By Jim Schmidt

The cutter rig sloop Aramis (original name Dorjack) was designed by Henry J. Gielow and built in 1935 by the Burbach Yacht Company in Fruitport, Michigan (near Muskegon). She is 38-feet long, 9 1/2’ wide and is constructed of one inch carvel planked mahogany over oak frames. Her 55-foot mast is made of sitka spruce, and she weighs in at a hefty 26,000 lbs. Her sails consist of the main, a staysail, and four jibs. Early in her career she served as the race committee boat for the Chicago Yacht Club, and over the years has sailed in numerous Lake Michigan races. She has always been a fresh water boat.

In 2001, we were sailing around in our 1963 Raven on White Lake (just north of Muskegon) when we saw Aramis and sailed around her mooring for a closer look. I noticed a ‘for sale’ sign on her cabin top, and fortunately remembered the phone number. I made the call, and two weeks later, found myself the proud eleventh owner of this beautiful wooden boat. Over the years, we have faced our share of maintenance issues, common to all antique wooden boats.

In 2002 we installed a new diesel engine, replacing the 1945 gasoline Gray Marine engine. A new deck (Douglas fir) was installed in 2004, the stern rebuilt in 2005, and she was rewired in 2008. In 2015 we replaced the canvas on the top of the cabin with dynel. The next major work, deck caulking and varnishing, was completed in 2019.

We knew how to sail small boats, but had a lot to learn about larger boats, particularly about rigging, sail plans, and how to deal with an ill behaved sixty year old gasoline engine. There are no labor saving devices on Aramis, and reefing the main and changing jibs on the go require strong hands and backs. What she does have are many beautiful antique wooden blocks and bronze fittings, some stout winches, and a plethora of sail hanks. She sails like a quiet dream and is surprisingly fast.

Aramis has four berths, a working head, and an insulated ice box. Because we use her mainly as a day sailer, and don’t do any cruising to speak of, we never got around to installing a proper galley; we’ll leave that for the next owner. 

12 Comments

  1. Wow! We’re thinking of replacing our overlay deck with fir on our 1954 sailboat. What do you put on your fir decks? Penofin??

    • Hi Kerry, we’ve tried many deck sealers, both oil based and water based; none of them work very well- the latest was called Danish Teak Sealer, or something like that- did pretty well- not familiar with Penofin, I’ll look into that.
      Thanks,
      Jim

  2. LOVE seeing sailboat here! And what a beauty! Thank you for preserving her and sharing her history. Would be cool to find old photos of her in her race committee duties. Hope to see her in person some time. Thanks again for sharing.

  3. What a very handsome boat (ship). Gorgeous!! Would be great to see some interior pictures. Enjoy the last year of your ownership! Smooth sailing!

    • The Last Cast sure is beautiful Jim you did a great job with the restoration, I hope to see it at a show one day, thank you for the picture.

  4. Jim – totally get why you bought it . Aramis is what a dream sailboat should look like and how she should be be built. Pleasing to the eye and purposeful with teak planking, oak frames, wooden blocks, bronze fittings and surprisingly fast. A combination of aesthetical and functional perfection. As a Brit to me it is to boats what an E-Type Jag is to cars. Thank-you for for doing the expensive structural work to keep this baby alive and vibrant for the next generation to appreciate and love.
    cheers Geoff

  5. Lovely. My kind of boat. Unfortunately, she would not survive for long in South Florida. I have a 20’ wood cutter here on a mooring. The sun, salt and year round exposure are taking a toll.

  6. Hi Jim, is she in West Michigan? If so, I’ll look for her out and about – I’d love to see her under sail.

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