2024 June 1

The owners of this Baltic 39 have loved the sturdy racer-cruiser for 46 years and counting

You really can have it all, at least in a sailboat. And Mac Madenwald and Wendy Gray have found it.

Their Baltic 39 can hold its own in the Anacortes, Washington, racing fleet and or serve as the perfect home for blissful San Juans cruising. And despite being nearly a half century old, Pangaea still turns heads.

Mac Madenwald and Wendy Gray enjoy sailing Pangaea with many different people but especially their grandchildren. 
“I never tire of taking the boat away from the dock and receiving compliments about how pretty she is,” Madenwald said. 

Madenwald’s relationship with Pangaea goes all the way back to 1978, when he sold his Ranger 33 in favor of a racer-cruiser with more room and without an alcohol stove and gasoline engine. He bought the Baltic sight unseen from the factory.

“I had lines drawings and specs and friends who saw it at a European boat show sent photos,” he said. “And I had lots of communication with Baltic.”

It was a match made in heaven, and a long-lasting one at that. Madenwald is the longest continuous owner of a Baltic Yacht in the world, and he and Gray celebrated that status at the company’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2023. 

The boat was designed by Rob Ball, who was the chief designer for C&C, along with Rolf Vrolijk, who was an intern at the time but largely responsible for the design. Vrolijk went on to found Judel/Vrolijk and Co. It was built at Baltic’s Finland yard in 1977.

In its 46th year with Madenwald, Pangaea has seen its share of refits, although the original teak decks remain. The engine has been replaced, new upholstery has been installed, a windlass has been added and it also has a new head, rod rigging and electronics. 

Those refits and upgrades have kept Pangaea sailing hard through the decades. Many years, Madenwald and his wife Gray have sailed more than 90 days, although Madenwald, 84 and a retired orthopedic surgeon, said that was down to 78 last year. 

“The ravages of maturity are catching up,” he said. “We hope to, and probably will get to 50- or 60-plus days this year.”

There are no shortage of incredible sailing opportunities for this capable and classic racer-cruiser. Summers have been filled with extensive cruising in the San Juan and Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound and circumnavigating Vancouver Island. Couple that with an impressive racing resume that includes two Vic-Maui races from Victoria, British Columbia, to Maui, Hawaii, as well as many other races throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Madenwald recalled one of his favorite memories of sailing on the boat on one of the offshore races. “We were sailing in the trade winds in the warm, tropical waters near Maui with a school of dolphins playing in our bow wave,” he said.

The boat excels so much at both racing and cruising that her owners are hard pressed to pick a favorite.

“It’s hard to choose between an exhilarating day of racing with the rail in the water and a lazy, laid-back day cruising in the islands with a cold beer,” he said. “Any day aboard Pangaea is a good day.”

Pangaea is a joy to sail, said Madenwald, who appreciates her sturdy build, ease of handling and clean lines, and the one shortcoming he mentioned—a small cockpit—is made up for by a factory-installed creature comfort he wouldn’t want to be without: a Webasto diesel forced-air furnace. 

“Our cruising grounds include northern British Columbia and southeastern Alaska and a source of dry, warm air is wonderful,” he said.

Madenwald and Gray also donate sailing experiences on the boat to various fundraisers for a variety of groups including the local hospital foundation, Boys & Girls clubs and agricultural organizations, taking high bidders out for twilight sails and more.

But the boat comes alive during local races when it is full of new and old crewmembers, something its owners have fostered over the years. The racing crew is filled with friends and other local sailors from Anacortes. In fact, so many different crewmembers have sailed on the boat that friends gave Madenwald a license plate holder that reads “Honk if you’ve sailed on Pangaea.”

And the approach is successful, he said. 

“When we’re racing, more often than not we are competitive and still place. Perhaps that’s due to a little old age and treachery, and definitely due to local tidal knowledge.”

The much-loved Pangaea’s future is not in any doubt. Madenwald and Gray now share ownership of the boat with Nick Estvold, who started sailing with them when he was 12 and is now in his mid-30s. 

“In two years the boat will be entirely his,” Madenwald said. “He knows and loves the boat as much as us. We know it’s in very good hands.”

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Baltic 39, built in 1977

Designed by Rob Ball and Rolf Vrolijk

LOA 39’; Beam 12’6”; Draft 7’

Displacement 18,500 lb.


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