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NOV 26 1885

  --  likely author is W.P. Stephens


An 18-ft daysailer from 1885

WITHIN ten years the whole character of American water sports has changed greatly, presenting today a totally different aspect from that of 1875. Two features of this change are especially noticeable, as they both have had a great influence on the development of our pleasure navy.

One of these is the great decadence in shell rowing, a sport that reached its climax among amateurs in 1875 and professionals a little later, but that since has lost greatly in caste and popularity in both branches.

Of course a few large colleges still keep up the eight, but shell rowing both in private clubs and among our colleges, has fallen greatly from the place it once held; while among professionals it is in still worse repute. The other and more promising feature in our boating and yachting is the introduction of a large class of small pleasure boats that offer much more to a man than either shell boat rowing or the ordinary sand bag racing and sailing, that only a few years since were the only form of "yachting" open to men of limited means. The shell or at best a gig or wherry, were the only rowing boats and similarly the ordinary shoal centerboard cat-rigged craft was really the only sailing boat in general use until a comparatively recent period.

As the idea of cruising developed among boating men the existing boats were pressed into service, for want of something better. The first cruise of the early canoeists who afterward formed the New York Canoe Club was made in a "Whitehall" boat up the Hudson to Albany and Troy; in 1877 a Brooklyn oarsman made a New York along the New England coast to Portland Maine in a narrow decked wherry, and even the single shell has been pressed into similar service; but all of these craft were unfitted for such work. In a like manner the catboat was used for cruising and living on board, an end for which she was in every way unfitted.

The want of suitable boats kept many men of leisure and aquatic tastes from cruising, and hindered the development of this most charming sport, but the general circulation of Mr. MacGregor's books, more than any other cause, turned attention to cruising and cruising boats. First came the canoe, whose wonderful growth in popular favor is a sufficient reason for its existence and also for its encouragement; but it is too small a boat for many, who are still unsatisfied with the catboat. Various local craft. such as the sneakbox and New Haven sharpie, were made to do duty as cruisers until, as the subject gained in importance, boats were specially designed for cruising work in all its varieties, and to suit men of all tastes and circumstances.

Even now this class of boat, is still in its infancy; its growth and development has just begun, but in place of the old shell, rowboat and catboat of a decade since, we can muster a fine fleet of cruisers, from the little Rob Roy canoe of wood or canvas to the larger class of canoes proper, then the coasting canoes and "canoe yawls" so called, then the improved sneakbox and sharpie, the small safe sloop, either keel or centerboard, up to the narrow yawl of 25ft. or so, such as the Boston Fad or the Molly of Lake Ontario.

Ranging in cost from $50 to $1000, in capacity from one to three or four, in draft from four inches to five feet by all gradations suiting them to all waters; and in accommodations, from a tent and blanket at night to a snug cabin with stove and berths for two or three; but all of honest model and within the power of one man to handle; our progress in this direction is something to be proud of and augurs well for the future of the noblest and manliest of our outdoor sports. It is not and never can be followed for mere gain, it cannot be corrupted by the betting and evil practices that have debased shell rowing, it does not derive its attractions from the merely brutal pleasure of killing something, while it gives full scope to the highest development of the physical and mental powers. Each year sees more cruises and more and better boats of all sizes and descriptions, as the subject is more carefully investigated.

One of the most interesting boats of the class is the "canoe yawl" -- an enlarged canoe that is known to many of our reader's through the medium of Mr. Speed's little book, "Cruises in Small Yachts and Large Canoes," which we have noticed before.


The author writes us under date of Nov. 4:

"I have been cruising in the Viper since June, and came up Chichester Harbor on Monday last and will lay up at a village named Bosham, hauling her up. She had been and is the most satisfactory little vessel I ever came across, and is now as sound as ever and equal to the day on which she was launched.

I have had a new boat, the Lizard, built at Inman's yard at Lymington for a friend in the Isle of Man, which has proved very satisfactory. She is 20ft. 10 inch by 5ft. 8 inch beam, with 17cwt. of lead outside and 4cwt. inside, with the same lines as Viper but a little more rise of floor and finer ends, which I think a mistake, and also more sheer, otherwise she is a sister boat. Such boats as these are easy to work with but one hand, one can live in them comfortably, they are safe and uncapsizable and not costly to keep up; in fact. absurdly inexpensive.

Should I build another for myself I should make her a size larger still, but not going beyond a single hand's power to work easily. A very capable boat might be, say, 25ft by 6ft 2 in with other dimensions in same proportion."


The sail plan shown above [click it for a larger image; it is a little ratty because this image is taken from microfilm] is that of a similar boat 18ft 4in x 5ft, the lines of which, taken from the Field were published in the FOREST AND STREAM of Nov. 6, 1884. The boat in question was built from these lines for Mr. Edward Burgess of Boston by Lawley & Son. Mr. Burgess rigged her as shown, instead of as a lugger, the rig of the original.

