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Bruce Roberts-Goodson




4,000 Sprays








Spray 22 S.F.W
Roberts Spray 27 S.F.W.
Roberts Spray 28 S.W.
Roberts Spray 33 S.F.W.
Roberts Centennial Spray 34 S. W
Roberts Spray 36 S.F.W.
Roberts Centennial Spray 36 S. W
Roberts Centennial Spray 38 S.W
Roberts Spray 38 S.
Roberts Spray 40 S.F.W.
Roberts Spray 45 S.
Roberts Centennial Spray 45 S.W.
Roberts Centennial Spray 50 S. W
Roberts Spray 55S.


This rare photograph shows SPRAY off Sydney with Joshua Slocum and Sydney business man Mark Foy. They are trying out the new set of sails that Foy had presented to Slocum. Photo courtesy Dr Kenneth E Slack.

What is a SPRAY ?


Please read below and you will learn all about this wonderful design. I hasten to add that the original Spray is the real hero in this story and as you learn more about this series hopefully you will join me in your admiration of the basic Spray concept. Here are a few assorted Spray photos to get you started.

In 1892 at the age of 51, Joshua Slocum was given a decrepit sloop called Spray. and spent the next two years rebuilding this vessel. He removed the centreboard and replaced nearly every piece of timber in the hull, deck and superstructure. He sought to improve the seaworthiness by adding some freeboard, so that the boat would be better suited to the deep water sailing he obviously had in mind.

All the materials used in the reconstruction were collected around Fairhaven, in Massachusetts, where Spray had lain in a field for several years. The boat’s lineage is clear when one examines photographs of early examples of the North Sea fishing boats that have worked off the coasts of several countries bordering that area; and rumour has it that the Spray was over one hundred years old when she was given to Joshua Slocum. There was a story that she had worked as an oyster dragger off the New England coast. Joshua Slocum, a seaman with vast experience, must have recognised something of the potential of his new acquisition, for otherwise he would not have invested two years of his life in the total rebuilding of her. As it turned out, he could not have made a better choice.

At time of writing there are over 4,000 SPRAY's sailing the oceans of the World and hundreds more currently being built in almost every country; a great tribute to a great boat.  These pages will be used to disseminate information about the Spray and generally inform those interested in this wonderful boat and her successors. To all members of the Slocum Spray Society and others interested in the Spray...please email me with your comments, questions and suggestions for this on-line newsletter. There is considerable information including photographs and text, in these pages so please feel free to either down-load or print out whatever interests you. 8 - 1

What do critics say? 

A spray? Huh - they're slow....”. A typical comment from people usually who have never been on a Spray.  NOT true ... read the many owners reports of cruising speeds of  8 to 11 knots depending on wind and sea conditions ....  And so what? Being a cruising vessel and many used as live-a-boards it’s not likely they will be out in every race-weekend to do battle for a few more points towards some trophy.  

PLEASE ... Read Joshua Slocum's book "SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD" ... I have just now (2017) re-read my battered copy and found it as refreshing as when I first read it in 1970 !!!

What do the owners say ?  Please read on !!

Below you can read the experiences of just a few of the many thousands of sailors who have cruised the worlds oceans in their own Spray ...


This Spray 370 was built from Bruce Roberts cutting files and plans by Igor in Russia.  This is the second Spray that Igor has built - the first one was a Spray 22

Igor and his family loved the boat so decided to build the larger Spray 370  pictured here.  The  complete "STEP BY STEP" STEEL OR ALUMINUM PLANS & CUTTING FILES assembly photos are included with the Spray 370 STUDY PLANS.370"'


I am attaching one of my favorite underway photos of SILVERADO.  In the past two years I have experienced virtually all sailing conditions one will see in the Sea of Cortez.


Aluminum version built by Robert Millikin 

Hi Bruce, I had a very successful launch on Nov 7th in San Carlos, Mexico. Many photos of the launch. Feel free to use any photos for your CD e-book BUILD YOUR OWN SAILBOAT. I have taken the boat out a dozen times since the launch and am very happy with its performance. It does well on all points of sail and really loves 15-20kts! I am very happy with the results of my years of labor  and am very appreciative of your timely responses to all my questions over the years. Thanks, Robert Millikin

It's been two years since we launched SILVERADO.  We have logged around 2500 miles in the sea of Cortez....The boat is amazing!  I am attaching one of my favorite underway photos of SILVERADO.  In the past two years I have experienced virtually all sailing conditions one will see in the Sea of Cortez.  The boat is extremely comfortable in all conditions especially when it gets rough. Thanks again for your timely responses.  Robert Millikin Tucson,  AZ


Spray 27 Version A  (Standard Coach House)

This Spray 27 was built in Germany where many Sprays of all sizes have been built over the past many years.



Charlie Jupp's Spray 40


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'Peggotty'  This Spray 40 was built by New Zealand engineer Alan Sendall who reports that his Spray cruised at 8 knots despite the ill fitting second hand sails he originally fitted to his Spray  SEE SPRAY 40



Email from Rick Ganly.

As this correspondence refers to one of the the first-ever of the Roberts Sprays I feel that is is appropriate that it heads up our SPRAY Newsletter.

"I sailed on the first 'Spray' you designed built by Charlie Jupp across the Pacific years ago. What was an awful trip spending 70 days to reach Brisbane from the Cook Islands. A cyclone done its best to pull the boat apart and loosing the rudder back-sliding down waves didn't help. Still, Spray did get us to land safely a great achievement in anyone’s estimation". Best regards Rick Ganly.



Charlie Jupp built the first fiberglass Spray 40 from a hull molded at the Bruce Roberts Marine Park in Brisbane Australia. Charlie sailed from Brisbane, Australia &soon after we received the first of several letters: Charlie sailed his Spray to England and and back to Australia mostly single handed as he preferred it that way !

‘I left Brisbane for Mauritius, a voyage of 4500 miles and about 2000 miles off the Australian coast I had trouble with my appendix. I lay in my bunk for five days with all sail up, with a rising wind; Spray steered herself. When the pain eased, I sailed for Mauritius, and on arrival I let the anchor go. The yachties saw I was in trouble, and came and took the sail off. I had an operation, but felt very weak so I stayed another two weeks, then sailed for Durban. Lousy trip, last two days were storms and lightning. Had a glow at the masthead, rigging was very hot. I went below; I thought the boat was on fire. As I was coming down the coast, a  helicopter flew very close and took photos of the Spray, and last night she was on TV here.

I will be leaving here at the end of December. Most yachts are taking on extra crew as far as Cape Town; they think I am mad, but if I can’t get a good crew, I’m better off on my own. I had no worry about my Spray in the storm. It blew 50-60 knots, gusting to 70. I will let you know how things go around the Cape. Charlie Jupp’s second letter came from St Helena:

‘Thanks for your letter and all the help I received in South Africa. I am in St Helena there is no harbour, so it’s a big job getting ashore. I met a lot of people building boats in South Africa, and over a hundred people came to see me off at Cape Town. My Spray sails very well, I sleep ten hours, and she stays on course all night. I hope to sail tomorrow; I will let you know how things go.

‘I have just arrived in Falmouth after leaving the Virgin Islands. I was 40 days crossing;

I had calms, head winds, fog and storms. People who draw upwind charts should try sailing with them. They show west wind; I went looking for it and I nearly saw polar bears I was that far north. As I came up the Channel the weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky; it was warm seas, flat and a full moon. What more could I ask?

When I left South America for Barbados, I was 300 miles from Barbados when a foreign fishing boat with 12 crew came alongside and forced me up into the wind. Two crew came over the side ready to drop on to my deck, when a freak wave threw us apart. The skipper pulled a revolver and fired. I got one in the leg, and a few in the deck, so I shot at the two crew and got one in the skipper’s arm. He got on the radio to his mate, but a naval patrol picked up his message, came and fired across his bows, and gave me an escort for the day. So for a week after, every time I heard a noise at night I would go on deck, with rifle in hand.

While in the Virgin Islands I did have an offer to skipper one of the charter yachts, but I’d made up my mind I wanted to go to England first. The Spray stood up very well in all weather. I carried sail, when in other yachts I would have reefed down, so over a long distance I am not behind other yachts, sometimes I would be a day before them.

