FAQ

Your most frequently asked questions… answered.

Editor’s notes (2019)

The FAQ and discussion below has been mildly edited to eliminate typos, make it clearer who the authors are and which boats they themselves have (by hull number and boat name if known). Wherever possible alternative (i.e. current) references to products & suppliers are provided.

The bulk of this FAQ was originally generated as a Q&A in the period 2005 – 2015. In this period Lester Helmus acted as a clearing house for questions and responses, but some respondents would also write direct to each other, hence some of the overlapping answers you see in the FAQ. In places there are 2019 and subsequent comments, drawing either on my own experiences, or from other Corbin 39 owners and sources, including our Corbin 39 Group on Facebook. More comments are most welcome and this FAQ will inevitably grow.

We have attempted to contact all contributors to the 2015 version of the FAQ. All responses have been most supportive, thank you. If you are a contributor who has yet to respond please contact us.

As will be apparent there are multiple viewpoints on some topics. Sometimes, but not always, this can be traced to differences in arrangement between the boats of the various authors. Some of the topics raised are not so much a Q&A, as simply being a statement of why a particular owner thought something was a good idea, which of course it may not have been at all. Make your own mind up.

If you have further comments or suggestions on any of these questions, or wish to pose new questions, or describe various issues you have faced and/or overcome, then please contact us either via the Facebook Group or via the Website.

[Remark as of November 2019: Quite a lot of the links to drawings & photos are not yet reinstated due to workload. However I also know quite a few of the relevant images have gone astray. You may find the relevant photos in the individual boat’s entry. Please email us if you have any of the missing photos, drawings, etc.]

IDENTIFYING your CORBIN 39

There were three factory locations for Corbin Les Bateaux Inc, plus a fourth location as explained below. #1: Southwest Montreal: Approximately 1979 or earlier through apparently early 1980. Then moved approximately 15-km south to the other side of the St Lawrence   300 Berge Du Canal, Ville St-Pierre, Quebec, Canada, H8R 1H3 #2: Chateauguay: Moved to this after outgrowing the first yard, dates from apparently early 1980 until it was largely destroyed in a fire in late 1982:   800 Ford blvd, Industrial Park, Chateaguay, Quebec, J6J 4Z2 #3: Napierville: Moved here which is in dairy country about 40km inland to the southeast after the late 1982 fire, and stayed there until the end of the Corbin 39 production run by Corbin Les Bateaux Inc. in approximately 1989 – 1990. The last of the hulls may have been brought to sale condition by one or other ex-employee at other locations nearby. For this yard we only have the PO box address. This yard was closed at the end of 1990, when the lease finished.   2 rang Cyr, PO Box 669, Napierville, Quebec, Canada, J0J 1LO #4: St Edouard: We are aware of one other location which was a workshop in St Edouard, Napierville, Quebec. After the closure of Corbin Inc in 1990 this workshop was rented by Raymond Dupuis in 1990 and he employed the ex-Corbin yard manager Gaetan Duchesne to work for him. Together they brought the moulds in from an outside storage location and emptied them of winter snow and ice. Then they moulded in 02/1991 one boat that was completed as “Complicite”. After this, in the same workshop, Gaetan Duchesne then moulded a second hull for another client in 07/1991 which was completed as “L’Aventure III” (sebsequently renamed “Philosophe”). Both these boats were fitted out in the same marina in the following years. Raymond Dupuis is not aware of any other Corbins that were moulded in this workshop, and Gaetan Duchesne is also not aware of any further hulls at all. Gaetan Duchesne explained that this workshop had previously been used by Corbin Inc as a satellite workshop when the Napierville yard had too much work to be fitted in one site. At that time, which he recollects as being 4-6 years before 1990, they moulded the hulls in the St Edouard workshop and then did the full kit assembly in the main Napierville yard. The photos below are of “Complicite” in build in the St Edouard workshop.

The initial mk1 design

It is worth restating a few items about the initial design, which we now generally term the mk1 series of the Corbin 39. There were some key design selection decisions that clients had to make regarding their mk1 purchase, quite irrespective of internal personal fit-out preferences:

  • twin-masted ketch or single-masted cutter-rigged sloop;
  • centre cockpit without pilothouse, or aft cockpit with pilothouse;
  • tall double-spreader mast, or shorter single-spreader ‘cruising’ cutter.

