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by Ben Beattie

                                     Ben & Judy Beattie aboard their "SUNPENNY"

The Hirsh Gulfstar 45 (SUNPENNY is a 1986) is one of the most under rated fiberglass sloops ever built.
Seaworthy and sea kindly, comfortable, fast passage maker, and built like a tank! 

We have had ours for 15 years and more than 30,000 miles. She has made the trip up and down the ICW at least 15 times.  Cruised the Bahamas several times and north to Nantucket more than once.

There is very little that I haven't changed, upgraded, or replaced, all of which have made her into a real head turner and reliable passage maker.  Our longest period onboard was 100 days on a trip to the Bahamas.  But we still enjoy just going out for a three hour sail or weekend anchorage.

Thirty were built in 1985-1986.  The name 'HIRSH' came because they were originally intended for the charter business.  As close as I know only 9 went into charter and the remaining 21 were sold to individuals.

The last hull: #30 is serial #GFS45030H586 is our boat.  Delivered to a Doctor in Cleveland, Ohio.  4yrs later sold to a couple in Rochester, NY.  We bought her in 1994.

The single most noticeable distinction from other Gulfstar models is the absence of exterior teak trim. The toe rail is aluminum with integral rubrail. The only exposed teak is the companionway drop boards.   

She has very sturdy rigging with a rather short 55' mast stepped on the keel.  It is a single spreader rig w/ both forward and aft lower shrouds providing more than ample support.  The life lines are 27" high which gives an extra measure of safety.  The gunnels are wide and flat which make getting around the deck easy.  9000 lbs of lead ballast are encapsulated in the keel which is appx 13 feet long. This makes her rather stiff.  The rudder is a "balanced spade" type which enables her to turn very quickly and smoothly.  The sleeve style rudder bearing is the weak link and we modified it and added a large top bearing and support plate which has eliminated excessive movement. 

The hull is balsa core and very thick. I have drilled some holes and the core is almost 1" thick.  She has at least 8 athwartships box type stringers and 2 larger longitudinal box stringers.  Every section of the sole is removable allowing access to lots of extra storage and all the mechanical components.

Inside the salon it is light and airy with 4 long windows and 2 opening hatches.  The settees are 6' long and the stbd one pulls out to make a double.  There are two 65 gallon water tanks under the settees.  The folding table can seat 6 very comfortably.

The galley is a 4" step down and is considered a good off shore galley because you are supported both port and stbd.  She has a large refrigerator/freezer w/AdlerBarber Cold Machine.  There is a 3 burner propane stove w/oven and it is gimbaled.  Lots of storage space and open counters.  The round sink w/ molded drip tray is a big asset when cleaning up.

Going forward to port is a Head w/ double entry; from the salon and V-berth.  The V-berth bed is over 6' long and 6'wide and has a very comfortable 4" closed- cell mattress. 
There is a hanging locker, a 2 shelf cabinet, a large locker under the bed, and 2 very long shelves.  Under the forward half of the bed is a sail locker where we store 4 sails.
There is an opening port and a large hatch.  At the head of the V-berth is a door, w/secure latch, to the anchor locker. It is divided into 2 sections.  Going aft along the stbd side is the Nav Station w/ fold out seat and plenty of desk space.  Along the outside of the hallway are upper and lower locker w/sliding doors. Also a hanging locker. 

Toward the center is the door to the engine room. There is adequate working space and the hot water heater and inverter are located above the engine.  The Perkins 4-108 is a workhorse. Originally rated at 48HP and 3000rpm. (Since ours was rebuilt we get 3600rpm and lots more power than before.)

The original drivetrain was a 1" shaft and a 17-11 fixed propeller. We upgraded to a 1 1/4" shaft and an "AutoProp". Performance is wonderful.

The aft stateroom has a slightly off set centerline double berth. Loads of storage under the bed and also built in cabinets on both sides and open shelves at head of bed.  We added a single unit washer/dryer. (Splendide)  Going around to port is the rather large master head w/separate shower.  The aft strm has 4 opening ports and a large hatch.

Throughout there is alot of teak complimented with the use of formica flat surfaces.  The sole is teak and holly on 1/2" plywood.

Topside, the cockpit is one of the best ever. It is over 11' long and can accommodate 8 easily.  There is very good visibility from the helm and all the controls/switches are located at the binnacle. 