‘I got a letter from a yacht club meeting in London to ask if I would go along and give a talk on my trip, and also, my easy method of navigation. Everything was to be laid on, food, drink and pay, but I had to decline the offer as I had very few photos and material to talk on, and so many people are sailing round the world and writing books nowadays. I have decided to keep the Spray, and you may see me on the west coast of the States this coming year.

I have sailed and delivered a few yachts for owners, and so far I haven’t sailed on a yacht as comfortable as the Spray,  if ever I built another, it would be on the same lines. On the River Hamble here there are over 3000 yachts, but there’s very few I’d swap my Spray for.

Charlie reckoned he could put a cup of coffee on his cabin table in a 30 knot wind, and it would stand without movement.

Like the original, this Spray will sail herself, although rigged as a Bermudan ketch she will hold a steady course for days on end unattended. In a storm the boat looks after herself better than the helmsman can with a storm jib to hold her steady. With a good trade wind blowing, Charlie set two jibs boomed out, with main and mizzen, and lashed the wheel, and left the ship to her own devices.

Also like the original vessel, Charlie has two separate cabins, with no cockpit; his wheel is amidships, sheltered by a canvas windscreen, and protected by ample bulwarks.’ There is none of this sitting up in the cold and wet on this boat,’ says Charlie. ‘As soon as it gets dark, I go to bed. I sleep ten hours every night and wait for the sun to come up before I get out of my bunk.’

Charlie sailed like this across the Indian Ocean in some 4,500 miles from Australia to Mauritius, with the ship holding her own course. He did not touch the helm until he was in sight of the harbour, being tied to his bunk sojourn by the attack of appendicitis.

Charlie Jupp enjoyed no special advantages over anyone else in making his dreams come true. Twenty-seven years ago he was working as a labourer building sea walls in Essex when he made the decision to emigrate, choosing Australia because of the sun. His subsequent efforts at sugar cane farming convinced him there was no profit in small crop husbandry, so he got a job as a builders’ labourer. After three years, he was building houses himself, which he did for a decade or more until the credit squeeze forced him to lower his selling prices.

Charlie arrived safely back in Brisbane after transiting the Panama Canal and sailing on into the Pacific. With about 2,000 miles still to go, Charlie had lost the use of his rudder. Crevice corrosion in the stainless steel rudder shaft had caused the rudder to become inoperable. He managed to sail the boat for some weeks without a rudder, and steered the Spray quite successfully until he reached port.


Spray 33 - At anchor in the Pacific.

SPRAY 33  Southerly Buster

One of the most travelled Spray 33s ever built

This Spray 33 was built at Ballina NSW Australia by John Page. This boat was completed in the very creditable building time of under 8 months. This must be one of the most travelled Spray 33s ever built; John has successfully completed many single handed ocean voyages in Southerly Buster cruising to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Thailand by way of Christmas Islands, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The most notable voyage, a complete circumnavigation, was undertaken with Carol Larkin as crew. Countries visited included, South Africa, Brazil, various Caribbean Islands, Panama, and back to Australia calling at Brisbane, before completing the voyage at Darwin Northern Territory Australia.

The worst weather encountered was 200 miles off Townsville, Queensland, when Southerly Buster rode out Cyclone Ivor. John found himself 40 miles from the centre of the storm and considered himself lucky the avoid the worst of a very serious cyclone;  he only experienced 80 knots, at the centre it was reliably reported that the wind speed reached well over 100 knots.

John reported his best passage was Cocos Keeling islands to Rodrigues a distance of 2000 M [5179 km] covered in 13 days. During this crossing the crew slept every night with winds of 25 to 35 knots on the quarter.   SEE MORE SPRAY  33's


EMAIL FROM Luiz Carlos S. Silva

"Did you know that the first Brazilian sailor to complete the globe circumnavigation single handed did it in a Roberts 36 Sailboat ?

His name is Aleixo Belov in 1982 . The boat was the "Tres Marias" built for himself

He completed two more circumnavigation of the world with the same boat." 



SPRAY 36 - Fiberglass - Sept 2017

Hello, I built a fiberglass 36 Spray and launched in '92. What a great boat she has Been !   I originally bought a running rigging STEEL OR ALUMINUM PLANS & CUTTING FILES from you. Thanks, Chris Beidler, Florida, USA

SPRAY 38  S/V Emerald Steel San Diego, Ca.

Dear Bruce,  This email is 29 years overdue. In 1985 we purchased your blueprints for the 38' steel spray and the next year and a half we spent all our time building her in San Diego, Ca. At that time I , Jules, was 35 and my wife, Suzie, was 22. My wife learned how to weld for the project and so she did all of the welding. I did all of the cutting, grinding and general encouragement.

The next 20 years we sailed between 45 south and 55 north in the Pacific ocean. She has been our full time home ever since. She is very comfortable and a safe cruiser during the gales and storms of high latitudes.

We even went unharmed during Hurricane Iniki in Hawaii 1992. We would like to thank you for the fine design for which we have received many compliments over the years. Picture included.

We recently posted 3 clips of her on U-TUBE called The voyage of Emerald Steel. You might be interested in viewing them. Thank You again, Julius and Suzie Hanak  S/V Emerald Steel San Diego, Ca. U.S.A


Including videos of building & sailing "Emerald Steel"


Our boat has cruised to Spain, Portugal and the Mediterranean, and has made two Biscay crossings in severe weather.

We have nothing but admiration for her sea keeping qualities and we have never for one moment felt unsafe in her and she returned good passage times in strong winds.

Centennial SPRAY 45
Dear Bruce, I can tell you my own impression of sailing the Centennial Spray 45. I made a trip cross the Baltic sea. She steering herself really, just need to carefully put sails on right position.

I did not touch the steering wheel for more than 20 minutes, just look at compass. Excellent performance, just nice.

Thank you very much for smart design. Best Regards, Victor V. Tchaburko






Howie Franklin writes:

‘On 14 August, we were out sailing on Lake Simcoe, which is just north of Toronto.  It was a warm and pleasant day, but I was concerned about the possibility of thunderstorms. About 1630 and on our way home, the sky darkened and it was obvious we were going to be hit by a storm. Since there was little wind, I had decided to sail on jib-staysail and mizzen. The main was down and stowed. Soon the rain became heavy, and visibility was down to 50ft [15.25m]

Things were still OK, until all of a sudden the wind velocity increased from 10 knots to about 80 knots in less than 15 seconds, and Salty Spray was knocked down. The storm was part thunderstorm, part tornado, and we didn’t have the time to release sheets. It all happened so quickly

I am telling you this story because I want you and your customers to know of the incredible integrity of the Spray. In our knockdown, I think the masthead touched the sea, and yet she rolled back up with no damage done, except to the captain’s pride.

She had water inboard, but that was later discovered to have come from the freshwater tank, had siphoned up through the galley tap. It was an unfortunate incident, which could have been much more serious if not for the incredible integrity of the Spray design; I had 12 souls on board that day, and we all went out again the next the faith we all have (even stronger now) in the design of Salty Spray.

Although it frightened us at the time, the incident did not deter us from proceeding with our plans for the future with the Spray. I just wanted you to know how proud we are of our boat. Howie is a former airline captain so is used to dealing with crisis situations. Some years ago he sailed Salty Spray from Canada down the east coast of the USA to Florida, and we lost track of him for some time. However in December 1993 we received another letter that read as follows; well, Salty Spray is still going and he is in very good shape at this time. We are still enjoying the boat, Further correspondence with Howie produced the following comments:

‘What I can do is tell you of all the good things we like about Salty Spray, starting with that nasty double knockdown we had and her survival was a fine display of her great integral stability. Since then we have had many good times, including a trip down the Mississippi river to New Orleans, then over to Florida where she now resides at Key Largo. What I like about the Spray is that most other people like her too. Spray seems to be like a story book dreamboat, yet here she is for real.

She is a great live-a-board and when we get together with friends with their boats, someone always says, ‘Bring your boat; we need the poop deck for dancing.’ She is certainly comfortable, stable, likeable and a lot of fun.



SPRAY 33  in Kemer / Turkey 

We spent two full seasons cruising the Med and in September 2000 departed Portugal for the Cape Verde Islands via the Canary Islands. December the 1st found us leaving Mindelo/Cabo Verde and bound for Barbados.

We still didn't have any self steering fitted, but then again neither did Slocum. No problem. Blue-Belle took 16 days to make the 2037 mile crossing, that's an average of 127 miles per day. Her best days run being 147 miles.

