Editor's Page


Here’s how it unfolded for me: In mid-February, as we were wrapping up production of the March issue of the magazine, I was making plans to attend the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in April. But I was dragging my heels on those plans, confused about the wisdom of attending as news of Covid-19 infections grew louder and closer. Still, in the naïveté of that moment, I wondered: would it not be relatively safe to travel to a small Caribbean Island for a week? But as the reports worsened, I wondered whether I’d be able to travel home easily.

Then came news of Italy’s progressing public-health disaster and eventual lockdown on March 9. Seattle-area schools closed on March 10. The World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 11—a Thursday. I canceled my Antigua trip on March 12. And my children’s school was closed the following Monday. That same day came news that the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta itself was postponed until next year. A cascade of other cancellations followed. The WoodenBoat Show, as of this writing, has been moved from June to August (visit www.woodenboat.com for updates). WoodenBoat School’s season was delayed and then canceled (read the details here: www.thewoodenboatschool.com). The Port Townsend (Washington) Wooden Boat Festival will not happen this year, and nor will the Brest International Maritime Festival in France. Other events and gatherings too numerous to list here have similarly been called off. Even Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut—the institution itself—closed its doors, with plans, at this writing, to reopen on May 23.

With my children’s school closure, I would be working from home and weaving my work schedule together with my wife, Holly’s. The other editors and art and production staff would adopt similar schedules. Although at first we anticipated a few weeks of this social-distancing, we are, as I type this, entering week No. 10 of remote work. The effort has been worthwhile: our small, tight coastal Maine community has thus far been spared from rampant infection. The issue of WoodenBoat you hold in your hands was thus edited and produced by a crew of dedicated people working from their homes—and a small corps of staff tending to things at the office as necessary. It has been, to employ an overused but unavoidable word from the past many weeks, an unprecedented scenario.

If this crisis had hit us 10 years ago, we would not have had the technological horsepower to make this magazine in the manner we did. Gobs of shared online storage space…intuitively grasped project-management software…ubiquitous high-resolution digital photography…. These things all came together at just the right time to create what turned out to be a surprisingly seamless transition from office work to remote work. You, the reader, won’t notice a difference between this issue and one produced by a staff working from a single building.

While our production was not disrupted, some editorial plans were—particularly those involving travel. But the resultant gaps have been filled with equally engaging and surprising subjects. For example, in the next issue you’ll read about a solo rower who crossed the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Antigua in a wooden boat, arriving to news of the pandemic. And we have been inspired to try new things. On our Facebook page, for example, I have been conducting live interviews on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. EDT with luminaries from the wooden-boat world—a program that I expect will outlive the pandemic.

It’s comforting to know that our team can pull together to make a magazine from our homes without missing a beat. But I’m looking forward to the precedented. I’m eager for the ideas and creativity that emerge from spontaneous conversations in the office. I’m hungry to see a fleet of wooden boats lining the seawalls and floats of Mystic Seaport, Port Townsend, Brest, and Hobart. And I dream of watching a fleet of classics charging for the starting line in the white-capped azure waters of Antigua next April.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Schooner-yacht LA VOLPE
Page 24

Journey to Perfection

by Randall Peffer

He’s a man in his early 70s, sturdy-looking like Capt. Irving Johnson in his later life. At the moment, O’Brien’s in a woodshop with a rubber mallet in his hand. He’s talking about achieving a machine-fit for dovetails and squaring up corners of a drawer he’s building for his schooner, LA VOLPE.

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The sloop PROMISE
Page 34

Rime of the Youthful Mariner

by Text and Photographs by Milo Stanley

Nearly a thousand miles from the European continent and more than twice that from North America lies an archipelago of green, volcanic peaks rising abruptly from the ceaseless blue of the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores are a lonely outpost of Portugal, mostly known these days as a minor European tourist destination—a temperate and quiet paradise. Yet to a few of us who dabble at the edges of the Atlantic in our various craft, with a tendency to stare out toward the empty horizon, they represent a sort of legendary geography, not just in their physical presence—the verdant pastures and blooming azaleas; the red-tiled roofs and narrow cobblestone streets—but in something altogether greater.

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Page 46

The Vertues

by Roger Robinson

Most cruising sailors have heard of Vertue yachts. Though small in size—only about 25' LOA—they have an outsized reputation as the most successful design to come from English yacht designer Jack Laurent Giles during his long career.

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Page 56


by Nic Compton

Tim Stevenson had just  nished university when he and his father, Peter, decided to buy a boat together. The Stevenson family had grown up sailing a 32′ Barbary ketch, a berglass cruising yacht that Peter had fitted out himself. The boat had bags of room for the family but was a bit cumbersome now the children had left home. Peter had decided to sell her for something more manageable (and pretty) and had homed in on the Vertue class, which was famous for its elegant lines, diminutive size, and excellent seagoing abilities.

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Midget Flyer runabout
Page 60

Building a Midget Flyer Runabout

by Text and photographs by Mark Kaufman

As a collector and restorer of vintage wooden runabouts and vintage Mercury outboard motors, I wanted a traditionally built boat that would be suitable for my two-cylinder Mercury outboards. After years studying race-boat designs from the 1920s and ’30s, I eventually decided to build one, using period-correct construction techniques, without plywood or fiberglass.

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The power cruiser LAUGHING LADY
Page 70


by Lawrence Schäffler · Photographs by Benjamin Mendlowitz

LAUGHING LADY is a 33' power cruiser built by Luders Marine Construction of Stamford, Connecticut, during that yard’s heady post–World War II years of yacht building. Luders, in the previous decade, had been focused exclusively on military contracts—mostly submarine chasers, but also yard tugs, lifeboats, and target boats.

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Beach scene in Madagascar
Page 76

Working Watercraft of Madagascar

by Text and photographs by Tom Polacheck

The island of Madagascar, the fourth-largest in the world, is renowned for its wildlife, minerals, and exotic plants. Lesser known, however, is the fact that Madagascar also still has a rare and extensive fleet of traditional working sailing craft.

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Author Harry Bryan
Page 84

A Handsaw for Boatbuilding

by Text, photographs, and illustrations by Harry Bryan

Improvements in steel-making technology in the early 17th century introduced saw blades that were wider and thinner, yet stiffer, than their predecessors, allowing toolmakers to dispense with the cumbersome wooden bow-saw frames that were needed to tension earlier blades. By the mid-18th century, English saws, usually made of Sheffield steel, looked very much like the saws we know today.

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