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BOAT SAILING

IN

FAIR WEATHER AND FOUL

BY

CAPTAIN
A. J. KENEALY






CHAPTER V

THE KNOCKABOUT CLASSES

CHAPTER VI
 

THE KNOCKABOUTS, which had their origin in Boston, have much to recommend them. They are free from freakiness. None of them at this time of writing have been fitted with fin-keels to harass their skippers when they come in contact with the ground. They have a moderate sail area, and thus are under control at all times. In a blow one is as safe aboard one of these craft as a converted Chinaman under the lee of his fair Sunday school teacher at church-time. The variety in vogue in Boston in 1897 was limited to 500 square feet of sail. All were keel boats, 21 feet being the limit of length on the load waterline.

 

BOSTON KNOCKABOUT GOSLING

 

This class gained popularity from the intrinsic excellence of the boats themselves, combining capital cruising qualities with fair speed and good accommodations. Several designers competed, the restrictions governing their construction, dimensions, and sail area being such that the boats were very even in speed, and the contests in which they took part were keen, close, and exciting.

The type of knockabout chosen for the season of 1898 by the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club and the Westchester Country Club has proved to be quite admirably adapted for cruising and racing. They were designed and built by Mr. W.B. Stearns, of Marblehead, their dimensions being:

length over all, 33 feet; on the load waterline, 21 feet; beam, 8 feet 8 inches; draught, 4 feet; with board down, 7 feet.

 

SEAWANHAKA 21-FOOT KNOCKABOUT.

The area of the mainsail and jib contains 550 square feet. The centerboard is a small one of iron, and houses below the cabin floor. The trunk cabin is 8 feet long, with 5 feet headroom. The price of these boats was $750 complete, and, their construction being sound and strong, they will, if taken care of properly, be good for many years.

It is impossible to speak in terms too high of this class after a surfeit of the racing machines and freaks like the 20-footers whose alarming antics so often amused and amazed us whenever they happened to meet in a reefing breeze. Another good property they possess is that they look like boats when hauled up on the beach, and can never be mistaken when their masts are unstepped for pig-troughs or fish floats. There is no doubt of the sea worthiness of these craft. They are perfectly safe in a northwest squall off Sandy Hook or in a dirty easterly gale on Long Island Sound.

 

Another craft of this type which was deservedly popular last year is of larger size than the one described above. She is 25 feet on the load waterline, 38 feet over all, with a beam of 8 feet 6 inches, and 5 feet draught with centerboard up. The boat, which was designed by Mr. B.B. Crowninshield, of Boston, has a commodious cabin with 6 feet headroom, a seven foot cockpit, and 800 square feet of duck in mainsail and jib. A very able and roomy boat nearly twice as costly as the Stearns craft, but indeed quite a little ship.

 

SAIL PLAN OF SEAWANHAKA KNOCKABOUT
550 SQUARE FEET.

 

Personally, I favor a short bowsprit in a knockabout, it being convenient for hoisting the anchor, keeping it clear of the hull, and preventing unseemly dents from the flukes.

I fear that knockabouts, or raceboats, even in restricted classes, are designed eventually to be fitted with fin-keels. As a speed-inducing factor the fin has fully demonstrated its capacity since the first edition of this little book appeared. I have not, however, altered my opinion one iota since my remarks on the ballast-fin made in the chapter which precedes this. In my judgement the fin is admirably adapted as an adjunct to a racing machine, but for cruising craft I like it not. Brand me for an old fogy, if you will; half a century behind the times, if it so pleases you, shipmates, but give me credit for sincerity.