For a heavily laden cruising boat with a 28 ft water line she could certainly turn in a decent passage time. We were delighted with her.

We also found that running downwind she didn't roll as much as other boats I'd sailed under similar conditions.  Regards Derek.

Spray 40 A Steel or Fiberglass
Hi Bruce, we just sold (a bitter-sweet moment) our Bruce Roberts designed Spray 40 in a slightly modified Spray 42' (LOD) that was built by a South-African German naval engineer O.L. Silvester in the mid 70s and launched in 1984 (see picture attached). 

Heritage was built using the C-Flex method, and I must say, even in tough weather, we never so much as experienced a shudder from her; we absolutely love the design, especially the hull shape, and very stable sailing properties, but sold her mainly because we are looking to up-size to accommodate a family of 4. SEE SPRAY 40

Centennial SPRAY 45

SEE MORE Centennial SRAY 45's


Dear Sirs,  We purchased your project of Centennial Spray 45 and my friend - Zihni Butuner, built the beautiful Melissa1 in his factory - Tire Profil in Izmir Turkey. (attached some photos). l

She was finished and launced in 2007 and since then she is sailing in the Eagean and he is very happy with her. She is now in Teos Marina - Turkey.   Thank you, Gideon Tur




Hi Bruce,  My wife, Pat knew that I needed to be on the water and found a Spray 40 built in Vancouver, BC.  She convinced me to spend the extra revenue that I received from working too many hours on the Gitane Des Mers (47’ LOA. 40’ LOD, 14’6” beam).  When friends ask how I convinced my wife to let me buy the boat, I simply reply, I broke down and let my first mate talk me in to buying the boat.  I realize the bad humor, yet it applies.  J

Although I am still learning the boat, our Spray 40 performs well, we have a Volvo 6 cylinder diesel that we use for marina ingress-egress and have found that even the sloop configuration sails well (although I still prefer the junk schooner rig).  We averaged 6.5 knots for a few hours and 7.2 knots for about a half hour until I reduced sail to enter our protected winter moorage.  The Spray is everything that I had read and heard from other owners.  Although we will not win races, it is a heavy smooth sailing and comfortable sailboat—exactly what we want.   Regards Gene

SPRAY 33  

Pretty good shape for a 25 year old + steel boat.  I knocked some paint off the hull when I had her pulled.  The hull was flame zinc’d when it was built.  There’s no rust what so ever, anywhere.  Even the hollow rudder is sound and tight….. rather impressed.   The yard at South Park has filled up fast, so I’m not sure where they’re going to put me for the winter and until spring when I can repaint her…….. but I’ll be able to re-do the interior in the mean time. 

The Miller 140 welder with Argon fits well into the cabin, and I’ve been welding foundations for the Nav station, and better storage. The Marina is alive with stray current and the zincs were on their last leg, after two years in the water, they were fried.  Am going to install two systems into the hull, and re-do the zinc anodes.  Mike Dooley


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We all know that the Spray design is a stable and forgiving platform. While we may arrive later than the others we enjoy a more comfortable ride, with the capacity to carry more luxuries. I have just brought Jumbly Girl home solo (cutter-ketch Spray 40 C) from Florida to Falmouth.  A quiet and comfortable passage without drama. Now to get ready for another trip. Nic.   "Jumbly Girl"


LEFT: Photo of "Haircut in the Old Bahama Channel" , on passage from east end of Cuba up to the Carolinas. Note, empty cockpit, windvane doing the work, bread rising in the plastic bag. Just another day at sea.



Plucky Lady" - Gaff Cutter

Here we are on our  way from the Cabo Verde Isl. To Guadeloupe. "Plucky Lady" is a Spray 33 - steel version. She's custom built and was launched in 95. She's a very fine, seaworthy and comfortable boat. We are very happy with her. Best regards L.D.  France




Centennial SPRAY 45
We ordered preliminary boat plans for the Spray from Bruce and started adapting our layout to the 45 foot hull.

When Bruce released his round bilge version, the we were convinced this was the perfect hull for us. The hull characteristics were a major for our layout without compromising the sailing characteristics.

We sent our deck and cabin layout to Bruce and contracted with him to do a set of drawings using them.


A wonderful thing happened when working with Bruce; we had originally drawn the deck with a doghouse over the companionway. He, faithfully, had a doghouse in the drawings that he did for us.  He sent this alternate design to us as a gift.

We so much like the idea of the open pilothouse creating a bright open space out of the saloon and galley that we adopted it. We were able to take the general concept and implement it in the final design. Regards Ben Smith ... NOTE: Ben Smith uses his boat to run successful charters.=

Step by step construction photographs of this
 boat are included in S36 STUDY PLAN PACKAGE.

SPRAY 36 Pilot House fiberglass version.


Bruce,  Thank you for your quick reply.

I built " Tequila Mockingbird " in my backyard in Denver, Colorado USA. over a 10 year period. We trucked the boat to San Carlos, Mexico in 2007 and launched her. We've been living aboard full time since then. I chose the pilothouse version and have been very happy with the choice. We've been through 2 hurricanes and have never been worried about the boat handling any conditions we've encountered. 

I've attached a couple of pictures, the first was taken as Tequila Mockingbird being craned out of the back yard , the start of it's trip to Mexico. The other picture was taken in Agua Verde which is on the Baja Penisula here in Mexico. Thanks again for the zinc info'   Ed Kennedy 



Thanks for getting Edgar in Holland to help me with the rudder hydraulic cylinder sizing, he was very efficient and logical.  The 48hp turbo-diesel Bukh is mounted and aligned along with the prop shaft.  All four stainless steel tanks have been installed, diesel, water, black and grey water. 

I've had the majority of the interior framework welded in, including all five door frames.  I am installing a 5kw Mastervolt generator right behind the pilot station.  You can't beat these Dutch when it comes to making things for boats! I have configured both a forward and a stern head along with passage way doors to pass through the engineroom back to the stern berth.  I'll send you some interior shots so you can see what that looks like.  Thanks for all you help and advice.  Kind Regards, Dave



Subject: Re: Spray 370 A ...  I have finished cutting my STEEL OR ALUMINUM PLANS & CUTTING FILES using your cutting files; I would like to thank you for the time & effort you put into the nesting. I thought it would be good but I am amazed at the ease with which the machine just chugged along and the result with all the alignment marks and part numbers etched on, brilliant! 

The file modifications for the aft cabin roof and the etching for the walk thru all appeared on the plate. It really is good to deal with professional people. The construction of the hull is going smoothly. I cannot say how pleased I am with the result of your cutting files ! Thanks and Regards Bill Wigan Dubai . SEE SPRAY 370


SPRAY 33  Derek & Hulya  S/Y Blue-Belle Park

We find the Spray to be a wonderful sea boat, and is a lot faster than she looks. When running in gale force conditions we find that our heavy weather staysail, sheeted flat amidships (a technique used by Slocum in his book) works well.

The bow showing NO tendency to dig in despite all the weight we carry up forward. One mistake we made in the early years was in reefing her down too early; the boat is very stiff and sails well in heavy weather. In storm conditions when it is more prudent to stop and we either heave to or lie to a parachute anchor streamed from the bow and attached to a bridle led back to a cockpit winch. In this manner we feel safe and secure.

So, would we part with our Spray? Would we change her for something else? No - not ever. After 8 years and 35.000 miles we finally have our ultimate cruiser.
Thanks Bruce, you gave us a great boat. Kindest regards, Derek & Hulya  S/Y Blue-Belle Park Kemer Marina Kemer Antalya/Turkey



Spray 460 assembled from one of our STEEL OR ALUMINUM PLANS & CUTTING FILES by Mike and Pam Ford in Dubai.

NOTE' We now have an excellent set of construction photos plus many photos of completed Sprays that are available with the STUDY PLAN PACKAGES.

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Spray 460 assembled from one of our STEEL OR ALUMINUM PLANS & CUTTING FILES by Mike and Pam Ford in Dubai.

Recent email for Spray 460 builder in RUSSIA.

Bruce HELLO!  I finished the assembly of the boat! I worked from January 2 to February 20, 5 days a week, 3 people.  Your project is excellent! No errors! Photos can be seen

All Russian sailors looked for the building!
Thank you for your project. Andrey


"Brass Loon"  was built in Canada by Leuder L. Kerr.

Spray 340 pilot house version is modelled on this custom version of the Spray 33


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Spray 52 / 58 Trawler/ Trader
Sailing version a variety of rigs can be used on the versatile design.



