Small Craft Advisors

By Hannah Wallace June 30, 2008

Have Pat and Charlie Ball gone overboard on their shared hobby? The brothers—third-generation Sarasotans whose grandfather sailed around the world four times before he went to college—build wooden sailing boats in the garage of Pat’s home (an early 1900s Craftsman cottage, which Pat and his wife, Judy, restored in the Ringling Museum area). The brothers’ previous project: spending five years building a 44-foot trawler, then spending six weeks sailing it to Maine. It made the front page of PassageMaker magazine.


Pat is a contractor who restores historic homes, was a pioneer in the restoration of downtown Sarasota’s Rosemary District and, with architect Guy Peterson, helped save the Revere Quality House on Siesta Key—a Sarasota School of architecture landmark—by preserving it as a guesthouse and adding a modernist home on the property. In 2007, he won the Mellen C. Greeley Craftsman Award from the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects. Charlie has practiced law here since 1973. (“Mostly real estate,” he says wryly, “so my business plan is to do more boating.”)

They recently completed two 16-foot sailing canoes built from plans they bought, then modified, from their friend Hugh Horton, a canoe designer from Michigan. In mid-May, they took their boats to the Cedar Key Messabout, an annual small-boat regatta. The brothers say their individual strengths complement each other. “Charlie is a better navigator,” Pat says, “and I’m better at construction.”

“In other words,” Charlie retorts, “I get all the nasty sanding.”

“We’re going to sail them, race them, play with them, go cruising in them a little bit,” says Pat. Then he plans to build one for his six-year-old grandson, whose mother, true to family form, sailed across the Atlantic twice before she went to college.

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