Together these created quite a variety of individual boats, and this in turn leads to a certain amount of unavoidable complexity when describing and recognising the changes in the mk2. Good example are the #73, Jakatar which is a unadorned mk1 cutter, or #69, Joint Effort which is also a mk1 cutter but has the short bowsprit for anchor-handling, but with the forestay in the original position on the bow, or the mk1 centre cockpit ketch #66, Pinguescence which has received the full bowsprit & forestay change described below.

 

The 1982 fire

The late 1982 factory fire destroyed many of the moulds. It is unclear whether the hull mould was undamaged, or whether they built a new mould from an existing hull or the initial ‘plug’, but the outcome was that the hulls remained unchanged throughout the entire production run, together with the integral keel, the skeg, and the rudder.

However after the fire they took the opportunity to make some design revisions to improve on various aspects of the mk1. These revisions were all in the superstructure moulds, and the fitting out, so in all cases the hull remained unchanged. It also appears that the majority of the deck mould remained unchanged, although some minor adjustments were made to where the various through-deck penetrations for the superstructure and where the cockpit tubs were cut, and most prominently to the shaping and location of the aft-cockpit side-coamings. We are unsure if they achieved these changes through a modular mould structure, or in some other manner. One report says that only the rear half of the deck mould was redesigned, and this would fit the evidence.

The fire itself was in late 1982 at the second yard. We are not exactly sure when the fire was, but we know from the records that it destroyed the six hulls numbered #059, #112, #117, #120, #122, and #128. Since surviving hull #127 was stamped as being moulded in 08-1982, and since surviving hull #129 was stamped as being moulded in 11-1982 it seems likely that the fire occurred in perhaps September of 1982 with the new factory in operation by November 1982 at the third yard.

This is relevant because it means that every Corbin 39 that is from #129 onwards is definitely a mk2, or at least we have yet to come across one that is not. However some of the earlier hulls had not been fitted out by late 1982, and so some of the owners took advantage of the design changes to buy the new superstructure moulds, and to incorporate the fitting-out changes. This means some pre-1982-fire hulls are also mk2 boats. That is why it pays to observe the detail of the changes and compare them with each individual boat. A good example of a mk2 using a hull that predates the 1982 factory fire is #123, “Bockra” which can be very easily compared side-by-side with two post-fire examples of the mk2, the #129, “StradiMarius II” or the #155, “Blue Run” (ex “Reverence”).

The mk2 changes, the “Edition Special”

The changes primarily addressed sailability and habitability. They were revealed with #129, “StradiMarius II” which was Marius Corbin’s own boat, and they were branded as the “Edition Special” or “Special Edition”.

Sailability

Clearly weather helm had been an issue for some of the mk1’s. Anecdotal evidence is accumulating to suggest that weather helm was most noticeable in the mk1 tall-rig cutter, less noticeable in the mk1 short-rig cutter, and not an issue in the mk1 ketch. Although it could be easily addressed it was nevertheless not ideal or perfect. Ordinarily the four coping strategies that had been taken by mk1 owners were to :

  • reef the main somewhat early;
  • cut approximately 3′ off the foot of the main boom and make a correspondingly slim mainsail;
  • make underwater hull changes to increase the skeg area;
  • install a bowsprit braced with a bobstay to move the forestay and foresails forwards by approximately 3-feet.
  • There were some other experiments but those describe the main pathways.