This fine example of the all STEEL HULL & ALUMINUM SUPERSTRUCTURE SPRAY 52 was built by Gil Davenport from cutting files that he had cut locally.



LEFT:  This fine example of the all aluminum Spray 52 was built by Andrew Shatillo from Bruce Roberts Spray 52 cutting files ... he had the STEEL OR ALUMINUM PLANS & CUTTING FILES cut locally.


Gentlemen, Here is the progress update on our Spray 52. The major framing has been completed. So far, everything looks good. As a matter of fact, the longitudinal lines look so good it is almost a shame to cover them with plate.

Next, we will try to fit the deck plate (to check the overall dimensions). Take a look at the pictures,- we do enjoy them. Thanks, Andrew



This WOOD EPOXY Spray 27 was built in Germany and the builder was kind enough to supply us with STEP BY STEP building instructions in photograph format ... these step by step building photos are included with the STUDY PLANS and with the complete plans and patterns.




Dear Bruce,  Finally some pictures of her sailing! I have had a few trips up and down the coast from Fujairah and as always she behaves well.

I am lifting her out later this month for antifouling and I am using Cuprotect System as it is guaranteed 5 years and purported to be a 10 year plus treatment. I will let you know how I get on with that.

She now has davits on the back with a Niccollslite NN10 nesting dinghy hanging from them. On long trips I can put the dinghy nested on the foredeck. The watermaker is on the way Ultra Whisper 600 from Sea Recovery.  

I would just like to say how pleased I am with the Spray 370 and thank you for all the support you and Hal have given me during the build. Best regards Bill Wigan, Dubai.  SEE MORE SPRAY' 370s



SPRAY 370 B Built by Rod & Dee Palanca

We have launched in Newport, OR.  We have lots to do on the boat. We also plan to  travel to see  family and friends as well as go fishing and crabbing and just have fun.



Version A  (Standard Coach House)

Hi, Bruce:  In September 1999 I had the transom plate rolled and it was the first plate I  tacked on my boat (27 Spray). Well, I would like to let you know that yesterday July 22  I finally finished welding the whole hull. Considering I left for last the keel plate I had a professional welder finished it. It looks real strong. Now I can concentrate in sanding the hull and prime it so I can roll it over. Maybe two weeks. Thank you for your support...Art 


Spray 27 

Greetings, Bruce.

My name is Igor. I am a Russian architect. Excuse for the bad English as this is an electronic translation. I live in Siberia near to beautiful big lake Baikal. I very much wanted to construct a boat and 4 years ago I found on the Internet the description of your Spray 27.

You have sent me drawings by e-mail. I have a little changed the project. 2 years proceeded construction. The hull - metal, with a  wooden cabin. I have named her *Mobi Dick*. In August 2006 I and my wife of 2 weeks travelled across Baikal.

On travel the boat has very much liked me. She is reliable. She is not overloaded with sails. Allows me to operate alone. Long Keel is super. She goes against a wind! Many friends have become interested in this project and now 3 more hulls are in work. I want to thank you for the successful project. Best regards! Igor V.Logvanov. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THIS BOAT IN STUDY boat plans PACKAGE

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Spray 22

Here we see the first Spray 22 that was built at our Marine Park boatyard in Brisbane Australia.

Andrew was anxious to see how the Roberts Spray 22 would handle as a single-handedboat. Most of his sailing is done either alone or with his wife as crew, and generally he likes tohandle the boat on his own. He invited Peter McCoy along to do the actual sailing, for that would give him the opportunity to study objectively the boat’s handling in the conditions theyexpected to experience during this first sail.

Andrew wrote: ‘Well, we got our 25 knots all right, and then some. The day started off with thesoutheaster blowing at a steady 10 knots. At this wind speed, the Spray 22 carried her full gaff mainsail with ease - a great feeling as she sliced through the short chop. Soon the wind piped up to 15 knots. We put the Spray through her paces, full sail was =still carried and we tacked, and brought her hard on the wind. She sailed closer to the breeze than I had hoped. I guess the proportionally deeper keel was doing its job. OK, so far so good.

The boat was mostsatisfactory upwind, and as I had some experience with the Roberts Spray 33 this did not come as a total surprise. I expected at least creditable upwind performance. By now, the wind had increased to 25 knots and it was time to take in a reef. With the jiffy reefing set-up we have, reefing the gaff mainsail could be handled by one person, again a nice thought for my single handing in the future.

Sailing downwind and reaching were something of an anticlimax. Almost anything will perform well on these points of sailing. The Spray scooted along, feeling comfortable and secure at all times. It is certainly a boat for the whole family to enjoy and a boat I will be most happy to single-hand at any time. For those who prefer it, a Bermudan sail plan is now available, which will appeal to those who want the simplest of rigs.

The Spray 22 is easily trailerable and although we do not recommend this boat as long distance voyager; many Spray 22's have made some interesting passages.


S36-ICE-3.jpg (33960 bytes)



This Spray 33 was built in the UK and has made three Atlantic crossings to the US and and finally back to Iceland where the new owner sailed her after purchasing her in the USA.

Hi Bruce, I took the Kangaroo out for a another hop today in a force 5-6. Pure pleasure!!! Slow graceful movement, balanced helm , stable like a rock . The mainsheet purchase works fine now after some minor modification.
Other boats on the bay where heeling over far and their crews busy pulling strings . I was drinking coffee with my wife in the cockpit. Regards Asi


S33-000.jpg (23121 bytes)

Spray 33
Fiberglass, Steel or Wood / Epoxy
The Spray 33 is a very "Powerful" cruising boat - capable of taking you anywhere you care to go !


This is how the Spray 28 could look with a small pilot
 or dog house at the forward end of the cockpit.

Spray 28 Steel or Wood / Epoxy.

Good Morning, I have a steel Roberts Spray 28ft  junk rigged.    I have owned it some 25 years, and it was built 30 years ago.   Still excellent, and wouldn't change it.  I have a question which to date have not been able to get an answer to, and hope you can help.  My boat is presently fitted with a 29Hp Volvo Penta 2003  raw water cooled 3 cylinders.  It is at the age for 'Eventide' and am wondering if a smaller motor could be fitted to give more space, and same performance, say 18hp.   Best Regards, Terry    Yacht 'Si Hai'  Malaysia

Yes something in the order of 18 to 20 hp would be ideal for your Spray 28.

Yes something in the order of 18 to 20 hp would be ideal for your Spray 28.


Hello Bruce, have attached some pics of 'Si Hai'  We converted her to Junk Rig many years ago.  Home made sails, this is the second set.  Originally  we made the masts of Hoop pine from Australia, but the ravages of the climate in SE Asia dealt them a death blow.  The present masts we had made in Malaysia of 3mm steel and hot dipped.  

10 years on still very nice. Cheaper than the timber ones, and lighter.  This boat saved our lives 4 years ago, when we were hit at night by a large trawler (see Noonsite for details) Extensive damage, but no leaks, and managed to get into port in one piece.  

Needless to say the trawler did a runner, and nothing was investigated by the maritime authorities here. 

We spent 19 months repairing the damage.  New steel plates, deck, flat bar etc. welding was excellent by two young guys from Myanmar.  Best Regards Terry & Ana   'Si Hai'


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Spray 28 "K*I*S*S

K*I*S*S has cruised to Norway, Ireland, UK, Holland, down
to the Med, back to UK and up to Scotland where she now in based.

One of several Bruce Roberts previously owned boats.

This custom built Spray 28 K*I*S*S was formally owned by Bruce and appears in the book "Illustrated Custom Boatbuilding". We recommend that you read this hardcover book - Order now and we will pay the postage.

At left we see K*I*S*S shown her with her new owner Ian Crosfield and partner Marilyn the


Spray 28
Steel or Wood / Epoxy 

Owner: Karl Gustav Nilsen  NORWAY




SPRAY 33 "Donegal Breeze"

Joan Mc Dermott at the helm of the Spray 33 that she and husband John built in Oman and more recently sailed home to Ireland.



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Centennial Spray 34 / 36


This Centennial Spray 34 was fitted out the same way as we show for the Centennial Spray 36 ... worked out well for this owner .. see some interior photos below.

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Centennial Spray 34 / 36


This Centennial Spray 34 was fitted out the same way as we show for the Centennial Spray 36 -Note attractive interior - this is truly a beautiful boat the the owner is most pleased with the performance.

