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Gunboat was started in 2002 with an aim to produce a high-performance cruising catamaran. They are beautiful, fast boats outfitted with many of life’s luxuries. Of course, that means they also come with a hefty price tag.
We’ve had the chance to meet two Gunboats and their full-time crew. The boats are beautifully outfitted and are very advanced with the technology they have installed onboard. We have certainly been on higher performance catamarans, but they have all been leaning on the side of too spartan for comfort.
Gunboats are an American design, and the factory has bounced around the world; China, the US, and now it’s located in France. It has been named one of “sailing’s most daring and innovative brands”.
Tribe: The First Gunboat
While in Bermuda, we were walking back from a hike when we spotted a carbon fiber mast gliding over the rooftops of St George’s. Getting down to the dock we discovered the 62-foot boat named Tribe, the first Gunboat ever built.
We admired Tribe from our spot at anchor until we noticed a couple carrying a backpack with the Tribe logo on our caves tour and David struck up a conversation with Spike and Anna, the crew of Tribe. We gave them our card and they kindly offered us a chance to come check Tribe out the next morning. Unfortunately, they ended up having to leave St George’s earlier than planned, but they promised to keep in touch and invited us not only to check out Tribe but to go for a sail.
Spike and Anna were working with a B&G technician, trying to fix an issue with calibrating the rotating mast. After trying a few things out, they needed to take Tribe out for a spin – and invited us along!
We took the bus over to Hamilton and arrived around noon. Spike and Anna were working with their electrician, Jeff, to get some final touches done.
They had also invited their dock mate, Pierre, a very interesting character who single hands a monohull that he designed, spending his time between his boat, a home in Boston, and in Paris.
We left the dock and headed out to the bay for our sail. As we made room to raise the sails we got another thrill – the Oracle America’s Cup boat was out doing speed trials. We got to watch the sleek machine start foiling and zoom along! Amazing!
Speaking of zooming, we (uh, Spike and Anna) got Tribe’s mainsail and jib up and off we went. We sailed upwind, amazingly close to the wind actually (AWA of zero degrees), topping off around 13 knots of speed. Jeff and Spike worked with the instrumentation, although I don’t think they got everything sorted just to their liking yet.
I was amazed by how different Tribe is from sailing Starry Horizons. David got to put some effort into the pit, helping Spike with the main sheets. Of course, a Gunboat was out of our price range, but now I realized if we owned one there is no way we could do her justice. Starry Horizons was enough of a learning curve for us. As an example, Tribe’s mast rotates. That’s a whole crazy dimension to add to sailing.
We returned to the dock and sat around Tribe’s main salon and peppered them with questions and vise versa. We heard all about the work that has been put into Tribe’s recent refit and renovations. Spike and Anna seem to have an amazing boss who they really enjoy working for. They’ve been on Tribe 4 years, which says a lot! Anna’s parents took her cruising as a child, and we talked a lot about their future plans (like a wedding next year!).
We went out for dinner with Spike, Anna, and Jeff, the perfect cap off to a great day. We are so thrilled that our life allows us to meet amazing people like them!
Seeing Tribe Again in Guadeloupe
We knew to keep an eye out for Tribe as we were sailing around Guadeloupe. We saw them approaching us as they made their way between the islands, and we were just about a mile behind them coming into the mooring field.
We invited Spike and Anna over for drinks, dinner, and a tour, as this was their first time on Starry Horizons. It was wonderful catching up with them again.
The next morning Spike and David enthusiastically got to work on a Starry Horizons project, moving our lazy jacks. Suffice it to say Spike is a wealth of knowledge and David worked hard to sponge as much as possible.
When cruising the USVI, we shared an anchorage with another Gunboat called Fault Tolerant, a 60-footer. We’d first seen the boat all the way up in Maine, but they’d come into the anchorage just before sunset and were gone before we got up.
This time I popped over to say hello and met the crew, Tijae and Joe. One thing led to another, as they usually do, and we hung out a few nights with them, both on Starry Horizons and Fault Tolerant, ordering from Pizza Pi.
It was so fun to talk to TJ and Joe. They’ve been hanging out here for a while, and the owners are flying in next week. Just like with Spike and Anna on Tribe, Joe and TJ seemed to enjoy their job and like their bosses!