Hampton boat
WoodenBoat Magazine 295

November / December 2023

Editor's Page

Perfect Adaptation

Back in 1995, to research an article on the magnificent reconstruction of the 68' LOD Fife cutter BLOODHOUND (see WB No. 128), I visited Marina del Rey in Los Angeles County, California. BLOODHOUND was then berthed in a slip there (she now hails from Massachusetts; see WB No. 287). Based on a British racing design from 1874, she was a stately anachronism in a veritable city of mostly modern yachts. Indeed, Marina del Rey is the largest human-made yacht harbor in the United States, and home to some 5,000 boats. Experiencing the waterway is downright Venetian—in the right boat.

Bob Gilbert, who had built BLOODHOUND with a crew of experts and owned her for more than 20 years, was an aficionado of classic watercraft. He had just the right boat in which to explore the slips and canals of Marina del Rey: a Pulsifer Hampton, an open, inboard-diesel-powered, center-console boat. One evening, after sailing and interviews, Bob handed me the keys to his Pulsifer Hampton and I set off alone, in a misty half-light, to have a look around. I explored for about an hour. It was a peak experience, well remembered nearly
30 years later.

The Pulsifer Hampton, named for its builder, Dick Pulsifer, is the motorized evolution of a sailing workboat that originated in and around Hampton, New Hampshire, in the early- to mid-1800s. A pristine example is seen nosing into its berth at Little Deer Isle, Maine, on the cover of this issue. In his article about the origins, evolution, and legacy of Hampton boats (page 64), Stan Grayson writes that the earliest known recorded reference to the type was published in 1835 by the American naturalist James Audubon. However, he further states that, “[i]n the general absence of written records, the origins of the Hampton boat are shrouded in the same mystery one encounters when researching almost any 19th-century working craft. Instead of archival material, oral tradition—basically folklore with all its shortcomings—is what there is to go on.”

As you’ll see, Stan does a remarkable job of weaving together the spoken threads of the Hampton boat’s history, its evolution as a sailing craft, the spinning-off of a square-sterned version from the early double-enders, and its adaptation to internal combustion engines at the turn of last century. “The square-sterned Hampton,” he writes, “with its relatively high bow, good freeboard, and greatest beam starting aft of amidships was well-adapted, almost tailor-made, to accept an engine.” That brought to my mind a conversation I had with Dick Pulsifer around the time he launched hull No. 100 of his line of Hampton boats. He made some tweaks to the design around that time—increasing the stern’s width by just an inch or two. In an age when annual tweaks to cars, production boats, appliances, computers, and nearly all manufactured products are expected for the product to remain relevant, the motorized Hampton boat has not changed. It has not needed to.

Indeed, the humble Hampton boat remains as perfectly adapted to a variety of places, from its original inshore waters of New England to the labyrinthine maze of southern California’s Marina del Rey.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

West of England Conference dinghy
Page 24

The International 14’s U.S. Debut

by Clare McComb and Jane Shaddick

The introduction of the International 14 to the United States is often credited to the brilliant but rascally Uffa Fox in the 1930s, but this is untrue. The credit actually should go to Frank Morgan Giles who, together with his friend George (E.G.) Martin, got the class off the ground through British Yachting Association meetings in 1923. Four years later, in 1927, Morgan Giles designed and built a one-design fleet of these 14-footers—then called the National 14—for the Larchmont Yacht Club in New York.

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Page 38

The Survival of CIRRUS

by Ken Murphy

On a hot August day in 1930, the 11th (and reportedly finest) of an eventual 14 Fishers Island 31 sloops rolled out of the side doorway of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company (HMCo.) in Bristol, Rhode Island. A photographer captured the moment, and the resulting image hangs on the front wall of the museum that now occupies that building. Christened KELPIE at the time, the 44' boat had an elegant sheerline and echoed the previous HMCo. yachts that inspired her design: the Newport 29, and the legendary 26' ALERION. The black-and-white photo can only hint at a particularly distinctive feature—the deep red topsides that have adorned her from the very beginning. The invoice presented with the boat listed her price at $16,000.

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The SHERMAN ZWICKER moored at Pier 25.
Page 48

No More to Sea

by Tom Jackson

Ships are safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are built for, as the saying goes. But at the time that aphorism was first published—in 1928 by John A. Shedd—wooden ships at the end of their 20 or so years of expected profitability were routinely abandoned at city docks or driven ashore to decay in remote coves. That any of them at all survived into the first half of the 21st century is remarkable. More than a few survive today by staying safe in harbor regardless of what they were built for. And for two brothers in New York City, that means repurposing them as floating restaurants.

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Page 58


by Sarah Armour • Photographs by Alison Langley

The first time I saw BRILLIANT, I was sailing  aboard another schooner, and she was overtaking us. We were approaching The Race, the eastern entrance to Long Island Sound, and she passed us quickly after a wave and a “Hello!” from her captain. I was a green deckhand, quite literally straight off the farm, and had never seen anything like her.

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Pulsifer Hampton
Page 64

What’s in a Name?

by Stan Grayson

During the 1930s, Yachting magazine published a series of articles chronicling the history of 15 American working craft. Ten of the articles were written by Howard Irving Chapelle, the naval architect, museum curator, and historian who remains an influential pioneer in the field. Chapelle’s piece in the July 1938 issue was about what he called a “Hampden” boat.

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Dave Lake holding kayak
Page 72

How to Build Floating Art

by Lawrence W. Cheek • Photographs by Kim Fetrow

Why decorate a boat? Especially, why decorate a slender sea kayak’s deck with so much art that it would border on sacrilege to smother it with a kayak’s typical touring rummage such as a water bottle, a compass, and a rescue float?

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From the Community



Somes Sound 12 1/2

Somes Sound 12 1/2 designed by John Brooks of the WoodenBoat School.