Gun, sail number 55 FIN 3 is based in Helsinki at HSS yacht club.

Gun alone in head wind, deep reefed, 2005

What is this yacht? Gun is a 55 m2 skerry cruiser (skärgårdskryssare) built in 1911 to the first skerry cruiser rule of 1908. The name Gun does not refer to what you might think: it is an old Swedish ladies' name, and indeed, also a commonplace name of yachts. The yacht was earlier known with sail number SL 139 (re-measured to the Swedish Segel Längd rule due to its then-truncated mast); refer to books Alla våra skärgårdskryssare by Per Thelander and Jakt på kryss by Maria Thorsell and Per Thelander. Now, with her full size mast Gun is a true 55 m2 skerry cruiser again with sail number 55 FIN 3.

As of today, what shape is she in? The hull is in its original length. All planking under the waterline requiring measures have been changed. A new rudder blade with no rusting parts has been made and mounted. Gun has an easy and safe reefing system with three reefing depths - this is essential considering the relatively large main sail. The mast and boom have been re-varnished, and look good. All varnished surfaces on the outside have been re-varnished with multiple layers. No significant repairs will be needed for several years. The bronze keel bolts have been X-ray photographed in 2005 and found sound, the photos and a report are available. Note also that Gun has the K classification given to prominent and valuable classic yachts, giving the possibility of repair funding (should that be needed someday) from Museovirasto (Museum Agency of Finland). No rot or soft wood is known to exist. Yacht designer and constructor Mr. Ville Linden has evaluated Gun's condition, please contact him for an assessment: fragment_frog^at^

Equipment include main sail, three fore sails, two spinnakers, 4.5 kW electric engine (direct drive, max thrust 100 kp), 480 Ah battery capacity (AGM, 2015), power charger (2016), 100 W solar panel (2017), two anchors, echo, life raft, spirit cooker, water tap, toilet, fridge, radio, classic oil lamps, mahogany table for both cockpit and cabin, swimming ladder, and all regulatory equipment. She sleeps two comfortably, the beds can be arranged as one king size bed; in addition in the fore cabin there is more sleeping space for one or two.

Is she competetive? Gun is a specialist of light winds, when the shorter waterline of this early 1910's yacht has less significance. However, she has turned out very competetive also in other weather conditions, and is probably the second fastest (without handicap) of the Finnish 55's. Check results from the annual Viaporin Tuoppi races here .

The history begins the first of January 1911. The to-be famous Swedish yacht constructor Erik Salander then started drawing the lines of his first ever 55 m2 skärgårdskryssare (SK), or skerry cruiser, for Gustaf Härdelin. By that time this was Salander's biggest boat ever. The boat was to have great up-wind performance, in winds ranging from zero up to eight meters per second. "Each time I re-drew the lines, the boat got longer...". Yet it was still close to ten years till the boats really started getting long.

Gun was eventually drawn to the length 11.50 m, a beam of 2.14 m, and a weight of 3150 kg, half of that in the lead keel. The best materials available were used. The hull is mahogany on frames of oak and steel. The deck is oregon pine. The original rig was a gaff of 55 m2, somewhat higher than usual at that time, and very effective with the finest american gears. It should be noted that at that time the fore triangle was counted as 100%, not worth 85% like it now is. The boat was built by Arvid Johansson's yard in Kristinehamn, and finalized in Löfholmsvarvet yard in Stockholm.

Thus the building took longer than expected, and the first summer was nearly gone before the rig was properly trimmed. The score of the first summer was two wins and three second places. The second summer 1912 proved that Gun really was a fast boat, taking six first places and two second places, and the Lidingö trophy, the foremost trophy of the class. Of the seven 55's participating in the Stockholm olympic games that year, Gun was the fastest, and was praised the most successful SK yacht of the olympic games.

Not much is known of Gun's history through the early decades of the 20th century. Yet, an almost complete list of owners is presented in the book Jakt på Kryss referred to above. Like with almost all earlier yachts of the century, also Gun received a marconi rig. That was in 1938, and the rig was drawn by Erik Salander himself. The new sail area was about 50 m2. At that time the forestay was also moved back about 20 cm.

In the seventies a major repair was carried out with new deck and cabin, self-draining cockpit. The tiller, originally in the middle of the cockpit, was moved to the aft deck with a system of two parallel shafts, the rudder blade remaining in place behind the deadwood (this change was cancelled later; see below). The change must have yielded more space in the cockpit thus making the sailing easier and more comfortable. Probably at that time, too, the aft deck was shortened by thirty centimeters due to rot - but this was to change, too...

The next phase in Gun's history, of which some information is available, started in 1984, when four guys, Gunnar Lande, Jas Isberg, Anders Flood, and Roland Stenberg acquired the boat. The boat was then used for both cruising and racing in the Stockholm area. In the 55 m2 class, for obvious reasons, there was no significant success, the newer yachts being several meters longer and carrying much more canvas.

