Lee & Brownie Hutchins
Lee was born and grew up in South-Eastern Massachusetts where he acquired his love of the water (ocean), sailing and fishing in the waters of the Weweantic River in Wareham, MA. The boat he learned to sail on was a Cape Dory 10.
While he tried to enter the Coast Guard Academy to continue pursuing his ocean adventures, the good Lord had other plans and he ended up attending the US Air Force Academy instead. There he met Brownie and we’ve been joined at the hip ever since.
Lee’s many hobbies and passions include wood working, Boy Scouts of America and his active Christian Faith life.
Brownie was born in the DC area but grew up in the Alleghany River Valley NW of Pittsburgh. She was a competitive cross country runner as well as an accomplished musician on the flute, piccolo, trombone and bass clarinet. She also wanted to attend the Coast Guard Academy, but, like Lee, ended up at USAFA instead.
Both Lee & Brownie completed Air Force Careers, with Brownie retiring from active duty as a Major and Lee retiring from the USAF Reserves as a Lt Col.
We also raised 2 daughters – Sarah and Robin, but as sometimes happens, they’ve gone their separate ways and they are no longer active parts of our lives unfortunately.
When we started to look at our time after the Air Force, we decided that we could find employment in the Northern Virginia area and settled there for about 20 years before deciding that we’d had enough being government contractors and sold everything to buy the sailboat. We moved on full-time in Sep of 2021.
Loki and Gabby are are 2 rescue cats that are 15 years old now. They have made their home on our boat and they are now getting pretty comfortable with being under sail and figuring out how to thrive while living on a 47′ long sailboat. Jan 2023 update – Gabby has passed away. Loki is now our lone boat cat.
SV Unladen Swallow
Unladen Swallow is a 2002 Beneteau 47.7 First Sailboat. She was commissioned new in France in 2002 by the previous owner. He then proceeded to outfit it and take it 1 1/2 times around the world over the next 10 years. He was a very experienced sailor and he and his wife had a great time on their journey.
We have updated the systems on the boat to get her ready for her next attempt at what might be a 2nd circumnavigation.
Her interior is a stained cherry finish. The lighting has all been updated to LEDs. She is equipped to sleep 6 comfortably and 9 in close quarters and 2 heads with showers.
The main engine is a Volvo-Penta D2-55a. This is a rebranded Perkins diesel motor that was built into thousands of tractors over the years. This particular model doesn’t have any electronic controls. We are updating the dummy light sensors with sensors that will report on our chart plotters with actual values that we can track over time.
This particular boat is equipped with what’s known as a Solent Rig. She has 2 head sails on roller furlers. The forward sail is a 140 Genoa and the inner sail is a high aspect ratio Jib. This combination allows us to sail really close to the wind (about 30 degrees) and also a big powerful headsail when we are not as close to the wind. To compliment these 2 sails, we have a new Code Zero (180 or so lightweight headsail) and an Asymmetric Spinnaker.
Those of you who have known us over the years, know we like our movie references. Unladen Swallow pays homage to that. To fully understand the reference you should watch Monte Python and the Holy Grail. But if you don’t have time to watch the full movie – it’s on Netflix. These 2 clips from You Tube provide the setup and the payoff of the Unladen Swallow jibe.
We have a Apex 10′ dinghy with a 2006 25 HP 2 stroke Mercury Outboard. The Dinghy is named Coconut. If you don’t get the reference, you really need to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail or see the paragraph above.
The previous owner designed and built a custom hard-top dodger. It really makes this boat very unique as it truly is a one of a kind look now with the dodger and the solar panels. We are now in lots of pictures that passersby have taken because they had to take a closer look.
The systems on the boat include a reverse osmosis water maker, propane cooking, a keel cooled deep chest freezer, a keel cooled refrigerator, and an air conditioner for the main salon area. Eventually we will install the new super high efficiency tiny 12VDC berth A/C units for our personal cabin.
Why the name “Unladen Swallow”?
When we would eat out or when we would be in meetings, and someone would ask “Any questions?” Lee would respond with “What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?” (again, the Monty Python and the Holy Grail jibe) or “What is the meaning of life?” (from either Monty Python’s Meaning of Life or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy depending on which answer you know) or “What is the significance of 42?” (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) or other such significant-but-wholly-unrelated-to-the-setting-at-the-time questions.
So, when we were thinking up boat names, Brownie’s thoughts went back to those questions that he’d ask, and the one that would fit a boat was “Unladen Swallow.”