“She is designed to comfortably entertain about 15 people, and sleeps two, so you can send everyone home and go to bed.”

Snapdragon, Custom Downeast Cruiser 39′

Interview with the Captain – Christopher Roper

About the boat

Why did you choose to buy a Downeast Cruiser?
This boat appealed to me because it is simple, well constructed {by Craig Walters, its designer, builder, and first owner} and unique. With a single 6 cylinder diesel and light weight {12,500} it is economical and she cruises at about 16 knots. The open layout allows for 12 people or more to socialize, while the one berth allows us to send everyone home after dinner. 

What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this particular model (and how did they compare)?
We looked at other downeast type cruisers, particularly the Eastbay {Grand Banks}. Didn’t like the twin engine configuration, the yachty touches, the fact that every third boat in the harbor was one. I am a utilitarian by nature, so fancy joinery and corian counters don’t appeal.

How did you come to find/locate her before purchasing (and what’s the boat’s history if you know it)?
SnapDragon was built as an electric powered boat, with a golf cart motor, and a bunch of solar panels. Apparently, that didn’t work out — 1995 maybe not the right moment to market such a thing. So he had Zimmerman cut the entire hull off just below the deck, replace the bulkheads, build a semi-planing hull, and install a diesel.

She was listed on Yachtworld by Brooklin Boat Yard on the Eggemogin Reach . Quite an impressive operation. 

What are the features you like most about your boat?
Originally built by Craig Walters as an electric powered vessel with a golf cart motor, she wasn’t commercially viable in 1995.  So, in 2000 one of Zimmerman’s yards cut the bottom half off, replaced all the bulkheads and re-built it as a semiplaning hull. They installed a 250hp Yanmar diesel, and she goes along nicely and economically at 17 knots, which feels like flying to a lifelong sailor. She is designed to comfortably entertain about 15 people, and sleeps two, so you can send everyone home and go to bed.

What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
I added a bench seat in the salon that is just big enough for my 11-year-old grandson, and a couple of carpets. But I don’t like a lot of “stuff” on boat so keeping it simple.

Who first introduced you to boating/sailing?
I’ve been sailing since birth, 74 years ago. My family had a 28′ Atkin cutter named Phyllis. There are many stories, books, and essays on the subject written by my brother David. See “The Magical Mystery Cruise” in Cruising World and Readers Digest. Sailing has been a defining element in my family.

Do you belong to a yacht club or other boating/sailing organizations?
I do not belong to a lot of organizations, preferring to do my own thing. I am a certified keelboat instructor {USSailing} and hold an expired Coast Guard license.

What boats have you previously owned?
I have owned many boats, including a wonderful Tartan 37, a Luders 33, and a Glander {look it up} 23. We went to the dark side because I’m getting old.

How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
We cruise to Maine, having been crowded out of Buzzards Bay years ago. The last two summers we did the Eastern cruise south with my daughter Emily and her family on their boat. Grandchildren Gib and Georgia love sailing. 

Do you have any notable boating resources you use?
The crew at Marblehead Trading Company is great. Lars Sorensen the best mechanic ever.

Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a Boat like yours? 
Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Walters only built the one, and never went into production with the electric propulsion system; probably 20 years ahead of his time! It might sell now…..

What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
SnapDragon is named after a privateer from the War of 1812 which gained fame as a very successful taker of British prizes.

Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Snapdragon!