Westsail 32 drawing

Whats in a name?   “S/V Sundowner”

(See below for interior and exterior photos)

You may have seen boats in the past with the S/V in front of the name.  Sort of like warships that have SS in front of their names.  In maritime terminology, “SV” means “sailing vessel”.   Sundowner is of course that, a sailing vessel.  Or a sailboat.  After I eat expensive cheeses I might even call her a yacht.

So now you know about the SV part.  What about “Sundowner”.   Sundowner has a lot of meanings and none of them seem definitive.  However, I have a few of my favorites.  Among them:

  • a tramp who habitually arrives at sundown
  • a drink taken at sundown

But really, we didn’t give Sundowner her name.  It was given to her by her second owners.  Roger and Molly Firey.  Though the name is dated and somewhat corny, we chose to keep it.  (Not as bad as windchaser, moonfollower, waverunner, moonrunner, waverider, etc etc)   You see this boat has a history.  It was owned by the Firey’s for many years.    And with the Firey’s at the helm, the boat circumnavigated the globe 3 times and made a number of other voyages, putting her at well over 100,000 nautical miles.

We haven’t been able to contact the Firey’s but evidence of their long ownership exists.   I have located many small snippets of information from the past.  For instance, here is a letter written to Scanmar by Roger about his Monitor windvane.

EDIT: Roger and Molly found US and commented on this very page. Please see the previous owners page to see what we learned from them!

Sundowner with Monitor windvane Roger Firey's letter to Monitor windvane

I also know that Roger was a naval officer, and that their 3 circumnavigations lasted 27 years.  Sundowner survived a complete roll over off of the coast of Africa during that time.

Such a history!  Such an adventure.  What does this boat know?  What has it seen?   We like to imagine Sundowner filled with love and filled with excitement.  A happy home for a couple that lived their dreams and traveled.

Despite it being bad luck to rename any boat, it would have been a sin to rename Sundowner.  Too much history.

After the Firey’s retired from sailing in 2004 they sold the boat to the next owner Roy M.  This is what she looked like then:
Sundowner at a slip in Norfolk Virgina

He moved the boat from Norfolk, VA to Slidell, LA and left it to rot through neglect in a slip since 2006.  In 2009 we saw an ad for Sundowner that included her amazing history but were shocked to find her relegated to this stagnant piece of earth.  What a sad thing to see.  A bluewater cruiser rotting at a slip!  The moment we stepped on the boat we felt her soul.

We tried to buy her but after our offer we never heard back from the broker.  We assumed our low ball price was too insulting to entertain.  Throughout the next year we looked at many other boats, but none had as much life (and storage) as Sundowner.

Almost one year to the date we first boarded her we saw her ad relisted.  Excited as school girls we inquired a second time, and found out the first broker had passed away before our initial offer had been negotiated.  So we made a second, lower offer and finally it was accepted.

Nothing destroys a boat faster than neglect.  Here is how she was when we “rediscovered” her in 2010:
Sundowner for sale in Slidell Louisiana

And so from here we started the process of restoring her.

Now that you know a little bit of history about Sundowner and how she came to us, perhaps you’d like to know some more technical details.

Sundowner is a Westsail 32.  She was produced on the United States east coast and factory finished in 1975.  However, her hull was laid in 1974.  Her hull # is WSSF02511274. You can see the WSSF which means factory finished.  (Many Westsails were kit boats).  0251 is her number.  And 1274 is December 1974 when the hull was laminated.

Westsails are known for being slow, wet, tank like sailboats.  She weighs in at over 20,000 lbs. (more than double most boats in her class)  She is 32 feet long on deck but adding in her bowspirit and boomkin puts her true overall length at about 43 feet.   Despite the lack of speed, the massive construction has its advantages.  Westsails are also known for being roomy, comfortable, strong, and able to carry tons of stores.

Sundowner is a cutter rigged masthead sloop.  That means she has 1 mast which will fly two sails in front of the mast and one sail behind it.   She also is a full keeled double ender.   That means her stern comes to a point like the bow and her keel (the part underwater) is long and deep.  Perhaps this diagram will give you a better understanding:

Westsail 32 Diagram

Sundowner Full Sail
The Deck
The Cockpit
The cockpit recaulked

The Boomkin, Windvane and Bowsprit
Boomkin tower

The interior is spacious and just about done as of these photos in July and Oct 2014:
The Galley area
Galley area cleaned

The Navigation area
Nav area

The Salon
Dani in the Salon
Tate with his pip in the salon
New Slip covers
Cuba Flag

Looking aft to the companionway
Looking forward on the boat

The hallway to the head and Vberth
hallway to the vberth

The Head area
The head sink
The head area

The starboard Head cabinets and hanging locker
Head cabinets

The Vberth area
Vberth area

She is a true “bluewater” pocket cruiser.  That means this boat is built to withstand the rigors of oceans of the world safely.  As if it weren’t obvious from her history….

Fair winds.

Boat sailing off into the sunset