Solomon Yacht Restoration, L.L.C., (Member)

History of Shade

    The Wright Allied Boat Company is believed to have built 28 boats of the Sparkman & Stevens design primarily known as the XL-2. Though, there are a few references to the design as being an "XL 2-42". The design dates from the early '60's and clearly reflects the influence of the CCA (Cruising Club of America) rule in general usage at the time. In general, the CCA rule tended to produce boats that were competent over a wide range of sailing conditions though there were a great many CCA boats that seemed to enjoy a good screaming reach whenever the opportunity presented itself. More contemporary racing rules virtually require highly optimized performance upwind and are only slightly less demanding dead downwind. Split rigs are all but entirely gone from the current scene along with the grace and handling facility that they provided in the past. Wright Allied offered the XL-2 in both sloop and yawl configurations which was to be expected since the CCA rule looked kindly upon yawls. Also, in the early years of production, the decades of yawl popularity and racing successes were fresh in mind and a significant market influence toward the traditional designs and rigs.

    In August of 1976, hull number 22 was molded for a gentleman from Philadelphia (Art Friedman). Under the name "Argonaut" she began a 14 year career cruising out of Barnegat Light, NJ with more than a little racing successes along the way. Her shakedown voyage was the 1977 Marion, MA to Bermuda race in which she took 4th place in class and celebrated a very efficient refrigeration system by crossing the line in Bermuda with all eight of the crew on the rail eating popsicles! Fourth place not being good enough, the same crew came back in 1979, with a new suit of sails, and won class honors with little difficulty. Over the same period, she cruised from New England to the Bahamas and served her owners well along the way.

    In the spring of 1990, a couple from Severna Park, MD, Judy and Budd Gray, were in the market for a larger boat after sailing a 31 foot Bill Trippe yawl for 16 years. Several similar boats were either rejected or sold to others under a prior contract. Most of the boats they were looking for existed in small numbers and had some significant age on them. The standard of maintenance was also highly variable. After a dry spell of several months with nothing of interest on the market, there surfaced a myth of an XL-2 possibly available in New Jersey. After some effort the owner's broker was located and it was admitted that the vessel might, possibly, be on the market but not until the owner completed a restoration that was then in the early stages. A contract was agreed to in May of '90 but with the transfer of ownership pending the completion of work. Clearly the man loved his boat, didn't really care if he failed to sell her, and basically felt deeply that his debt to her must be repaid by his own hand. While this was certainly an inconvenience, you just cannot hate that sort of feeling for one's boat — besides, she was worth waiting for. The Grays had spent a good bit of time aboard an XL-2 at the Annapolis boat show in 1976 properly salivating over the craft, talking to her owner, and the factory people who were also aboard. Title was eventually transferred in November and she headed for the Chesapeake. One of the last exchanges with the prior owner was his remark that she was, in a manner of speaking, on her way home since the first salt water she swam in was in Annapolis where she was the Wright Allied boat show boat in 1976. This was the first realization that everyone had met and spent a couple hours together some 14 years previously.

    Since November of '90 and renamed "Shade", hull number 22 has cruised the length of the Chesapeake many times with an occasional foray into the Atlantic just to let her know it's still there. Until Judy Gray's health seriously deteriorated they sailed her an average of 80 days a year with great enjoyment. Unfortunately, Judy's death, in October of 99, was followed by a partial flooding at dockside in February of 2000 attributed to back siphoning through a bilge pump line whose vented loop was plugged by icing. This occasioned a major repair effort that eventually grew into an extremely complex three year refit that is now essentially completed. The bottom line is that it's playtime again though, sadly, much will doubtless be single handed. One saving grace of CCA yawls, in their capacity do a journeyman job of meeting any requirement, is that she is a delight to single hand.

Tommy Solomon at the stern of the newly restored "Shade" at Casa Rio Marina in Mayo, MD.

Tommy Solomon at the stern of the newly restored "Shade" at Casa Rio Marina in Mayo, MD. The Sparkman and Stephens 42 took 18 months and 3000 hours to complete.


See pictures of the 42' Sparkman & Stevens design, Wright Allied Yawl Rig Restoration, "SHADE" Here: Restoration Photos

Read the March 19th '04 Issue of Ira Black's Nor'easter Magazine article featuring Tommy Solomon and Shade here.

Return to Restoration Photos


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