Welcome to Hunter Liberty & Ministrel Owners Association

Hunter Liberty and Minstrel Owners Association

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Sad News -- Our Founder Peter Stubbings has died after a long battle against cancer, see Events

Liberty owners become well used to calls of "What a pretty boat, with that nice stern and unusual rig: what is it?" We agree that the caller is right: everything about the boat is both pretty and practical. David Thomas developed the design for Hunter Boats in 1979, capitalising on his memories of the stern of a Royal Naval Montague Whaler and the best aspects of Gary Hoyt's American Freedom concept (hence the "Liberty" name) but anglicised so that conventional mast tracks could be used - and therefore a single sail instead of a wrap round - and the sail also reefed more efficiently as the complications of the wishbone and snotter are avoided.

Liberty - Laissez-Faire

But we do enjoy not having genoa sheet winches, the easy balancing of the two masted rig, the use of the tightly sheeted mizzen to keep the boat heading into wind while the main is set or the anchor weighed. Enthusiasts set upwind blade staysails or downwind balloon types between the masts, or even forward of the main mast, so it is possible to make life as complicated as you wish.

Life below decks is highly civilised because the main mast is so far forward that it does not interfere with the accommodation layout, while the offset main hatch allows a full sized heads compartment (with surprisingly good headroom) immediately to port. So the saloon allows a double or two singles, plus a very long quarter berth running back under the cockpit and a good galley.

The Minstrel and Liberty 23 hulls, keels and rudders are identical. Below decks they are also the same, except that the Minstrel has an essential mast support. This slight inconvenience is countered in some boats by using it as a table support. Likewise, despite the support, owners have found ways to organise an infill cushion, so allowing a double berth.

Minstrels are normally faster up wind than Libertys, as they should be since they have single masted rigs and a little more sail area. For the same reasons they are not quite as stiff. Off the wind there is little difference, though Libertys sometimes seem to gain in stronger winds. To our surprise, a goose winged and well laden Liberty has run away from a spartan Bermudan rigged Minstrel with its spinnaker set, so nothing is certain

Altogether 84 Libertys were built: 65 22s and 19 23s (the same hull with more ballast, a slightly bigger rig and bigger, less attractive windows) and then Hunter Boats used the same hull to build 30 of the gaff rigged Minstrel class, which is equally popular; Liberty and Minstrel sailors delight in late evening discussions over the relative merits and speed of their boats.

The Association boasts 87 members, so we still have to find about 30 of the boats, to document the whole class. If you happen to know of one, anywhere, we would like to know how we can contact the owner, so that we can try to discover its history, regardless of whether the owner wishes to join us or not.

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Benefits of Membership

HLMOA's aim is to provide a forum of discussion and group activity centered around individuals who have a common interest in boats of the type :

To join please contact the Hon. Secretary - See Contacts

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