It all began years ago when I would be out sailing and people would tell me I was sailing a Drascombe-wannabe. I would say no, it's a Welsford Pathfinder. They would shake their heads, say never heard that name before. As with all good conspiracies the story evolved over the years. At some point it crossed from being a wannabe to a true Drascombe. In fact a Drascombe Lugger.
Exhibit A, from SPARTINA's log, 2013: I drop by the dock masters office, finding the Old Salt from the laundromat there. The dock master tells him about Spartina, the Old Salt tells me it is a Drascombe. I say no, it's a design from New Zealand. It might be marketed under a different name, he tells me as he gears up for an argument, but it is really a Drascombe and I just don't know it.
Exhibit B, from my UK friend Steve, builder/owner of what he claims to be a Welsford Navigator: Last year I had a woman who swore blind Arwen was a drascombe. I patiently explained I had built her from plans and she was indeed a welsford navigator. She listened attentively and when I finished, she admonished me, pointing out she'd been sailing all her life and that she knew lots about dinghies and what I had was a drascombe and I should read my plans more carefully.
Exhibit C, a mysterious email from a man who claims to have sailed a Drascombe Lugger most of the way around the world (yeah right, like I'm gonna believe that one!): " it is time that you so-called Welsford owners realize that there is no Welsford. He is a myth probably invented by conspiracy theorists. There are only Drascombes."
So we are talking a conspiracy that exhibited itself over many years and around the world. I confess I was starting to buy into it. Until yesterday. A fine mid-December sail and I pass by the stern of a cruising sailboat out of Vancouver, BC. A nice young couple on board and the man waves, says my boat reminds him of a boat he had always wanted to build. So I ask "What kind of boat is that?" (all the time dreading it would be a Drascombe). "It is a boat," he says, "called......a Pathfinder!"
I push the tiller over, watch the breeze fill the loose footed gaff-rigged main and feel the boat heel as it slides gracefully across the water. And I smile because John Welsford did in fact design a fine boat called a Pathfinder. And the Pathfinder sails pretty damn well.