All the sails can be controlled from the helm position. However the main has to be hoisted at the mast.  The lazarette is quite large and we often sit in our 2 deck chairs on the poop deck over it.  We have a complete cockpit enclosure which extends our season to year round. 

She really hits her groove in winds above 18 kts. We have sustained speeds over 9 kts for 24 hours and recorded many days in excess of 200ktm.  Our 2 best days game back to back with help of the Gulfstream... almost unbelievable 264ktm followed by 240ktm with spinnaker. 
List of major improvements;

       Vinylester bottom job (blisters) 1995; no problems since
       Wiring of main 12 volt system, batteries, and inverter. 1996
       Batteries: Rolls 8-D (six 2vt batteries connected in a battery box) plus 3 series   
       31 and one START battery. 2002 & 2008
       110 amp alternator 2002
       Added 2nd solar panel and new wind generator. 2002
       Upgraded watermaker ( PUR 40 ) 2003
       High capacity bilge pump 2005
       Upgraded Manual bilge pump 2006
       All new hoses for Pumps, heads, drains, intakes, holding tanks 2004
       New toilets 2007
       New Faucets 2002
       New formica counters 2002
       Added lots of storage; drawers, built in cabinets, and shelves w/ fiddles  2002
       Washer-dryer combo, 10 gal water to wash, works great 2002
       Installed tempered auto glass in the 4 large windows. 2004
       Rebuilt all the portholes w/ new lenses and seals (added some screens) 2005 
       Replaced the polycarbonite glass on the hatches 2007
       Mast and boom taken out and painted. 2005
       All new halyards 2005
       Added a boom vang and travler for the main sheet. 2005
       Set of new sails; full- batten main and a high cut genoa for visibility. 2001
       Doyle StacPac w/ bat cars and track on the mast  2005
       6 man Life Raft ,new in 2006
       406 EPIRB 2002
      Davits for dingy. Strong. I can actually stand up in it. (Atkins and Hoyle)   2002
      All new Electronics;  Raymarine w/ color chart plotter & 48 mile radar. 2002
      Forward looking Sonar ( by Interphase.)  It has saved the day many many times.
      6000G Auto Pilot with Gyro Compass (Raymarine) 2003
      Custom made top rudder bearing that prevents the rudder from wobbling. 34"x36" steel plate
      with 6"brass bearing bolted to the I-beam under the bed.
      Complete new steering system; (cables, conduits, and accessories in a kit from Edson) 2008
      Perkins 4-108; taken out and completely rebuilt. estimated more than 8000 hrs on her. Now have
      power to spare.  2008
      Replaced the entire exhaust hose and muffler  2007
      Replaced the transmission. ( ZF Hurth, 2.5)    in 2002
      Upgraded to an "AutoProp" feathering propeller. Good for 1 kt both sailing and motoring. Saves
      fuel too.  2002
      Installed twin Raycor Fuel filters / 12vt electrical primer pump.  A life saver ! 2004
      Added a 33gal fuel tank under the floor of the large locker under the V-berth. 2002
      New 12 gallon hot water heater   2008
      Upgraded aft holding tank to 35 gallons  2003
      Helm seats (2) with high backs and arm rests. Makes the ICW like cruising in your living room.  2007
      Rebuilt and rewired the windlass.  Added remote switch in cockpit. 2008
      Added blue stripes on the cabin sides forward to match those already on the back half. 1995
      and 2008
      Replaced the bimini and enclosure with white 'Stamoide" and new scratch resistant isinglass.
      New 15,000 BTU MarineAir w/ digital thermostat .  2009
      New and larger/stronger Bow Pulpit, 2 legs on each side and larger tubing .  2009
      New swim ladder.  2009
      Replaced the Life Lines.  2009
      New LED tri color; strobe; anchor light ; w/auto dust to dawn   2007 
      Widened the settee seats 4".  Sloped the back rest. 1996

Irene & Michele:  Wow!  Ben knows his boat!  That is one impressive vessel....built like a tank, and thank God she is, because while Ben was below at the nav station a 12ft green channel buoy hit Sunpenny.....I'll let Ben tell you about it......

