Lateen rig
WoodenBoat Magazine 270

September / October 2019

Editor's Page

No Ordinary Mentor

My very first of many editorial collaborations with Llewellyn “Louie” Howland III was nearly 25 years ago. I was getting my sea legs as the newly promoted editor of this magazine. During the tail-end of the previous editorial administration, Louie had been encouraged to pitch an offbeat, entertaining, and ultimately erudite article called “Why People Own the Boats They Do” (see WB No. 128). It was, at its core, a sociological observation of the parallels between boats and their people. As Louie put it, “I didn’t need a computer in 1953 or 1954 to understand that, at least in broad terms, a boat’s size, age, general state of repair and upkeep, and market value bore some relationship to its owner’s financial worth and sociocultural class.” The essay went on to incisively detail this relationship, with hilarious and unfalteringly spot-on observations of how a boat’s character reflected that of its owner.

But I balked at the article. What was it? It wasn’t boatbuilding. It wasn’t maritime history. It wasn’t sail, power, paddle, or oar. It wasn’t seamanship. It defied the conventional headings of the so-called “matrix” that editors sometimes use in planning their issues. A discussion with Louie ensued, I was convinced to publish the piece, and the subsequent response was voluminous, positive, and appreciative. I walked away from that experience emboldened to try new things—to respect the parameters but limitations of a matrix, and not be bound by
its confines.

I also learned, when I called Louie or he called me, to be poised with a pen and notepad. He spoke clearly, concisely, and quickly—the conversation punctuated with powerful and perfectly placed adjectives. In one of these conversations, we spoke of the photographer Willard B. Jackson, whose work documented the evolution of recreational boating on the North Shore of Massachusetts between 1898 and 1939. Louie suggested there was a book in the subject, and that I ought to write it, and he introduced me to a publisher. This all took no more than a few 10-minute conversations with him, but it led to an 18-month research and writing project, the result of which was Glass Plates & Wooden Boats (Commonwealth Editions, 2006).

Such was the power of Louie’s ideas and intellect, which were informed by deep experience with wooden yachts. He passed one of many yachting summers in 1950s Greenwich Connecticut where, he recalled, “the prevailing breeze was hot exhaust from air-conditioned Bentleys….” His maritime-related heritage was broader than yachting: While his uncle Waldo was the mastermind of the Concordia yawl series, a prime example of which appears beginning on page 50 of this issue, he also had a family legacy of whaling under sail.

You’ll find a long list of feature articles and reviews by Louie in our online index (see These include a four-part biographical series on the designer W. Starling Burgess, a series that formed the underpinnings of Louie’s book-length Burgess biography, No Ordinary Being (David R. Godine, 2014). But what you won’t find in the index is Louie’s subtle influence and mentoring—how he connected other authors to the magazine, how he suggested and shaped ideas during our uncounted short, dense conversations. And you won’t find the messages and lessons that live between the lines of some of his best prose.

The article “Why People Own the Boats They Do” ended with this observation, and then a wish: “We may own the boats we do because of who we are. But always, too, we have it in our power to become who we wish to be because of the boats we own….

“One of these days I hope to build the 92' daysailer that Bill Garden designed for me last year. Her name is GARDENIA, and when I build and sail her, everyone will think what a wonderful fellow I am, and I will sail her to the sea of perpetual sunshine, where the breeze is always just a little forward of the beam, and the beer is always cold, and the only sound you hear is that of GARDENIA’s quarter wave hissing away astern.”

Louie Howlands obituary appears on page 23 of this issue.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Reuben Cameron-Harker and Ben Freedman
Page 24

Mullet Boats of Auckland

by Nigel Sharp

Auckland, New Zealand, was founded in 1840, and many local fishing boats were purpose-built for its waters. Among those was a boat used specifically for catching mullet in the estuaries within the Hauraki Gulf. It evolved into a recognizable type, typically around 24' long with a generous beam for load-carrying and stability, a shallow draft with a centerboard for access to where the mullet were, and a small cuddy to allow the crew of two or three to occasionally sleep. They gradually became known as mullet boats, and by the 1880s that term had come into general use.