There are several more photos of this boat on the Study boat plans on DOWNLOAD or on USB Memory stick.


Spray 38 "Ruffles Spray"


Hi Bruce,

My wife and I have completed a Spray 38 in 2001.  We bought the boat plans in 1996 from your UK rep.  It took me 5 years to complete her and she is junk rig.  

We sailed Ruffles Spray from UK to the Med and cruised there for 2 years.  The boat looked after us magnificently.  Even in 42 knots of wind sailing hard on the wind she behaved impeccably. 

The junk rig works well on a Spray and I can recommend it.  Next year we are heading to Turkey to continue our cruising.   

Best regards Mike & Ann Ruffles  S/Y Ruffles Spray





SEE HERE for previous letters from Bill Wigan

Dear Bruce and Hal,

Just an update on my progress. I have just finished painting the hull and primer under water line. I am very pleased with the result and I hope you agree.  

All the machinery and appliances are installed, wiring 95% plumbing 40%. Interior joinery fore and aft well on the way. Galley and saloon not really started yet. Leaving this until last.

I am pleased with the progress as it is 20 months since the first plates were tacked together.  Best wishes to all, Bill Wigan Dubai

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Trunk cabin gaff rigged version
Spray 27 sailing in Virginia



Builder writes:
Hi Bruce,  we had a hull-turning party for our Spray 27 today and it went beautifully.  I'm building it in a steel shed 32' wide.  We ran two big nylon ropes under it as slings tightened with come-alongs, lifted it off the form, then with ample helpers, turned it over within the rope slings, pulled out the form, and put it down on blocks.  It looks very imposing, now, and very attractive, too.

I am building in plywood/epoxy, and I'm the guy who modified the design for "epoxy chine" construction--no real difference, I just have lots of fillets to make now that the hull is turned over.  I live in Montana. I'll get our pictures developed and get them to you.  Also, my son will be posting some on our website for us.  Is it easier for you to simply adopt them from that?  Either way is fine--we'll get all this done, hopefully, within a week.

Perhaps you'd pass on the word to others who have bought Spray 27 boat plans recently that I'd sell them the building jig (very well built, I might add) and all the temporary frames.  This would get someone off to a flying start--they'd only have to use their patterns for the stem and the bulkhead at station O--the rest would be ready to go.  All are made of pine with glued plywood gussets and, of course, waterline and headstock lines drawn on. I'll send you some pictures once they're developed.  Thanks for a fine plan. --Dan Aadland       SEE MORE OF THIS BOAT

Photo on the left shows a Spray 27 Pilot house version in UK

"NIRVANA" Bruce,    I received the boat plans for the Spray 27 today. I must say, I was more then a little suprised when I found the boat plans for the trailer and the dinghy included. You really know how to make a guy's day. Although, I've only had time to give them a cursory look I'm thrilled with the boat plans. And at the price I paid for them on the special, I didn't buy them, I stole them!       Thank you for the great day.   Tom Walsh 

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Spray 40 "Festina Lente"

From Bruce:  About three years ago, I did have the privilege of having dinner aboard this beautiful Spray 40 when she was being cruised in the Med. I wonder where she is now? 

See Roberts Spray 40 S.F.W. for more news about the various Spray 40's

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See more on JUNK RIGS


There are many Spray's that have been Junk  rigged.

SEE MORE ON THE Roberts Spray 40

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ABOVE: This steel Centennial Spray 38 was built in Sweden



CENTENNIAL SPRAY 38  Steel version.

Bruce, G'day, I have been promising an update and pictures for a while now... finally the pictures are on their way snail mail.As you will see I have chosen a couple of outside pictures to give you some idea of the finish we have attained, bearing in mind this is just the first proving coat .  I have also given you a picture of the stern to show the modifications to take the junk rig.  I have also included some pictures of the partly finished head to give you some idea of the interior finish we are trying for as well.

The carpenter we have doing the interior fit out has worked for Alloy yachts on some of the super yachts and is a real craftsman.  To give you some idea of the type of person I have included a picture of his tool box - a work of art initself.   I'm going to have a plaque made up with the boat name and the builders with a foot note of "built in New Zealand by craftsmen"

All of the people that are and have worked on the boat are really impressed with the design and the finish, I think a couple of them are looking to build a spray for themselves. With the amount of interest I have had maybe I should start using Spray Maker to market Bowline Boats and offer to build Sprays in New Zealand and ship them to the US or where ever, with the current exchange rate it would be cheaper and the quality is world class - a new line of super cruisers from New Zealand boatbuilding industry. More to follow over the next few months as the masts come together. Regards Pete


CS38-P3.jpg (25210 bytes)

 Boat plans & Full Frame Patterns -
Round Bilge Steel, Aluminum or Wood / Epoxy

Centennial Spray 38
Wood Epoxy Centennial Spray 38
Built by Rob & Nina in New Zealand



Centennial Spray 38

This boat can be rigged as a gaff ketch, gaff cutter, Bermudian ketch or cutter plus a variety of other rigs including the Junk schooner etc. All available sail boat plans are shown in the study boat plans on DOWNLOAD or on USB





Re: Spray 33 in Kemer/Turkey mentioned to you by Suat Zeybek S/Y Blue-Belle, British, Bermudan Cutter, Homeport London, build 4mm steel, owned and sailed by Derek and Hulya Leigh.

Dear Bruce,
We arrived at Park Kemer Marina/Turkey in July 2004 after our return trip across the Atlantic from Florida/USA. My wife is Turkish, and, being one of the few Turkish girls to sail the Atlantic twice, is attracting a lot of media attention here, needless to say so is the boat. Our Spray was featured on national TV in august and created enough interest to warrant a repeat showing. Since then we have been featured in four Yachting Magazines- the Antalya Regional Magazine- and a video of Blue-Belle crossing the Atlantic was shown at the Antalya Boat Show to a very enthusiastic audience. The Turkish Chamber of Shipping have also conducted an interview to be featured in their commercial publiion 'Turkish Shipping World'. We have a constant stream of visitors and Suat Zeybek of the Dive Centre is one of our regulars. He is keen to build a Spray 36 and I believe he has already purchased the boat plans.

Anyway, so much for the present, let me give you a brief history of Blue-Belle to date. In 1987 I was looking for a long distance load carrier, big enough to cross an ocean comfortably, but small enough to be easily maintained. I purchased the boat plans of your Spray 33 and began building on the south coast of England.

Due to working abroad, I didn't launch her until 1992; I would probably estimate that as a full time build project to high standard of finish, she would take 2 to 2, 5 years for one man to complete. She is built in 4 mm steel and is hot metal sprayed with aluminum both inside and out. She is as per your version B boat plans a part from lengthening her to 34 feet on deck, in order to incorporate a double self stowing anchor roller assembly. Upon completion she was then stored ashore for a further four years while I was away earning the cruising fund.

Her maiden voyage was in the autumn of 1996 London to Antalya/Turkey aprx. 3500 miles single handed. I hadn't fitted any self steering as yet, so this first long passage was a good test of the Spray's legendary self steering qualities. If you take care to balance the sails she will steer herself for amazingly long periods of time.

In Antalya my Wife and I were married and we moved on board to begin our full time cruising life style. Now I really did begin to appreciate the Spray's load carrying capability, I have never seen so much stuff poured into just one boat.
We spent two full seasons cruising the Med and in September 2000 departed Portugal for the Cape Verde Islands via the Canary Islands. December the 1st found us leaving Mindelo/Cabo Verde and bound for Barbados.



We still didn't have any self steering fitted, but then again neither did Slocum. No problem. Blue-Belle took 16 days to make the 2037 mile crossing, that's an average of 127 miles per day. Her best days run being 147 miles. For a heavily laden cruising boat with a 28 ft water line she could certainly turn in a decent passage time. We were delighted with her. We also found that running downwind she didn't roll as much as other boats I'd sailed under similar conditions.

Maybe the chines have something to do with this. We spent the next 2,5 years cruising the Caribbean, Bahamas and the US Intracoastal Waterways. The Spray's shoal draft was paying dividends. June 2003 and we were on our way back across the Atlantic. We did purchase wind wane steering gear in the states, but were so busy being tourists, we didn't have time to fit it. I think that only the crew of a Spray would contemplate carrying their self steering gear as deck cargo prior to an Atlantic crossing.

