The Best Kind of Birthday… with Chuck Burns!

Last Tuesday was my birthday — 25 on the 25th, how cool is that?? — and it was the best kind of day…

Breakfast at 'Jen's Place' in Brunswick, Maine

We had breakfast at a local diner -- "Jen's Place" -- where I taught Jon how to play checkers on the tabletop while we waited for our delicious massive meal 🙂 (we called it a tie when our meals arrived)


Intervale Pumpkin Patch Farm Maine

We went to the pumpkin patch & picked pie pumpkins


Cute Picture Excuse

(Which gave me an excuse to take cute pumpkin-patch themed pictures...)


The best picture of Jon ever!

Including my new favourite picture of Jon *ever*.... how could you not want to marry this man?!?


The pumpkin patch was followed by some shopping (that’s right, I’ve got a partner who will go shopping with me… how awesome is that??) and driving down to New Hampshire.

Why New Hampshire, you ask?

Because as if diners and pumpkin patches and shopping weren’t enough, the coolest thing happened on my birthday: We met Chuck Burns, the designer of our boat!

Chuck Burns, Naval Architect & Designer of the Nor'West 33

Coffee with Chuck Burns, Naval Architect & designer of the Nor'West 33


It turns out that Chuck lives only a couple of hours south of Jon, so when the opportunity came up to meet for coffee, we could not resist! Chuck has designed a number of beautiful boats — none more so than the Nor’West, of course — and we were so excited to get a chance to ‘pick his brain’ a little.

Amidst questions of rudder construction and hull lay-up, we also devoured the photographs and articles that Chuck had so thoughtfully brought along with him.

The very first Nor'West 33 ever built being launched in California

The right page shows photos of the first Nor'West 33 being launched in California -- apparently they painted her yellow so that the area sailors would really take notice of this new gorgeous design!


Nor'West 33 sailboat - early ad

An early ad for the Nor'Wests


After hours of coffee and questions, we walked away feeling like not only did we end up with one the most thoughtfully and beautifully designed boats, but that we are so so SO thankful to have met Chuck Burns, and to have him as a resource for future projects.

The man is a wealth of knowledge, and we can not thank him enough for meeting with us and, of course, for designing the Nor’West 33.

The best cruising sailboat ever designed (in our oh-so-humble opinion): the Nor'West 33

One of the best cruising sailboats ever designed (in our oh-so-humble opinion): the Nor'West 33


Spinnaker Shot

We also learned a little secret from Chuck -- apparently this picture was taken on a completely wind-less day, so to get the shot & fill the spinnaker they had the boat motor backwards! The things you can only learn from an insider... 🙂


(Oh, and to end the birthday celebration story… our coffee in New Hampshire was wrapped up with a waterfront dinner in Portland, ME, where we devoured some of the best lobster-corn-bisque I’ve ever tasted… as evidenced by my shirt hehehe)

Lobster Bisque


…It should be an exciting new year!



The Best Kind of Birthday… with Chuck Burns! — 5 Comments

  1. Hi Leah and Jon,

    the Coffee hour we shared was a special time for me…you buth are awesome and I wish you much luck in your adventures and congratulations on your upcoming wedding and life together.

    Smooth seas and fair winds,

  2. Happy Birthday! and nice to to meet you via the internet. You guys seem to have worked out a great lifestyle. It’s something we’ve often talked about, taking a significant part of each year off to sail, but we’re still working on exactly how to make it happen.

    Happy travels!

  3. This is fascinating! I had Puffin out last week in SF Bay and it was very windy. I’m so impressed by her motion and speed…very different from my previous fin keel boat. I was also surprised how well the little Yanmar pushed the boat….though I had to take out the thermostat because it got corroded in the closed position due to lack of use. I noticed on the early boats that the shrouds were placed inboard on the cabin sides. By Hull #11 the shrouds are placed outboard and there is a strong stainless(?) knee that attaches to the chain plate in the lockers. I wonder why they made this modification?

  4. Hey Leah! We’re in Fiji waiting for weather windows to New Cal and on to Brisbane. Hope you’re surviving your wedding planning, sounds like you’re finding the precious moments. Our planning has been on the backburner since we left Hawaii in May and will be my focus once we reach Australia… So funny, I just realized that Chuck Burns is one of our blog followers, and literally figured out he was THE Chuck Burns that designed our boat right before I checked your blog and read that you just had coffee with him. Awesome. Might you have his contact info? By the way, that spinnaker picture is our boat- Hull #10. Fantastic story. xoxo, Shawn and Chris s/v TAO

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