WoodenBoat Magazine 272
WoodenBoat Magazine 272

January / February 2020

Editor's Page

Stout Schooner, Fleeting Opportunity

When I showed Eric Graves the cover image for this issue, asking him to identify the lone shipwright in the photo, he said, “That’s David Thorpe. One man on a 5"-thick garboard. Everyone else must have passed out and fallen over.” Eric is the vice president of Bristol Marine in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the yard that painstakingly rebuilt the hull of the legendary schooner ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY; the yard is poised, at this writing, to complete her restoration. Eric’s tongue-in-cheek addition to his response to my question was a nod to the sheer physical demands of the work of big-timber, sawn-frame construction.

To put this into perspective: the plank in the cover photo, whose butt end David is clamping, is about 30' long. It is of white oak and, by my rough calculation (and confirmed by Eric), it weighs more than 550 lbs. As David O’Reilly writes in his article on the ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY project beginning on page 56, when a limber plank emerged from the steambox and was carried to the boat, “all hands would then press the plank roughly into place, as close to the butt joint as possible, and then someone would prepare to pound the far end with a beetle, or wooden mallet, to drive the butt end tight.” Four or five people would then be required to clamp the plank in place, in advance of fastening. David Thorpe, no doubt, has a crew of colleagues standing just out of view.

Such construction is a relative rarity these days. It involves heavy components that simply can’t be lifted by a single person. Good planning and teamwork are imperative. That’s why it’s rather remarkable that there are no fewer than four sawn-frame vessels featured in this issue. In addition to ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY, they are: the recently relaunched sardine carrier WM. UNDERWOOD (page 78), the new Dutch eel barge KORNELISKE YKES II (page 22), and the rebuilt schooner MARY E (page 36). The latter three are smaller than ERNESTINA, but all require specialized skill and tools—especially in framing.

We did not choose these boats to deliberately create a theme issue on sawn frames. Rather, we chose them for the timeliness of their stories, and were delighted and surprised at the confluence of big timber that emerged as a result. Interesting things are happening in the world of wooden-vessel construction and, as David O’Reilly illustrates in his sidebar on page 66, young and passionate shipwrights are keeping that flame burning.

As David and I were discussing his article, we both acknowledged the challenge of including too many names in the text, and having this eclipse the narrative and details. But, then, how could we leave anyone out? We were lucky, when trying to balance these two imperatives, to be offered Bob Mitchell’s superb photograph of the ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY building crew on page 66—and to have Eric fill in the names of the absentees.

The opportunity to record the building of a stout schooner’s hull is fleeting. Crews scatter. Memories fade. Sea stories eclipse the construction. We feel honored and lucky to have captured this moment in ERNESTINA’s incredible history (see, also, WB Nos 270 and 271), and to have presented a portrait of the people who extended her remarkable career. As Eric told me, “None of this happens without a dedicated team. They all deserve recognition.”

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Page 22

Eels to England

by Nic Compton

It was an undoubtedly historic event: the first Dutch barge to sail up the River Thames to London with a cargo of eels for more than 80 years. The boat’s volunteer crew had worked for more than a year, raised more than €25,000 ($27,849), and sailed more than 250 miles to achieve their goal. Only one obstacle now lay between them and their final destination: the majestic Tower Bridge. But London’s iconic monument doesn’t open for just anyone, so Klaas Overzee decided to go straight to the top and write to the Queen.

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Page 36

Restoring Schooner MARY E

by Tim Clark

When the schooner MARY E arrived in Bath, Maine, after being sailed up the New England coast from Essex, Connecticut, she was welcomed with a party and then hauled out and trailered to the grounds of the Maine Maritime Museum. There, Maine shipwright Andros Kypragoras (see WB No. 252 about his restoration of schooner BOWDOIN) and a small crew, which included me, were hired to carry out the job of restoring her as accurately as possible to her original 1906 appearance.

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Page 44

The 2019 Mahurangi Regatta

by Maynard Bray · Photographs by Benjamin Mendlowitz

Twenty or so miles north of Auckland, New Zealand, lies Mahurangi Harbour, where the river of the same name widens before emptying southeastward into Whangaparaoa Bay. This is the site of the Mahurangi Regatta, which heralds itself as “the Southern Hemisphere’s largest meet of classic wooden boats.”

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Cutter IDA
Page 52

A Kauri Classic Comes Home

by Bruce Stannard

For a classic boat devotee, few moments are more heartbreaking than an encounter with a famous and once-beautiful old racing yacht found abandoned to the elements and in the terminal stages of her long and illustrious life. I shudder at the specter: gray skeletal timbers, rubbish-strewn bilges, and the hideous accretions that mock those once-lovely lines. With eyes averted, I invariably pass by with a profound sense of sadness.

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Levi Johnston
Page 56

A Schooner for the Ages

by David O’Reilly • Photographs by Robert Mitchell

The sun was rising over New Bedford, Massachusetts, on April 12, 2015, and a light northerly was flapping flags on State Pier as Capt. Charlie Mitchell shifted his 58' tugboat, JAGUAR, into reverse. From the helm, Mitchell watched the short hawser on his bow rise, shudder, and pull tight. With a small crowd watching from the docks, he throttled up JAGUAR’s 1,000-hp diesel engine and eased the weary remains of the legendary schooner ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY out toward Buzzards Bay.

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Simo, Urho, and Matti Ahkgrén
Page 72

The Lake Boats of Finland

by Paul Molyneaux

Tero Mustonen has a sharp eye for the small craft known simply as “lake boats” in Finland. He runs an organization, Snowchange, that, among other things, strives to protect commercial and recreational lake fisheries in which the traditional lapstrake rowing skiffs and their descendants still play a central role.

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Page 78


by Matthew P. Murphy • Photographs by Benjamin Mendlowitz

I’ve always admired these boats,” Taylor Allen told me when I asked him late last summer why he personally took on the total reconstruction and yacht-conversion of a 50-ton sardine carrier.

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Tamar River barge LYNHER
Page 84

Making Bee Rails

by Text and photographs by Reuel B. Parker

Mounting “bee rails” on a sailboat’s boom is a traditional way to rig clew outhauls to simplify and facilitate reefing. The rails are usually made of hardwood, mounted opposite each other on each side of the aft end of a boom.

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