From: Ben and Judy
Subject: "Sunpenny" Injured

Ahoy All!
After making another incredible record voyage....400ktm in 46 hours...without a main sail and top speed of 14.5 in the Gulf Stream, we had a major mishap.

Let me go back. Sail from Tierra Verde (next door to St. Pete, FL) to Key West... a right on schedule 30 hrs. Only 10 hrs of real sailing.

Departed Key West around 9:30AM Wed and motor/sailed to Ft Lauderdale. Arriving about 8:00AM. We did stop for 1 hr for a "swim call" in the Hawk Channel in the Keys. 

Stopped for fuel/water/ice/&beer. Under the 17th St Bridge and back out in 1 hr. Headed out for the Gulf Stream. We had been just staying ahead of some thunderstorms but
finally a severe squall hit us around noon. We had to douse the spinnaker which, of course, was almost down but fouled around the head stay. Got it secured just as the wind hit and unfortunately the main was still up . Clocked 49kts of wind. The 'main' tore along the leech at the 3rd reef. Tried to repair with sail tape and some sewing in the calm after the storm.

Realized it was really a job for a sewing machine and zipped up the StakPac. Turned out we either had very little air or plenty enough to do just fine with the Genny.

So 46 hrs later we were checking in at Charleston Maritime Center. The 3 crew that had come down from C-burg went home and I was left with Zion,14 and his sailing buddy Ryan,13.  Both boys are real sailors and mature for their age.
The following day we sailed w/spinnaker set as a genniker..9kts+.. to Georgetown where we were to pick up another crew, Mike Davis.

Got the sail repaired in 2 days and decided we would sail overnignt to Beaufort...about 20 hrs. Left the dock near sunset and headed out, 14 mile channel to ocean. This is Mike's home waters and he said it was a straight forward channel. I was steering for the first 30-45 minutes and we were very cautious to locate all the markers. When we were clear of the lights along the shore with only the channal buoys ahead I asked Mike to take over and I went below to get the latest wind/weather forecast while we still had cell service for the computer WiFi.

Out going tide at 4kts so we were doing about 10 over the bottom. About 15-20 minutes later we hit a floating 12ft/green light channel marker. The sound was devastating. I was at the Nav station.

It hit about 5ft aft of the stbd bow and we rolled it under the waterline and it skidded along taking off bottom paint and in several places all the way through to the gelcoat .

The initial impact spot was above the waterline and it took off a couple large spots right down to the fiberglass. When it popped up it left green paint on the stbd quarter and hit the dingy.

However as it was still sliding under the hull it bent the shaft, took off a blade of the propeller, and hit the rudder so hard it split the fiberglass as if someone had hit it with a sledge hammer.  (We didn't know the extent of the damages until we hauled out the next day)   I was on deck in a split second. Checking rigging and hull. No holes and rig OK. Below in a flash. No signs of water. Bilges OK. Steering normal. Engine running. Terrible vibration of drive shaft. Transmission OK.

After trying the boat in gear several times it was apparent we could only do 1400RPM maximum.  With 4kt current we were not going to go back to Georgetown and I also thought we could get repaired in Beaufort a lot easier. So we sailed...8kts... until around 5AM when the wind died. Motored with 2 blades, boat vibrating all the way to the top of the mast. Still made 5Kts. Decided Beaufort was too far and headed for Southport. Found a brand new "Yard"... a second location of a major boat yard in Wilmington.  ( Over 600 employees ).  Everything very professional.   Called the insurance company. Adjuster was a retired Coast Guard guy. He knew boats and agreed to all necessary repairs.  Our deductible is $2500. Total estimate is $12,000.   ( New AutoProp...$4,500)

In addition to the aforementioned items we are also replacing the dripless cutlass bearing and getting a new rudder shaft bearing/seal combo. Both from Tides Marine.   The severest damage is centered at the rudder shaft. The glass was broken and cracked and we did start getting a little water in.  I worked with the yard for 2 days showing them just how it all went together and how unusual the bearing system is. I literally disassembled it with them. Our new 34x36" top plate w/6'' BRASS bearing took the impact and absorbed a lot of it and transferred it to the stringer that crosses under our bed. The rudder still managed to go up and hit the hull and crack the gelcoat just a little. But the steering was fine.

