Adirondack guideboat.
WoodenBoat Magazine 292

May / June 2023

Editor's Page

Rooted in the Classics

For well over a century, the Adirondack guideboat served the guides and “sports” of the Adirondack region of upstate New York.  As Ben Fuller notes in his article on the type beginning on page 40, “[b]eginning in the 1850s, tourists, typically affluent vacationers who could afford both the cost and the time needed for sojourns into the mountains, increasingly sought refuge from the summer heat of cities such as New York, Boston, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.” The early visitors, he says, were men attracted by fishing and hunting, and for these pursuits they needed boats. Thus was born the Adirondack guideboat, which, as you’ll read, was initially a transom-sterned boat but by the late 19th century had “developed to be very light for easy portages from lake to lake, with a yoke fitting the shoulders of the guide.” The boats rowed easily, carried a load of gear, and were beautiful. Their construction was elegant and sophisticated: the planking was lapstrake, but it presented on the surface as a smooth-skinned boat so the hulls would move through the water quietly.

Families followed the early sports. They built cottages and camps, and more often than not these dwellings had a guideboat or two at the disposal of the residents. The guideboat tradition in the Adirondacks continues to this day. The type has evolved to include strip-planked and modern composite construction, and boats are still built occasionally in solid wood. It’s a remarkable story of longevity, as well as adaptation of a historic type for contemporary recreational use.

As you page through this issue, you’ll find a number of other boats rooted in classic working types.

Take SAND SCRAPER, for example. In the mid-1980s, author Stan Grayson became enthralled with this flat-bottomed pocket cruiser designed by Phil Bolger for the tidal creeks of the lower Chesapeake Bay. The design was commissioned as Black Skimmer for none other than Mike O’Brien, this magazine’s longtime designs editor. With its gracefully rockered flat bottom and winglike leeboards it was, says Grayson, perfectly adapted to its intended habitat. Its roots, however, go back to the New Haven Sharpie, a humble, flat-bottomed, economical oyster-tonging boat developed for Connecticut waters.

Then there’s the 55-year-old, 45' classic flare-bowed sportfisherman SEA REBEL. She has been a constant obsession for her owner for nearly 30 years. The type is distinctive, and endemic to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but it evolved from simple V-bottomed shadboats of the region after World War II, when a party-boat skipper named Warren O’Neal adapted the hull of his shad boat by adding 5' to it and giving it a transom stern. Further evolution ensued, and SEA REBEL represents the epitome of Warren O’Neal’s design output. The boat recently underwent a through refit, and beginning on page 24 Randy Peffer examines her meaning, purpose, and origins.

And an old friend revisits us beginning on page 66, in a photoessay shot by Alison Langley and introduced and captioned by Maynard Bray. She is the sardine carrier GRAYLING, built by Frank Rice of East Boothbay, Maine, in 1915, for mackerel fishing. Her long, efficient, and capacious hull was later converted for carrying sardines, and still later, in 1996, the boat was converted for yacht use. It’s hard to believe that a quarter century has passed since that conversion; she remains impeccably kept to this day—a fine yacht, as relevant today
as she was in 1915.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Page 24

Staying the Course

by Randall Peffer

Before this boat, I was lost. I was a little bit lost,” says 81-year-old Warren Jacques. Like a lot of seafarers and fishers, he finds some of his best reflection time when he’s on watch at sea.

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Illustration of Black Skimmer
Page 32

Sharpie Madness

by Stan Grayson

Although I’ve always thought of myself as more or less immune to the influence of advertising, certain books have had a definite impact. Back in the mid-1980s, one such book even prompted me to violate that cardinal rule of boat selection: buy only a boat suitable for your local waters. Years ago, my local waters morphed from the shallow depths of New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay, which is perfect for centerboard catboats, to the rocky but deep waters around Marblehead, Massachusetts.

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16 foot guideboat.
Page 40

The Adirondack Guideboat Today

by Ben Fuller

In 2022, Bernard W. Brock of Hague, on the west shore of Lake George, New York, took an interest in restoring a boat that had long been stored in his family’s barn. He knew that his great-great-grandfather, George Tupper, had brought the boat with him from the Adirondack Mountains when he moved to the shores of Lake George. That was in 1876, when Tupper was 30 years old, and he may have sensed opportunity in the lake’s tourist trade, where burgeoning hotels were much busier than the summer fishing and rusticating camps he had known in the mountains.

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The Sabre 19.
Page 52

The Fairey Sabre 19

by Nic Compton

Few boatbuilding brands in the U.K. are as iconic as Fairey Marine. The company made its name from 1946 onward by building a line of sailboats, mostly designed by Uffa Fox, before branching out into powerboats, including distinctive craft such as the Huntress, the Huntsman, and the Swordsman.

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Page 64

Paddling in Comfort

by Text and photographs by Hilary Russell

When I began building skin-on-frame double-paddle canoes and kayaks in 1998, backrests consisting of a simple thwart shaped to a curve that fit my back seemed comfortable enough. I sheathed these thwarts in leather, with a bit of sleeping-pad foam tucked inside to make them softer and more comfortable, a device I also used on the gunwales to make carrying more pleasant.

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Page 66


by Maynard Bray · Photographs by Alison Langley

GRAYLING is a boat I’ve long been familiar with and have had a small part in preserving. It’s hard to believe that a quarter century has gone by since her restoration by Benjamin River Marine in Brooklin, Maine. But not at all surprising is that, under the excellent care of her two owners since then, she looks as good now as she did on her first trip up the Mystic River in 1997. She’s been a lucky boat right from the start, when Frank Rice so carefully built her for his brother, George, for catching mackerel off East Boothbay, Maine, where they lived.

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Messabout on the Saco River in Maine.
Page 72

Going Big in Small Boats

by Peter Van Allen

For the small-craft designer Clint Chase, talking about boat excursions in Maine often leads to accounts of treks to coves and inlets of Casco Bay off Portland, Merrymeeting Bay near Bath, or any number of other islands and shores tucked away along the state’s coastline. He is an inveterate explorer, and his idea of sailing usually involves camping and some element of adventure—a wind that tests a boat’s limits, shifting tides, threatening weather. Experiences along the coast have given him a keen appreciation for the elements that go into boats of the type he has always preferred to use: light, trailerable craft that are safe and responsive under sail or oars.

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