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John Alden 58ft Bermudan Cutter 1937 - Project



John Alden 58ft Bermudan Cutter 1937 - Project

Designer John G Alden
Builder Henry B Nevins Inc City Is NY
Date 1937
Length overall 65 ft 0 in / 19.81 m
Length deck 57 ft 5 in / 17.5 m
Length waterline 41 ft 0 in / 12.5 m
Beam 14 ft 1 in / 4.29 m
Draft 7 ft 8 in / 2.34 m
Displacement 30 Tonnes
Construction Carvel mahogany on white oak
Engine Yanmar Turbo Diesel 66hp
Location USA
Price USD 85,000
Vat VAT Not Paid

These details are provisional and may be amended



Some yachts hold such storied history in their timbers that they should be national monuments; there is no doubt that ZAIDA III should. Here is a rare opportunity to acquire and restore a thoroughly authentic living embodiment of American maritime history: in design (by John G Alden, Boston); in build (by one of the best, Henry B. Nevins, New York, for his City Island neighbour in business (sailmaker extraordinaire George E Ratsey, New York via Gosport, England); and in defending freedom at war (ZAIDA III’s war story below is epic). And, of course, she’s a very pretty and practical yacht with undoubted performance. ZAIDA III has reached the project stage in life although still in sailing condition; one could easily become besotted.




Impeccable provenance in design, build and ownership would always have guaranteed ZAIDA III a special place in American yachting history, but it was her Second World War activities while on anti-submarine patrol on the US east coast that really made her a legend in her own lifetime.

ZAIDA III was John G. Alden’s second design for Gosport, England born, City Island, New York based George E. Ratsey of Ratsey & Lapthorn sailmakers. Her predecessor, ZAIDA II, was a 52ft stock schooner design commissioned in 1930 as a family cruiser/ racer-come-test-bed (presumably), and Newport, Rhode Island floating office – necessitated by the amount of time the City Island sailmaker was spending there to service the loft’s growing J-Class America’s Cup workload. ZAIDA III seems to have had broadly similar function whilst drawing out the ends on a similar underbody, and rigged as a cutter. For both boats there was a simple layout of two spacious and beautifully appointed cabins separated by a heavy curtain, so that two separate business meetings could take place at the same time. George Ratsey’s son, Colin, is quoted in Dr William Collier’s history of the famous sailmaking dynasty recounting ZAIDA II’s first day in such service:

“One group was sent forward and the curtain was pulled, and the other group went aft. The result was... some stupendous orders had been placed, all in secrecy, so the boat almost paid for itself that day.”

But it wasn’t all about work; at play Ratsey had a reputation for getting the best out of his yachts. The cutter sail plan ZAIDA III first sailed under, seen in the blueprint here drawn by long time Alden associate William McNary, shows the quadrilateral jib pioneered and made famous on the J-Class boats of the 1930s, but not common at all on cruisers. In her first season, ZAIDA III's racing competitors included the notable Sparkman & Stephens-designed yawl EDLU. ZAIDA III was later re-rigged, spending much of her life as a yawl.

After the USA entered the Second World War, the Nazi U-Boat threat to Allied supply and troop ships on the eastern seaboard multiplied. When the US government enlisted yachts over 50ft/15m as civilian-crewed Coast Guard Reserve observation and patrol vessels, George Ratsey quickly made ZAIDA III available; the number CGR 3070 was applied to her black topsides and she was re-rigged as a yawl. It was as CGR 3070 that ZAIDA III became more widely famous while on patrol in December 1942. Blasted for three weeks by hurricanes and blizzards, and posted missing, she became the object of one of the greatest searches in maritime history before being finally located off the coast of North Carolina, about 1000 miles south of her original station, Nantucket Shoals. She was finally rescued and towed into Ocracoke, Hatteras on Christmas Eve 1942. George Ratsey died at home aged 67 on Christmas Day. Lawrance Thompson's 1943 book "The Navy Hunts The CGR 3070" is an entertaining and recommended read on this episode.