The rudder is a solid material that doesn't absorb water. They ground off all the damaged fiberglass and were going to re-wrap/fiberglass it.   After all the hull repairs we are getting  new bottom paint...total bottom. Also "PropSpeed" coating on the new propeller.   By the time I left on Friday afternoon the work was well under way. And the mechanic calls me everyday with a report.

"Sunpenny" is built like a MacTruck. For all the impact she really suffered minimal damage and remained seaworthy. Reassuring for sure, but not something I want to experience again.  Judy and I will drive down and bring her to Annapolis in a couple weeks. We'll take 10 days to 2 weeks. We need the rest !!!         

          Fair Winds. _/),,_/),,,_/),,,   Ben


ANSTED, John & Christina (rejoined!)

Madison, CT




DEMOLE, Dennis

Merritt Island, FL





Arrowtown, New Zealand




JACKSON, Margie & Dave

Warwick, RI





Houston, TX





The following article was written by contributing editor, Carolyn Frazier, about her


                    IF  A  TREE  FALLS  IN  THE  WOODS…
Most of us who live in Florida are finally drying out after the nor’easter that sat on top of the state for about a week in late May.  Most of these systems only stay for 3 days in northeast Florida, but I guess too many of us had wished for rain to help our lawns, so after 16 inches in our area, 30
miles south of Jacksonville, near Palatka on the St. Johns River, we finally saw some sun.  The herons fishing in the backyard have gone back to the creek behind our house, where we dock our boat, for their meals and life is returning to normal.  After rain like that, we are now running from mosquitoes.

The back half or our lot is wetlands, which means no development and lots of refuge for wildlife, which we love.  The creek is affected by the tides on the St. Johns River, so water levels in the swamp rise and fall continuously.  The mouth of the creek faces northeast, so water is driven into the creek during most weather events…especially a nor’easter.  During the May storm, creek water was in our backyard during high tide and the wind blew 25-35 mph non-stop for 5 days.  Our wetlands are heavily wooded with beautiful bald cypress, sweet gum, sable palms, etc., and held together with vines of all kinds, especially poison ivy.  The vines do an amazing job of keeping the trees from falling down, but when the ground is saturated for long periods of time and with high winds, it is dangerous to walk down the wooden walkway to check on the boat.  During a brief lull in the wind Tuesday, my husband, Bert, and I had gone to check the lines on the boat.  He was leaving town for a week the next morning and I wanted to be sure everything was secure.  The boat was riding well, so we did nothing and he left as planned.

Early Thursday morning was the first break in the weather since we checked lines Tuesday, so I put on my boots and slogged through shin deep water in places on the walkway to check on the boat.  As I neared the dock, which was ankle deep in water, my heart went to my throat when I saw a cypress tree lying on the bow of the boat!  That is not a picture you imagine in connection with boating.  The fallen cypress tree had been on the very edge of the creek and had fallen when the bank eroded or became so saturated that it wouldn’t hold the tree’s weight during all the wind.  I climbed up onto the front deck to check the damage.  Inspection was limited by branches, windblown debris and the massive amounts of poison ivy that had been growing around the trunk for years.  Miraculously, the trunk had landed in the deck area between the anchor windlass and the front of the cabin top!  Portions of the port railing were bent or destroyed, but there was no apparent damage to the deck or toe rail.  The brunt of the weight was being supported by our bow line and some branches that had broken on impact with the deck and were acting as stands.  I knew the immediate thing to do was to get as much weight off the boat as possible, so back through water I went to get tools.

Back at the boat, in the rain and wind, I used some branch loppers and a hack saw to remove as much tree and debris as I could.  Cypress trees don’t have many branches on the lower trunk, so there weren’t many to remove, but the poison ivy, with its 1 inch diameter vines, was everywhere.  Two hours later, I had done what I could, so I headed back to the house to regroup.  I contacted neighbors who could help the next day, knowing the boat wasn’t going anywhere with all that weight on it and satisfied that there was no structural damage.  Bert and I discussed the situation that night over the phone and decided that I should call a friend of ours who is a tree surgeon. 

 What a great idea…I had completely forgotten about him!  He was able to come out a couple of days later, so my generous neighbors and I didn’t have to get our hands dirty.  The tree was removed in about 3 hours and all was well again.  At least mostly.  The boat was safe again, but there was still work to be done.

