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Pacific Seacraft Flicka

Illustration by Jim Ewing

Illustration by Jim Ewing

In the 1950’s, designer Bruce Bingham discovered two derelict wooden sailboats just south of Wickford, Rhode Island. They were 22 and 28 feet long with a strong sheer, bluff bow and low freeboard. Bingham learned they were Newport boats—fishing boats with roots in mid-19th century Rhode Island.

Bingham used their lines to create an affordable 20-foot LOD pocket cruiser and named it Flicka (which means “happy little girl” in Swedish). The first line drawings were published in a 1972 issue of Rudder magazine and 400 sets of plans were sold.

Bingham and his partner Katy Burke wanted a Flicka of their own so in 1974 they created a plug, but sold it to California’s Nor’Star Fiberglass Yachts when they found themselves short on money. For about two years, Nor’Star sold the fiberglass hulls as kit boats or had them completed by Westerly Marine. In 1977, the mold was sold to the young Pacific Seacraft Corporation (PSC). Even though the Nor’Star/Westerly Flickas are widely regarded as the most beautiful Flickas ever produced, most people think of the Flicka as a Pacific Seacraft product. PSC built the Flickas to an almost bulletproof standard. The California company used liberal quantities of hand-laid fiberglass, gobs of oversized bronze hardware and the best materials money could buy.

For their length and displacement, Flickas are exceptionally fine sailing machines. They are fast for their size, seaworthy, have a kind motion, and like the Newport boats that inspired them, have a reputation for keeping their crews safe. With the optional 10-hp Yanmar they also literally sip fuel, making them very economical to operate when the wind dies.

Flickas have surprisingly efficient interiors. With 5 feet, 11 inches of headroom, a head, a hinged table that can seat four, a two-burner stove, a sink, an enormous cold box, a spacious forward V-berth, an optional quarter berth or hanging locker, and enough stowage to hold water, food and gear for months, the 8-foot wide Flickas are true passagemakers.

With a full 1,800-pound lead keel, a heavy transom-mounted rudder hung on three bronze gudgeons and sausage-sized pintles, they can withstand just about anything the sea throws at them. Flickas have crossed oceans, and stories of Flickas suffering heavy groundings and coming out unscathed abound.

Sadly, after building at least 434 Flickas, Pacific Seacraft discontinued production in 1998. The company fell on hard times, was sold, and in 2007 moved to North Carolina where it still offers larger models.

Fortunately, for those who want a tough, capable little cruiser—and there is a cult out there that loves their Flickas—pre-owned Pacific Seacraft Flickas do become available. But they don’t come cheap. A 1989 Flicka with a trailer and brand-new sails was recently listed for sale in Alaska for $34,999. That’s a lot of money for a 33-year-old 20-foot sailboat, unless you know that she will get you home safe and sound, no matter what Mother Nature throws her way. 

This article was originally published in the July 2022 issue.


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