Dashew Offshore – A Bit Of History Part 1

Innismara Auckland

Innismara, the yacht that started us thinking so many years ago…

We’ve been digging through old photos and came across this shot of the New Zealand yacht Innismara, a 67-foot cutter designed and built by Bernie Schmidt. She plays a prominent part in the story of how we came to be in the boat business. 

When we first started thinking about cruising leadmines, as opposed to racing cats, we figured we needed to get some real world experience before we tried our hand at creating a proper cruising yacht. We found a deal on a well-built CCA era racer, which was quick enough in light air but would only do 178 to 185 nautical miles a day in the trades, and we were used to going a whole lot faster. We talked to Bill Lee about a design, and paid him to do a preliminary work up – in those days we knew plenty about multi-hulls but little about monomarans. Bill’s take on our idea turned out to be a 60-foot long, 12-foot wide rocket, not that different from his breakthrough rocket, Merlin, which came a few years later. But when it came time to get serious we knew we needed more time afloat before we could make the right decisions.

Fast forward to December 1977, we’d been cruising now a year, and were moored in Aukland’s Westhaven Marina on an end tie. Innismara was our neighbor, and one afternoon Bernie Schmidt invited the four of us for a sail. Linda packed a lunch, and off we went. The breeze was light, maybe eight knots, ten at the most in the puffs, and carrying staysail and main we were ripping down the harbor at ten knots.

We started thinking, and sketching. Get rid of Innismara’s trunk cabin, raise the topsides for headroom, put in watertight bulkheads and use the central part of the boat for living and the ends for storage and we had the perfect boat…for us. 

Deerfoot with reacher

This lead to the original Deerfoot, a 68-foot cutter.

Deerfoot jib staysail

Notice the short swim platform? This was “invented” for helping to get back aboard after swimming or falling overboard, and was something new in 1978.

Wakaroa twns 1

Next out of the same mold came Wakaroa, a 72-foot flush deck ketch done for our friends Jim and Cheryl Schmidt. She was much closer to our idea of the perfect mom and pop cruiser.

Wakaroa Deerfoot 72 Fiji
Jim and Cheryl put well over 100,000 nautical miles on her.

Intermezzo ii Deerfoot 62

At the same time Wakaroa was underway we started Intermezzo II, a 62’ flush deck cutter to replace our 50-foot Intermezzo. We had no intention of building any more boats, but the phone kept ringing. And 38 years later it still is. All due to that Saturday afternoon on Innismara.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 13, 2016)

One Response to “Dashew Offshore – A Bit Of History Part 1”

  1. Warren Cottis Says:

    Thank You… this is a nice start to 2016 for those of us who love your yachts.