Our History

Amusing Clients

Some years back a Camm Amm race driver ordered a boat, which he christened and named "Catofun". Wanting to see more of South Africa the arrangement was that while I sailed his boat to Cape Town, which usually takes 2 days, he would drive down the scenic Garden Route. Around 3 days later at the appointed time, about 3pm we arrived at the Royal Cape Yacht Club to be greeted by Paul and his...

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Boats Built to Last

Early in 1991 Clifford & Heila Gibb arrived at our factory. A contrasting couple with Heila an attractive slim well dressed lady with not a hair out of place. Clifford her husband looked in bad shape, tired and over worked. They had heard about the St Francis Catamarans and wanted to see one. As I always do I took them through the factory explaining the building process with costs,...

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A Brief History

In 1988, Duncan Lethbridge, a successful real estate developer, builder & sailing champion, decided to take his family cruising. Angelo Lavranos, an acclaimed naval architect, was commissioned to design a comfortable cruising catamaran. The launch of his first St Francis 43 led to an unprecedented demand from friends and the local yachting fraternity, a small factory was...

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Building Your Own Boat

Assuming you have sailed a fair amount and are reasonably practical with your hands, and have also made up your mind to build your own: STOP & THINK First obtain the help from the best boat designer/Architect you can. Over the years I have seen many boat start and listened to the builder's dreams. Some starting with their own designs. Unfortunately many of these broken dreams are to...

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Cape to Rio 1993

With South Africa dropping the strict apartheid laws in preparation to becoming a democracy in 1994, the world relaxed its ban on South African sports teams imposed since 1976. For approximately 8 years any SA sportsman wanting to enter an international competition had to do so in his own capacity and could not represent South Africa. Hence the 1993 Cape to Rio International yacht Race...

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Early Boat Building

Living in Ramsgate on the SE coast of South Africa close to the sea and rivers, it was natural to have a close association with sea & water. I built a few canoes from discarded corrugated iron sheets and would with friends explore a nearby lagoon. I say a few, as these primitive craft having no built-in buoyancy would sink when flooded and if this happened in deep water were beyond...

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Early Boat Building Continued

Building the moulds and facing a hand full of pending St Francis catamaran owners called for a change in plans. I would have to postpone my desire to go sailing. My wife stressed the need for the kids' education and a stable home. In the initial growth phase, we discovered that building and selling a hull, deck and bulkheads was easy however, the most costly and time consuming phase...

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How it all Began - Part 1

Duncan Lethbridge has a long association with boats and in particular Multihulls, since 1971 when his wife gave him a Hobie 14 for Xmas. Being a Jack of all trades; architect, builder, property developer & estate agent during the early stages in the development of St Francis Bay, he could be seen most evenings surfing his Hobie amongst the regular surfers enjoying the world renowned...

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How it all Began - Part 2

CHOOSING A FAMILY CRUISER My first thoughts were for a safe cruising monohull. Multihulls prompted thoughts of my first Hobie regatta. Being oblivious of sailing rules, on my very first race I fouled a Flying Dutchman on some port/starboard rule only to be met by a loud bellow: "RETIRE – RETIRE IMMEDIATELY". Having just driven 450km to attend this regatta I just steered well away and...

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One Word of Caution

What I am describing is how we built boats, mould, etc. in 1988. Modern materials and resins have changed since the best practice of those days. In fact the large improvements in boat building extend not only to materials, but also design, engines, equipment, etc. I recall helping deliver a state-of-the-art Swan 44' from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. The proud owner had just purchased at...

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Splendidum Returns

"Splendidum" returned to St Francis Bay resplended with mast & sails. With her shallow draft, only 3' we crossed the Krom River bar easily at half tide. SPLENDIDUM RETURNING I was a Coxswain for our NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) boat and had crossed the bar many times in all conditions. Our modes operandi was to slow down or stop at the river mouth and observe the bar, check...

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