46-foot ketch is first prize in raffle

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But the organizer hopes the winner will take $400,000 instead of his boat and his dream

But the organizer hopes the winner will take $400,000 instead of his boat and his dream

While teaching at a college a decade ago, David Dunn read about Joshua Slocum’s legendary voyage around the world and it sparked an idea. He decided to re-create the voyage as a sailing-based distance education program, with teachers as crew.

So he set about finding a replica of Spray, Slocum’s 36-foot sloop. After a nationwide search, Dunn found a 46-foot ketch (LOD), Starbound, a 50-year-old vessel with a design based on the lines of the original Spray.

Fast-forward 10 years. Dunn has extensively renovated the sailboat — renamed Crystal Spray — but fund raising for his program, Voyage of the Spray, has been difficult. Rather than scrapping the project, Dunn is organizing a risky fund-raising campaign. If things don’t go as planned, he could lose his program’s flagship.

“We’re going to take a big gamble,” says Dunn, who now lives in Beverly, Mass.

For $100 a chance, Dunn is raffling off Crystal Spray, which has an appraised value of $1.2 million. His hope is that the winner will take the cash buyout option of $400,000. The drawing will be held June 26. Dunn says only 20,000 raffle tickets will be sold (which translates to $2 million raised). Additional cash prizes will be awarded as well.

If the risky move doesn’t pay off, Dunn says he will try to buy another vessel with some of the proceeds raised in the raffle.

Dunn’s love affair with Spray began while he was teaching at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. He read an article about Slocum and within minutes conceived of his own program. The idea is to re-create the voyage while also producing multimedia, multidisciplinary lessons. The lessons would be shared with educators around the world through the Internet.

Slocum, at the age of 51, set out from Boston in April 1895 aboard Spray. He sailed around the world single-handed and returned to New England three years later. He was the first man to sail solo around the world, and the 46,000-mile voyage made Slocum a veritable patron saint to sailors and adventurers.

Dunn’s search for a Spray began with a phone call to Ed Davis, a teacher and marine surveyor from Bar Harbor, Maine, who had built his own replica of Spray. Together they found an available replica in Maryland, but Dunn didn’t have enough money. Dunn didn’t give up hope. Bill Slocum, a distant relative of Joshua, read about Dunn’s program and offered to help fund the project.

Starbound was hauled out in 1995 and transported to Salem, Mass. Dunn spent $600,000 preparing the vessel for an around-the-world voyage.

“It was just a mess,” says Dunn. “Every frame was rotten.”

She was replanked from stem to stern with old-growth longleaf yellow pine, which was salvaged from an old schoolhouse in Beverly, Mass. The entire transom and aft deck were also replaced, as were the teak decking and cabin top. The interior was redesigned to include berths.

The vessel was built in 1946 by John B. Kristiansen at Highlands Shipyard in Highlands, N.J. The design is based on the lines of the original Spray, but instead of a sloop, as the original Spray was, Crystal Spray is a mixed ketch rig with a Marconi mizzen, a gaff-rigged main and a yardarm for a square sail. She also carries a staysail, a large Yankee jib and a topsail. She has tanbark sails to reduce glare in the tropics.

Originally built for Kenneth Whittier, a technical editor for Rudder Magazine, the vessel has had several owners, including the actor Burl Ives, and Gordon and Nina Stuermer, who chronicled their voyages in the books, “Starbound,” and “Deep Water Cruising.” The Stuermers sold the vessel to Voyage of the Spray in 1995.

Dunn says fund raising for the program was going well initially, but virtually came to a halt soon after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He says he has sold his home, a 1757 saltbox, to help keep the program going thus far.

“This is the next chapter in moving things forward,” he says.

The vessel is available for inspection by appointment by calling (978) 720-0021. More information about the program and raffle is also available at www.voyageofthespray.org.