse finished boat because:

a) Hodgdon didn’t start building Caravelles until 1971, and,
b) She has the identical raised aft GRP “Halmatic” house as my boat but with slightly shallower aft windows.

The Alden/ Halmatic/ Camper & Nicholsons connection is interesting. Halmatic were moulding the “Alden Fiberglass Range” before they began moulding the Nicholson range of the 1960’s-1970’s. In fact the “Nicholson 38”, centre cockpit ketch is an Alden design. There is good background information on the relationship on the historical pages of the Nicholson 32 web site, which unfortunately seems to be down just now:

http://vancouver-webpages.com/N32/

The Nic 32 underbody is remarkably similar to the Alden types and the rudder of certainly earlier Marks was the same as the Caravelle’s.

Niels Helleberg told me he was pretty sure the Caravelle was designed by Clifford Swaine who joined the Alden office in 1920 and retired in the mid 1970’s as chief designer. He had a hand in many of the famous Malabars, which somehow helps to increase the sense of custodianship of something special. I presume he was also at least responsible for the complete sailing yacht range of “Alden Fiberglass Boats” of the 60’s: Mistral, Zephyr, Challenger, Caravelle, Countess…

Finally for now, surely all Challenger owners must have a copy aboard of the first edition of The Proper Yacht by Arthur Beiser (New York, Macmillan, 1966), which includes a good review of the Challenger – “Few boats are as well conceived and well executed…”, a photo of one under completion in Poul Molich’s yard, and, surely the dream boat of all Challenger and Caravelle owners, the 54’6” loa centreboard yawl MARGAREE, designed by Alden and built by Paul Luke in 1959. She’s now for sale in Rockport… of all places Tom…
 
A

Anonymous

The Proper Yacht

Plenty of copies available over the 'net. Even first editions are inexpensive. I used Abe Books.

I drooled at length on the Caravelle after I learned about Toms' Challenger, Christmas. Alas, the exchequer...

Doug
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,671
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Thank you for the history of the Caravelle Iain.

Not always easy to find that kind of info about these boats. SATORI is the Caravelle in Camden Harbor I have been aboard. She is one of the straight wooden trunk boats. The wooden cabin trunks are a blessing and a curse. Built in this manner, neglect will take it's tool quickly. SATORI looks well cared for but I recall seeing some dutchmen wood repairs like many wooden cabins, mine included. She had her hull Awlgripped a couple of years ago.

So interesting that there was a grp trunk version as well, easily recognized now by the ports. BTW, what is the glazing used in your larger ports Iain? My Challenger has plain plate glass by quite thick. She also came with plexi shutters.

This era of boat building when the fast transistion was made to grp is especially interesting to me and hard to find info on. I love Beisers Proper Yacht and refer to it often. Spurs Heart of Glass makes a little mention and I believe shows an Alden hull at the Molich yard being completed. But this era is all so much more. There must have been much experimentation, ideas tried and cast off daily.

I corresponded with Neils H at Alden a few years ago and he was so helpful with missing information. I would like to pick his brain a little more but know they are quite busy with ongoing projects. My wife stopped in his office a few years ago to surprise me with a few drawings. I would love to spend some time in there and pick up more.

I did check out the listing on David Jones site. Interestingly, his name really is David Jones. But he lives on a lake in Lincolnville(10 miles away) but the sly bastard keeps a PO box in our Rockport Post office for wooden boat clout. Last time I talked to David(in his "office", the desk at the PO) he told me things were jumping as European buyers with a strong Euro were suppling much of his business suddenly.

Thank you again for providing this history and I hope you stick around. Any more history or information you can add to this site will be most helpful, the overlap of the construction of these boats is large and this site will be a better source for it.
 

CaravelaofExe

Alden Forum Moderator
Jan 24, 2006
221
Alden Caravelle 42 / Northern European waters
Answers & Alden/ Molich/ Challenger Miscellany

Nicholson 32 Web Site is up again. History pages are: http://vancouver-webpages.com/N32/history2.html and http://vancouver-webpages.com/N32/histoire.html

Wooden cabin trunks, a blessing and a curse: aye, but it's what immediately attracts. The nicest things in life are ever hard work it seems...

Aft windows ("ports" seems too nautical for such unseamanlike things!). CARAVELA OF EXE’s have I think always been plexiglass - a blessing and a curse - and she came with a spare set tucked away behind the drawers under the pilot berths (another great forgotten good old boat thing). All other ports are glass.

