Editor's Page

The Evolution of the Craft

The captivating little Paul Gartside–designed daysailer on this issue’s cover is called Skraeling, and it harks back to a centuries-old Scandinavian design tradition—an inspiration quite apparent in its jaunty-sheered, lapstrake-planked, double-ended hull. And yet it was designed purposefully for modern living: its owner hails from southern California and lives in an apartment. He could not sail the boat from a trailer, and available slips at a nearby marina limited the boat’s size to 14'. The hot climate augured against the demands of maintaining a boat of solid wood. Thus, as we learn in Mike O’Brien’s review of the boat beginning on page 98, Gartside specified lapstrake-plywood planking, glued with epoxy, which would not be ravaged by moisture cycling and would thus tend to hold its hull paint for a longer period than would a solid-wood-planked boat.

The marriage of wood and epoxy also came into play in the restoration of the Fife-designed 6-Meter sloop JUDITH PIHL, but in an unusual way, by the crew at Sydney Wooden Boats in Australia. This job is absolutely stunning in its comprehensiveness—a total rebuilding incorporating largely original materials. As Megan Treharne and Simon Sadubin recall in their article beginning on page 36, this yacht, built in the 1930s, was part of a six-boat fleet of one-design 6-Meters that were active in Australia between the World Wars. JUDITH PIHL was discovered in a rural paddock several years ago, semi-derelict. But she was planked in Huon pine from Tasmania and had a backbone timber of New Zealand kauri; these two species, now rare, are prized for their longevity in boats. It made sense in this project to save them. The boat was thus completely dismantled, and the carefully removed planks were repaired by having their fastening holes plugged and
new edges glued on with epoxy. The keel timber required minor repair before receiving a new set of frames accurately laminated to Mylar loftings.

The newly built peapod whose construction is presented beginning on page 76 followed a similar planking and framing process as JUDITH PIHL—which is to say that there were no temporary molds involved in its construction, and it is planked on pre-bent frames (in this case, steam-bent ones). Wade Smith, author of that article, succinctly summarizes the significance of this project: “Although we in the 21st century think of this as the usual or ‘traditional’ way to build a carvel-planked boat because that’s how most of us were taught, in the late 19th century the most common way of building small, light boats was without molds and using pre-bent frames.”

Consider, too, the repowering of PLYM, described beginning on page 88. This project involved the installation of a saildrive unit to power a long-ended, 56' sloop that was originally launched in 1948 with no engine at all. By 2020, she had a centerline, shaft-driven propeller, and had been given a separate spade rudder instead of her original keel-attached rudder—a configuration that, while mostly good, caused an unacceptable pulsing of the helm when under sail. A saildrive, rather than a shaft, turned out to be the only cure, and Nigel Sharp describes that careful marriage of this modern unit with a classic hull.

Even after more than three decades at the helm of this magazine, the continued resourcefulness of builders and the constant evolution of wooden boat building and repair continue to amaze me.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

The catboat COOT.
Page 24

Critic, Cruiser, Writer

by Stan Grayson

It was one of those gloomy, gray days in late October in New York City when the wind comes hard from the north and lets you know that winter won’t be far behind. In Manhattan, on crowded Broadway, a man fastened the top button on his coat and leaned into the wind. “It was blowing out and it was cold,” he would write of that day in 1885. “The air was raw. People had red noses and rubbed their hands.” He passed a shop window in which a highly polished ice skate revolved slowly on a cord and sent a shiver up his spine. The inspiration was sudden: “I must get out of this and I must get out in a hurry.”

Preview Article
Page 36

The Restoration of JUDITH PIHL

by Megan Treharne and Simon Sadubin

After the halcyon days of match racing in the early 20th century, yachting in Australia reached a depressing impasse after World War I. An entire generation of yachtsmen had been killed in action, and the nation’s yachting fleets from before 1914 had been laid up. Most yachts had been out of the water for extended periods and needed major repairs to get them going again. Many were also now a decade out of date as far as rating rules were concerned and still carried huge, lumbering jackyard-topsail gaff-cutter rigs that needed entire football teams to sail them.

Preview Article
Page 48

The Lessons of Merton Long

by David Stimson

Mert!” The elderly woman’s demanding voice filtered down to the cellar, where my 86-year-old boatbuilding mentor was showing me the finer points of designing a catboat.

Preview Article
Page 60

Fixing HERON

by Text and photographs by Sharon and Paul Tisher

It was a phone call you never wanted to get…never, ever, expected to get. One morning in October, shortly after our trimaran had been hauled and secured for the winter, came this message: “Paul, I put a hole in your boat. It’s about the size of a basketball. I’m so sorry.” The caller, who operated a mussel dragger, had been unloading his catch onto his truck.

Preview Article
THREE DEUCES and Coolidge’s 592M rumrunners.
Page 68

Puget Sound Rumrunners

by Scott Rohrer

A typical Thanksgiving Day on Puget Sound is windy, rainy, and chilly. But in 1925, on the eve of the feast day, a clear night allowed the full moon to light up the shore at Woodmont Beach, which is roughly 12 miles south of Seattle, Washington. Federal agents, acting on a tip, had set up a stakeout, and they were not misled: soon the sound of unmuffled twin marine engines—straight eight-cylinder 300-hp Sterling Dolphins—broke the silence.

Preview Article
Will Swenson and Max Mihelich
Page 76

Boatbuilding without Molds

by Wade Smith

In research, answering one question often poses two new questions. So it was for Ben Fuller, who in WB No. 284 wrote a concise history of Maine peapods, and for his colleague David Cockey, who documented many of these much-loved double-ended pulling boats. Even with their decades of research, the naturally inquisitive pair still had one aspect they wanted to explore further: How, exactly, were these boats built right-side up efficiently and beautifully, without lofting or molds and using the carvel planks themselves as fairing battens?

Preview Article
Page 88

Centerline Saildrive for a Classic Yacht

by Nigel Sharp

The 56 sloop PLYM did not have an engine when she was launched in 1948 in Sweden, but it wasn’t long before her owners decided they needed one. Her first was a gasoline-powered engine installed in the 1950s, with the propeller shaft offset to one side to stay clear of her keel-hung rudder. A Westerbeke diesel replaced the gasoline engine in the 1970s, using the same shaft arrangement. But 20 years later, by then newly arrived in Sydney, Australia, PLYM had a new Volvo Penta diesel and a centerline propeller shaft installed.

Preview Article

From Online Exclusives

From the Community