Small picture of a Mercer 44

Mercer 44 Fred L. Baker

Yes you heard it, David Kent's Mercer is named "Fred L. Baker". She is kept in South Freeport Maine and they have enjoyed her for several years. "The Fred" was built in 1961 in Trenton, New Jersey by the Mercer Boatworks as hull number 3 (we believe). She is named for David's wife Widge's grandfather. He sailed to Maine in the early 1900's and they have one of his logs. He was the commodore of the Orient Height's Yacht Club (now Logan Airport).

According to David, the boat was originally named "Avante III" and was owned by Vincent Lazzara. Lazzara sold the boat to Dewar and Baker in 1968. They continued to own the boat alone and then with others until 1975, when it was sold to Leslie Robson who they believe changed the name to Stampede. In 1980, the boat was sold to Stampede Charters. In 1989 the boat was sold to Jessie Walker who I think changed the name back to Avante and later to Lifted Spirits. The IRS seized the boat in 1991 and sold it to John Schroeder in 1992. John changed the name back to Stampede and kept her in the Virgin Islands and Maryland. David bought the boat from John in 1997 and changed the name to Fred L. Baker. David is certain of the owners and dates but vague on when the different name changes occurred.

It is reputed, and David is researching the matter, that as Avante III she won the Bermuda race the year she was built. She was a successful Southern Ocean Racing Circuit racer in the 60's and a competitive club racer in the 70's. As David travels up and down the coast, he has regularly met sailors who have crewed on her. David has pictures and race results along with rating sheets used in these race seasons and I hope he will send them to us so we can post some samples.

In 1980/81 she was completely refitted for cruising. The refit included a more yacht like exterior and interior, repowering, new rigging, sails, winches, and electrical systems. The traveler was moved mid-boom, and much of the race hardware like the two 100lb spinnaker poles was maintained. David continues to make improvements to Fred including new sails, cosmetic maintenance, and a new galley layout.

Rumor has it that Fred got a new Perkins engine recently up in a yard in Maine. I've heard that because of or during the process they discovered some mold problems with the hull and so some serious work needed to be done on her.

Unfortuntely, as of July 2009, David Kent has decided to place Fred L. Baker on the market. They have spent a lot of time and money making substantial upgrades to the boat during their 12 years of ownership and I'm sure they are sad to part with her. Please contact me if you are interested and I will forward to the appropriate party.

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