THIS book treats of the simple
life on the water, things that any man may enjoy -- canoes, yachts of
moderate dimensions, motor boats. The sea is eternal. Its lure is
always the same, and men who live on its shores will forever be
satisfying that longing to be afloat on it. Those who do not make it a
life's business the sea invites to at least come and play. That play is
expensive, most expensive, if one insists on a modern racer. There are
plenty of books for those who delight in getting somewhere else on the
water in the least possible time; this one is for him who would enjoy a
more leisurely cruise, look in at strange ports, canoe strange rivers.
There is a deal, however, for
confirmed boat-fusser, for the man who is somewhat handy with tools and
likes to build, for the youth whose pocketbook is meager. It is written
for the man who wants to own a canoe, a sailboat, a motor boat, yet
cannot afford to buy one. Why not build one? The author can never
remember the time he was not building a craft of some sort, for the
mere fun of it. Most of the cost of boat building is labor. During the
past ten years, by way of example, lumber cost for boats has not
increased so very much. You can still buy white pine of fair grade for
ten cents a board foot; twenty for Number One grade, free from knots.
Oak comes at about fifteen to twenty cents. And, when you have said oak
and pine, you have covered all the lumber really necessary for a boat.
Engines and hardware are not so different in price from what they were.
I see no great difference in anchors, cleats, blocks, portholes; can
still get a good ten-horse engine for two hundred and fifty dollars,
which is just what Go-Sum's engine cost ten years ago.
Knockdown boat frames seem to have gone out of favor. I believe there
is still a company making a line of them in Bay City, Michigan.
Rigs have advanced considerably
past ten years. The Marconi jibheaded rig has come to stay. It appears
nowadays on boats as small as thirteen feet, in the Gloucester Midget
class. The difficulties of a smooth track for the hoist have been
ironed out. Mast fittings are on the general market for Marconi
shrouds. The jib has a tendency to become larger and to be concentrated
in one sail. Scientific tests have proved that it is more efficient,
area for area, than the mainsail because the latter's mast cuts off so
much of the wind efficiency.
Aside from the supremacy of the
rig -- which may be stepped in any boat formerly carrying a gaff
mainsail -- this book is quite the same aid and guide as it was when
first written. And it may not be presumed that the writer has stood
still, practically, for the last few years; in fact, he cries guilty to
having built a new type of sailing cruiser not described in these pages
but worthy of mention here, as his own recent contribution to yachting
This cruiser, Wee Bee by
24 feet x 19 feet x 7 feet 6 inches x 4 feet draft, sleeps two men in
her 7-foot cabin, and is ketch rigged, with 300 square feet of sail
area. Her sails are jibheaded, like the Marconi but hoisted on sliding
gunter gaffs cocked straight up. I am no carpenter, but I built her
myself, on the urge to own a small but comfortable cruiser that would
be "able" on the high seas yet not too much boat. She has been sailing
four years and seems a success -- as much as any innovation can be on
the eternal and conservative sea. She feeds her crew from a lazarette,
or small galley-cabin, placed just forward of the mizzenmast. This
holds a two burner galley stove, ice box, water keg with faucet, and
racks for plates, provision cans, etc. The cockpit is between the
forward bulkhead of the lazarette and the after bulkhead of the cabin.
It is 6 feet long and seats three people comfortably on its weather
side. An awning goes over it in port, hung from the main boom.
Wee Bee is a dry boat,
10-foot waves, very easy to handle, and sails herself, on tacks, with
helm lashed. You can drop mainsail and reef any time, the jib and
mizzen carrying her along on course. I have done it, again and again,
when the wind freshened so as to require another reef. Or, if too
strong for any mainsail at all, she does well on jib and mizzen alone.
The construction is simply Margaret (described early in this
book), with three strakes lapping one above the other, ribs every 2
feet, and a skip jack bottom springing from an oak fin keel of 2-inch
stock. She carries 400 pounds of lead on the fin keel and 300 pounds of
stone ballast inside.
A cabin feature worthy of
mention is that,
while it shows 5 feet length above the coaming, it is 6 feet long down
where the berths come. This was done to give more seating room in the
cockpit, and was managed by bringing up the after bulkhead some 2 feet,
then insetting 14 inches, making a cross-seat for the cockpit, and from
there raising the after wall and doors of the cabin. The crew's heads
go side by side on pillows under that bulkhead seat. We found that a
small porthole was needed in the bulkhead so as to give air there at
night. Also this bulkhead makes the whole forward part of the boat
Wee Bee was knocked down
once and filled her cockpit with green water. Dropping mainsail, which
can be done instantly with the sliding gunter gaff, she righted and
sailed on under jib and mainsail while the crew bailed out. I do not
know of any other boat that was ever fairly upset yet got up and went
on again without assistance! All due to the cabin and lazarette
bulkheads making stern and bow unsinkable.
Finally, as an auxiliary, she
2-1/2 hp. Bridgeport motor, offset 6 inches from centerline to pass the
rudderhead with its screw. This engine is located in the cockpit under
the steering wheel post but to one side of it. It takes up virtually no
room and is a great convenience in calms and crowded harbors.
I built her myself, boat, sails,
and rigging, with a lot of fun and no very great work -- and no
difficult fits. Her description forms, rightfully, part of this
preface, as witnessing what the author has to say for himself that is
new as a boatbuilder. Your attention is called to Wee Bee's picture,
which forms our new frontispiece. With that picture to guide him, any
one should be able to build her duplicate. She is yours, readers! I
claim no patent on her at all, and warn off all unscrupulous
manufacturers from commercializing her !
EAST GLOUCESTER, MASS.