In Brief

Fast Passage 39
A stout double-ender which many compare to the Valiant 40, the Fast Passage 39 has all the hallmarks of a legendary cruiser; speed, ruggedness and a dash of fame. So perhaps it’s a little surprising only 41 have been produced, and those in search for one may have an adventure on their hands; they are hard to find.

The Fast Passage 39 traces its origins back to the pen of William Garden and a boat called Bolero, a 40 foot sloop conceived in the 1960s. The story goes that Denny Coverdale working for Philbrooks Shipyard on Vancouver Island (Sidney, BC) cruised in tandem with her one summer, and with his shipyard looking for bigger projects, approached Garden to design a modernized version for production. The result was the Fast Passage 39, introduced in 1975, and purportedly the boat that Garden himself said would be the one he’d take cruising.

Philbrooks built 36 of these boats, some of which we sold as hull and deck kits to be finished by their owners. The molds were then sold to Tollycraft who completed a further four boats in Kelso, Washington before production ceased in 1985. It was one of these boats that Francis Stokes bought and christened Moonshine, racing her to second place in her class in the inaugural BOC singlehanded around-the-world race, one of 10 boats to finish from a field of 16.

Many comparisons can be made with the Valiant 40, apart from the obvious similarities above the waterline, the numbers are really telling. Though the Fast Passage 39 is narrower the two share similar LOA and LWL and their displacement and ballast figures are nearly identical. Their underwater shapes are also very similar, the Fast Passage 39 is a tad more evolved with slightly less wetted area and flatter sections forward and aft of the keel.

Under sail the boat performs well through a full range of conditions. Francis Stokes noted the boat’s relatively shoal 5′ 6″ draft was advantageous downwind, her inherent directional stability and responsive rudder also allowed good control under wind vane, even down steep waves. He noted when alongside a Valiant 40, the Fast Passage 39 would need to reef early but would always be as fast. To windward the boat has a tendency for a lot of leeway when heeled more than 20 degrees. Where the boat really excels is in light winds.

The Fast Passage 39 story did not end with the Tollycraft boats, in more recent times Jeremiah Mitchel acquired the molds which were lying disused in tall grass. Michel with the intention of kickstarting production made improvements to the boat including airex coring in the deck (replacing the original balsa coring) with kevlar reinforcing. However only one additional boat was produced which was built in 2000 by Northern Marine. The boat is known as a Fast Passage 40.


LOA: 39’ 6″ (12.0 m.)
LWL: 33’ 6″ (10.2 m.)
Beam: 11’ 2″ (3.4 m.)
Draft: 5’ 6″ (1.7 m.)
Ballast: 7,500 lbs. (3,402 kgs.)
Displacement: 22,000 lbs. (9,979 kgs.)
Sail Area: 735 sq.ft. (224 sq.m.)

Fuel: 53 US. Gal. (201 l.)
Water: 100 US. Gal. (378 l.) .

Designer: William Garden
Builder: Philbrooks Shipyard Ltd, Canada / Tollycraft / Northern Marine
Year Introduced: 1975
Year Ended: 1985

Buyers Notes

A well known problem among owners is delamination in the rudder and deck. In the case of the rudder, the originals were not very well built though owner many have corrected this issue on many of the boats. In the case of the decks, leaks have been the cause of the balsa coring rotting out, leading to delamination.

Philbrooks is known to produce boats of excellent quality, in the case of the kit boats check for quality of finish, kits boats have to fetch less money. Francis Stokes also proved that Tollycraft-built boats are just as good.

The Fast Passage 39 is rare to find on the market, with such few numbers produced and owners do tend to keep them. The boat has a tendency to be sold person to person without ever hitting the open market. As of 2010 the estimated the asking price of these boats are in the range of $80k-$170k USD.