In the event Marius Corbin elected to add the 3-foot bowsprit to all of the mk2’s and thereby move the centre of the effort of the sailplan forwards. This was assisted by the mk1 design option that made provision for both a double-masted ketch rig and a single-masted cutter-rigged sloop. If you look at the deck and internal hull structure layout on all the mk1’s  and indeed all the mk2’s you will observe that there are two locations that the mainmast could be sited which are spaced 81cm (32″) apart. Initially, in the mk1, the design intent was for the mainmast of the ketch to go in the more forward position, whereas in the cutter-rigged sloop the original design intent was for the mainmast to go in the more aft position. Viewed externally the more forward position lines up just forwards of the three main-saloon hull portlights, and (in the aft-cockpit pilothouse layout) is just in front of the fwd pair of the four main saloon deck windows/hatches. Viewed internally the more forwards position of the mast is easily identifiable by the closeness of the compression post to the normal position of the main transverse bulkhead of the saloon (be really careful when looking at mk2 interior layout sketches of this from Corbin, as in some sketches they obviously re-used some of the old mk1 sketches without altering this detail). In contrast internally the mk1 compression post plunges straight through the centre of the normal position of the saloon table. So the changes to the location of the sailplan to move it forwards can be summarised as being the addition of a 3-foot bowsprit and a moving forwards of the mainmast of the cutter by 81cm (32″). This was entirely successful and in the mk2’s, even those with the taller double-spreader mast, the weather helm is nothing unusual or untoward and indeed the boat can be managed so as to create lee-helm if one were to desire !

So the main recognition features of these mk2 sailability improvements are the forward stepped mast (81cm = 32″) and a forestay running to a 3-foot long bowsprit that is fully braced with a bobstay to the stem near the waterline. A section further down this page gives side-by-side photos of these features.

Habitability

The most obvious changes were to : increase the width of the aft-cockpit ‘tub’ so as to make the cockpit slightly more commodious, and to increase the height of the pilothouse roof, and to offer a pilothouse option for the centre-cockpit layout (which previously had not had this option).

The aft-cockpit was deliberately made fairly narrow in the mk1 so as to increase snugness at sea. Inspection of the sides of the mk1 cockpit show wasted space in the bulwarks and coaming, and in the mk2 these were pushed outboard so as to create a cockpit that is significantly more ample. Whilst the mk2 cockpit is by no means a modern sun-lounge, it is definitely more generous compared to the mk1. This is not so noticeable in photographs, or even in person, unless you have experience of both the mk1 and the mk2 to make the mental comparison, so it does not serve well as a visual recognition feature unless you have the side-by-side pictures below to guide you.

The pilothouse roof was made slightly higher as it was realised that it was so low a profile in the mk1 that it did not obstruct forwards vision from the cockpit, whereas it was also realised that a small increase in height would greatly improve visibility from inside, and light penetration to the interior, and headroom. The mk2 pilothouse is reportedly about 6″ higher than the mk1 (DS note : I have yet to run backwards and forwards between a mk1 and mk2 with a tape measure to be absolutely sure about this measurement). The most obvious recognition feature is that there are three smaller forwards-facing windows in the aft-cockpit mk1 pilothouse, whereas there are four enormous forwards-facing windows in the aft cockpit mk2 pilothouse. Once you have compared photos of this aspect of the aft cockpit mk1 and the mk2, as shown below, you will see this notable visual difference and it serves as a good recognition feature, but you do need to watch out for the centre-cockpit mk2 which seems to have three windows ! So far there have been no reports of a boat with a mk2 pilothouse but a mk1 cockpit so it rather seems as if this was a matched pair of mouldings.

In the mk1 the centre cockpit version does not have the possibility of a pilothouse. The mk1 centre cockpit is open with a wind deflector of canvas or custom-made light fibreglass up front, looking forwards towards the main mast. An example of this is #086, “Jack Iron” if you want to look at photos. In the mk2 centre cockpit the design changes allowed for the installation of the same pilothouse as the at-cockpit mk2, but in a more forwards position, close up to the mainmast. There do not seem to have been many of these made, if only because the aft-cockpit pretty much was the client preference, but nevertheless a good example of this is #176, “Marion Mae” which was also the only fully factory-fitted out ketch to have a red hull.

So what about in-between boats ?

As you look around the world of Corbins you will realise that some folk have incorporated elements of the mk2 when carrying out refits to what were initially built as full mk1’s. These are many and varied. The most common change is to add a bowsprit and move the forestay forwards, thereby alleviating (or at least reducing) the onset of weather helm. Since many of the mk1’s incorporated a bowsprit at the very beginning, for anchor handling and bottom-observation purposes, this is often quite easy to do. The main note of caution would be that a bobstay brace needs to be fitted, and it all needs to be sufficiently structurally strong to carry the rig-loads.  In principle these refits could shunt the mast forwards, but that is seldom done as it would be a lot of extra expense and effort for not much extra gain. As well as this there are also all sorts of pilothouse and deck-saloon modifications out there which bear testament to the general adaptability of the Corbin 39 underlying design.