I agree; this is a very interesting era in the history of boatbuilding (the transition from wood to GRP) - and design (from long keel to fin and skeg) - that has been rather overlooked during the classic boat "revival". We're the lucky ones I think, that in most cases bought fine but perceived as unfashionable boats for very reasonable prices that will become collector’s items in due course. A Scottish friend recently, inconceivably, managed to talk himself out of buying a 1969 Chris Craft Comanche 42 footer designed by S & S for $10,000! When I stumbled upon CARAVELA OF EXE in 1998 must admit that I had no idea that this type of long-keel, moderate displacement, pedigree, classic plastic existed.

Yes Niels is very helpful and one is aware of trying not to be too much of an anorak. I guess this is part of the Alden story he is particularly fond of, and was of course involved in with Molich. He well deserves his individual entry in the new and wonderful Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers http://www.eyd.net .

By the way, 1960-61 Poul Molich designed and built two fine 62ft wood yawls for the Danish Navy, still used by them as cadet training yachts. Quite a few good photos result from a Google Image search for SVANEN + THYRA. They seem much influenced by the fact that he was regularly building Alden and S & S designs. He’s still to the fore and in 2003 completed the restoration of the Nordiske Krydser (Nordic Cruiser – a Danish/ Swedish development class) MARSK that he’d originally built in 1952. See http://www.nk.oju.dk/nkmarsk.html .

Finally for now a Challenger restoration from North Wales: John Jones of Caernarfon turns out fine work and recently laid a teak deck on GISELLE OF IKEN (Halmatic/ Field Aircraft Services [see the Nicholson 32 history] 1962). See http://www.classicsailboats.co.uk/ .
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,671
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
I share your enthusiasm Iain.

I think boats of this somewhat odd wood to glasss era have been overlooked but will be discovered.

Low and behold in Nic Comptons new book of Classic Yacht Revival, I came upon your name as being instrumental in some early classic yacht racing. As I'm very interested in this renewed classic interest, I wonder if you could give us a feeling on how this revival, mostly in wooden boats of course, compares to our situation here in the US?

Specificly, how are the glass boats of our vintage fitting in? Are they excluded in most classic yacht racing? There appears to be a strong renewed interest on your side of the pond. We of course are a little more wooden boat heavy in this area but there is also a huge interest in the Classic Plastic boats. Many of the refit projects of these plastic boats are being done at small yards on the coast of Maine. Generally less skilled tasks than wooden boat restoration, many yards are awlgripping topsides, cabins, installing new ports, hatches etc. This is our quiet side compared to the racous launching new wooden boats, but I suspect it is the real engine of the marine industry here.



Thank you for all the info you've posted here. I was unable to open the site which may have the Challenger refit going on but will try again.
 

CaravelaofExe

Alden Forum Moderator
Jan 24, 2006
221
Alden Caravelle 42 / Northern European waters
Re: how are the glass boats of our vintage fitting in?

Yes, I was spoiled for years; lucky enough to skipper a beautiful Mahogany on steel and Elm William Fife 53ft Bermudan cutter, taking her to classic regattas in U.K., Ireland and the Mediterranean. I’ve also sailed at the Newport R.I. Museum of Yachting classic regatta a couple of times, so I suppose I’m qualified to comment on differences… but I suspect there are none when it comes to classic plastic, which is almost universally not allowed at classic regattas anywhere. As you say Nic Compton’s written a book on the subject of the rise of the “classic yacht”, so I can’t compete with that. But, as concisely possible: of course the revival of a wider interest in keeping wooden yachts in original condition and spec. began in the U.S. and had spread to Europe in earnest by the mid to late 1980’s, with WoodenBoat magazine playing an important evangelistic part in that (at least for me; it seemed to help me realise the importance in things I cared about or even took for granted).

The scene then really took off in Europe - particularly in the Med, often as a kind of lifestyle thing in chic places - at the same time as I perceived a lull in interest on your side of the pond that perhaps hasn’t really ever been put right. You only have to look at the icons of U.S. yachting history that have been bought for knockdown prices and brought to Europe for restoration: DORADE, STORMY WEATHER, NYALA, for example. I was amazed that they weren’t hunted down by potential U.S. owners… Maybe projects like BOLERO will change that. Of course at the end of the day it’s just good that they’re alive and being used, appreciated and on show, no matter where they are…

Such was my blinkered view of things until the late 1990’s that I hadn’t really a clue that classic plastics – essentially, as Jimmy Small says, wooden boat designs built in plastic, even sometimes with frames, stringers, deck beams, even stems… - of such fine lineage as for example the Alden, Rhodes and Tripp designs - existed. I’d always presumed that I was so spoiled by moderate size, seakindlyness, and sheer beauty, that if I ever wanted a boat of my own it would have to be wooden and therefore – being very aware of just what it takes and costs to keep the size and type of vessel I was spoiled by at the standard I was accustomed to – it would be tiny.

But for me form has always ultimately held more interest than materials in yacht design and construction – although I would always be a staunch supporter of replacing like-for-like materials and methods in a restoration, rebuild or replication project.