Post-war, ZAIDA III had her cutter rig restored. In present ownership since 1978, she remains in service as a much loved family cruiser, sailing the waters she once patrolled in less peaceful times.

©2024 Iain McAllister/ Sandeman Yacht Company Ltd.



- 1⅝ in Mahogany carvel planking on 3 in bent white oak frames
- Everdur silicon bronze fastened
- Everdur silicon bronze diagonal strapping and chainplates
- Lead ballast keel
- 16 x 1⅛” Bronze keelbolts (2012)
- ⅝ in Teak over 1½ in long leaf yellow pine laid deck



From aft
- Open taffrail with 2 x bronze mooring fairleads
- Mahogany bulwark and capping rail
- Lazarette hatch
- Bronze mainsheet horse
- 3 x Original Nevins sheet winches
- Mahogany cap railed cockpit coaming
- Traditional ship's wheel
- Compass binnacle
- Part of deck in aft part of cockpit acts as helm seat
- Remainder of cockpit sunken
- Vertical lining boards meeting at companionway doorway
- Raised and tapered companionway hatch at aft of long cabin trunk
- Double companionway doors
- Long cabin trunk to fwd of mast
- Mahogany sides
- Epoxy/ biaxial cloth sheathed roof; 3 x Alex seal epoxy paint
- Rectangular ports along trunk sides; 2 x round ports in fwd bulkhead
- 3 x Fwd opening varnished skylight hatches in trunk roof
- Grab rope between padeyes port and starboard
- Sliding raised scuttle forehatch with smoked plexilglass top
- Original Bronze Nevins manual windlass
- 2 x Bronze mooring fairleads
- Bronze gammon iron and 2 x bow rollers
- 45 lb Danforth anchor
- 25 lb Danforth anchor
- 40 ft ½ in chain with 200 ft 1 in Samson Braid main anchor rode
- 25 ft ⅜ in chain with 200 ft ¾ in 3-strand nylon anchor rode



- Interior joinery of butternut and mahogany
- Down companionway ladder to galley
- 2 x Burner fixed hob and sink to port; stowage outboard
- Utilities area to starboard: washer drier, fridge and freezer, all 110 V
- Forward to saloon with settees port and starboard and centre drop leaf table
- Forward bulkhead of saloon houses a pair of sliding/ pocket doors
- Forward to cabin with double pilot berth to port; single pilot berth to starboard
- Sideboard with drawers under and leaded glass door locker immediately fwd of stbd berth
- Sideboard to port with drawers under; shelving forward
- Stowage under berths
- Forward of mast
- WC Compartment to port
- Raritan Electro-scan 12V WC
- Shelving to starboard
- Forward bulkhead with hanging lockers port and starboard
- Doors to forepeak double cabin



- Original twin spreader sitka spruce hollow mast
- Halyard and pole lift winches
- Twin bronze spinnaker pole tracks
- Bronze rigging screws
- Original sitka spruce boom
- Bronze gooseneck
- Solid Douglas fir bowsprit with pulpit and bronze dolphin striker

SAILS (Hood)
- Mainsail
- Hanked staysail
- Roller furling jib

- Mainsail boom cover
- Winter cover



- Yanmar Turbo Diesel 66hp (1997)
- Traditional drive train with 2 x blades propeller



Bronze binnacle with Constellation type compass



- Deck replacement
- Cockpit refit
- 60% of frames
- Underbody refastening (90% of hull planking believed in good condition)
- Some keelbolts
- Rudder overhaul
- Restoring to original spec certain accommodation elements


These particulars have been prepared from information provided by the vendors and are intended as a general guide. The purchaser should confirm details of concern to them by survey or engineers inspection. The purchaser should also ensure that the purchase contract properly reflects their concerns and specifies details on which they wish to rely.


Sandeman Yacht Company

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