Recognition photos

 

Cockpit: The aft-cockpit is considerably more spacious in the mk2. See how narrow the footwell is inthe mk1  #050, Opportunity on the left vs the mk2 #189, Kalliste on the right.

Aft cockpit pilothouse windows: The aft cockpit pilothouse is higher in the mk2 than the mk1 and this is most obvious in the forwards-facing windows. The mk1 (#016, Honah-Lee) on the left has the three shallower windows typical of the mk1, whereas the mk2 on the right (#186, Visitant) has the four deeper windows typical of the mk2. The height difference in the coachroof of the pilothouse is not so obvious in photos, but more obvious when inside.

   

Mainmast base location on deck : the aft position was used in the mk1 sloop/cutters such as #119, Tammie Norrie, whereas the forward position that was initially intended only for the mainmast of the ketch was used in all the mk2 such as 154, Brillo del Sol. The neatly painted deck of #073, Jakatar shows a mk1 with the aft mast position occupied and the 81cm (32″) between this and the obvious alternative forwards mast position.

 

Mainmast compression post: In the mk1 sloop/cutter the aft-position of the mainmast means that the compression post generally is set fairly prominently in the centre of the saloon table as in these photos from #073, Jakatar. In contrast in a mk2 the compression post will ordinarily be at the forwards end of the saloon table as shown in this picture from #123, Bockra.

    

Centre cockpit pilothouse variant: The mk1 centre-cockpit does not have any opportunity to fit a pilothouse, so the centre cockpit is just a bare tub (such as #86, Jack Iron on the left) to which many owners install fabric or fibreglass windshelds of some form (such as #111, Merida). In contrast the mk2 was able to use the same (or similar) pilothouse moulding as in the aft cockpit version and install it into the centre-cockpit, but running right forwards to by the mainmast, as in the examples of #130, John Galt and #167, Marion Mae. There are a couple of points of detail to watch for. Firstly the centre cockpit mk2 pilothouse was available both as a ketch (CC-PH-K) and as a cutter/sloop (CC-PH-C). A couple of good CC-PH-K examples are #130, John Galt and #167, Marion Mae, whilst #140, Urantia is a good CC-PH-C example. A second point is that the mk2 centre-cockpit pilothouse seems to only have three forwards-facing windows and so can be easily mistaken at first glance for a mk1. However they appear to be the deeper windows of the mk2 pilothouse rather than the shallower windows of the mk1. We are unsure, but it is possible that they used the mk2 windows but omitted one of the central panes and made a reduced width pilothouse so as to achieve some side-deck, perhaps by reworking the mk1 pilothouse mould in some fashion. Until we get a really detailed look at a mk2 CC-PH-x with a co-operative owner we are unsure exactly how this was done. A related point of detail is that so far we have not identified a mk2 centre-cockpit that does not have the pilothouse.

The bowsprit: This is a recognition feature that must be handled with care. On the far left is a original mk1 bow (#116, Bright Eyes) with no bowsprit and the aft-placed mainmast. In contrast on the far right is an original mk2 bow (#131, Two Crows) with the final design evolution showing the 3-foot long bowsprit and the bracing bobstay that accommodates two anchors, and this has the forward-placed mainmast. In between are two examples of a mk1 that have been fitted with bowsprits and bobstays, but which retain their initial fit of the aft-placed mainmast (#113, Sunrise and #071, Santy Anna). Our understanding is that this retrofit to the mk1 of the bowsprit cures most, if not all, of the weather helm issue which is why it was so widely adopted as being a relatively straightforwards solution with no need to intervene regarding the mast or chainstay locations, as well as giving a good anchor platform. On some of the mk1 boats you will see a short bowsprit that was intended for anchor handling but which does not take the forestay. Note that the full 3-foot long bowsprit must be braced by a bobstay to withstand the forestay loads in the mk2 version.