Then I stumbled upon my Alden Caravelle, which seemed to fit my desire to make passages in my own seakindly boat, with a suitable pedigree but a maintenance budget and level of skill for self help that was imaginable, and still be a boat you glanced longingly back at from the punt when going ashore. The only real problem I have with her is that I miss looking at all the wonderful artistry of a wooden deckhead when I wake up in my bunk. And such is my ingrained “keep it in period” mindset that I am loathed to update her out of period and therefore I guess in the current market climate for such boats I suppress her re-sale value. All that 60’s Formica in the W.C.; no shower; no sit down “navigatorium”; no “dinette”; I love getting dirty keeping the original 1966 Perkins 4107 (same base as the Westerbeke) going; I find the original 1966 Proctor worm drive roller furling boom system so “modern” and easy after years of slab reefing my charge’s 600sq foot main by pure grunt; I delight in steering a 42ft boat by tiller…

But there are very few classic regattas that would accept her. You are correct in saying that these boats are presently caught in a time trap. In the Mediterranean plastic is specifically banned by the C.I.M. rating rule (see http://www.cim-classicyachts.org/ English – Technical Section – Rules) in force at all events. But this is in many ways a laudable rule in that it tends to push people to restore their boats authentically if they want to race under an advantageous rating. But the fact that taken to its extremes even a wood classic yacht might not even be allowed to join in at all is a bit dubious. The wonderfully authentic looking International Rule 15-Metre THE LADY ANNE is presently banned from taking part because her spars are a composite of wood and carbon fibre; they look absolutely authentic and are totally true to the original external scantlings… but… Interestingly one plastic boat is allowed to compete in France, but that’s because her late owner, the amazing Eric Tabarly was more of an icon than the boat, PEN DUICK. She was originally designed by William Fife in 1898 and by the early 60’s very tired, so Eric and his father built a new glass hull using the old one as the mould.

Before the CIM Rule became almost universally used, some regattas, especially the Conde de Barcelona regatta in Palma de Mallorca, accepted for example an exceedingly well maintained Nicholson 43, perhaps one of the most elegant long-keel to fin-and-skeg transition plastic yachts.

There may light at the end of the tunnel though. An increasing number of classic regattas are including a “Spirit of Tradition” division, principally to cater for boats like the Joel White designed W-Class sloops and Bruce King designs like WHITEFIN. Perhaps that’s where classic plastics might begin to fit in?
 

CaravelaofExe

Alden Forum Moderator
Jan 24, 2006
221
Alden Caravelle 42 / Northern European waters
Re: …fitting in? / … light at the end of the tunnel…?

Checking facts for a related subject I stumbled upon 2004 and 2005 web references suggesting some light at the end of the tunnel in North America: a move to offer separate class racing to classic plastics at some Long Island Sound regattas, with a “Heritage Series for Good Old Boats”, sponsored by Good Old Boat magazine running [partly?] parallel with the existing WoodenBoat Regatta Series, sponsored by WoodenBoat magazine; both coordinated by Jim Cassidy of Heritage Marine Insurance, Mystic, CT. Not clear if this came to anything…

I also note a report of the first Classic Division, including plastic, at the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, Victoria, B.C., 2004, again sponsored by G.O.B.

See:
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?news ... 8233&rfi=6
http://www.racerockregatta.org/index.htm
http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/a ... .html#news

But how many long-keel classic plastic owners want to race? I suspect most Challenger and Caravelle owners are committed cruisers… Perhaps an informal rendezvous incorporating a cruise-in-company is the way to go?
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,671
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Good points Iain. Hinckley broke out of the pack years ago,

and became a classic plastic cult onto themselves. Reading the history writtten by Henrys brother, the direction to this recognition, was stumbled on years ago with some informal racing/get togethers. The owners loved this and the Hinckley company grew their business from there. They liked the preening and care from the company and the older boats got better and better.

Not too much to learn from this, many of the H stand bys, B40, Pilots etc. were built to numbers in the hundreds. But it is an interesting parallel in a successful recognition of a design.

We are simply too few in numbers to be Alden Classic Plastic I suspect. And I don't feel the heavy Hinckley recognition is what these boats need but they would benefit in popularity, price and ultimatley longevity with a little grouping up of some sort.

And I think you are right, racing is just not going to be the reason to own these boats, more a cruising group I think. My boat would be allowed, even encouraged to race in the classic races in and around Camden Castine that ultimatley finish with the Wooden Boat race in Brooklin Maine.

I'm back editing this post. Does anyone have an idea of how many early fiberglass Alden designs were built? Are we in fact too few in number or is there a possibility to group early Alden fiberglass designs together into a more recognizable group? [/i]