In 2004, finally, Gun was purchased by Hannu Pohjanpalo. Gun sailed with its own rig to Helsinki, Finland, during a windy weekend in September. The modified tiller system could not resist the forces of high seas and broke twenty miles south of the Utö island. The crew had a hard time bringing down the main sail in a south-west wind of 10..15 m/s, while the captain was trying to mount the original tiller in its original shaft. All the time the yacht was pitching and rolling about freely. The efforts were eventually successful, and maybe in ten minutes everything was again under control. Gun reached its home yacht club, Helsingfors Segelsällskap, in just under two days, driven on by the little 10 m2 jib, only.

During the first winter a good part of the rotten stem and some planking was replaced. Needless to say, the unsafe tiller system was never rebuilt, a new tiller was mounted exactly where Erik Salander had originally drawn it. Also the rig, which already was past its best years, was replaced by another one, of wood, originating from an 8mR. It required a shortening of no more than 1.3 meters, to match with the full sail height, 16.4 m from the deck, allowed by the rule. Of course new dacron sails were acquired at the same time. The sail area, as calculated by the rule, is now exactly 55 m2. The fore stay is back to its original place.

Gun participated the 100 years jubileum of the SK construction rule in Stockholm in August 2008. We were lucky to have back wind during the crossing of Ahvenanmeri open sea just before the winds of 15+ m/s reached us from the east. Like all skerry cruisers we were warmly welcomed in the Saltsjöbaden sailing center and KSSS sail club. We also met with a previous owner, Mr. Pär Lundqvist, who told us about the history of the yacht and the repairs he had done.

The racing in Saltsjöbaden was also well organized. After the first race on Friday - we were 12th of in the handicap race of 28 yachts - the wind started arising, and due to some technical problems we had to give up the rest of the races of the day. On Saturday, the wind was very light, which of course favours yachts like Gun with a short waterline: we were 8th of the total of 31 yachts.

Open seas sailing is always interesting in small yachts like Gun. On Sunday morning we started out towards Helsinki again, via Sandhamn sailing center - which we reached at about three in the afternoon - and started the crossing of the Baltic Sea, like we did in 2004. This time we were sure that the yacht will withstand the high seas. The wind was high enough this time, too. After a couple of hours in the darkness a yell was heard in the cabin "We have too much sail". The captain woke up and took the helm. The wind was coming so much from the south that we, however, preferred to keep the main sail up in the the third and deepest reef to maintain some windward capability should that be needed. The night was cold and wet, of course, and dark as the sky was overcast. We had a problem with the running lights, so we could not see anything, not the horizon, not the waves, nothing. That easily leads to sea sickness. As the day arose the three happy men decided that one night like this was enough this time. As the day was closing, we were past the city of Hanko, and decided to stay overnight in Jussarö island. That was a good decision. The next morning we woke up early and started out in the morning fog, and reached the home port in Helsinki by Tuesday evening. Isn't sailing fantastic?

Despite its competetive new mast, Gun is no more used for racing. The only exceptions are the Viaporin Tuoppi race.

In the spring 2005, an electric OzEcoDrive engine with two 120 Ah batteries were installed for harbour maneuvring. The engine has proved very good and it has shown its importance when sailing by the captain only, and an unskilled crew of one. Until the last two years Gun has kept its owner busy throughout the year. During the winter 2006..2007 all underwater planking was splined for stiffness and water tightness, and plank continuation ends with a butt block or metal plate on the inside were replaced by faired pieces of solid mahogany. The front of the lead ballast was also remoulded to correct the traces of rock hittings probably during almost a hundred years. The main job for the winter 2007..2008 was rebuilding the stern to the full original length. As the picture below shows, the stern is lacking a length of 30 cm. But not any more - Gun got back its original length. Since then more underwater planking has been changed and a new rudder blade of solid oak has been constructed. All outdoor surfaces with varnish have been cleaned to wood and re-varnished with several layers. As of today, there should be no significant repair needs for several years.

Gun in Viaporin Tuoppi in August 2006, photo by Jorma Rautapää

Gun in Viaporin Tuoppi in August 2011, showing the way to a group of 8mR's, photo by Jorma Rautapää

Gun in Viaporin Tuoppi in August 2013, photo by Niko Nuotio

Interior view

After race discussions

Racing to sail club owned island 2015, photo Anssi Ahvonen

Captain enjoying the evening in Getören harbour, 2015, photo Anssi Ahvonen

Voyage to Estonia 2016

Voyage to Estonia 2016

In Kunda harbour, Estonia 2016

Swim in Estonian harbour, 2016

Homeward bound with larger spinnaker, 2016

Gun in Viaporin Tuoppi in August 2013, photo by Niko Nuotio

More pictures of Gun can be found here.