Yachtsman James W. Crawford, Jr., had already circumnavigated by way of the Cape of Good Hope in his 72-foot wooden Alden schooner Dirigo II when he conceived Angantyr and commissioned MacLear and Harris to design her. Angantyr was not designed for racing, although she is fast and has won races. Rather she was designed for Crawford and his family to live aboard comfortably while cruising.
She is named for an ancient Norse king who ruled the Orkney Islands about the time King Arthur sat at the Round Table. …King Angantyr is also mentioned favorably in the Icelandic sagas for his hospitality:
“None ever came to the great hall without a warm welcome and food for the belly.”
Abeking and Rasmussen of Lemwerder, Germany, world-renowned since 1907 as a builder of custom yachts and of German naval ships, built Angantyr in 1963-1964. According to Crawford, when Abeking and Rasmussen engineers first saw the plans for Angantyr, they declared she was not just another custom yacht, but would be built as strong as a battleship.
Crawford had experienced a few knockdowns in his blue-water sailing career and as a result he had Angantyr designed and built to withstand a severe grounding without significant damage and “to go anywhere where there was at least six feet of water and less than six inches of ice.”
“Two famous cutters of my acquaintance used for single-handing are Frank Casper’s Elsieand James Crawford’s Angantyr. The latter is over 60 feet long, displaces 35 tons, and carries 1,647 square feet of sail, and she demonstrates how handy the cutter rig can be even for such a large, heavy vessel. Crawford sailed his boat solo across the Atlantic, and he occasionally managed her alone with apparent ease on crowded inland waters. I once saw Angantyr with only one man aboard beat to windward under full sail through a small, crowded anchorage during a popular regatta, she seemed to weave her way through the anchored fleet of yachts and come about between them with no trouble at all. Of course, such boat handling is as much due to the skill and experience of the skipper as it is to the qualities of the vessel, her rig, her gear.”
Crawford was awarded the Blue Water Medal by the Cruising Club of America in 1974 for his single-handed transatlantic crossing in 1970 from Madeira to Antiqua in 19 days aboard Angantyr.
This is the highest honor bestowed on the world’s cruising sailors for their accomplishments in ocean passagemaking. This medal has been awarded annually since 1923 to small boat crews who, through outstanding seamanship, have exemplified the goals of the club.The recipient is selected from all amateur yachtsmen of the world.
Blue Water Medal 1974
“How wonderfully the ship behaved! Kindly motion. easy to handle, and surprisingly fast, considering that she is surely the strongest vessel of her size afloat. She balanced like a dream—the twin centerboards giving the hoped-for control of lateral plane. Close-reaching at nine knots, we could stroll away from the wheel for 20 minutes at a time. The balanced rudder gave her one-spoke control.
On deck it was cold, but below, the children played in the cozy warmth while the geraniums nodded beside the Madagascar jasmine in the skylight.
With over a ton of fresh water in the double-bottom tanks we took hot baths with luxurious abandon and savory meals came from the gleaming galley with satisfying frequency.”
Angantyr has been featured in Jim Crawford’s Count the Cats in Zanzibar, Arthur Beiser’s The Proper Yacht, Richard Henderson’s Chesapeake Sails: A History of Yachting on the Bay, yacht designer Robert Harris’s Tracks on the Water, and in Henderson’s Singlehanded Sailing. Both Crawford and Angantyr have been cited in many other publications as well.
In 1995 Angantyr was re-designed by the original designer Frank MacLear. The wooden mast was replaced with a taller aluminum mast and all new rigging and sails. The forward doghouse was removed and a steel-framed hard top was added to the cockpit. Teak seating was also added to the cockpit.
“…The Bay of Biscay was reasonably kind to us, although I went a mite short of sleep because a large percentage of the world’s maritime trade goes by Finisterre and I’m the kind of nervous type of skipper who likes to be on deck in in poor visibility and heavy traffic. I certainly appreciated the sea berth Bob Harris designed for me by the chart table.”
Count the Cats in Zanzibar