SPRAY 28 - Aluminum version built by Robert Millikin
Hi Bruce, I just wanted to advise you of a change that I have made to my SPRAY 28 web site. You currently have a link to it under your Spray 28 page. The new link is:http://public.fotki.com/robtm373 It's been two years since we launched SILVERADO. We have logged around 2500 miles in the sea of Cortez....the boat is amazing! Thanks, Robert Millikin
I first heard the commotion before I actually laid eyes on Bob Millikin’s home-built sailboat, Silverado.
A small, boisterous crowd had gathered at the head of a dock in a small community on the eastern side of the Sea of Cortez and were cheering and clapping. I poked my head out of my Valiant 40, SV Wendaway, and saw something very like an apparition: an anachronism in aluminum, the ghost of Joshua Slocum’s legendary sloop, The Spray.
And ghostlike it was: a silvery shape that merged with the steely gray light of a San Carlos dawn, slipping down the roadstead and toward the waiting throng. I had no idea what it was I was seeing - except for the instinctive sense that this craft was a true phenomenon - an homage to Slocum, an obsession, a dream. This was Silverado, a marvelous rendition of The Spray wrought in aluminum and passion.
Today was such a wonderful day,” its creator, Bob Millikin, said with the kind of satisfaction only known to those who have labored long and have been rewarded richly for their efforts. Bob had just returned froma single-handed sail in a 25 knot “norther” that had been riling up the Sea for the past few days. “It sails like a dream!”
Eight years ago Bob Milliken started to work on a 38 foot sloop (based on a Bruce Roberts 36′ Spray design) , a project he originally estimated would take three years.
“After one year I said to my wife, ‘Honey, I’ll never finish it at this rate.”
He retired from a career as a medical supply salesman in Phoenix, Arizona, and devoted his life to the project.
Since he knew it would take more skills than he had at the time, he travelled to Ohio to attend the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, which has already trained over 85,000 professional welders. “I had taken a course in welding at the local college, but I knew that wasn’t going to be sufficient,” he said.
At Hobart, Bob Millikin had personal instructors who made sure that none of the estimated 2 miles of welded bead would hold up under any conditions the sea might throw his way. “I am not particularly interested in speed - comfort and safety were the design specifications I followed.”
He might have added elegance. Silverado is no rough-hewn boat with ugly, metallic surfaces. The detailing has been done the way you might find in the best of metal sculpture. The interior is punctuated with lovely touches made in stainless steel and mesquite wood.
His brother Jack helped out on the wood flourishes. “You can tell the parts that I made ‘cuz they’re the ones with the good joints,” his brother has joked.
I am sure there are crude places in Silverado. Perhaps under the deck, where heavy plates reinforce the windlass. If so, I didn’t poke around enough. Everywhere I looked, everything was put together with the same level of finish you’d expect in a custom-built yacht.
Another name the modest Bob Millikin might have considered: SV Meticulous.
It’s hard to say how Joshua Slocum would react to Silverado. Aghast at the 38 hp Betamarine diesel engine? Amused at the SeaMar composting head? Agog at the clever installation of navigational instruments?
He certainly would have been surprised at the addition of a sturdy wheelhouse that makes for a roomy, comfortable helm.
“We took a trip up to Alaska and I knew that if we every travelled that way, we’d want a wheelhouse,” Bob explained. So a pilot house was built - and perhaps a few months more work in design and construction. But it was time well-wasted, as they say on the Comedy Channel.
“Building Silverado never seemed like a burden…if fact, as I neared completion I had some doubts whether I would be sorry when it was done. But now that she’s in the water, I can’t believe it. This is a dream come true.”
If you happen upon a silvery chimera on a quiet morning that seems to channel the spirit of Joshua Slocum in aluminum, more likely than not it’s Silverado.
Beam 10′ 6″
Gross 20,000 lbs
Bruce Roberts design
7,000 pounds of metal
11,000 feet of welded bead
Betamarine 38 hp diesel