Common Sense, a.k.a. No Ka Oi

No Ka Oi is hull #1 of the Common Sense class of sailboats designed by Matt Walsh, of which five boats were built. Walsh began building the Common Sense Class in 1932, at the depth of the depression, as a way to keep his men at the Garbutt & Walsh boatyard in San Pedro employed. The 28 foot on deck design was fashioned after the simple characteristics of boats he had grown up with in Nova Scotia. Originally christened Common Sense, Walsh built the sloop for his daughter Helen, a student at USC, who needed a boat to compete in. During the mid 1980s woodworker Shane Ferguson, who grew up in Hawaii, found the hull in a junkyard. He proceeded to restore the boat and renamed her No Ka Oi – Hawaiian for β€œthe best.” A second boat, hull #5 Red Witch, is known to remain and reportedly sailing in Newport Beach. The original Common Sense featured a flush deck, a spoon shaped cockpit and no engine. The boat in its present configuration has both a cabin and engine. John Arnold is the current owner of No Ka Oi and sails her regularly on the waters of San Diego. The following pictures were taken at a recent San Diego Ancient Mariners Yesteryear Regatta. Just the sight of her charging up the channel, rail down past Pt. Loma, stirs up a sense of nostalgia.

Note – Information for this post was gathered from the San Diego Ancient Mariners newsletter Albatross. You can read more about No Ka Oi and Matt Walsh here –

No Ka Oi

Rail down.

Holding her own with a PC.

Charging past Pt. Loma.

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  1. Posted May 30, 2015 at 2:04 pm by Jay Greer | Permalink

    Thank you Mark for your excellent pictures and words on Common Sense 1! I am the owner of CS5, Red Witch and was responsible for John Arnold opting to purchase #1.
    Sadly, John succumbed to cancer several years ago and the boat is now located at the Sea Scout Base in Newport Harbor. The new owner is the director of the base and is planning to remove the engine from the boat, set her up with an asemetrical chute and go a racing. I consider this a good Idea on his part as the Volvo diesel weighs so much as to set the boat down to the point of dragging her stern on a close reach. I predict that she will perform brilliantly without that heavy engine weighing her down! Incidentaly, would it be possible to obtain prints of those fine pictures you have taken of her?
    Best Regards,
    Jay Greer

  2. Posted July 28, 2015 at 6:42 pm by admin | Permalink

    Apologies for the delayed response. Yes, No Ka Oi was a fine boat. I’m sure we can work something out for an image. Let me know which one. Fair winds, Mark

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