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Silversark is the dream boat which Silver Donald Cameron and his late wife, Lulu Terrio-Cameron, built between 1976 and 1985, with much assistance from friends and family, especially Chris Latchem, Edwin DeWolf, Peter Zimmer and Terence Terrio. The owners sailed the boat all around Cape Breton and the Maritimes, without an engine, between 1985 and Lulu’s death in 1996. Two of those voyages are described in Wind, Whales and Whisky and Sniffing the Coast, and the boat appears on the covers of both books.
Silversark was intended to be a compact, simple, efficient boat for two or three competent sailors to travel in. She is basically a Bruce Roberts Adventure 25 design – considerably modified by Silver Donald in consultation with Bruce Roberts. The builders gave her such features as a raised flush deck, an aft-tilted transom and a large cutter rig. She bears some resemblance to Samuel Crocker’s Stone Horse, and also to Roberts’ 36-footer.
Her construction began with laminated Douglas fir ribs, over which Douglas fir stringers were placed, followed by three layers of ¼” Bruynzeel mahogany plywood. This triple skin was glued with epoxy and fastened with bronze ring-nails. The keelson was laminated from four pieces of Honduras mahogany ten inches in width, and the keel and skeg from thick mahogany planks. The stem is of white oak, and the transom of Douglas fir faced with Bruynzeel plywood.
The result was a very strong and maintenance-free hull. When various holes were cut in the hull in 2001 for the installation of a 2-cylinder, 18-hp Yanmar diesel engine, no deterioration could be found in any part of the hull.
The lead keel, which weighs nearly a ton, was poured in a mold built in Silver Donald's own shop. The cabin sole, cockpit sole and counters were laid up of wide strips of afrormosia, a gorgeous African hardwood, separated by thin strips of oak. Caning was used for the ventilation of interior lockers and plywoods. The interior of the boat was coated with two layers of epoxy followed by two coats of varnish; the exterior received three coats of epoxy and two coats of two-part polyurethane paint.
Silversark originally had no electronics, only two electric lights – one at the masthead and one at the chart table – and no through-hull holes below the waterline. She later received a depth-sounder and a Loran-C, and she has had various other upgrades over the years, particularly the replacement of her original solid-wood mast with a mast made of hefty aluminum pipe. She was not sailed between 2003 and 2007, but was left in Silver Donald’s workshop in D’Escousse when her owners were engaged in a voyage to the Bahamas aboard Magnus.