[2019: this ‘quickie’ discussion of these issues added to the 2015 FAQ as a starter, DS]

The mould (mold) number

The mould (or mold as the Americans would say) number is simply the sequential number corresponding to the order in which hulls were moulded: 1, 2, 3 …. etc. The hull moulds for a Corbin 39 were actually a left-hand and a right-hand pair of moulds that were then fully bonded together to form the full hull, with an integral keel (there are no keel bolts !). Given that about two hundred hulls were made it is best to quote this as a three-digit number: 001, 002, 003 …. etc.

We do not have a full set of records of the hulls that were moulded or who the original buyers were. According to Marius Corbin the late 1982 fire destroyed all the records to that date (which probably corresponds with hull #128, which was the youngest hull to be destroyed in the fire) and that may account for some of the confusion. The other reason is likely that the self-fit-out nature of many of the hulls meant they passed into the hands of owners who then, or subsequently, were less concerned about paperwork. After all they had fitted out their Corbin, and what more was there to know. However originally all the owners certainly knew their mould number and used it to assist in identifying various matters.

We periodically publish an updated Summary List of all the Corbins we have located, including the mould number and/or full or partial HIN. If you can add any information to that please contact us.

The Hull Identification Number (HIN) 

The Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a fairly internationally recognised alpha-numerical sequence that uniquely identifies your boat. There are a couple of different formats to it (as it has evolved into CIN and etc formats), but all the Corbins are in the same ‘straight-year’ format. It should be stamped onto the hull in two places: on the upper transom, and somewhere out-of-the-way in the interior. Unfortunately we don’t know where (or if) the interior stamp was ever put in place, but the Corbin transom stamp is ordinarily a few centimetres beneath the stern rubbing strake, and generally on the starboard stern but occasionally on the port stern.

Here is the actual HIN stamp on #123, Bockra – it is just above the ‘r’ on the starboard stern, below the metal vent.

 

Some online explanations of the HIN system are (boatsafe, here) and (hinsearch, here) and USCG (here) or (hindecoder, here). Many other links are available online.

For Corbin the first three letters are ZCJ, corresponding to Corbin Les Bateaux Inc of Napierville, Quebec, Canada who were in business from 12/12/1978 to 12/9/1997.

The second group are five numbers corresponding to the mould sequence. So for most Corbins that will be something like 00123. The last four digits correspond the month and year in which the hull was moulded. Note this is not the year the fit out was finished which could be very different indeed.

Then for my #123, Bockra which was moulded in November 1981 the full result is:

A few things to be aware of are.

  1. Often the yard could not find the Z stamp. Strange as it may seem there are a great many reports of Corbins being stamped as ‘2CJ’, far too many reports for this just to be difficulty in reading, typing, or damage. The most likely explanation is that the Z stamp was mislaid for periods and so they simply stamped as ‘2CJ’ instead of ‘ZCJ’.
  2. A little bit of damage to the stamp can cause people to misread the HIN. It doesn’t matter whether it is a berthing scrape, paint, sanding down, or whatever. It is evident from going through the records that occasionally an 8 and a 3 get confused, or a 9 and a 8, and so on.
  3. As far as we can see the yard was pretty faithful to the actual calendar month/year of moulding. There are a few slight oddities but not that many, and they are ordinarily within a month or so. Since we believe that there were one only one pair of hull moulds this ought to have been easy to remain completely faithful to, but I’m sure there were always slight oddities. But the gross date oddities that some owners report are probably explainable due to another cause, most likely damage to numbers. A significant exception is that things did get rather muddled in the late 1982 through early 1983 period where the mould sequence and the mould date cease their normally good alignment, so one must take especial care when reviewing HINs from this period, which is of course the period after the 1982 fire.
  4. Not all authorities require the HIN as a mandatory data item when registering a boat. This is especially so for Canadian registry data.
  5. Some people are plain dyslexic, or don’t care. We have gathered our records from an amalgamation of a great many records that have come in over the years, and there are definite variations in quality out there.
  6. Some owners are convinced of their HIN, but they are plain wrong, due to a combination of some or all of these factors.
  7. We do not think that the same HIN was given twice. However there are (so far) three ‘twins’ where a pair of boats claim to have either the same mould number, or the same HIN. So far we are inclined to suspect reporting confusion or damage to numbers rather than the yard absent-mindedly stamping two boats up with the same number.

