Luder's Yawl History
Designed by Bill Luders, the Coast Guard Academy’s fleet is second generation of a 1939 mahogany design commissioned by the U.S. Naval Academy for midshipman training. In 1963 the Navy’s wooden yawls were replaced by a fleet of nearly identical fiberglass boats, and the Coast Guard Academy ordered 5: Arctic Tern, Blue Goose, Osprey, Shearwater, and Stormy Petrel. Forty-three years later, all but one still serves the Academy.
While the Coast Guard Luders are approaching forty-four years of service, they still provide a challenging, yet stable platform for cadets to sharpen their basic sailing skills. A Yawl is a two masted sail boat with the smaller “mizzen” mast stepped aft of the rudder post. With 2560 square feet of sail available in various configurations, the Luders yawls can approach 10 knots in the right conditions. Upwind the yachts leave something to be desired, but when each one weighs over 25,000 pounds, some tradeoffs are inevitable.
Unlike their generous sail area topside, inside the yachts are spartan. There is one main cabin serving as a galley, berthing area, navigation center, mess deck or lounge depending on the time of day. Up forward some space is carved out for a small head. There is no stereo, television or refrigerator. Cadets sleep in sleeping bags and cook on an alcohol stove, or when shore power is available, the microwave. All perishables are stored in an ice chest that needs frequent replenishment. Some valuable pieces of modern navigation equipment are the few luxuries on board including paper charts, radar, and multiple GPS units. By sailing without many conveniences, emphasis is placed on sailing the yacht, and gaining an appreciation for the work needed to operate on the water.
Widely recognized by locals as the “Navy 44’s” or the less glamorous “Driving School,” the Luders Coastal Sail training program has trained thousands of cadets at the Academy. Due to their age, cadet use, and rigorous schedule, the Luders yawls are ready for a rest. With the Naval Academy’s design of a fourth generation training sloop this year, talk of a Coast Guard order is building. Hopefully a new generation of yacht will continue the valuable tradition of coastal sail training, giving cadets a better respect for the sea, and perspective on life on the water.