Line drawing of the Coronado 35.

This Old Boat author Don Casey used the Coronado 35 as the poster child for ugly sailboats. Hollywood must not read such books. In two of the 10-episodes of The Night Agent currently on Netflix, a Coronado 35 sailboat from the early 1970s was used as a hideout for the two heroes of the series.

Imagine my delight as the couple walks past several newer sailboats to stop and climb aboard this “beauty” built 50 years ago in California. Several scenes are set inside the spacious interior of the Coronado. Although spiffed up and decorated with new fabrics, the boat is still true to her hippie-era design aesthetic. The outside looks great too with a dark topside paint job and new-looking stripped cockpit cushions. You can get a good look at her in scenes at the dock and at anchor.

The show is about an FBI agent and a young woman caught up in a nefarious plot to assassinate the U.S. president with lots of shooting, explosions, knife fights, and plot twists. My wife and I enjoyed it despite its middling ratings from critics. A little more than halfway through the series the couple need a place to hide out, recuperate from a knife wound, and consummate their relationship. Enter good ol’ Coronado 35.

The boat is a development of a Bill Tripp, Jr. design where a center cockpit flush deck was put on a Columbia 34 Mk II hull to make a “motor sailer” with a cavernous interior. Columbia built them from 1971 to about 1976 and marketed them under its Coronado nameplate. The 34 was a great sailing boat and there are still a lot of them around. The 35-foot Winnebago version most likely sailed okay too as long as it wasn’t the optional ketch rig. (Hughes Boatworks purchased the molds from Columbia Yachts and sold their version as the Hughes 36, which could be the boat used on the show.)

As a fan of Tripp’s designs, my heart warmed as I looked at the distinctive Tripp bow on the Coronado 35 during one of the scenes at anchor. It still looks just right.

The Coronado 35 featured in a scene on the Netflix drama, The Night Agent.

This isn’t the first time TV executives have featured Columbia/Coronado boats on their shows. In 2012, my wife and I were hooked on the ABC TV show RevengeThe Columbia 43 Blue Norther became a television star in her mid 40s. You can see her in the 2012-2013 second season of the ABC television show Revenge starring as the sailboat Amanda. There are some really nice shots of her sailing and even some interior shots. In one climactic episode there is a shootout aboard the boat and a propane tank is hit, filling the boat with gas and the bad guy blows up the boat. It then burns and sinks. All pretty crazy and far fetched. (Blue Norther survived, I recently corresponded via email with the happy new owner.)

The Columbia 43 Blue Norther racing under spinnaker many years before making it on TV.

One of the weird things about the television show was that a Hinckley 48 played the part of  the sailboat Amanda in the first season. For reliability issues, the producers switched boats in the second season. A Columbia 43 isn’t a bad replacement for a Hinckley 48 because they were both designed by Bill Tripp, Jr. 

Using a Hinckley, any Hinckley, as a boat that Jack Porter, a poor barkeep, could afford was really a stretch. The explanation was that he “fixed it up.” The Hinckley 48 was a gigantic leap. They are rare and expensive; there were only eight of them made. When you find them for sale they are usually somewhere north of $200,000. The Columbia 43, on the other hand, is neither expensive nor rare, Columbia made 153 of them. But, as the owners of Blue Norther proved, they can be a very beautiful boat; even something that Nolan Ryan (the token billionaire on the show) would want to buy.

Please don’t think less of me because of my poor taste in TV dramas. I watch them so you don’t have to…and once in a while I get to see a good old boat.