Editor's Page

Watch Change

It’s been a busy and eventful several months here in Brooklin, with a group of old friends and colleagues entering well-earned retirements—and an associated change of watch.

WoodenBoat’s origin story is the stuff of legend now, but it deserves review here: Jon Wilson founded the company in 1974 in a small cabin in Brooksville, Maine. A fire in an office location in Brooksville caused that early crew to relocate to nearby Brooklin in 1977, where they eventually found a home on a former 61-acre seaside estate. That’s where I’m seated as I write this, and that’s where, in 1981, Jon founded WoodenBoat School, which this coming summer will offer more than 90 courses in boatbuilding, traditional seamanship, and related crafts.

A magazine was an unlikely endeavor for Jon, because he was a boatbuilder and repairer before founding WoodenBoat, and had no prior experience in publishing. But his careful curation of the subject matter—and careful choices of contributors and staff—gave rise to the enterprise that Jon recently said, “still leaves me in awe.”

One of those carefully chosen staff members was Jim Miller, who signed on in 1985 as business manager, and who for more than two decades has been the company’s president. Jim has worked tirelessly—and often behind the scenes—in tending myriad operational details. He was the first WoodenBoat staff member I met when I traveled, starstruck, to Brooklin in late 1991 for a job interview. (I was 10 years old when WoodenBoat magazine began publishing, and it’s been a big part of my life since my early teens.) At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Jim’s retirement from WoodenBoat Publications, along with Jon’s, became official.

Rich Hilsinger has been the director of WoodenBoat School since the spring of 1986. He was slated to retire more than a year ago but, with the onset of the pandemic, agreed, for the sake of stability, to stay on for another season. That decision to postpone his retirement is characteristic of Rich’s selfless stewardship of the school from a relatively small endeavor to a program that has become a cornerstone of many people’s lives—and launched uncounted boatbuilding careers. Last June, Rich’s successor, Eric Stockinger, joined our staff, and Rich worked alongside him, as did the school’s business manager, Kim Patten, teaching him the nuances of the program. (Eric, having been the executive director of The Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine, at a crucial time in that program’s evolution, brings deep experience in boatbuilding-school administration to his new role.)

We also bid farewell to Rose Poole with this issue. She has been with WoodenBoat since 1996, most recently as our research librarian—and much more, having over the years tended details too numerous to list.

Along with all of these changes comes one for publisher Andrew Breece and me. We are the new owners of WoodenBoat Publications, the company that includes this magazine, its sister publications Professional BoatBuilder and Small Boats Magazine, WoodenBoat School, The WoodenBoat Store, and The WoodenBoat Show. I’m excited by this partnership.

Andrew brings deep passion to the topic. Here’s a small illustration of that: A few years into my tenure as editor, in 1996 or so, he wrote to me, out of the blue, volunteering to be a judge in a design contest. We were seeking a training sailboat for kids (see WB No. 128), and Andrew, who I didn’t know at the time, exuded an air of confidence in that letter when presenting his qualifications for being a judge: he loved wooden boats, was an avid reader of the magazine, and was a member of the demographic at which we were aiming this boat: He was 10 years old. A business lunch ensued, followed by a long day of reading plans and commenting. He’s been in the WoodenBoat orbit ever since—through college, through early career stops at Mystic Seaport Museum and the Maine Island Trail Association, and, most recently, as publisher of WoodenBoat’s magazine division for the past seven years. He’s lost none of the enthusiasm of that kid-judge, but today is a skilled business leader deeply versed in every aspect of WoodenBoat Publications. Andrew will become the chief operating officer while also remaining publisher; I’ll be chief content officer—while also remaining at the helm of WoodenBoat magazine.

We are exploring new ways to deliver the lessons and lore of wooden boats. But we don’t intend to stray from the core idea incubated in that cabin in the woods nearly 50 years ago.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Copps Island Oyster
Page 24

The Oysterman’s Dream

by Randall Peffer • Photographs by Peter Massini

At nearly 20' abeam and 56' LOA, RINGGOLD BROTHERS is stout and rugged-looking, with two booms tethered to a steel H-frame over the forecastle.

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Electric Experiences
Page 34

Electric Experiences

by Stan Grayson • Drawings by Jan Adkins

Seven years ago, with no particular “green agenda” in mind, I found myself entering a sailing season like none before.

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Page 40

The Bucktail in Florida

by Text and photographs by Michael Grace, with River Grace

Only a few hours before I set out from east central Florida for the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of New York, I encountered a set of low-resolution photographs on an online forum that set my heart racing. I was traveling to attend the 2019 Annual Assembly of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association, and the images on my computer appeared to show a 19th-century lapstrake canoe from the celebrated builder J. Henry Rushton of Canton, New York.

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Smack Sailing
Page 50

Bahamian Boats in the Florida Keys

by Shanan Mango Wolfe

A boat-length ahead I see my boyfriend, Bronza Fox, push the tiller of SPRAY HOUND into a slow, graceful jibe. He hauls in the massive mainsail until it is snugged tight, and then lightly, delicately even, the wind crosses the stern and fills in on port tack while his experienced crew slide the pry board across to the new high side and hike back out

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Small Boat, Big Mission
Page 60

Small Boat, Big Mission

by George Collazo

On a particular day in 2017, two maritime academy cadets dipped their oars rhythmically, their boat making a stately 2 knots along the tree-lined shores of the Inside Passage in British Columbia.

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Electric Rudder
Page 68

Electric Power for MAYFLOWER II’s Shallop

by Text and photographs by Graham McKay

MAYFLOWER II’s shallop, a tender to the replica vessel, was built in 1957 at Plymouth (Massachusetts) Marine Railway at the same time MAYFLOWER II herself was under construction in Brixham, England.

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Page 72


by Bruce Stannard

When the Australian marine artist A.V. Gregory depicted the splendid three-masted foretopsail schooner ALMA DOEPEL hull-down and flying under a cloud of sail off Victoria‘s Cape Schanck in 1933, the vessel was 30 years old.

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Page 80


by Nic Compton

Winds of over 30 knots greeted the 330 boats lined up for the August 2021 start of the Rolex Fastnet Race off the coast of Cowes, England.

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E.G. Van de Stadt
Page 86

E.G. Van de Stadt

by Nic Compton

STORMVOGEL was the biggest in a series of pioneering boats that started when Kees Bruynzeel wanted to demonstrate the suitability of a new type of waterproof plywood for building boats. What better way to do this than to build a new class of boat, and what better person to design that boat than his neighbor and fellow wood merchant’s son, E.G. “Ricus” Van de Stadt?

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