Ocean Hermit – sailing, solitude and stories

My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.

* Tahitiana 32 – the bluewater, go anywhere sailboat of dreams

This may be Deben Jack sailing upwind in the English Channel

The Tahitiana is a “granddaughter” of the famous lifeboat built in the 19th century by Colin Archer to serve the Norwegian fishing fleet in the North Atlantic in winter time. This design of “double-ender” is renown for being seaworthy and seakindly even in atrocious weather, though she needs a fair amount of wind to sail well into the wind.

The boat is 32 feet in length, 10 foot beam with a draught of 4 foot 5 inches.  Most, if not all were “home-built” – though some, like mine, were built by professional welders. There are many Tahitianas around the world – and many have made circumnavigations.  The Tahitiana was designed by Weston Farmer who adapted the Tahiti Ketch (by John Hanna) to carry more canvas and be built of steel.  the reason for the name is that these are boats intended to go places like the South Pacific.

They’re not fast, they’re not fashionable but they are remarkably good-looking and tough.  Small enough not to be expensive (ie. keeping a would-be sailor working to pay off the mortgage before he or she can go sailing!) but with plenty of storage. They don’t have the windward abilities of more modern designs, but their motion through the water is extremely comfortable.  They feel like a little ship.

In the interest of encouraging owners to share their experiences and knowledge with other owners and people interested in this robust design, I’ll be posting photo albums of Tahitianas I meet at anchor, along the dock and on the internet.

If you own a Tahitiana or have information about any Tahitianas please let me know.


14 comments on “* Tahitiana 32 – the bluewater, go anywhere sailboat of dreams

  1. Christopher
    March 21, 2010

    I might have helped if I had read this entire post… sorry. I got snagged on the Colin Archer part which I don’t agree with
    and didn’t read further..Please ignore/edit out my other post and this one for that matter.



  2. Angel
    April 18, 2011

    Gracias por compartir tu blog. Es muy interesante, me encantan los diseños de Colín Archer -toda una Institución, -este señor-.


  3. jacqueline Dumont
    August 22, 2011

    Just discovered your website having recently acquired a tahitiana, (actually the reverse is true, she acquired me) but that is another story. I believe she is the mystery boat of Faro that you saw in 2007. Her name is Otahi which I am told means ‘solitude’ in Tahitian which seems to have an uncanny resonance with your writing and inclinations!
    She was built in Bristol, England in 1982 at the David Lund Yard and I think was one of 22 that they built.
    I am curious that you have a photo of the inside which as you say, does have a spacious feel to it and appears unchanged and yet you did not know the name….??


    • Dennison
      August 29, 2011

      Great to hear from you

      I’d love to post something about the Tahitiana that acquired you.
      please keep in touch,



  4. Ralph Downton
    October 4, 2011

    I built “Otahi” at David Lund’s yard in Bristol.
    You’re right “Otahi … means ‘solitude’ in Tahitian.
    I called the boat that being a single-hander for several years.
    I guess you bought “Otahi” from Freya Hart when she was in Dartmouth.
    Freya (and Marcus) are now building a huge wooden replica of the Grayhound Lugger – as you probably know.

    Regards, Ralph Downton


  5. Laurence Latourneau
    November 27, 2011

    I recently bought Ron Rynne’s Tahitiana out of Grimbsby, Ontario.She is named the “Alice Keigan” ,but will become the “John E. Keys” in the spring, More later.


  6. Chris Orchard
    January 26, 2012

    Dennison , great website really enjoy it but is kuan yin really a tahitiana?.she looks more like a tahiti rover as designed by merrit walter as his take on the tahiti ketch ,lovely boat either way.


  7. Scott Johnkins
    June 11, 2012

    Hello, I am a yacht designer and understudy/student of Weston Farmer through friendship with his son Dr Gerald Farmer. Tahitiana was one of Weston Farmer’s most beloved and popular designs. I have correspondence between Mr Farmer and David Lund regarding Tahitiana ketches. Does anyone know if David Lund and David Lund Marine, Ltd in Bristol are still in business? Or if the yard under new ownership still builds steel yachts? Would like to re-introduce this dream of a ketch design to the many who still love them or are fortunate to own one. William Hand (Billy), of Tahiti Ketch design, was a close friend of Weston Farmer.


  8. Scott Johnkins
    June 11, 2012

    Hi, Would like to correct a previous post. The designer of Tahiti was John Hanna, friend of Weston Farmer and inspiration for Tahitiana.


  9. David Ussery
    January 22, 2013

    I have a Tahitiana in Fl


  10. free guy
    May 22, 2013

    I also just got layed by a tahitiana .I live in the north west UK.
    my name is John and I’m sure not complaining.


  11. Vienne
    April 19, 2016

    Hi all, I have never seen a Tahitiana ‘in real life’, but love what I have seen on pictures. We are a family with two small boys, 2 and 3 years old, and wonder if she is too small for us four to circumnavigate in a Tahitiana. Of course it is very individual how much comfort is needed/wanted and at first we were only looking at boats with 4 beds outsider the salon, but maybe we have to comprimise. We would like to keep our boat as small as possible to keep the costs low so that we can stay away as long as possible. We are also aware that if she is too small irritations of the crew members might shorten our time out there. What are your thoughts on a Tahitiana for us?


    • Dennison
      May 4, 2016

      Hi, thanks for the question. As you will know by now, all boats are a compromise – bigger boat has more space and sails faster but is more expensive to run and takes (some) more maintenance. One boat is more spacious in a marina or at anchor but another is more seaworthy and seakindly.
      As to the Tahitiana:
      very seaworthy
      wide side decks
      ample storage

      seaworthy – tiny “well-style” cockpit gives less “living” space for a crew
      wide side decks can give a feel of less space in the cabin
      ample storage = less “living” space

      Personally, for minimal living, a 32-foot boat or thereabouts is ample for 2 adults and 2 children.
      Check out the Westsail 32 – similar hull design but fibreglass (not steel) and more living space in cabin.


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This entry was posted on February 18, 2010 by in Sailboats, Sailing and tagged , , .
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