She’d be perfect for a family wanting to go cruising, or perhaps an organization since she is U.S. Coast Guard documented and grandfathered under the Jones Act for coastal trade. But Ragland isn’t your typical yacht. The interior of this floating home must be seen to be believed, because she is quite simply unlike any other yacht. She is Haight-Ashbury-hippie-pad-meets-Swiss-Family-Robinson-treehouse. She is wood and polished bronze and gleaming varnish and Turk’s head knots and a hearthstone fireplace and cozy nooks for curling up with a good book. And she is, um, eclectic.
To mention that she has actual elephant tusks wrapping around the edge of the berth and settee might give you an inkling — as would mentioning that the immense solid-wood coffee table in the salon is actually a flensing block on which old-time whalers once carved up blubber. Or that the huge redwood burl table in the owner’s stateroom is from Young’s California ranch and could be installed only when the mast was lifted out.
The interior was clearly arranged for space and comfort, and the owner’s suite occupies fully a third of the yacht, complete with a wood-burning fireplace, comfortable seating, a private head with shower and the aforementioned table wrapped around a mast the size of a tree trunk. Oh, yes, there’s a pipe organ at the forward end just in case you want to work out the lyrics for your own album.
The salon is a comfortable gathering place, with another redwood burl dining table facing across the 22-foot beam to a settee, with a snug pilot berth tucked behind an arched entry like the sleeping compartment on a vintage Pullman car.
The galley shouldn’t come as a surprise, because this is not a yacht that would suffer the usual Corian or granite countertops — no, this is a yacht for which solid pieces of longleaf yellow pine were used, covered with thick layers of resin. The cabin sole is just as unusual, because it is beautiful maple reclaimed from the Windsor Hotel ballroom floor in New York. This is a yacht that defines the word patina.
Three private guest cabins open into the salon from the corners, with two doubles to starboard and a single to port. Past the companionway to the pilothouse and into an alleyway, you’ll find the engine room, which, like the rest of the yacht, is immaculate.
In fact, I had been braced for that gamy aroma of old yacht when I first climbed down the companion stairs, but she is absolutely sweet and unscented. None of the usual eau de diesel mixed with parfum de moldy cushions and accented with cologne de spongy wood. No, one look in the bilge shows that Ragland is as tight and dry as the day before she was launched.
Now that we’re in the engine room, it’s worth taking a peek under the hulking 350-horsepower Cat 3406 TA, and all you might see is a little dust in the pan. No oil, no grease, no drips. That big piece of iron will shove Ragland along at up to nine knots for about 2,000 miles and, with her immense 44-inch four-bladed prop, she could probably power straight up Niagara Falls. Two Northern Lights 12 kW gensets are in sound boxes and accessible; a full workbench is above the engine, and, should you need to lift anything really heavy, there is a 2.5-ton (ton!) chain hoist that runs on an immense I-beam track over the engine. Nothing wimpy about this yacht! Other goodies in the engine room include a commercial-size Craftsman tool chest and Poseidon dive-tank compressors. Filling the after portion of the hull is the captain’s cabin, with a king-size berth, settee and desk.
Moving around on Ragland’s deck is easy with high solid bulwarks and teak rails. Forward of the pilothouse and between the masts are the two bronze-grated skylights that bring light to the salon, but the one thing that will stop you in your tracks is the large bronze cowl vent that has an equally large bronze octopus draped comfortably over it. It’s just one of the many things about Ragland that will make you grin.
Up on the foredeck is another uniquely Ragland feature: the hydraulic anchor windlass from a German U-boat. What can you say? Wallace has added a hydraulic winch at the base of the main mast that raises sails, runs crew aloft in a bosun’s chair and can offload tenders and gear as well.
Technically, Ragland is a topsail schooner, with an athwartship yard on the foremast for broad reaching and running offshore. In keeping with her looks, her sails are all tanbark-colored, and she has traditional gaff-headed main and foresail as well as a flying jib and jib off the bowsprit, plus a forestaysail on a self-tacking boom.
Under way, Ragland fairly reeks of tradition. Experienced skippers know that she’s meant to go offshore; landlubbers think she’s a square-rigger, and children know she’s really a pirate ship. I think she’s quite wonderful.
It’s easy to see that Walter Wallace, like Neil Young before him, is torn about parting with her. Even spending a few hours aboard is infectious, and it’s almost too easy to fall in love with this eclectic and remarkable vessel.
Wooden ships on the water,
very free and easy,
Easy, you know, the way it’s
supposed to be...
Displ.: 140 tons
Fuel: 1,800 gal.
Engine: 1 x 350-hp Caterpillar 3406 TA diesel
Current Asking Price: $600,000
For more details on the W.N. Ragland, contact the broker/owner, Wallace Yacht Co., 877-305-9828; www.wallaceyachts.com.