The dimensions are as follows:


Length on deck

18ft 4in




2ft 2in




7ft 6in x 4ft

Lead keel

850 lb.

Ballast inside, iron

250 lb.



Mast, from fore side of stem

6ft 10in

Mast, deck to hounds

14ft 3in

Mast, deck to truck

18ft 9in

Mast, diameter at deck


Bowsprit, outboard


Bowsprit, diameter at stem


Bowsprit, diameter at end


Main boom


Main boom, diameter


Gaff (oval, 2.25 x 1.5in)

9ft. 6in

Center of lateral resistance
aft center of load line


Center of effort
forward of center of load line


Center of effort above load line

6ft 4in














150 sq.ft.






48 sq.ft.






45 sq.ft.







Total sail area.

233 sq.ft.




Area, reefed mainsail.

80 sq.ft.





With the above amount of ballast the draft is a little less than 26 inches. In cruising the crew and stores would bring her to her load line. The center of effort of reefed mainsail and whole staysail is shown at CE2, and of the two headsails at CE3. Many will object to the double rig, but in practice it is found to work excellently, being very easily handled. The three small sails are easily set by a boy and the headsail sheets, leading to the rail as shown, may be reached from the tiller. In tacking they are readily got down with one hand without leaving the stick.

The jib is set flying, the outhaul being an endless line, with a snap hook spliced in. The hook is snapped to the jib tack, the sail partly hoisted and hauled out. When not in use it is stowed in a bag instead of being furled on the bowsprit. No jibstay being needed the bowsprit is fitted with a tackle on the bobstay and is easily housed entirely, which is sometimes a great convenience in running into odd places as such small boats constantly do. The convenience of the device on the boat in question was practically shown this summer, where, starting from beside a float in a very strong tideway, a lull in the light breeze stopped all steerageway, and before an oar could be got out, threw the boat between two piles. She held for a moment, jammed by the tide, but before she had slipped so far astern as to strike the bowsprit, in which case it must inevitably have carried away, the jib tack and bobstay fall were cast off, bowsprit run in, the boat swung clear, the stick went out, and fall and tack were made fast, a pull on the jib halyards, and all was right again.

The fittings are very simple, a gammon iron bolted to port side of stemhead, a sampson post of 2 x 6 inch oak plank with a 3-1/4 inch hole bored through for the heel of the round bowsprit, a fid of 1/2 inch round iron, and two small iron blocks for the bobstay tackle, one hooking into a wire rope bobstay.

In some cases a tabernacle and lowering mast are desirable, and with a forestay both are easily fitted. The tabernacle is made of two pieces, B-B, of oak 1-1/4 x 4in stepped in the keel D and coming to the coaming I-I.

The mast is stepped in the block C under the floor K, and is held by the forestay and two shrouds, all fitted with turnbuckles.

A bar F of 1-1/4 x 1/4 inch iron is bolted to the tabernacle's sides, one bolt G being fitted with a thumb [wing] nut, while the bar is slotted on the starboard side to slip over the neck of the bolt, turning on the port bolt.

When G is loosened the bar may be turned over out of the way, and the mast lowered.

To avoid cutting away the floor for a distance aft of the mast, a block of oak E is bolted to the heel of the latter, on the after side. When the mast is lowered the block turns on the edge L lifting the mast out of the step as it falls aft.

In lowering, the halyards are stopped to the mast out of the way, the jib halyard is carried forward and hooked to stem head, the bar F is swung back and the mast is lowered by the jib halyard. The shrouds and also the parrel on the gaff must both be slackened. One man can readily lower and hoist the mast for bridges, etc.

The leads of the various lines are as follows:

jib on cleat a,

throat halyards to cleat d on starboard side, peak to cleat b on same side so that both can be reached at the same time;

staysail halyards on cleat c,

topping lift on cleat e on mast,

staysail downhaul knotted in hole in coaming at f.

The mainsail is thus set from the starboard and the head sails from the port side of boom, and the downhaul is handy to the staysail halyard. All are easily reached by leaving the tiller for only a moment, and one man can manage all lines.

The boat has air tanks in each end, a large cuddy forward, and seats in the cockpit. For cruising the seats would fold out, making a bed for two or even three (4 x 7ft.), while a tent would be pitched over the boom.

The yawl rig would answer well for such a boat, but the present one has proved very satisfactory for singlehanded sailing and cruising. Apropos of these boats it may be mentioned that Mr. MacWhirter, formerly of Erith, who built both of Mr. Speed's boats, is now settled at West Brighton, Staten Island, where he is engaged in yacht building.


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