Lady Patty was designed by notable yacht designer Phillip L. Rhodes in 1931 but wasn’t built until 1935. M. M. Davis & Son of Solomons Island, Maryland was given the contract to build her by original owner James Crawford, of Bradenton Florida. Jim was an avid offshore sailor and racer. Lady Patty was the first of five major yachts commissioned by him. She was the only wooden boat he had built.
Mr. Crawford raced Lady Patty extensively in and around Florida for many years including campaigns in the Southern Ocean Racing Circuit commonly called SORC. He raced Lady Patty in the St Petersburg to Havana Race every year except during the WWII years when the race was canceled. By 1951 Lady Patty was becoming outdated by raceboat standards. It also happened that this particular year the weather conditions were brutally heavy. Some Skippers chose not to race. Many of the boats that did compete didn’t finish the race. Lady Patty on the other hand, was in her element. She was heavier and slower than most of the modern boats of her size but this happened to suit the conditions perfectly. Lady Patty took 1st place and secured Her and Jim a place among the top ocean racers of the day. Yachting Magazine described the win by saying “The Lady Patty, of Bradenton Florida beat boats she had no business beating”.
Buoyed by his success in 1951, Jim wanted a new challenge. He sailed Lady Patty down the Atlantic side of the Americas to and through the Panama Canal. He arrived in San Francisco prior to the start of the hotly contested TRANSPAC, an offshore race from San Pedro, CA to the Diamond Head Lighthouse in Honolulu Hawaii. She had a good showing in the race but was competing against vastly more modern boats. After the race Jim took a more leisurely sail back through the canal. He spent a few weeks in the Galapagos Island then back to Bradenton.
There is little known about her after his return from California. We do know that she was kept in the water at Snead Island Boatworks until her hull was no longer sound. She was placed on land for storage after that.
By 1976 Lady Patty was in awful shape. The boatyard had taken over ownership of the old boat for unpaid storage bills. The owner of the yard approached a young man named Ron Hobbs who had worked in the yard for many years. As the story goes the yard owner told Ron that he knew Ron had always looked up to Mr. Crawford and thought very highly of the Lady Patty. He told Ron that they were going to burn the aged old ketch unless Ron made him an offer to buy her. After careful consideration and consulting his wife Constance Ron made the offer of $1, which was immediately accepted.
Ron spent the years from 1976 until 1981 carrying out a major restoration of the vessel including the replacement of her entire hull. As he neared the end of the restoration near tragedy struck. Ron had found the masts to be infested with termites so he had built a 56′ long box around the two masts. He then had a pest control company fumigate the box and the mast within. Impatient to wrap up the project Ron didn’t wait long enough before sanding the masts. He fell horribly ill and was hospitalized for months having poisoned himself with bug poison. Eventually he recovered and finished the refit of his new/old boat. He and Constance then sailed to the British Virgin Island where they lived aboard for almost ten years.
Builder———————M.M. Davis & Son, Solomons Island, Maryland
Type—————————————————————Canoe Stern Ketch
Intended Use———————————————–Offshore Racing Yacht
Length Over All———————————————————————45′
Length on Deck——————————————————————-39’11”
Height of Main Mast————————————————53′ from water
Full Sail Area————————————————————–1134 sq. ft.
Hull Speed———————————————————aprox. 7.75 Knots
Power———————————————————-53 HP Yanmar Diesel
Coast Guard Inspected for Charter——————————————-1994
Inspected for———————————————–13 Passengers + 2 Crew
Notable Racing History and Offshore Passages
Southern Ocean Racing Circuit———————-1935-1941 & 1945-1951
St. Petersburg to Havana Race——————————1948, 1950 & 1951