***Black Sheep is currently undergoing a major refit. Until these works are complete the vessels I use for the my sea school are chartered***
In 2014 I went looking for the ideal boat for my sailing school. Black Sheep, a Baba 35, was up in Ipswich when I first saw her. I had admired the canoe stern and long keel of Bob Perry’s design for years. They reminded me of Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili – the little boat that took care of him on his record breaking 1968-69 solo circumnavigation. They are also a nod to Colin Archer’s 19th Century lifeboats, which saved so many lives in the treacherous Norwegian Sea.
Black Sheep was obviously a boat that I could go anywhere in. But what really intrigued me about this classic looking design is that it was also innovative. Perry specified the Baba 35 to be a rugged go anywhere cruiser and these boats were renowned for their seaworthiness. They also carried lot of sail, significantly more than British designs of a similar size. Also the keel has quite a modern profile. All the reports I read confirmed that they sailed excellently and were capable of impressive daily runs, even in lighter winds. She was well above my budget though – but I put an offer in anyway and thankfully it was accepted. The survey works were completed to make Black Sheep seaworthy and we were ready for the shakedown voyage – across Biscay to Spain and back.
She sailed brilliantly but I returned with a long list of jobs. We hauled her out to do these and the necessary works to get coding for the sail school. But very soon – in June 2015 – the 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe Race was announced. The Baba 35 was included amongst the few approved boats. It didn’t take long for me to sign up and my refit plans were significantly expanded to comply with the race rules and the prospect of being in the Southern Ocean for months on end. For various reasons I left the race at the end of 2016, but the dream of sailing non-stop, solo, around the world, remains unchanged.
You can find out more about how I’m getting on with the refit here.