Our North Atlantic Passage was the usual mix of gales, calms, and occasionally some decent sailing. However we ate well, slept well and apart from blowing out the genoa suffered no damage. In Spain my wife had to fly home to cover a family emergency. So once again I single handed to Turkey, finally arriving to the fabulous reception mentioned earlier. This winter we intend to haul out and I will finally get round to fitting the Wind vane and steering gear. For as my wife says "It will look so much nicer dear, hanging on the transom".

In conclusion we find the Spray to be a wonderful sea boat, and is a lot faster than she looks. When running in gale force conditions we find that our heavy weather staysail, sheeted flat amidships (a technique used by Slocum in his book) works well. The bow showing no tendency to dig in despite all the weight we carry up forward. One mistake we made in the early years was in reefing her down too early; the boat is very stiff and sails well in heavy weather. In storm conditions when it is more prudent to stop and we either heave to or lie to a parachute anchor streamed from the bow and attached to a bridle led back to a cockpit winch. In this manner we feel safe and secure.

So, would we part with our Spray? Would we change her for something else? No - not ever. After 8 years and 35.000 miles we finally have our ultimate cruiser.
Thanks Bruce, you gave us a great boat.
Kindest regards,

Derek & Hulya
S/Y Blue-Belle


Hail Bruce from California!

I'm a marine surveyor and great fan of your designs - as a Whitbread Vet and childhood dreamer of the original "Spray" - love to get one of your "Spray" books. Just surveyed a reported 1980 40' named "Osprey" with "factory" hull (Pacific Northwest /Canada / USA?) and STEEL OR ALUMINUM PLANS & CUTTING FILES interior - can you pass on any greater detail on where the hull and deck may have been laid up or any other details if   "Osprey" rings a bell any where!!! Thanks and happy new year!

Best regards, Capt. R. Scott Thomas - 40 Years Delivery IOR Boats - 2,302,500 miles.

Bruce, I have been a long-time admirer of your design work. I finally got the chance to board a Spray for the first time yesterday. ( I almost drove off the road as I craned my neck to get a better look at her.)   She is moored alongside the St. Pete (Florida) Yacht Club Sailing Center Building.  Her builder is an interesting Polish lad by the name of Maciej Rosochowicz, he told me that he is planing a voyage for disabled sailors in the near  future.  I can't imagine a more stable platform.

He sang your praises all the while that I spoke with him.  He described an  early voyage of MACIEJKA in short, irregular, fifteen foot seas as that of a duck climbing up a wall of water and then sliding down the other side. He beamed with delight as he told me how well she steered herself.  He is truly happy.

You have accomplished a great deal more than just designing a fine vessel.  You have made a difference in the human condition.  Witness the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eyes as he speaks about his floating mistress. Your SPRAY has immeasurably improved his standard of living. I wish you and yours continued success.      Sincerely,   Nils Klykken

Here are some pics of our Spray 36 "Taranea Spray". Taranea Spray was built by me, Hans Jurgen Hoernicke in Västerås, Sweden.

We sailed her for the first time in 1998 and all I can say is that Spray 36 was the right choice. Last summer we traveled from Stockholm, Sweden to Hamburg, Germany. Her balance is fantastic, we are very satisfied." Regards, Hans Jurgen Hoernicke.

SEE MORE - Click here


iduna2.jpg (25033 bytes)

Spray 40 "IDUNA 3"

Dear Bruce,  apologies for the delay in reply. I have been out of station for several weeks & my E-Mails have finally caught up with me.

The vessel is called Iduna III, she is a pilothouse ketch Spray 42' built 1984 (Capetown) & I located her in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala in September 1997. I traveled to Guatemala from Doha, Qatar (where I am based for work) to inspect her & agreed to purchase her in December 1997.



Spray 55 under sail in the Caribbean. You will note that the customer has chosen the schooner staysail rig as we designed; see above left.



cs38nz.jpg (15456 bytes)

What a year.... I have not had time to give you updates on our Spray... I see that you still have the picture on the CS38 page.  Well I WILL send over some new pictures by snail mail.  We have finished the hull and got the first coat or Green gloss on the hull - it looks great, you cant even tell that it is steel it looks that good.


This weekend our Centennial Spray 38 "Spray Maker" will be blasted ready for the painting and fit out to start.  I have been taking photos along the way so have a good record of the build process, if you are short of material or would like something for the Spray News let me know. 

My wife - the writer in the family - will be producing an article or two for the Australian Spray Society so we could use this or a modified version. I thing Spray Maker will be a first in a number of areas, the first Centennial 38 in New Zealand and the first to be junk rigged, so someone in the world of Spray's may be interested.

By the way our builder, Bowline Boats, is really impressed with the boat and design and is looking to specialize in this style of yacht. Cheers Pete



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Spray 40 'Pilot'

Hi Bruce,  We tack weld the first twelve frames I introduce my team Dany and Paul,  I am Rodolfo Garcia Susini from Argentina Patagonia Bariloche.
my e-mail nick name is "Vicet"



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Spray 33 "ALEAH"

This Spray 33 is owned
by Robert Lind of Washington State.
A beautiful boat which Rob enjoys
sailing in the San Juan Islands.



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Spray 36 "Sarwaya"
Owned by Andy and Meredyth Haris

"This is what it is all about. "Sarwaya"
at anchor off one of the many Balearic Islands."



S33JOSE.jpg (17270 bytes)





This beautiful FIBERGLASS Spray 33 was built in California and I was personally present at the launching ... there are many more photos of this boat shown in our Study Plans package for the Spray 33.


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Two more Sprays These from Australia.

Left: Spray 33

Right:  Spray 38



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This steel Spray 40 has cruised extensively
 including a trip to Antarctica

Spray 40


Hello Bruce,  Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that the boat plans for the Spray Pilot 40 arrived the other day.  There sure are a lot of detailed drawing which will help immensely with the project.  I have one question, do the pattern lines for the frames represent the outside or inside dimensions, in other words, would I lay the flat bar on the outside or the inside of the lines in relation to the center line?Thanks again for the boat plans. Steve 

ANSWER: The frames are built inside the pattern lines .... only the plating is outside these lines...Bruce


Centennial  SPRAY 46  "Shiloh"

Cruising off the North Carolia coast in the US

Spray 40 Pilot
This is a special version of the Spray 40. This photo was taken when the boat was moored near our office in Annapolis. The Spray 40 Pilot was purchased by a Canadian couple - Where is she now ?  MORE INFO SPRAY 40

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Ketch Rigged Custom SPRAY 45 
Construction West System, using double strip plank and epoxy resin,
and covered with a heavy epoxy/fiberglass skin.  Outside ballast keel of five tons

Below is a sample of the interesting articles and information about the Spray that can be found on the SPRAY SOCIETY web site

Into the Ice

A lone SPRAY sailboat drifts across the northern Atlantic. 

On board, skipper Robert Graf is desperate for sleep, but the island-sized icebergs surrounding his vessel preclude him from taking his weary eyes off the horizon for a moment too long.

"You can't even take a chance on getting close to them because something could fall off them and crush you. Plus, they're notorious for turning upside-down and if you're too close they'll upset your boat," Graf says. "You're like an ant in a big field of elephants."

Navigating these icy behemoths for days on end with no one else on board to keep watch meant that Graf had to sleep in 20-minute intervals. He would wake to his trusty alarm, pop his head out of the cabin to ensure the icebergs were still a safe distance away, then return for another round of shuteye. "That's one of the real challenges when you're by yourself - there's nobody watching where you're going," he says. "There's that 20 minutes where a lot can happen when you have to sleep."

Seated in his North Vancouver living room, a light autumn rain taps against the window as the 61-year-old sailor recalls the iceberg-ridden labyrinth he sailed through before entering and successfully crossing the Northwest Passage.

The voyage makes Graf the ninth person in the world to transit the Arctic sea corridor single-handedly, according to the Scott Polar Research Institute, which keeps a running tally of maritime traverses of the Northwest Passage. He is the first Canadian to cross the passage alone in a sailboat and the first Canadian to transit solo without needing assistance, according to the institute.

But Graf didn't set out to break any records.

"I didn't realize that was all going to be such a whoop-dee-doo," he says modestly, explaining he has always been intrigued by the history of the waterways around Canada's northern archipelago.

"It just seemed like a real test of your endurance and your stamina to do it, but also your skills to get through there," he says. "I'd always read about it and dreamed about it and it was on my list of places I would like to sail."

