LOA: 33'-1" (10.08 m)
DWL: 32'-2" (9.81 m)
Beam: 10' (3.05 m)
Draft (Keel): 14 1/2" (368 mm)
Draft (Max): 33 1/2" (851 mm)
Displacement: 9,400 lbs. (4264 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 120 gals. (454 L)
Deadrise: 9 degrees
Freeboard (Fwd): 58 1/4" (1480 mm)
Freeboard (Aft): 42 1/4" (1073 mm)
Power: Beta 90 Diesel

Blackhawk 33

Back when I worked for Jay Benford at Benford Design Group we had a longtime client named Chuck Phillips. I only met Chuck one or two times in person, but spoke with him on the phone a number of times. Chuck was one of those people who never introduced himself when he called, you were just supposed to know it was him calling by the sound of his voice. Then again, Chuck was a first rate character and difficult to forget! His stories of Vietnam, where he was a pilot and of his life after the war working as a "private contractor" for the government in different parts of the world were pretty amazing.

Blackhawk 33 Profile A few years after I moved to Florida and started Smith Marine Design, my phone rang. The person on the other end started talking as if we were old buddies and it took a while before I could get up the nerve to ask who was on the other end! It had been years since we spoke, but to Chuck it must have been yesterday. Chuck was a boat designer of sorts himself, having taken a home study course years earlier. He had built a number of boats and cruised extensively. Chuck had a mountain of partially completed designs and special hardware drawings he had worked on over the years. He had a sailboat design that he wanted me to work on. Not my normal thing, but I wasn't in a position to turn down work! One project led to another. . . large sailboats, small sailboats, even a little tug boat. None of these projects ever got finished as Chuck seemed to be flitting from one thing to another. I always wondered what he was thinking as his health was very bad and I didn't know how he was ever going to be able to use a boat, nonetheless build one.

Chuck had been designing electronic components for the military. He developed a device that would jam cell phone signals in the immediate area. He sold these to the military to mount on their vehicles as the roadside bombs were often triggered by a cell phone call. He needed someone to draw up the housings for him. I got that work as well, simple drafting and even some modeling. It wasn't until shortly before he died that I realized what Chuck had been doing. He knew my business was slow, so he kept throwing projects at me to help me out. That was the kind of person Chuck was and I wasn't alone at the receiving end of his kindness.

Blackhawk 33 Aft Quarter The last project we worked on together was for an express cruiser that he wanted to build to cruise up and down the Intracoastal Waterway and maybe over to the Bahamas. She was to be a bigger version of Blackbird, a Phil Bolger design that was herself inspired by a Sparkman and Stephens design called Escort. We started at 28', then went to 30' and finally to 33'. She kept growing as these boats are very low slung and we couldn't get the headroom we needed in the cabin while still maintaining the correct proportions. At 33' the proportions seemed to work, so that is where we stopped.

She has a low deadrise, hard chined hull with integral chine flats. Blackbird and Escort were both round bilge hulls. I don't remember how we arrived at the hard chine hull, but I am sure we had a good reason! She has a little flare up forward and a little tumblehome back aft. Her stem is nearly vertical and she has a shallow forefoot that leads to a nearly straight run along her keel. Her transom is slightly raked and curved. She was to be powered with a single diesel engine and would be used in shallow water, so Chuck wanted a deep skeg to protect the prop in case of grounding.

Blackhawk 33 from astern Her styling followed that of Blackbird and Escort with a wrap around, solid "windshield" and sweeping, low slung sheer. She has a small cabin up forward and a large open cockpit back aft. In between was a raised deck over the engine room that also ensured good sight lines from the helm. The cabin features a small galley to port. Just aft of the galley was an oilskin locker, evidence that Chuck was a sailor at heart. To starboard is a head compartment that had full headroom due to being under the "windshield". In the bow were a pair of very long berths. They were long due to not having standing headroom that far forward. While the styling on the outside was quite lovely, it didn't leave much room for accommodations!

Power was to come from a 90 hp Beta diesel. Chuck had experience with these diesels and a good relationship with the distributor. With that engine, I estimated that she would only go about 14-15 knots. Chuck was content with that speed, as a sailor he considered that moving right along! We hoped we could build more of them though, so I also made sure we could install a Yanmar 230 hp diesel. That would give a top speed of 23 knots and would be more marketable. Fuel was carried in two tanks, outboard of the engine and over the center of buoyancy for good balance.

Blackhawk 33 forward quarter Construction was to be strip planking with a couple layers of veneer run diagonally over the outside. Chuck was a big proponent of strip planking and considered it the best method for building a one off boat. The stringers would be laminated wood while the frames and bulkheads would be marine plywood. Chuck had an old friend from when he lived in Thailand who is a boat builder. He planned on having the boat built there and shipped back to Maryland, where he lived.

I would like to finish the Blackhawk 33 someday, with a larger engine and a slightly revised interior. I'd also consider using wood strips with fiberglass on both sides. Then much of the interior structure could be eliminated and she would still be light and strong. Chuck had put a lot of thought into this project, I have a folder about an inch thick filled with all the information on the equipment he wanted to use. Like many of his friends, I found out he passed away from an announcement on the Woodenboat forum. If you have time, do a search on the forum for Paladin. You'll get to know Chuck a little through his nearly 20,000 posts. I hope he is eternally sailing in fair winds and following seas, on a wooden boat!