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Crossing the Rubicon

Forward by Deane Holt

Crossing the RUBICON

Being first in anything is exciting. Now consider how one Tartan 34 Classic, the S/V RUBICON, has achieved two distinctive firsts.

The RUBICON was the very first Tartan 34 to be constructed. In its 37-year history, clearly, there was tender loving care and happy times aplenty. In May '04, her owner, Cdr. Tom Simone, was on his way from Florida to Mystic for the 75th Anniversary Sparkman & Stephens Celebration. He had just cast off for the cruise when he suffered a massive heart attack. It became the sad job of his special shipmate, Emmy White, to sell the boat.

Now enter Susanna and Jürgen Mohrmann, sailors from Hamburg, Germany, who were looking for a T34C to buy. The matchmaking of the Mohrmanns with Emmy White was a long distance success story, and the RUBICON, presently at her new home, became the first Tartan 34 Classic in Europe!

T34C #1 Rubicon
Reaching off the Florida coast

Article by Susanna & Jürgen Mohrmann

Distance means nothing... when you are looking for the boat of your dreams - and finally find it on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean!

This is the story of RUBICON's trip from Hallandale, Florida, to Hamburg, Germany.

Everything started at the beginning of the sailing season 2004, when we made up our minds to sell our beautiful 1920 Norwegian sailing boat, Nordstern, and look for a classic racer/cruiser.

In the beginning this was not an easy decision for us We had lovingly restored our traditional wooden boat, and sailed her for the past twelve years over thousands of miles on the Baltic Sea and the River Elbe. Even more than this, the little old Norwegian was a gift from my parents. They had owned her since the late 1950s, and took me out on her for my first sailing trip when I was only six weeks old.

But after years of good times, we had to admit that a 27-footer is not always big enough for longer cruising trips. And certainly the sailing abilities standard for vessels of that era were completely different from modern yacht designs. Sailing her in strong winds and the choppy waves of Northern waters was sometimes more than hard work. Finally, our decision was made, and the Norwegian quickly found a new owner.

Since for some years we have been secretly in love with the incredibly great designs of Sparkman & Stephens, we started looking for the new boat of our dreams. Among all the beauties of production, there was one special design which seemed to be exactly what we were looking for: The TARTAN 34-C !

The only problem was that not even one of these beautiful boats existed anywhere in Europe. From this moment a completely new dimension of buying a boat started.

Thanks to the Tartan 34 Classics Association, our dream became reality. With the great support of Deane Holt, who helped us like a real friend, we considered a couple of interesting offers from around the American East Coast and finally found the perfect boat.

There were, of course, some questions about EU import regulations to be cleared. The mysterious CE-certificate in the end turned out not to be necessary, but there was no way to escape 17.7 % EU tax and import fees on top of the purchase price and shipping costs.

But we had found the right T34-C: RUBICON, built in 1968, the one and only Tartan 34-C, hull number 1!

From the description that we read, RUBICON seemed to have everything we were looking for. Sound condition of hull, decks, and rigging, beautifully upgraded teak interior and cabin sole, and a very new Yanmar 3GM 30-F diesel. Different from almost every other T34-C, she came with a fractional rig and running backstays.

We overcame our shyness and sent a message to the seller. When we received a very friendly reply, we felt more and more certain that this could really be our new boat!

Only a few days later the surveyor said: "Go for it!"

The next step for me was a flight from Hamburg, Germany, to Miami, Florida. It was the middle of the chaotic 2004 hurricane season, between "Frances" and "Ivan," so the weather did not allow much more than a 2-day trip for this final examination. I had definitely no time to lose, but that's the way real challenges are...

And what a pleasure this crazy trip was! Except for a few minor jobs and some cosmetic necessities, I found RUBICON well-cared-for and in great basic condition for the long transatlantic trip. In preparation, the sails had to be taken off, smaller items had to be stowed under the berths and in lockers. Some electrical equipment,including all the brand new shore power, had to be removed due to the different AC system in Europe

The remaining preparations had to be done by local companies. While we, the new owners, watched the whole project from afar, a transportation cradle was built, the decommissioning was done, and a truck was arranged to take Rubicon 500 miles from Miami to Jacksonville Seaport. Meanwhile a shipping broker in Hamburg, Germany scheduled the ocean transportation by a Ro/Ro ferry.

After some major delays, RUBICON finally left her old home port for Amsterdam, where she was shifted to another ferry to Hamburg. She arrived safely in late November, on Thanksgiving Day ! A large container crane lifted her off the MAFI-trailer and carefully launched her into the water.

On the last leg of her journey, RUBICON reported to the customs dock, and then two hours later, just after sunset, to her new home marina. The next morning, although the marina was closed for winter, the marina manager and two members of his crew appeared to haul her out for storage on the hard.

We have planned a major refit, which we will do step by step during the next three off-seasons. If possible, our very first trip in 2005 will be to the Sparkman & Stephens Association Annual General Meeting in Helsinki, Finland - together with our new American friends.

We are so proud to sail the first Tartan 34-C ever built, and to be the first T34-C owners in Europe ! We would definitely be neither, without the incredibly great help and support of our friends in America !