On March 1 Jeff Yates posted on our Face Book fan page about Lionheart, “Love these old CSY yachts, why because I helped build every one.” CSY’s (Caribbean Sailing Yacht) were designed and constructed right here in Tampa throughout the ‘70’s and 80’s in a ship building facility near the Gandy Bridge. The Tampa Bay Area was then home to more yacht producers than anywhere else in the U.S.
I continue to be amazed at how many people I run in to in the Tampa Bay Area who proudly proclaim that they worked at the CSY factory – and most for very long tenures. All exude extraordinary pride in the craftsmanship that went in to every one of these beautiful yachts.
Though the CSY was one of scores of world-class sailing yachts built on Tampa Bay’s shores, its mission and product were very unique in the industry. The CSY corporation did not have a retail dealer network like other boat manufacturers. These ships were not built for the mass market, but were designed for CSY’s own commercial operations in the Caribbean. And they were “overbuilt” in every way. Strong, stout, heavy boats that could be safely and comfortably at home in any ocean in the world in most any weather. Yet CSY’s were blessed with marine architectural designs that made them world-class sailing vessels, from the lightest winds to gale force blows.
More than one former CSY boatwright has described strength tests during which the hull was literally shot with a Remington 341 high-powered rifle. It did not penetrate the thick hull! CSY has a hull that is truly “bullet proof”. Where most other boats of the class are fitted with plastic or aluminum portholes, CSY used only bronze. Likewise, all the
through-hull hose fittings are solid bronze – not brass or steel. Some of the most identifiable features of CSY’s are the generous use of exotic woodwork and the fine craftsmanship displayed throughout and the hand-carved bowsprit, reminiscent of the grand sailing ships of the past. You’ll find very little plastic or veneers on a CSY.
Lionheart has a very special history in that she spent most of her life in the fresh waters and short sailing season of the Great Lakes. Time has treated her well. She is an excellent example of the products of these world-class craftsmen (and women) and designers of CSY, as well as the business acumen of this corporation. Thanks Mr. Yates for reminding us of this heritage – we look forward to putting you at the helm once again.