Does this matter ?

Yes this does matter. You want to know the history of your Corbin before you buy it, or before you sell it. This is especially so because there are rumours of a few ‘extra’ Corbin 39 hulls that may have been un-joined when the Corbin yard stopped making them in the early 1990s. If so the quality control on those might have been somewhat different, we simply don’t know. This affects the value of your boat. It is important.

What to do

Check the stern of your Corbin very carefully indeed. Check the paperwork very carefully indeed. Check any other registration numbers, or tonnage board numbers. Email us to discuss what you can see either on the boat or in the paperwork. Send us photos, of the boat and of the HIN stamp. We have quite a few scraps of information in our personal files that may, together with your scraps of information, be able to solve the puzzle for your Corbin. In doing so, through a process of elimination, this may help solve the puzzle for other Corbin 39’s.

[above note, written as of 2019 by DS]

Is there only one HIN stamp ?

In August 2021 we (DS) were able to speak with Gaetan Duchesne who worked for Corbin Inc between 1977 and 1990/1992, and was the production manager for much of this time. He explained that Corbin Inc only stamped the HIN in one place on the stern. Some owners may have stamped the HIN themselves in a second place internally, but if so that was entirely an owner-specific decision.

 

 

 

 

Not easy

This ought to be an easy question to answer. Except it isn’t.

Moulded ?

Let us for the moment set aside the confusion caused by reports of two boats sharing the same HIN or mould number. There is no motivation for the Corbin Inc yard to have used the same HIN on two different boats, so these are most likely mistakes in reporting, or reports of what are in fact the same boat. This affects – at most – six boats so far, but let us in any case set this aside.

Then we have the reported fact that hull number #013 was not moulded, due to concerns that customers would not want to buy it.

Then we have the issue of the fire in late 1982 which destroyed a lot of the Corbin Ic yard at Chateau Gay, including the records and some hulls. Our understanding is that this destroyed six hulls being : #059, #112, #117, #120, #122, and #128. This is a reasonable spread to have been destroyed : some of these would likely have been at one stage or another of the yard fit-out programme, whilst others were being paid for in installments and not released until everything was paid.

Then we have the knowledge that the Corbin Les Bateaux Inc yard ceased production of the Corbin 39 in 1990, and moved on to production of other boats of one sort or another including small trawlers (actually we have since been told that perhaps only one motorboat was really made, and the Corbin Inc simply went bust). Nevertheless we must be mindful that searching online databases for reports of all HIN-numbers with a ZCJ manufacturer ID, or even a ‘2CJ’ manufacturer ID, may be sweeping other Corbin-types into its net.

Then we have the reports from multiple owners that they bought “the last Corbin 39 ever made”. Well they can’t all be correct. An explanation of course is that on each occasion they were indeed the last person to persuade Marius Corbin to make them a Corbin 39. Well, at least until the next one came along.

Then we have the reports that after the Corbin Inc yard stopped manufacturing the Corbin 39 the moulds were moved out, and a few unfinished hulls were completed by the ex-employee Gaetan Duchesne (who had been the Corbin production yard manager). In 2021 we learned more about this because Raymond Dupuis, who employed Gaetan Duchesne, explained that in early 1991 they moved the moulds into a small workshop in St Edouard, Quebec and built a Corbin 39 from scratch just as all the previous ones had been built, with a moulding month of 02/1991. This was “Complicite” and it was not in fact stamped as a ZCJ-etc hull though it is in every other respect a Corbin 39. Then Gaetan Duchesne was employed by (we are told) Gilles Grimard and they built “L’Aventure III” (subsequently renamed as “Philosophe”) in the same way, using the same workshop in St Edouard, and this was subsequently stamped by Transport Canada as being ZCJ0002010791. So if “L’Aventure III” was correctly given the #201 designation then “Complicite” must have been #200. Or if Transport Canada made an error then they really ought to be #201 and #202. In any case both of these ought in every respect to be considered full Corbin 39 hulls – and so too ought the fit out to be considered as being at least as good as any other Corbin 39. Raymond Dupuis was not aware of any more Corbin 39s that were built by Gaetan Duchesne in this way. We were also able to speak with Gaetan Duchesne in August-2021 and he confirmed that only Philosophe and L’Aventure were built in this way in St Edouard. He also does not know of any other hulls that were moulded after these two.