The top of the tree had been sticking outboard of the starboard railing, over the creek about 25 feet.  I had decided not to let the current take it out to the river for fear it would just sink and become an unseen navigation hazard, so we tied it to the side of the boat.  Bert and I would deal with it when he came home a few days later.  He and I splashed the dinghy, pulled the tree top away from the boat, hauled it downstream and tied it to another fallen tree, well out of the channel.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, in the spirit of the experience, we were only successful by navigating stern first, with the outboard whining and smoking at high rpms for about 30 minutes for a trip of about 100 yards…
it was a big, waterlogged tree top.
So, now restoration can begin.  We will have to remove 3 stanchions…2 that were destroyed and 1 for an example to have new ones fabricated.  We’re hoping to have this done locally, but you never know with older boats.  The fun part comes when we start removing headliner to get to the backing plates and hardware under the deck, in tight little spots.

As the old saying begins, when a tree falls in the wood......, we can create our own version by adding, it may fall on your boat.

The lesson I learned from this whole situation is that perhaps all the tools, jewelry and sunglasses dropped overboard during the 12 years we’ve owned Double Dragon were a sort of insurance policy…Neptune smiled on her this time.  Hopefully he won’t raise the premiums!  So, the story isn’t finished, and as always with a boat, you never really know when it will be, but when it is, you’ll be the first to know!

Irene & Michele:  Thanks, Carolyn….we always look forward to your adventures!

Hi Michele & Irene:

 We’ve decided to put new smaller fuel efficient engines in the Too Much Fun (49MY1985) instead of rebuilding the existing Perkins.  Other Gulfstar owners might want my Perkins engine parts.   Here is my parts list:   Perkins TV 540 M Marine Diesel Engine Parts

Transmissions-Twin Disc Model MG-506       2500.00ea

2 left aftercoolers—newly reconditioned        1500.00ea

2 right aftercoolers—newly reconditioned      1500.00ea

3 reconditioned turbochargers                       1500.00ea

1 reconditioned cylinder head                        1000.00

3 cylinder head cores                                       500.00ea

2 left exhaust manifolds                                 1000.00ea

2 right exhaust manifolds                               1000.00ea

2 left exhaust manifold riser legs                     350.00ea

2 right exhaust manifold riser legs                   350.00ea

2 short blocks                                                 2000.00ea

2 Bosch fuel injection pumps                         1000.00ea

16 fuel injection lines                                       30.00ea

16 Bosch fuel injectors                                    50.00ea

Thanks, Bjarne Jensen    
Email Address:  bjarne@distance-learning-degrees.com        

Hi Irene & Michele,
I have a 36ft cc ketch (36MS1972) ACHILLES KEEL, currently on the Hudson River.  I am thinking of bring her down to Florida this fall.  Do you have any special areas near Vero Beach or Venice, Florida that have slips that you could recommend?  I am looking for a quiet place, either a small marina with sailboats or a slip at a home or condo complex.  If any members can recommend a nice spot, please email Glenn Black at:  Swamirub@aol.com
Dear Folks,
I have been a member of the GOC for 10+ years and have enjoyed ALL of the Docklines.  I do have two items that I need help in resolving, if possible.  I have a 43 Trawler 1976.

1)  My large sliding glass windows are now leaking both at the front and back ends.  What is the best way to tackle this job?
2)  We have 10 portlight windows that I replaced approx. 8 years ago.  The screens are now quickly falling apart.  The manufacturer of the window tells me that they stopped making the screens approx. 3 years ago, but do have all the other items of the window.  Have any of the other owners come up with a successful resolution to getting new screens?  Thanks for any input.  We truly appreciate the newsletter and glad to see that the Gulfstars are still very active.  Please email Denver Stephens at:



This is Maricia & Ted Miller's INTERLUDE (she's available!) she's in Wisconsin now.  For more info, email:  maricia@near-vana.com

If you love mangos and running naked in the rain, visit their website for a peek at life in Panama:  www.getjealous.com/mvinterlude

Irene & Michele,
Pat and I are doing fine.  We just put a bunch of money in IRISH AYES (44MY1986).  We're installing a new autopilot, dripless shaft sales, bottom job, props propscanned, and the shafts refurbished.  She is such a great boat and worth the money.

Hope all is well with you and your families,
Mike & Pat Sullivan

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails" by Bertha Calloway


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