The keen sense of rivalry inherent in every American will not permit him to be content with a good, honest sailing boat for cruising purposes only. If one of his chums comes out with a faster craft, whether a fin-keel or a modification thereof, he will become dissatisfied with his own boat, no matter how seaworthy and comfortable she may be, and will promptly discard her for a newfangled design in which speed is the principal characteristic. The so-called restricted classes, which are so popular just now, are, I think, sure in the end to become purely racing classes, something after the fashion of the Herreshoff 30-footers now so fashionable in Newport. As racing boats, none afford more sport than these wonderfully smart flyers, and I can well understand what fascinating toys they have proved to their owners. But, after all, they are only toys, vastly expensive, too, with no accommodations for cruising, and apt to be uncomfortably wet in a breeze.

The one-design classes of small yachts are not confined to knockabouts only. Cruising schooners, designed by Cary Smith, made their appearance in 1898, and the class, from a modest beginning, seems likely to grow. The features of the boats are their sound and wholesome characteristics. They possess moderate draught, large accommodations, and strength of construction. They are 64 feet 2 inches over all, 46 feet long on the load waterline, 16 feet beam, draught without board 6 feet 6 inches, least freeboard 3 feet. A rather low cabin trunk gives full headroom for the greater part of the yacht's length, the main saloon being more than 13 feet long, with a floor width of 6 feet 9 inches. On each side are two berths and two sofas with drawers beneath. There is accommodation in the forecastle for four men. The yachts carry 20,000 pounds of lead ballast, of which 18,000 pounds is on keel. Another one-design division is the Riverside Yacht Club dory class, which has been adopted by many of the clubs enrolled in the Yacht-Racing Union of Long Island Sound. These boats are thirteen feet on the keel, seventeen feet over all, with four feet beam, fitted with a centerboard and rigged with small jib and a leg-of-mutton sail. They are for single-handed racing, but for pleasure cruising or fishing a man can take his chum along. Fully equipped with oars, sails, etc., they cost about forty dollars, and afford capital sport on fine afternoons. To encourage this little class, prizes worth winning are offered by the club, and sweepstakes races are popular features.

The idea was probably taken from the Nahant Dory Club, organized in 1894, which did much to encourage sport in this serviceable and inexpensive class. Spectators will find amusement in watching "green hands" in their maiden efforts at sailing these dories, as strange and startling results often follow the rash experiments of an adventurous tyro. But apart from the comic element, valuable lessons in yacht racing may be learned by steering and maneuvering a dory against a fleet of half-a-dozen eager competitors. Thus, yachtsmen cannot help approving this new Riverside venture, originated, I believe, by Mr. F. Bowne Jones, of the Regatta Committee.

The origin of the one-design class was Dublin Bay, where the "Water Wag" type was first evolved. A Norwegian praam with a boilerplate centerboard, combining ballast and lateral resistance, and carrying a big sail, was built in 1878 at Shankhill. She was christened Cesmiostama, and proved an ideal boat. The conditions were a sloping sandy shore on which the high surf not infrequently broke, and from which the craft had to be launched every time her owner wanted a sail, and onto which she had to be beached after the cruise was finished. Cesmiostama was a capital sea-boat; she pointed well, hit what she aimed at, did not sag off to leeward, and was quite fast. When the centerboard, weighing about one hundred pounds, was raised, she ran up easily on the beach, resting quietly on her flat bottom. Her centerboard was then lifted out, and her crew of two hauled her up. The knowing Irish yachtsmen, appreciating a good thing, saw that there was a lot of fun in a boat of this class, and several were built, and many scrub races were indulged in. In 1887 the Water Wag Association was started, the craft being built on the same lines, and the sail-area being limited. Their dimensions were thirteen feet in length, with a beam of four feet ten inches, full lines and a flat floor.

The Water Wags are presided over by a king and a queen, bishop, knights, and rooks; and, although the boats were at first used principally for pleasure, they are now racers, pure and simple. Their headquarters are now in Kingstown Harbor, and prizes are put up for them at all the local regattas. They are very handy, too, and quite admirable for the purpose for which they were designed. They cost from $75 to $100, and the rules that govern their races provide that they shall be similar in every respect except sail-plan. The mast must not exceed thirteen feet over all, measured from top of keel to truck; the fore and aft sails must not exceed seventy-five square feet in area, and the spinnaker (which is to be used only before the wind, and never as a jib) must not exceed sixty square feet.

