Hinckley Pilot 35 History

Sparkman & Stephens unveiled the design for the first Pilot class in Yachting’s October 1945 issue. Aage Neilson, a freelance designer working with S&S at the time, drew the first Pilot class lines. In 1955 Hinckley purchased the design and created what was known as the “New Pilot” and “the ultimate in combining livability, seaworthiness and speed”. Constructed in wood, eight boats following these lines came off the production line, only one a yawl. Hinckley wanted to build the boat for the “out-and-out cruising man and long distant racer”.

In later years, around 1962, the dimensions were increased to 35’9″; DWL 25’0″; Beam 9’6″ Draft 5’0″ SA 554 sq. ft. and Displacement 13,000 lbs. The boats were now constructed in fiberglass and it was this design that became known as the Hinckley “Pilot 35” built exclusively by Henry R. Hinckley & Co. Of the 117 fiberglass Pilots built, 25 were yawls. Construction was top grade and included hand crafted furniture quality interiors made from Philippine mahogany with bronze fasteners. Some models had coal burning stoves to keep down below warm in the cold climate.

The “Custom” Pilot

Several layouts were offered for the interior space. The “custom” Pilot, of which there were only five built, has a raised cabin top (dog house) and a galley that runs the length of the starboard main cabin. Many options were offered to insure that the new owners would “love their….your Pilot almost as much as the Maine men who built her on the shores of the North Atlantic Ocean”.

TARA is one of the five “custom” Pilot 35’s. Built in 1964 she is the 25th fiberglass Pilot 35 built by Henry R. Hinckley and Co. in Southwest Harbor Maine. Her first owner sailed her for 15 years and gave her the name TARA after the film Gone with the Wind. Her second owner sailed her for 30 years, her 4th for 5 years and I have owned her since 2013. She has visited many ports on the eastern seaboard from the Chesapeake to Maine. Her former owners cruised with her heavily and she also participated in many regattas as her speed is legendary. In the 1990’s TARA went through a complete refit of her topsides, bottom and interior. In 2012 TARA was blessed with a new diesel engine.

Currently TARA is a daily charter vessel taking passengers for two hour excursions from North Cove Marina in Battery Park City, to the Statue of Liberty. Since Tribeca Sailing has been in business she has had over 7,000 people cross her decks. If you pass by North Cove Marina in Brookfield Place you won’t have to look hard to find the prettiest girl in NY Harbor.

One fun note, her mast was pulled for replacement December 2014 where I found a 1921 silver dollar placed at the base for good luck. It was put back where I found it when her mast was re-stepped back in the spring of 2015.


2018 Update: Tara has just had a major refit of her toe rail. Jagger’s Boatworks just installed a new teak toe rail replacing the old rotting mahogany rail. I was sorry to see the beautiful mahogany rail go but mahogany is not the best choice for a marine environment and kept rotting away in sections. Dave Jagger’s found some old growth teak from the 1960’s which has a tighter grain then the teak available today. This tighter grain will allow this wood to last forever with proper care. Using Allwood MA, we gave the rail 9 coats of varnish. Allwood MA has excellent UV protection and will allow the varnish to last up to 5 years when it will be necessary to put two more coats to keep the shine. David Jagger is a true artist with wood and the end result is museum quality.

2019 Update: As my carpenter David Jaggers is retiring his business to Florida, I decided to have all the Mahogany trim replaced. This includes the forward hatch, main sliding hatch, propane locker, aft lazarette, forward handrails, doghouse handrails, cockpit locker handrails and both seat backs. You can imagine the amount of time and effort that went into this project. Just installing the seat backs took four people eight hours to install. Ten coats of Allwood-MA and the shine is a sight to behold. If you look at the seat backs you can see David Jaggers cut a single teak board in half to mirror each other on opposite sides. He is an artist with wood! As the original handrails were marked on the underside, I asked him to do the same with the teak replacements.  Tara is one of a kind and has had the most extensive refit compared to all others.

2021 update.  Tara is fitted with a new Mainsail.  Thank you Jim Reikel at Sailors Choice for making me a truly one off custom sail that perfectly meets my needs!

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