This beauty has history, class and character. She was built in 1973 in Plymouth, England at Terry Erskine Yachts, to a Maurice Griffiths design, famous for his versatile Golden Hinds. A species of Bermudian or masthead sloop, Groais has sailed the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic three times, going through Panama to the Galapagos Islands before heading north to B.C. She's also the principal character in a non-fiction bestseller called Sailing Home: A Journey Through Time, Place & Memory, taking her hapless skipper safely, and mostly solo, from Bellingham to Bella Bella and back. A clean, well maintained treasure, Groais is not just an elegant sloop, all 31.5 feet of her, but also a sturdy craft, with a short centre keel and two bilge keels that provide extra stability in stiff winds and allow you to sit perfectly level on a beach or tidal flat for a picnic or to check your prop and rudder, remove barnacles and apply paint, all for free.
Groais, named after her first landfall, a Norman translation of the Grey Islands in Newfoundland, is constructed of British marine plywood with a fibreglass coating and a mahogany interior. She has a 9-foot beam, 3'9" draft, a raked transom, curved stem and a strong heart, a two-cylinder, 18hp, saltwater-cooled Lister Marine Diesel engine that seems determined, with occasional tinkering, to outlast the Energizer Bunny. She sleeps four, with two single bunks and one double. She also has a brand new mainsail from Leitch & McBride sail-makers in Sidney, B.C. (cost $2500), a genoa and several jibs, including a storm jib (known affectionately as the g-string). However, she's let it be known that she'd prefer a roller-furling jib for Christmas, if not sooner.
The previous owners lived aboard for ten years and raised two kids while doing it, home-schooled and boat-wise. I used Groais as my pied d'eau (even better than a pied de terre) while I taught for three years at Western Washington University in Bellingham. It's a fine sailer and a comfortable live-aboard. Asking price: $24,000. Gary Geddes, Thetis Island, BC. 250-246-8176.
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