Each boat shall carry no less than two or more than three persons in a race, all of whom shall be amateurs. A member or any lady may steer. No prize shall be awarded a boat for a sail-over, but she may fly a winning flag therefor. A pair of oars and a life-buoy must be carried in every race. It is only right to mention that these sailing regulations are vigorously enforced.

The latest one-design class established by our rollicking Irish cousins is known as the 25-footers of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club. These craft are of such noteworthy type as to deserve a few lines of description and approval here, especially as it was wisely decided that the type shall not be altered for five years from January 1, 1898. The boats, of which quite a number were built and raced, are deep-keeled cutters of the following dimensions:

Length over all, 37 feet 3 inches; length on load waterline, 25 feet; beam, 8 feet 8 inches; draught, 6 feet 3 inches; lead on keel, 3 tons 5 cwt., and sail area, 845 square feet, divided into a mainsail laced to the boom, gafftopsail, foresail and jib.

A second jib, jibtopsail, balloon foresail, spinnaker, storm jib and trysail may also be carried. The design, made by Will Fife, Jr., of Fairlie, is handsome, the type being eminently adapted for Dublin Bay. Restrictions of the strictest kind ensure the boats being exactly alike in size, material, construction and canvas.

The "Mermaids," a craft much used by the B division of the same club, are large Water Wags, 18 feet long, with 6 feet beam, fitted with centerboards, but carrying no ballast, and limited when racing to 180 square feet of sail. These are vastly popular, and a dozen or so race every Saturday afternoon during the season.

Although one-design racing originated on the other side of the Atlantic, it is questionable if any one class has been sailed with more spirit or persistency than were the Herreshoff 30-footers at Newport during the yachting season of 1897 and since.

That the classes are destined to prosper there is no doubt, the only condition being that the type must be carefully adapted to the location for which it is intended, and the more it is available for fishing excursions and pleasure trips the greater favor will attend it. Another helpful feature is the substantial economic gain from the construction of several boats by the same builder from the same design.

 


CHAPTER VI

FITTING OUT FOR A CRUISE

 

IN EQUIPPING a boat for a cruise, even in summer, it is always well to remember that gales of wind are not unusual even in July. I once knew it to blow with spiteful ferocity in the last week of that month, and to disperse the Atlantic Yacht Club squadron and drive them to seek shelter in various harbors of Long Island Sound, between Black Rock and New Haven. Out of the whole fleet only two yachts reached their destination, New London. One was the sloop Athion, Vice-Commodore E.B. Havens, on board of which I was a guest, and the forty-footer Chispa. It was quite an exciting and hard thrash to windward in the teeth of an easterly gale, but we got there. Had not the two yachts mentioned been properly prepared for such an exigency, they also would have been forced to bear up and run for some landlocked haven in which to linger until the wind had blown itself out. Although these summer gales generally exhaust themselves in twenty-four hours, they are often quite savage while they last, and the sensible yachtsman will always be prepared to meet them. His standing and running rigging will be in first-class condition; whatever storm canvas he carries will be ready for bending at a moment's notice; his sea anchor or drogue will also be at hand for letting go should the necessity arise.