For centuries, the Northwest Passage eluded sailors. Originally sought by explorers as a potential trade route between Europe and Asia, the ice-blocked waters frustrated many an expedition. In 1845, two British ships led by Sir John Franklin famously disappeared. Records show the entire crew perished due to a combination of cold, starvation, scurvy, pneumonia, tuberculosis and lead poisoning. Underwater archaeologists only just discovered one of Franklin's sunken shipwrecks last year.

The Northwest Passage was first successfully navigated by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1903-1906 (he and his small crew over-wintered three times). The first Canadian voyage was made by the St. Roch RCMP schooner, captained by Henry Larsen, in 1940-1942.

According to Capilano University geography instructor Charles Greenberg, a record number of 30 vessels transited through the Northwest Passage in 2012 and, in 2013, for the first time, a large bulk carrier passed through. Only 17 vessels managed the trip in 2014 due to a short and cold summer. The Northwest Passage "is a web of several possible routes," Greenberg notes in an email - somewhat like a corn maze. Over the past 40 years, sea ice cover has declined by around 25 per cent and is about 20 per cent thinner overall and up to 40 per cent thinner in certain areas, Greenberg says. Thinner ice is more susceptible to melting and with more melt comes more open dark water, which absorbs solar energy and holds heat longer, making it harder for ice to form the next year.

A "very tiny benefit" of this climate change might be commercial use of the Northwest Passage, Greenberg says. Still, Arctic storms, shallow waters and icebergs pose risks for ships.

A seasoned sailor, Graf has completed many endurance voyages, including a marathon three-year solo sailing journey around the world. This was his first trip to the far north. He departed Amsterdam on June 15 in his 15-metre ketch named Drifter Way. The sailing vessel has twin masts and its hull design dates back to about 1840, though it is made from modern materials.


 Drifter Way

"It's big, it's slow, it's very safe, carries a lot of supplies. It's actually kind of big for one person, but it handles very well in storms so it's pretty forgiving," Graf says.

The first leg of his journey involved dodging busy ship traffic, wind farms and offshore oil rigs en route to Norway. He stayed there a few days before embarking for Greenland via high latitudes to take advantage of west winds generated by powerful storms. There was excitement along the way - both friendly and frightening. South of Iceland he encountered a pod of some 200 pilot whales that travelled alongside him for a couple of days. And on the way to Greenland he was hit by his first north Atlantic storm. "The waves were getting big, they were getting maybe 25 feet high," Graf recalls.

It wasn't long before he lost control of his boat. It took an hour to get back on track, but by that time the wind had blown him off course toward Newfoundland. "In the morning, everything looked better. But at the time, for a number of hours, I had that sick feeling that ... if it gets worse than this, it's going to get really scary." Graf sailed Drifter Way to the south of Greenland where he stayed for three weeks, first at the Polar Oil fuel depot south of Nuuk and then in the west coast town of Maniitsoq.

Travelling up the west side of Greenland proved difficult due to strong head winds and massive icebergs. Making matters worse was the frigid temperature; it never got higher than four degrees Celsius inside the cabin. Dampness permeated Graf's thick clothing and although he brought fuel on board, he opted to conserve it for his motor in case of emergency rather than use it for heat.

On Aug. 16, Graf arrived at Lancaster Sound, the entrance to the Northwest Passage. He proceeded west to Resolute, Nunavut, where he stayed two nights and got more fuel before making a hard left into Peel Sound. From thereon out, he saw very few other ships.

"Once I started travelling south in Peel Sound, that's when I hit my first ice," he says.

According to Canadian Ice Service, the water was three-tenths ice. "That means the whole surface is covered in 30 per cent ice and you have to weave your way through it."

Zig-zagging around frozen sheets was tiring, Graf says, but the view was spectacular: the vast white expanse was covered with hundreds of seals lined up in rows like fat cigars. Victoria Strait was perhaps the most exhausting leg of Graf's journey. He spent more than 24 hours motoring through drift ice. There was an audible grinding noise near Collison Peninsula as the frozen sheets merged together, but he managed to squeak through the strait without a minute to lose.

"It just closed right up into a solid mass of ice as far as I could see. It was one chunk of ice and it started to move in one direction. My boat would have been just crushed."

From Resolute Bay to Nome, Alaska - a distance of some 2,400 kilometres - Graf anchored to sleep only four times. The rest of the voyage he stuck to his 20-minute sleep cycle in hopes of avoiding icy collisions.

On Sept. 10, off the coast of Barrow in northern Alaska, the fog was so thick Graf couldn't see much in front of him. It was windy and there were ice floes everywhere. Meanwhile, autumn was setting in and it was starting to get dark at night. Around 4:30 a.m., he gave up on sleep and decided to check on his position - but he was too late. "There was this massive big explosion and I knew there was something wrong because I saw ice passing on both sides of the boat through the portholes. By the time I got up on deck there just was ice on both sides."

Drifter Way had plowed headfirst into a chunk of multi-layered ice the size of a two-car garage. Graf quickly dropped the main sail and was able to gingerly back out of the floe, but with big waves crashing about, he couldn't avoid crunching up the side of his boat. Fortunately, the damage wasn't too serious and he was able to make it through the Bering Strait to arrive at his final destination of Nome, Alaska on Sept. 14. He stayed there until the end of the month, waiting for the right conditions to haul Drifter Way out of the water, then flew back to

Vancouver.Graf is still adjusting to life on dry land. He's down 28 pounds after three months of consuming little more than instant coffee, canned fish and rice. And he finds himself waking frequently in the night after training himself to survive on a fragmented sleep schedule.

"There's kind of a letdown when you come back because you've got to wind down," he explains.

With the constant fatigue, cold, damp and loneliness still fresh in his mind, the lifelong sailor is wondering if it might be time to hang up his captain's hat.

"When I'm out there and getting bruised and battered, I always think the sea always finds another way to punish you and drive you crazy," he says.

"I might be finished with sailing now."

After the spring thaw, he'll retrieve Drifter Way from storage in Alaska, repair the boat, sail it back to Vancouver, and decide whether or not to sell it. He admits, though, this isn't the first time he's considered retiring from sailing after a particularly trying journey. "I usually recover and start planning another voyage," he says with a chuckle.

The Spray Design – A Nautical legend   

Today there are many variants on the original Slocum spray design.

Back Then:

In 1894 the Captain was given an old sailing boat, called “Spray”, which had been rotting away in a field in Fairhaven, on the shore of Massachusetts Bay, USA. He rebuilt it plank by plank so that “it was hard to say at what point the old died or the new took birth.”  Slocum avoided doing anything that might cause the boat to lose the shape formed by the genius of some long-dead boat builder. 

To make her safer in uncharted waters, he removed the original centre-board and rebuilt the keel in one solid, long run, keeping the same shallow draft that was typical of the old Spray’s original purpose, an oyster dredger on the shallow banks off the coast of New England. Indeed, the original Spray had a huge area of sail which was used to trawl the clumsy oyster dredge across the bottom, and then sail home quickly with a hold full of the heavy shellfish.  Spray’s sail plan and hull design were responsible for her uncanny ability to steer herself for long periods. Oyster dredgers needed to be able to look after themselves as the crew worked the trawl and the catch.  

So, from a chance gift from an old friend, Slocum transformed the old dredger into a capable deep-sea vessel  which he knew would take him safely around the world.

Who was Slocum?

Captain Slocum was no novice in the world of sail. He ran away to sea when he was eleven, and spent almost the rest of his life at sea, rising to be master of “Northern Light”, one of America’s finest tall ships in the mid 1180s. He built one ship, and owned several others, but ran into financial ruin when his last ship “Aquidnek” foundered on a river bar in Brazil. After several years of land-based torment, he was drawn back to the sea, and Spray was both his home and his escape pod.

 Was the Spray really a good boat to circumnavigate the world?  At the time, Slocum had only one option - the vessel that was given to him. He originally used Spray for a season of fishing, but when that proved unsuccessful, and no doubt unsatisfying, decided that she would carry him on a voyage of adventure around the world. If she wasn't the perfect boat for such a voyage, he made up for any deficiencies with more than sufficient seamanship skills. He also modified Spray as the voyage unfolded, changes that would make her more manageable for a solo sailor.

