Boat of the Week: Stunning Innovation on the Little Harbor 53

Whether your sailing plans involve cruising the Chesapeake or making bluewater passages to the Bahamas, the details and build of this Ted Hood-designed Little Harbor 53 make it special. This week’s brokerage boat, Brise de Mer, was built in 1987, and carries design features and craftsmanship not found in most modern production yachts.

Little Harbor Yachts, based out of New England, began building custom or semi-custom vessels in 1959. The intricate details reflect their founder, Ted Hood, a consummate architect and designer known for his thoughtful execution. Brise de Mer is no exception: it’s estimated that it took between 20-22,000 hours of intensive labor to execute her custom build.

The Little Harbor 53 has a unique cockpit design which allows one person to handle sail controls without leaving the cockpit, aided by four self-tailing power winches. The center cockpit design has unique pass throughs allowing access to the decks without a step up. Full canvas coverings provide sun protection for guests while maintaining the skipper’s necessary lines of sight to effectively maneuver and sail.

Ted Hood, Jr., is the listing broker on this yacht. “My father carried a tape measure with him every time he stepped on an airplane,” Hood, Jr. says of his father, who passed in 2013. “He’d measure out how the bathrooms were laid out, seeking inspiration on how to incorporate space savings into his yacht designs.” Great attention was also paid to ergonomics. “One of his pet peeves was that backrests needed to be high enough, so we always have comfortable seating in cockpits. Standard settees got an improvement.”

The difference between Bay boats and New England boats is often their drafts, and in this sense Brise De Mer plays for both teams. With the centerboard up, she draws only 5’6”, ideal for the Chesapeake and other shallow destinations such as the Bahamas. With her board down she draws 11’4” and has great capabilities on the breeze. Matched with an efficient spade rudder, she is a dream steer. A bow thruster adds to low-speed maneuverability while flush-through hulls make her slippery in the water. 

The interior features exceptional teak joiner work with solid, custom-shaped teak trim and veneers, all finished in satin varnish with gloss accents offset by contrasting white surfaces for a light-yet-traditional feel. The floorboards are solid teak and holly. 

The spacious main salon features an oval settee and dining table with built-in bottle storage, along with a second full-length settee and coffee table for an additional sea berth or overflow seating. The coffee table also has a fitted cushion for use as a bench seat at the dining table. Throughout Brise de Mer, hatches and opening portholes creates a light and airy feeling. Six topside windows add to the boat’s visibility and open feeling.

Brise de Mer features a two-cabin layout with an oversized master cabin forward and VIP/guest cabin aft, each with its own head and shower. The full-width master cabin features queen and single berths, while there are two singles in the aft cabin. 

All water and fuel tanks are below floor level, so they don’t take away from storage under seats or furniture.

Ted Hood, Sr., was originally inspired by the sailing yacht Finisterre, the 1954 Olin Stephens-designed yawl that won the Bermuda Race in 1956, 1958, and 1960. Named for Marblehead’s own Little Harbor, Hood’s first designs echoed Finisterre’s racing capabilities, and won the regattas to prove it. As he continued to build yachts into the 1970s and ’80s, he expanded into larger models of both racing and cruising boats. A yachtsman himself, Hood redesigned his own deck hardware, mast, and sailing systems, focusing on what the sailor wanted and the sailboat needed.

“He was quite the innovator,” says Hood, Jr. “It was very integrated, parts and pieces that were all in his mind. He tried to optimize all of that, day to day, boat to boat.”

That the result of Hood’s innovation is so beautiful is simply a happy coincidence.

Brise de Mer is offered by Wellington Yacht Partners and is currently located in St. Michaels.


LOA: 53’2″
Beam: 15’1″
Max Draft: 11’4″
Clearance: 72′
Tonnage: 40.00
Model Year: 1987
Staterooms: 2
Fuel Cap: 240 Gallons
Water Cap: 160 Gallons
Engines: 1x Yanmar 125hp

Offered at $379,000