Similar Boats

Links, References and Further Reading

» Fast Passage 39 Review by John Kretschmer, Used Boat Notebook p187-191
» Cruising World Magazine’s review of the Fast Passage 39 by Mark Schrader, Dec 1997
» Blue Water Sailing Magazine’s look at the Fast Passage 40, Jun 2010
» A look at the Fast Passage 40 by Quentin Warren writing for, Aug 2000


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18 thoughts on “Fast Passage 39”

  1. Geoff Menzies says:

    I have just looked at a Philbrook built 1979 fast passage 39 in Seattle named Joggins. Anyone have any knowledge about this specific boat? Thanks

  2. James Wilson says:

    After twelve short years and countless unforgettable moments it’s time to part with our beloved Jean Marie (pictured here). This boat has been a joy to sail and performs well in heavy winds and light winds. She’s been well-maintained over the years with many system upgrades, essential spares, and safety gear added for an anticipated Pacific crossing. She was re-powered with a Beta 43 just last year and has less than 100 hours on the engine. This is not a project boat. She’s ready and outfitted for blue water. Unfortunately, the window of opportunity has closed for us. If you’re looking for a Fast Passage 39 you will not find one in better condition or better equipped. Check out for more info.

  3. Scott Baker says:

    Here is a YouTube Movie on an extraordinary young man and his voyage on a Fast Passage 39. Be careful, this movie will forever change you.

  4. Monica says:

    Hey there! Trent and I just bought a Fast Passage 39′ in January and just moved onto her last month. We are fixing her up in Mobile, Alabama and plan on heading South in another month or two. We just published a blog and would love to share it with other FP fans. We hope to run into you sometime!

  5. Pekka Shemeikka says:

    Anybody sailing FP 39 anywhere close to Europe in 2015? Interested to visit one before trying possibly to find another somewhere in 2016..

  6. Dave Clancy says:

    I have just purchased “Tioga” 1979 Fast Passsage . Love her.. slowely getting settled in and fixing/doing the work on her that I would like . SaltSpring Island this winter … then ?????

    1. Jan elliott says:

      I saw tioga today in front of the empress. In a previous life i was an owner of the FP 39 Digression, and spent hundreds of hours rafted up with Tioga up and down the coast. Hope you have as wonderful experience as her previous owners did, and as I did on Digression. Greta offshore boat, if you are heading that way.
      Imcould not help writing, with so many happy memories sitting at the dock. She looks great.

  7. Glynis Davis says:

    We have our Fast Passage 39
    For sale. Asking $85000.00 Canadian

  8. Glynis says:

    Contact. , if interested in FP 39 for sale

  9. Richard Cameron says:

    Does anyone know of a Fast Passage 39 for sale?
    I would appreciate any information.

    Richard Cameron

    1. bryon bryant says:

      I have a fastpassage built by Philbrook finished by Vector in Sidney B.C. Call me for more details,256-572-8775

  10. gerd mueller says:

    We have Hull #1 since 1977 and still cruise her happily. Slightly different interior and double spreader rig.

  11. Mister Mike says:

    I could swear I read an article YEARS ago about one of the first aroundtheworld solo races & one of the racers competed in a FP 39. Need to dig out my old crusing world mags.

    1. Steve says:

      Search “Francis Stokes BOC” or “Moonshine Logs”

  12. James Wilson says:

    I believe the number for Tollycraft boats is understated. I bought Jean Marie in Blaine, WA in 2006 and am currently sailing her in Mexico. She was built by Tollycraft in 1982 and is hull #7. I’m not sure why the actual production numbers are so difficult to find. Perhaps the later boats were sold as kits and not considered production boats. If Jean Marie was an owner-finished boat then the owner certainly did a great job. This is only a theory, of course. There may be someone still working for Tollycraft who can answer the question.

  13. Harry DeBold says:

    We have owned Cool Change, a Tollycraft built Fast Pasage 39 since November 2009.  Have spent two winters in the Bahamas and are currently on the hard in Charlotte Harbor, Fl.  I constantly hear that Tollycraft only built 4 boats but it is my understanding that ours is hull # 9 which was built in 1986.  Would love to hear from other Fast Passage owners.

    1. Monica and Trent says:

      Hey Harry! I just saw this post. We are on Cool Change right now. Just moved on. Changing the name to Pepper. Check out our blog and see what all we’ve done to the boat. It’s a beauty. Having a blast!

  14. Harry DeBold says:

    We have owned Cool Change, a Tollycraft built Fast Pasage 39 since November 2009.  Have spent two winters in the Bahamas and are currently on the hard in Charlotte Harbor, Fl.  I constantly hear that Tollycraft only built 4 boats but it is my understanding that ours is hull # 9 which was built in 1986.  Would love to hear from other Fast Passage owners.

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