In 1909, Slocum said he had the lines taken off the old Spray by a boat builder. But it appears that the boat builder did just a few measurements, then made a half-model, the sort of model that hangs on the walls of yacht clubs around the world. But that half model, which Slocum swore was the exact shape of the original Spray, gave rise to the lines and plans which have been subsequently used to construct replica vessels over the years.

The Spray design was not unique. In Slocum's day it was an old design, but there were still oyster-dredgers working around the New England coast.  Slocum modified the Spray hull when he rebuilt her. For example, he removed the centreboard - a common feature of oyster-dredgers. He also added more ribs and strengthened her bows. Perhaps, during conversations with passing old sea dogs, Slocum got the idea of the circumnavigation. Some of the tales his visitors told of the arctic whaling "inspired me to put a double set of breast-hooks in the Spray, that she might shunt ice." Why do that in a vessel he planned to use for fishing?

Is the Spray seaworthy?

 "Yachtsmen pleasuring in the 'lilies of the sea' will not think favourably of my craft," warned Slocum, anticipating the criticism of those who juggle with coefficients. "They have a right to their opinion, while I stick to mine."

Leaving theory and controversy to others and devoting himself to enjoying the first single-handed circumnavigation of the world, the uncommon Yankee (Joshua Slocum) who became known to mariners of all nations as a classic sailor and a forthright, honest man said simply, "I have given in the plans of the Spray the dimensions of such a ship as I should call seaworthy in all conditions of weather and on all seas."  You can't argue with experience!

Many Spray designs over the years since have successfully circumnavigated the world's oceans, and with the advent of efficient engines, GPS, HF radio and other useful items, high standards of seamanship and associated skills have become less critical.  Solo sailing voyages are incredibly difficult in any vessel, but a couple or small crew can become quite proficient and confident in sailing the Spray design.

Those who have owned Sprays will attest to their sea kindly abilities and lack of heeling when sailing, but they don’t go well to windward (what heavy displacement long-keeled shallow-draft yacht does?)  

What do the experts say? 

Cipriano Andrade, Jr., engineer and yacht designer, said of Spray:  ”After a thorough analysis of Spray's lines, I found her to have a theoretically perfect balance. Her balance is marvelous — almost uncanny. Try as I would — one element after another — they all swung into the same identical line. I attacked her with proportional dividers, planimeter, rotameter, Simpson's rule, Froude's coefficients, Dixon Kemp's formulae, series, curves, differentials, and all the appliances of modern yacht designing, and she emerged from the ordeal a theoretically perfect boat. For when she is underway every element of resistance, stability, weight, heeling effort, and propulsive force is in one transverse plane, and that plane is the boat's midship section. I know of no similar case in the whole field of naval architecture, ancient or modern.”

One of the most remarkable things about Spray was her ability to run before the wind under her regular fore-and-aft rig with the helm lashed. She was able to hold a true course on her own on all points of sailing and in the Indian Ocean sailed 2,700 miles in twenty three days with no one at the helm. (No autopilot, GPS or engine back then). It should be mentioned, however, that Slocum had by this time installed the small sprit rig on the stern of Spray which would have acted pretty much like wind vane steering.

Evidence that Slocum made changes as he went is seen in his own words: "I did not know the centre of effort in her sails, except as it hit me in practice at sea, nor did I care a rope yarn about it. As a sailor judges his prospective ship by a 'blow of the eye' … so I judged the Spray, and I was not deceived."

 Iconoclast designer John G. Hannah, known as the sage of Dunedin but perhaps better known as the designer of the Tahiti ketch, said of Spray, "I hold that her peculiar merit as a single-hander was in her remarkable balance of all effective centres of effort and resistance on her midship section line."  Hannah nevertheless felt it necessary to warn prospective circumnavigators looking for a suitable vessel that "Spray is the worst possible boat for anyone lacking the experience and resourcefulness of Slocum to take offshore." No doubt even the most celebrated yachtsmen thought such remote, solo voyages foolhardy enterprises.

Other details of extraordinary sailing ability in the course of her 46,000-mile voyage are too lengthy and well known to readers of Sailing Alone Around the World to recount here.  Slocum

What do owners say?

“We were out in 30 plus knot winds with the headsail and main and mizzen sail up. She bounded along nicely at near to 11 knots whilst other yachts scurried for home on their ear or downsized sail to limp home ASAP.”

 “We had salads on the cockpit table and were cruising along nicely (and upright) and waved to a passing yacht hard at it heeled right over. We could see her keel and skin fittings underneath and the crew were hanging on to the windward side looking jealous.”

"She’s a great cruising vessel, so roomy. We don’t worry about sailing to windward - if we need to we put on the ‘iron spinnaker’ and still get there in complete comfort. Besides, being a cruising vessel, we only go when it suits us”.

And Slocum: Bound from Samoa to Australia, Slocum encountered gales and heavy seas that foundered the American clipper ship Patrician running a course south of Spray. A French mail steamer blown off course reported seeing Spray at the height of the storm and wondered what sad fate had befallen the little ship. Slocum's log records that, at the time that passengers of the steamer were up to their knees in water in the big ship's saloon, Spray was laying snug under a goose-winged mainsail and arrived safely at Newcastle in the teeth of a gale.

What do critics say? 

“A spray? Huh - they're slow....”. A typical comment from people usually who have never been on a Spray. And so what? Being a cruising vessel and many used as live-a-boards (one buyer described one 40’ as a Sydney town house), it’s not very likely they will be out in every race, every weekend to do battle for a few more points towards some trophy.  

The modern day spray:

In 1973, Bruce Roberts, then a young boat designer in Brisbane, ( Now a not so young designer still designing Sprays and many other sail and powerboats in 2017 ) was asked to design a Spray which could be constructed in fiberglass. Bruce took the original plan drawings from Slocum's book and an excellent model made by John Haskins together with the lines meticulously researched by Kenneth Slack in his book “In the Wake of the Spray”, and redrew them, retaining the desirable seaworthy attributes as described by Cipriano Andrade. But to give the boat more ability in a head sea and picking up on some of the criticisms of the replicas built after Slocum’s circumnavigation, Roberts pulled the stem out to make it sharper, and added more run in the aft sections. In doing so he lengthened the hull from 36 feet 10 inches to 40 feet. From all accounts the change has not altered the ability of the modern Sprays of that length.

Roberts, on request from sailors wanting the abilities of the Spray design but in a smaller vessel, also scaled down the plans to 33 feet in length. Someone later spaced the frames out and finished with a Spray of 36 feet 10 inches – the same as Joshua’s Spray, but with a beam of only 12 feet instead of nearly 15 feet.  Since then, the Spray design has been scaled to 22 and 27 feet (both trailerable), 28, 33, 36, 40 feet and even larger.

In Summary:

The one constant, reported by all who own and sail a Spray, is that they truly are a remarkable cruising vessel. Of the detractors, few have sailed on or even stepped aboard a Spray, and their prejudice arises from ignorance of what the Spray stands for. In the world of cruising sailboats, she is not the fastest, she is not the lightest, nor is she the best to windward.

But she will always get you home safe and sound, she will always be able to carry ample stores and water and not become dangerous when loaded, she will always behave herself in heavy weather and not terrify the crew, and she is at her best when sailing downwind – as she was designed to do a century and a half ago when sailing ships were designed to sail.

In that respect she sails best when “running down the trades”, running free, out there in the deep blue – not scurrying around the bay on Sunday afternoons among the fin keelers.

What’s this all mean?

So, if you have purchased a Spray or are looking to buy one, be assured that you are buying a tried and true cruising vessel with incredible seaworthiness inherent in her genes.  But take the time to make your purchase. Make sure you get a professional survey, and for added peace of mind and know that there are many other Sprays out there cruising safely and comfortably.

Finally: PLEASE ... Read Joshua Slocum's book SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD ... I have just now (2017) re-read my battered copy and found it as refreshing as when I first read it in 1968 !!!

Spray 22 S.F.W
Roberts Spray 27 S.F.W.
Roberts Spray 28 S.W.
Roberts Spray 33 S.F.W.
Roberts Centennial Spray 34 S. W
Roberts Spray 36 S.F.W.
Roberts Centennial Spray 36 S. W
Roberts Centennial Spray 38 S.W
Roberts Spray 38 S.
Roberts Spray 40 S.F.W.
Roberts Spray 45 S.
Roberts Centennial Spray 45 S.W.
Roberts Centennial Spray 50 S. W
Roberts Spray 55S.



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