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They weren’t kidding!

by John Curnow, Editor, 21 Nov 2018 22:00 UTC
Great house. Huge, killer views and a history as big as it is long... © Brian Danyliw

We had a note from a reader. Thank you very much. She hails from Victoria, up in British Columbia. Cheers on that. It seemed pretty simple. One line was enough not only enough to pique my curiosity, but take me all the way in. It was just nine words long, and it succinctly said, 'This Home Has A Sailboat Hanging From The Ceiling.'

OK. I have seen old skiffs in offices and lofts, and boats in bars, so I was thinking perhaps it was a dinghy like some old Mirror, or maybe a Fireball. I mean, I had seen a wooden rowing shell from yesteryear suspended upside down in a workplace, so that as you walked under it you just had to be amazed at the craftsmanship that went in to making all the spruce frames and seats, and the riggers that were individually welded to fit each of the oarsman's spaces along the craft.

However, when I watched the video for the house at 669 Kerr Drive, Genoa Bay, I can honestly say that I was not quite ready for the old IOR racing keelboat in the lounge room! Yes there is no keel, or rudder, so that you can get around it, but there was no mistaking her form.

Christine Fontaine works at the Oak Bay Marina on the Eastern end of Vancouver Island, just a bit further down the coast from where the house in question is. "I'm usually reading your website for my racing news. The agent for the property is Brian Danyliw, who is a family friend, and when he showed me this listing I thought I'd email since it's just so darn unique. Although it might have been a bit of a long shot, it was just too quirky for me not to let you know," commented Fontaine.

Well it certainly is quirky, and as for the setting, well why wouldn't you be interested in this house if you were not a liveaboard at the moment... You can get yourself all inspired, and thoroughly researched for your next grand adventure, whilst remembering the joys of life, each and every day!

Brian Danyliw said of the 'Boat House', and its history, "I consider myself extremely lucky when I get the opportunity to sell something as distinctive as the Kerr Road property. It isn't every day that a listing like this comes along. The amount of work, and expense that was put in to hanging the sailboat really demonstrates the passion that George O'Brien had for this project, and for leaving a very memorable marker for his life. I also think its important to note, aside from the uniqueness, this is a very special piece of oceanfront property, in an amazing, sought after location."

As for the vessel herself, well she is the very first Cooper 416. There were 20 more in production at the time at Cooper Industries, but they were all lost when the factory was levelled in a blaze. This one survived because she was out in the yard at the time, and has never been in the water. The moulds went to Bayliner in the USA after the fire, as Cooper went belly up, and they made them from 1980 to 1983.

It is said that the late George O'Brien was very fond of this hull, and very much enjoyed bargaining with Forbes Cooper when trying to obtain it. As for how and why it came to be in a lounge room, well reputedly O'Brien said that people would remember him for this folly, and not some of the other things he did in his life. Clearly O'Brien was a card, and is best known for buying Sir Frank Packer's second America's Cup challenger, Dame Pattie (Sail number KA 2, which was named for Dame Pattie Menzies), and then renaming her Endless Summer, after a refit to turn her into a cruiser.

As for the house, well it goes back into the 1880s, and had been a Summer House originally. It was in 1981, when George and Koula O'Brien owned the expansive, eight bedroom, nine bathroom house with the killer, majestic views, that they cut two walls out of the house to wheel the boat in, before making good once more, all the details that sets this property apart.

So Christine and Brian were not kidding, albeit that it seems George O'Brien was rather fond of the lighter side of life. One thing that is no joke, is that you can now purchase this iconic, history laden house on just under an acre of the hill at Genoa Bay (so named for the home town of one of the original settlers), should it too be to your liking.

Where does one go after that? Well, since Bavaria came back out of staring down the abyss, they looked to keep production at Giebelstadt, which meant some of the larger new products would have to be mothballed. More importantly, what did occur was that deliveries started taking place, and production ramped up once more to meet the demand for said innovative boats.

Wholly owned subsidiary, Nautitech, was never in issue, and the renowned multihull manufacturer kept going hard in Rochefort, France. So it was not too much of a surprise to find out this week that Bavaria's new MD, Ralph Kudla, commented whilst seeing the yard in person, "Bavaria stands for yachts, Nautitech for catamarans. We believe it is important that both companies can emphasise their respective identities even more clearly in the future." With that, the Bavaria Catamaran branding was dismissed.

Nautitech have produced something like 75 cats, year to date. It is felt they could easily achieve just over 100, but this would stretch the existing 7,000m2 site. Expansion could be a bit of dirty word, after this strategy tripped up the parent company six months ago, so it will need to be examined very carefully.

The local Mayor, Hervé Blanché, is certainly behind them however, and he is also the Chairman of the Rochefort Océan subregion. This is more than just interesting, for the French have delivered 718 cats for the year, which equates to €333 million, and is a 35% increase over the previous year. Something like 90% of all multihulls produced worldwide are built between Lorient and Bordeaux. So that makes the region a real microcosm for what remains a burgeoning sector of the industry, and therefore one that needs to be watched closely.

OK. Today you will find that we have information for you about whales, Yellow Fever in Brazil, the ARC, our environment and you, dolphins, Santa, Flinders Island, a sailing video of the new Beneteau Oceanis 46.1, new Swan 65, old boats being restored, sea turtles get frequent flyer miles, intel from the Ocean Cruising Club, Jean Baillargeon details all the gadgets on board (in his second language no less), as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow

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