What defines an able high latitude boat varies by what one defines as his high latitude area. A vessel that is ideal for Alaska’s Inside Passage might not be what one would choose upon departing the Falklands for South Georgia. Such is the case with the beautiful, sturdy and capable Amazon 39 I inspected in Port Townsend.
Built in 1985, this Graham Shannon-designed sloop was entirely rebuilt in 2000 under the direction of the current owners. Such phrases as “entirely rebuilt” can be misleading; so to be clear, she was gutted, taken down to a hull bare even of insulation and then professionally refitted with entirely new systems and furnishings. Fourteen years later, she still looks brand new.
Steel sloop, full cabin and pilot house, hard chined, extended fin keel with skeg-hung rudder.
LOA: 39; LWL: 36 (estimated); Beam: 12.5; Draft: 7.5.
Displacement: 33,000lb; Ballast: unknown. Sail Area: unknown.
Displacement to Length Ratio: 316. Ballast to Displacement: unknown. Sail Area to Displacement Ratio: unknown. Capsize Ratio: 1.64.
Hull Plating: Not available.
Tankage: 120 gallons fuel in 2 tank; 90 gallons water in 2 tanks.
Engine: 30 hp.
From inside, this Amazon feels like a newly remodeled loft. Her open, airy salon includes a chart table to port of the inside steering station and a dining table and settee to starboard. Forward and down one step is the new galley and a small guest berth that converts into a large desk. In the bows is storage and an open chain locker. Sleeping quarters are but one queen berth aft, and the one head is adjacent, but the space to port of the berth is a large pathway to the stern systems, including the hydraulic steering gear. The engine lives beneath the cockpit sole and is easily accessible from the top and both sides.
The cockpit is small with high combings to each side but feels scarily unprotected aft. Note the steering column looks to be a section of recycled aluminum mast (clever). Also note the unique Monitor wind vane install (see photos). Decks are uncluttered and the high raised cabin provides great hand-holds while making a run forward.
I won’t get into the pros and cons of the Amazon 39 as a Figure 8 vessel; in my view, such a passage is beyond her design parameters. She’s too high sided and too heavy to be a smart sailor, underpowered for the Northwest Passage, and below she’s far too open to be a safe place to live in a seaway. That said, this vessel is beautifully detailed and well maintained and if my adventure took me only to Alaska’s Inside Passage, or similar high latitude environments, she would be a strong contender.