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The lateen-rigged barque catalane ALBADA
Page 30

Lateen Rig

by Nic Compton

I’m on LIBRE PENSEUR, sailing from her home port of Argelès-sur-Mer along a strip of coast known as La Côte Rocheuse (the rocky coast), the last bit of France before the Mediterranean spills into Spain. The tramontane, the local northwesterly wind, is coming down off the Pyrénées, and pushing along our 1904 barque catalane, or Catalonian fishing boat, on a dead run. It’s a gusty and often unpredictable wind, and as we approach the picturesque town of Collioure (once a source of inspiration for France’s greatest artists, including Matisse and Picasso), skipper Bruno Mazzilli decides to jibe. This is a lateen rig, though, and the yard is currently on the leeward side of the mast— or à la bonne main (i.e., the good way).

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Page 42

The Friendship Sloop BLACKJACK

by Tim Clark

The Maine sloop-boat, the sailing predecessor to the modern lobsterboat, is an icon of Maine’s maritime heritage. As a professional boatbuilder living and working in Maine who has a particular interest in historic workboats, I had always hoped that I might one day have an opportunity to build or restore one of these so-called Friendship sloops.

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Page 50

From One Classic to the Next

by Juan E. Corradi

When we left PIRATE, the Sparkman & Stephens–designed Swan 38 we had owned for 22 years, in Finland in 2010, I asked myself “why?” My wife, Christina, asked the same question. We had a boat made for a lifetime. How can you be both determined and puzzled at the same time? I knew it was the right thing to do, but had not managed to articulate the reasons. When people questioned me, my only answer was a shrug. Now I think I can provide something resembling a rationale.

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Abernethy & Gaudin Boatbuilders Ltd.
Page 58

Abernethy & Gaudin

by Tom Jackson

Arriving by local ferry into the small town of Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, it’s hard to miss one particular red-painted structure off to the left, built mostly on pilings and shoehorned in among a cluster of buildings alongshore. On a fine day, the double doors over its marine railway are flung open as a matter of course, and, if so, then the transom of a large wooden boat will be plainly visible inside. More boats—interesting ones—are moored outside along the float, as if waiting patiently. This cheerful place, a boatbuilding shed since the 1940s, has been the home of Abernethy & Gaudin Boatbuilders Ltd. for 17 years.

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Page 66

MAUD Returns Home

by Bruce Kemp

Toward the end of the Arctic spring in 1928, the Italian airship ITALIA, captained by pioneering aviator and polar explorer Umberto Nobile, crashed near Spitsbergen in the Barents Sea. Although Nobile wasn’t a particular favorite of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen—they’d had a bitter and public feud after flying together on an earlier expedition—Amundsen, by then the world’s most renowned explorer, climbed into a Latham flying boat in Tromsø, Norway, on June 18 to join the search for the missing aviator. Ironically, Nobile was among those rescued, but Amundsen, whose plane crashed, was never heard from again.

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Scarf joint
Page 76

The Strength of Scarf Joints

by Text and images by Jean-Baptiste R.G. Souppez

Scarf joints have been used in wooden boat construction for centuries. There are many variations on the basic scarf joint; these include feathered, nibbed, and hooked scarfs. And there are many applications for them, from joining together planks to making up full-length mast staves from shorter pieces. With advances in structural engineering leading to progressively lighter boats—coupled with significant progress in adhesives—the mechanical properties and strength of glued scarf joints compared to solid timber must be fully understood.

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Page 80

Building a Dark Harbor 17½

by Sean Koomen

Her lines sang to me,” Kere Kemp says of his dream to one day own a Dark Harbor 171⁄2, the iconic daysailer designed by American naval architect B.B. Crowninshield in 1908. “I loved the classic, old-school lines, the full keel, the hard turn of the bilge, the gaff rig.... She’s a relatively small boat but a true classic.”

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Page 88

A Schooner for the Ages

by Randall Peffer

Fast and able.” That’s the term the fishermen of Gloucester, Massachusetts, have used for more than 150 years to describe their vision of the perfect Grand Banks fishing schooner. And “fast and able” is how fishermen, an Arctic explorer, a Cape Verdean packet skipper, and contemporary sail-trainers describe the schooner ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY (ex-EFFIE M. MORRISSEY, ex-ERNESTINA).

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Sakonnet 23 for sale

Well maintained (Ballantine Boat Shop) early 2000s Joel White design sailboat. New sails.