According to one report in “Canadian Yachting” issue of Winter 1996 the indications are that the moulds themselves had been bought by a person called Giles Bastien* in 1990 when Corbin Inc was shut down. Raymond Dupuis borrowed these moulds when he made “Complicite” in 02/1991and they were used later in 07/1991 to mould “L’Aventure III”. However Gaetan Duchesne, who was the Corbin Inc production manager, is not sure this is correct and his best recollection is that the moulds became Mr Bouchard’s.

There are various rumours that some extra Corbins were moulded to other standards, and on the internet there are reports of things with balsa cores and so-on, which most definitely would not be a Corbin 39 as we know it. Whether those internet rumours are based on any substance, or just because of people not knowing the full facts, we are not yet certain. My personal (DS) opinion is that these rumours are unsubstantiated. The reason I think this is because nobody in their sane mind locates old moulds in a Quebec field, and then starts low-volume production of a boat that was (by then) too-expensive to build economically compared with the lower-priced competition. Building 39′ yachts from an empty set of moulds is not an endeavour that would have been contemplated by individuals who did not have the experience of Gaetan Duchesne, and if there was a commercial attempt at it then it would have left a big enough footprint to identify. Certainly Gaetan Duchesne also thinks there were no more Corbins moulded after Philosophe and L’Aventure, and he was well placed to know.

Putting all that together the last hull number that we have so far located is #201, moulded in 07-1991. This means that all told there were precisely 200 of the Corbin 39 moulded, after allowing for the #013 that was not moulded. This also corresponds with a comment that Marius Corbin made that he thought 200 was a good moment to stop.

So our best answer is that there were precisely 200 of the Corbin 39 moulded. Of these 6 were lost in the factory fire, meaning that 194 reached customers. That is why we say that “about two hundred” were moulded.

Finished ?

Not all Corbin 39’s have completed the fitting out process. Some are still actively in fit-out, maybe under a different owner. Others may be languishing in a barn somewhere. Some have reportedly been broken up without ever being finished and entering the water. We simply aren’t sure.

Then there are the six that were destroyed in the factory fire, and we have a report of one that was broken up in 2013.

There are also many reports of Corbins where we only know the name, we don’t have the hull number, and we don’t have the history or the photographs. For the time being in the database these are given 300-series numbers as a temporary identifier.

With luck over the coming years we will be able to better understand exactly how many made it into the water and are still in use. Is it 150, or 180 ? We really don’t know.

Is that all ?

There was one other built. Gaetan Duchesne explained that before Marius Corbin agreed to licence the design from Robert Dufour, that another individual bought a set of plans and built his own, entirely independently of Corbin Inc. He says this was “Toi-et-Moi” and it was built by a Mr Robert Harnoi in Quebec. Apparently this was started in approximately 1975 and completed in approximately 1985, and was built in fibreglass but without using moulds. As of August-2021 Gaetan was aware that Mr Harnoi had fairly recently died, and that this boat was for sale in the Marina St-Mathias where he had kept it. The Canadian register does indeed show a vessel of that name with registry number 393313 and that owner, but that has now been taken from the register.  So I guess this should be called a Dufour 39 and will likely be very similar to the mk1 Corbin 39. At present we do not have any photos of this.

[note, written as a placeholder by DS, 2019, updated Aug-2021]

 

* “If you are a Corbin fan and are considering a custom boat, you will want to get in touch with Giles Bastien, a former employee of Marius Corbin who now owns the Corbin moulds. He has plans to build boats to order, but has no commitments to date. Bastien also has a couple of unfinished hull-and-deck kits that he intends to sell to home-builders or complete himself for owners.” [extract from an article originally published in Canadian Yachting’s Winter 1996 issue. https://www.canadianyachting.ca/boat-reviews/sail/1162-corbin-39-sail-boat-review ]