What’s in a name?

s/v sanpatricio

From the beginning, naming a boat has been serious business replete with superstition and powerful mojo. The status quo may suggest otherwise if you walk the gangways at Any-Marina-USA, but I assure you that our nautical predecessors never named a vessel “Sheets & Giggles” or “Knotty Time” or “Aqua-Holic.” Seriously, you can probably think of 10 stupid names in so many seconds and it’s an easy bet they’ve been painted on a transom with a stock font.



Rather, boat names should be sacred, intrinsic and meaningful to the people who pilot them. If one has enough respect for their boat to bestow an honorable name, chances are it will reverberate in their pride of ownership and seamanship. Call me purist or a kill-joy, but we wanted something original, classy and meaningful to both of us. So “Blew by You” and “Seas the Day” were out from the start.

We had other finalists in the running, some we’re already spoken for and/or some were not mutually agreeable, but “San Patricio” was an easy winner for both of us. In name alone, it is a celebration of Jackie’s Mexican heritage and my Irish heritage as “San Patricio” translates to Saint Patrick – for you readers who no habla español.

The Battle of Buena Vista 23 February 1847

The Battle of Buena Vista 23 February 1847

Furthermore, the name pays homage to the Batallón de San Patricio, also known as “The San Patricios.”During the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) a unit of soldiers comprised mostly of ethnic Irish were so mistreated by the American command, that they deserted and fought on the Mexican side. In many accounts, these Irish non-citizens, many of whom were Roman Catholic, took Mexican wives and assimilated into a similar, more accepting culture. They all lived happily ever after with their beautiful, dark haired wives growing fat on tortillas and beer.

San Patricios

San Patricios

NOT! Those who weren’t killed in battle were captured and hanged for desertion. A few are said to have made it, living out the remainder of their lives in Mexico and taking advantage of land grants offered for their service. For a more scholarly account, peruse the Wiki entry to your inner nerd’s content – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Battalion


It’s a timeless tale of bridging cultures in much the same way as our marriage united our families. All in all, it’s one of our favorite stories, and a damn romantic one at that. If you find yourself likeminded, you’ll be happy to know The Chieftains released a concept album titled “San Patricio” featuring Ry Cooder and several Traditional Mexican musicians. It’s a brilliant album, combining Irish and Mexican folk music to provide a  fitting score to the San Patricio narrative.

The good ol' "Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe" watching over our engine room.

The good ol’ Virgin Mary watching over our engine room.



The Downeaster 32

s/v sanpatricio

In Brief

Introduced in 1975 the Downeaster 32 is a traditionally styled long range cruiser ideal for couples. Through the years the boat has proven to be rugged, easy to sail, and has won many a praise from owners. They have sailed far and wide and at least three have circumnavigated.

Even in the 1970s when Downeast Yachts introduced their boats they evoked nostalgia and tradition. The Downeaster 32 keeps up the family traits with a long keel with a keel-hung rudder, clipper bow and a bowsprit. The hull has moulded-in planking lines and a slight tumblehome in the aft quarters ending in a wineglass-shaped transom. Above deck, she’s driven by cutter rig slung from a four foot bowsprit – it’s a rig that has proven to be reliable.

Ex-factory, the Downeaster 32 exuded quality throughout and was offered with an large array of options above and belowdecks such that each boat tended to have a uniquely individual personality. The hull laminate was built extremely thick, bordering on overbuilt by modern standards and the rigging has proven strong.

Internal space is generous for a 32 foot boat and tall sailors will appreciate her six and a half feet of headroom. With the right configuration she can theoretically sleep six with three berths in the saloon, a quarter-berth on the starboard aft, and v-berths forward.

Because she is often sailed by couples or single handed, many owners have modified their boats appropriately. The original layout has two doors closing off the v-berth and adjacent head from the main saloon. There’s a u-shaped galley complete with gimballed stove, refrigerator and icebox, and a double sink. Storage includes two well-ventilated hanging lockers and numerous cubbies.

Access to the bilge and engine is unfortunately not ideal. Original boats were fitted with Farymann 24hp diesels, perhaps underpowered but known for their frugality, today many have upgraded to 27hp Yanmars.

Underway you’ll find the Downeaster 32 has reasonable performance on all points of sail. For novices she’s forgiving to sail while sailors who know her well can eck out the full performance from her sail plan. Her conservatively designed underbelly makes for relatively comfortable and very safe dynamics in offshore conditions.

Overall a very good seaworthy boat. Today it stands as a great choice for affordable and safe offshore cruising.



Down East Yachts located in Santa Ana, California was founded by Bob Poole in 1974 during what was considered the boom years for cruising sailboats. Poole was a boat builder who had previously worked for Columbia Yachts and had 14 years of experience under his belt before branching out to start his own company. A native of the East Coast, as the Down East name implies, his idea was to build a dependable line of sailboats with traditional styling in Southern California.

The Downeaster 32 designed by Poole himself was the second offering from the company. It was introduced only months behind the Downeaster 38 which was a design collaboration between Poole and Henry Mohrschladt, the name behind the famous Pacific Seacraft brand.

After the passing of Bob Poole, who died on April 29, 1978, the company continued to be active through to 1980, even finishing a number Westsails on behalf of the failing Westsail Corporation. Down East Yachts legally ceased as a company in 1983. The molds and tooling were sold to Newport Offshore Yachts.

In total, 134 boats were built with the last one completed in 1980. The Downeaster 32 was by far Down East Yachts’ most popular design.



LOA: 35′ 6″
LOD: 32′ 0″
LWL: 25′ 10″
Beam: 11′ 0″
Draft: 4′ 9″
Displacement: 17,000 lbs.
Ballast: 5,500 lbs. (lead)
Sail Area: 602 sq. ft.

Headroom: 6′ 6″
Bridge Clearance: 44′ 5″

Engine: 24hp Farymann diesel
Fuel: 50-75 US Gal. (aluminium)
Water: 50-100 US Gal. (stainless steel)
Holding: 30 US Gal.

Designer: Bob Poole
Builder: Down East Yachts Inc.
Year Introduced: 1975
Year Ended: 1980
Numbers Built: 134

W.L.: Downeaster 32 : [http://bluewaterboats.org/downeaster-32/] : [Dec. 7, 2012]