The Yacht

Our beautiful Fortaleza is a 48' cutter, designed by the well respected American yacht designer Al Mason. She was professionally built from corten steel in Auckland NZ by Thackwray and launched in 1987. As far as we know she is one of a kind, having been commissioned by her first owner. We became her 6th custodians in October of 2020.

A rather nice incidental little factoid is that Fortaleza was built by Thackwrays at the same time they built The Spirit of New Zealand, a tallship and Kiwi icon, which makes them sisters. Always fun to have famous rellies!

Her original owner named her Fortaleza - we have no idea why. It is the name of a large fortified city in Brazil (which of course is on our To Visit list) and translates to something like "inner strength" or perhaps closer to the lovely Maori term "mana", holding an inherited supernatural power. Whatever it really means it suits her and while we played with changing her name we just couldn't do it. Fortaleza is who she is.

Whilst construction on her began in 1985 her design takes inspiration from earlier times. From her rising bow with sloped stem to her moderately raked transom, she's an elegant lady who is, satisfyingly, admired by many.

Fortaleza's keel is long, beginning just forward of the mast, extending all the way to the rudder. This makes it, and the propeller which is tucked into an aperture, very protected (as we discovered when we t-boned an enormous tree whilst sailing across the Bay of Plenty. Slowing us from 6 knots to 2 with a huge steel drum bang, it rolled the entire length of Fortaleza's belly and popped up behind us. We thought we had hit a whale. When Elliot dived on her hull the next day the only damage was some missing anti-foul. A spade rudder could potentially have been taken off. This incident also made us very glad to be steel, a fibreglass boat would have been in trouble.) The downside of her long keel is that she is completely unpredictable in reverse. We can only guess which direction she will take us. Moving around marinas is a hoot!

The deep aft cockpit with its hard top and plastic sides keeps us warm and dry even beating into the wind and waves. It is a blessing which we are constantly reminded of as we pass other boats, their owners in full foul weather gear and ski googles. We try not to feel guilty in our ugg boots and fleece tops.

Inside she is voluminous but not particularly clever in her layout. Modern boats of her size would have 3 double cabins all with their own en suites.  Not our Forty. A double cabin forward, and a single bed and a double bed in an aft cabin. She has one head (loo) and the most magnificent full shower we've ever seen on a boat of her size and age. Mahogany everywhere. Dovetail joins. Solid heavy doors. The craftsmanship is mindblowing. The galley is vast. The saloon is literally big enough to dance in. We've had 9 people around her dining table.

The numbers

LOA    14.6m

LWL    11.6m

Beam 4.6m

Draft 2m

Air Draft 21m

Displacement    20t / 44,000 lbs

Ballast 4t


BETA 75  - Normally Aspirated (2022)

CV / Thrust bearing

24" Maxprop


Boom  6m



Water    250 x 2 

Fuel    800 in keel

Grey    250 in keel  (+ composting toilet)


Raymarine Axiom

Raymarine wind and depth transducers

Raymarine EV1 /ACU 400 Autopilot


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