Type: Block Island 40 (Series 1)

Solaris Specifications:

LOA: 40’8″ / 12.39m
LWL: 27’6″ / 8.38m
Beam: 11’9″ / 3.58m
Draft: 3’11” / 1.19m / 8’5″ / 2.56m
Hull Number: 19
Designer: Bill Tripp
Current Owner: Paul Tetreault
Year Built: 1961
Built By: American Boat Building Company, East Greewich, RI
Hull Material: GRP
Gross Displacement: 20,000 LBS
Ballast: 7,800 lbs
Sail Number: BI-40 / 471

 
 

Historical:

Bill Tripp began his design work with Philip Rhodes, then after service in WW2, joined Sparkman & Stephens until 1952, whereby he opened his own design firm, and was one of the early pioneers in the use of fiberglass. The first Block Island 40s were said to have been built like “Sherman Tanks” with Tripp’s fiberglass layup schedule calling for up to two inches thickness in the hulls.

Solaris Article Courtesy of Paul Tetreault – Quietly basking in the Florida sun and nudging at her spring line as the tide ebbs at Marina Cove, just across the fairway from the Palm Coast Marina, a recent derelict is quietly going through a rebirth.

She was found almost four years ago in the tidal marshes of North Carolina’s Bay County, up a meandering creek just a stone’s throw east of the Intracoastal Waterway, every east coast boater’s I‐95. Found behind a back‐water, long forgotten fish processing shack at the end of a meandering dirt road in a town with only one stop sign aptly called Low Land.

She was surrounded by a swarm of soft-planked trawlers each slowly finding their natural resting places with several years of vegetation on sprouting from their discarded nets and hard rubber tire fenders. She had been “rode hard and put‐up wet”. She had almost gone to seed, but not quite.

Her tanks and powertrain had long since lost all utility. The mahogany top-side wood trim was black with mold and her generous cockpit a depository for many years of autumn‐brown leaves. Open hatches and bone‐dry weather stripping invited the rain, insects and dirt into call her winsome hull home. She was on the verge; but not quite ready for the wrecking crew.

In better days, she had won the Newport to Bermuda race, as well as many other prestigious races in and around Long Island Sound and throughout New England. In one early 60s Newport to Bermuda Race, six of the 11 boats finishing first were all identical, all like this long‐forgotten triple‐crown winner discovered in a North Carolina marsh, They were all identical except for their race numbers and name boards. They were all Block Island 40s and the very spark that ignited today’s whole off‐shore yacht manufacturing industry.

The Block Island 40 was the first “big” boat to be made completely of that new-fangled product called fiberglass, a material that L. Francis Herreshoff, called “frozen snot”.

In the late 50s and early 60s no one knew what to expect of the new experimental fiberglass material. Would her bows splinter from the Atlantic rollers? Would the decks continue to cure after launching? Would the centerboard trunk not withstand the stress of off‐shore sailing? Would she simply be too heavy and slow to hold her own in light winds?

All these considerations weighed heavily upon the designer, Bill Tripp, as he drove his 2800 pound Jaguar XKE repeatedly over test samples of the hull to determine its characteristics and potential strength, and while The American Boatbuilding Corporation in East Greenwich, Rhode Island continued to make the hull sections thicker and
thicker by adding additional layers of solid fiberglass roving and hand‐applied resin.