Six Years of FPBs

It was six years ago (January 24th, 2008) that Steve and I first went to New Zealand to have meetings with Circa Marine in Whangarei, regarding the construction of the FPB 64. That trip, my first to New Zealand, seems like it occurred just yesterday.  Two weeks ago, as Steve and I touched down in New Zealand to finalize details on the new FPB 78 with the crew at Circa, the changes and milestones reached over these past six years loomed large.

This was my 30th trip to New Zealand. Whangarei has become a home away from home for me, and I have had the privilege to work with amazing people, make lasting friendships, and enjoy a part of the world that many long to see for the first time. My family has been very supportive of my “relationship” with the FPB program (photo above near Abby Caves, Whangarei: Lara, Benjamin, Timothy), and have been able to join me on two of these trips – and we all agree that the Kiwis and their beautiful county are fantastic.

Six years has brought about heaps of progress and changes. The terminal at the friendly Whangarei District Airport (Onerahi) added a protective breezeway for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

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The Hatea River Bascule Bridge, a major Northland infrastructure project completed last year, alleviates much of the Whangarei “rush hour” stress in the CBD. Being typically still tied up with work at rush hour, I can only comment that it is an impressive piece of hardware.

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On the business side, Circa Marine & Industrial has expanded their facilities to allow for the efficient production of the larger FPBs. This next photo below shows the main shed with FPB 64, hull #1 (Avatar) under construction – October 9th, 2008.

The followimg photo is the main shed as it exists today (January 2014) with FPB 97-1, and FPB 64-10, in their respective stages of construction. The additional space will allow FPB 78-1 to rise up between the two. The mezzanine that allows the crew to board at deck level, along with the addition of an overhead gantry (yellow) has been a major factor in efficiency in this shed.

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In the fall of 2008, with FPB 64s 1 & 2 underway, Circa was beginning to assemble a world-class team of “chippies”. As you will see in the next two photos (before/after), the wood shop has come a long way since then. They’ve gone from simply trying to sort space in order to allow the trade to effectively execute their craft, to establishing a first-class cabinet and wood shop that allows the team to be at the top of their game. All around, Circa has done a tremendous job of meeting the challenge that was set before them back in January 2008.


Along the way, Dashew Offshore has grown from Steve, Linda, and myself – to a global team of more than 10 persons, including Kelly Archer in New Zealand, Ryan Wynott in Toronto, Sarah Dashew in Los Angeles, Brian Rickard in Chiang Mai, my Seattle office compatriots Mark Fritzer and Michael Voorhees, and our European representative Sue Grant at Berthon in the UK.

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From the prototype FPB Wind Horse, to the current run of 64s, 97, and the new 78s – we now have 14 FPBs either on the water, in production, or on order.  Not a bad showing six years in, and a real testament to the time, energy, and effort, of a team that is committed to the FPB program.

I’ll close with this photo of Steve at the lounge in Auckland, as we waited to board our aircraft after the productive week in New Zealand. Tirelessly working to sort details, ensure nothing is missed, and get the latest idea emailed off.  The amazing professor and teacher deserved his apple.

For more information on the FPB series, contact Sue Grant: Sue.Grant@Berthon.Co.UK.

Posted by admin  (February 12, 2014)

9 Responses to “Six Years of FPBs”

  1. Scotto Says:

    A great update and reality check.

    It has certainly been an enjoyable journey
    coming along with you for the ride.
    I got on the horse when “Windhorse” was in the very early stages of construction.
    I didn’t think it could get any better than that!
    then the 64, the 97, the 115, and now my dream boat the 78!

    And I am addicted to this site.
    Two weeks with out an update and i’m hanging out,
    three weeks, well that’s testing a friendship,
    but where else would I go?
    I have loved the detail, the reasoning, the commonsense, and the advancement in technology, especially in the drawing and design. Its all mystical magic to me, but I still enjoy learning.
    I like the way yo have taken on ideas and design input from a variety of owners, who you have managed to satisfy their requests to personalise their boats to suit their cruising living style.

    I follow a few of their blogs and get excited at the pictures and tales of their adventures.

    Thank you for keeping me and I guess, many others enthralled on a regular basis.

    now get back to work and start prepping the next update 😉


  2. Warren Cottis Says:

    Well said, Scotto

  3. Steve B Says:

    Hear, hear, Scotto. I can remember visiting the website and following the development of the ideas for Windhorse in the early stages. It kept me sane while writing up my PhD Thesis!

  4. Warren Cottis Says:

    Congratulations To Everyone!!!

  5. Michael Jones Says:

    Wonderful history and a glorious future.

  6. Robert Avila Says:

    When a group of people is at the top of its game it shows. Congratulations to all! Thankfully, there is no rest for the wicked – can’t wait to see what’s next.

  7. mark heeley Says:

    A paradigm shift worthy of the phrase. Onwards.Congratulations

  8. Karl Mattson Says:

    Congratulations to everyone on the team for some amazing work! I’ve followed the development of the FPB series (nearly daily) since — I think 2001 –shortly after Beowolf broke its boom on, if I remember correctly, a trip up the West coast of the US. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch it evolve and learn not only from Steve and Linda, but also from the collective experience and wisdom of this community. Thanks to all for the education in naval architecture and seamanship. I’m happy to say I’ve been able to put some of these principles into practice on my boat, which is the polar opposite of the FPB series — a Phil Rhodes Bounty II. Fair winds!

  9. Steve Dashew Says:

    Bounty ll, now that brings back some memories. When they first started building these in the Sausalito, California area, my Dad and I visited the factory. Awful smell, one that would become familiar in later years.In the early 60s, a friend, Mike Asher, got me a crewing position on his Dad’s Bounty in an Ensenada race. The old guys were hackers – in our teenage opinions – and when the time came to call them for their watch Mike decided to let them sleep.We had a fast night and ended up something like third in class, the old guys getting to drive and trim across the finish line while we were relegated to the foredeck.