ABLE of Friday Harbor



















13 (six-minute video)




Click on any of the images to view an enlarged version with caption. Short video at bottom.


ABLE was built by McGruer Yacht Builders, Clynder, Scotland, in 1963 and launched in January 1964 as Nymph of Lorne. She was build #606 at the McGruer family boatyard.

McGruers (*) used full-length mahogany planks with glued-wedge seams, copper-riveted to steam-bent oak frames. She has an iron ballast keel and galvanized steel deck fittings. Her timbers and floors are Afromosia. Her Lloyds-approved construction plan characterizes her as a "100-A1 Yacht".

She's 28' long, has a beam of 8'2", a 5' draft, and 9000 lbs. displacement. ABLE is sloop-rigged with a sail area of 400 sq. ft. Her waterline length is about 22 feet.

She spent her first 15 years sailing on the Firth of Lorne, on the north-western Scottish coast near Oban. In 1978 she was renamed Kairos, refitted in England, and sailed to British Columbia via the Canal and Hawaii (**). In May 2006 we purchased her and renamed her ABLE of Friday Harbor.


ABLE is balanced with any reasonable combination of sails. We can almost always steer using 2 fingers on the tiller. She accelerates quickly, and her high ballast ratio and fine ends keep her upright and footing along in a breeze.

Down below, she's a small 28-footer. Relatively long overhangs, narrow beam, fine lines fore and aft, and ample deck space give her exceptional sailing performance and seaworthiness for her size and type, at the cost of interior volume.

She has a very workable galley and navigation desk, 2 comfortable settees in the main cabin which convert to a double, a cabin heater, and good ventilation and light. There's a head, bunk, and sail stowage in the forward cabin. A small-ish interior ensures that there's always a handhold within reach.


After enjoying one sailing season, we began what turned out to be considerably more than a refit and considerably less than a rebuild. Most of the work was needed to avoid future problems. Some of the work was done to accommodate a physically disabled captain. A couple things were changed merely because we couldn't leave well-enough alone. Our goal was to re-establish ABLE's health and repair-ability without significantly modifying her character or sailing abilities. Go here for restoration details.


ABLE was sailing again in 2009. Since 2011 we've been cruising several weeks per year, and weekending and daysailing as often as possible.

Her exterior is in excellent shape from masthead to the bottom of her keel. I don't mean that she just looks good. She's strong and true to the core. Down below she's refinished from the sheer plank up (underside of deck, cabin-sides, cabin-overhead, beams and bulkheads).

Her planks inside have been scrubbed and each copper rivet has been polished (so we can better judge corrosion issues and because it looks great). We're still working down below on her accomodations, cabinetry, and plumbing.


* McGruer Yacht Builders was the subject of an article in Woodenboat Magazine, September/October 1996. To download and read the article, click here (12 MB pdf file).

** The logbook of the adventure forms much of a recent book written by the sailor's 93 year-old wife. The book, by Margaret Griffiths, titled "Morning Light: Triumph at Sea & Tragedy on Everest", is available online.

*** If you would like to listen to a CBC interview with Margaret, about George's voyage aboard our boat, go here to stream the recording (mp3). The interview includes cassette recordings which George sent to Margaret during his voyage.

This website was created in March 2009 and updated in May 2014.