Once again in collaboration with YouTube’r and single-hander Sam Holmes, we test a survival suit and it turns out surprisingly whimsical! From his channel “Sam Holmes Sailing.”
Anam Cara, which means Soul Friend in Irish, is a 1976 Bristol 24. I rushed up to see her for the first time the day after Valentine’s Day, 2016. I tried to look at her with a critical eye but had already fallen in love when I stepped onto her frozen decks, in the dark, while the wind rendering the temperature in the single digits ripped through her standing rigging. The Bristol 24 was a popular cruising boat built in the 60s, 70s and even into the early 80s, by Sailstar Boat Company, which later became Bristol Yacht Company, in Rhode Island. She was designed by Paul Coble.
She draws about 3.5 feet and has a long keel with a cutaway forefoot and attached rudder. With only an 18 foot water line the B24 is relatively slow, but what she lacks in speed she makes up for in stiffness. She displaces a total of 6,000 lbs, 3,000 of which are in her lead ballast. With an 8 foot beam and 6 feet of standing headroom, this B24 is a roomy 24-footer, which is probably what made her so popular for cruising families back in the day. An estimated 750 hulls were built during production.
On the day of survey, the surveyor denoted Anam Cara in “fair condition,” meaning she would be safe and sailable with some usual maintenance. However there is no major structural damage and what does need to be fixed is indicative of previous use, not neglect. I certainly have my work cut out for me to get her in Bristol condition, but I reckon we’ll be sailing along just fine in due time.
I bought the boat on one of the largest fresh water lakes in the U.S., where I plan to sail her for the season and then begin the long, meandering journey through a series of canals and rivers back to her original birthplace; salt water.
I move aboard Anam Cara, in the boatyard, in May.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” -C.S. Lewis