Of course I need not impress upon the amateur boat sailer that a compass should be taken along on a cruise. But I have mingled a good deal with the owners of small craft, and have met many who either did not carry one at all or, if it was aboard, as likely as not stowed it away in the same locker with a hatchet, marlinespike and other tools not likely to improve it. A compass should always form part of a boat's outfit. A fog often makes its appearance when a party of pleasure seekers are enjoying a sail on sound or bay, and when it shuts down on you thick as a hedge I will defy you not to lose your bearings, and consequently your way. In times such as these a compass will prove a source of great comfort, and instead of being compelled to anchor and await clear weather you can steer for your destination under shortened sail. In such cases never fail to blow the foghorn, which should be of regulation size and not a penny squeaking trumpet such as a six-year old schoolboy affects. The ordinary boat's compass will answer admirably if only short sails are contemplated, but on a long cruise where a heavy sea is not unlikely to be encountered, a fluid compass should be carried. The motion of a small craft in rough water causes the common compass card to jump about so much as to be perfectly useless to steer by, while a fluid compass remains steady and reliable under all circumstances and conditions. There are several fluid compasses in the market at a reasonable price, which can be depended upon in an emergency. The fluid on which the needle floats is generally alcohol, to guard against freezing, and is simply a development of a primitive compass used by the daring seamen of the twelfth century. This old-fashioned instrument consisted of an iron needle, one end of which was stuck into a piece of cork. The other end was well rubbed with a lodestone, and when the cork was floated in an earthenware bowl of water the end so treated pointed to the magnetic North. In spite of the meager knowledge of those early navigators concerning variation and deviation, they generally managed to make a sufficiently good landfall. It may not be generally known that a sewing needle rubbed on a magnet and carefully dropped into a vessel of water will float and point to the North.

The rule of the road at sea requires vessels in a fog to go at a moderate speed and to blow the foghorn at intervals of not less than two minutes; when on the starboard tack one blast, when on the port tack two blasts in succession, and when with the wind abaft the beam three blasts in succession. It also has certain imperative rules for a vessel at anchor in a fog.

The law provides that a vessel not under way in a fog shall at intervals of not more than two minutes ring a bell. It will be seen therefore that a bell is quite as necessary as a foghorn. If a boat at anchor or under way in thick weather, with neither bell nor foghorn in use as provided by the law, should be run into and damaged or sunk by any other vessel, her owner would have no redress. On the contrary, if he escaped with his life he could be forced to pay for any damage, however trifling, the vessel colliding with him sustained in the act. If he was drowned his estate would be liable.

A bell should form part of the careful boat owner's outfit. But if you have neglected providing one, don't despair. Get out a frying pan or a tin kettle and kick up as much racket as you can by beating one or both with a hammer or a marlinespike. A fish horn has many times answered the purpose of a foghorn, but I would not recommend it as a steady substitute. All I wish to convey is that a frying pan and a fish horn are better than nothing.

The variety of anchor to be carried depends very much upon choice. There are several kinds for sale quite suitable for small cruisers, all of which have good points to recommend them.

The law is imperative as regards the carrying of lights by night when at anchor or under way. If your craft is very small, there is a light in the market fitted with green and red slides to be shown when required, which may suit your purpose. But if your craft has any pretensions to size provide yourself with a pair of brass side lights and also a good brass anchor light. Avoid those flimsy articles with which the market is flooded. The best are cheapest in the end. See that all the lamps you have aboard take the same sized wick. Buy the brand of oil known as mineral sperm, which is used by all first-class steamship lines. Its quality has borne the test of years and has never been found wanting. For lamp cleaning take a plentiful supply of cotton waste and old newspapers, the last named for polishing the glass. A hand lead and line must not be forgotten, while an aneroid barometer, a thermometer and a marine clock with be both useful and ornamental. Do not forget a canvas bucket and a deck scrubber.

A few tools will be found necessary. A hatchet, hammer, chisel, file, jackknife, gimlet, screwdriver, small crosscut saw and an assortment of screws and nails will be about all that is essential in this direction. A few yards of duck, palm and needles and sewing twine, a ball of marline, one of spun yarn and a marlinespike may be stowed away snugly, and their possession in case of need is often a great boon. The adventurous voyager must use his own discretion as to his wardrobe. The marine "dude" is in evidence in our midst, and who am I that I should condemn a man for trying to look his prettiest both ashore and afloat? Don't forget to buy a good suit of oilers, and don't fail to slip them on when it rains. When you come to get to my age, and feel the rheumatism in your old bones, you will wish you had followed my advice.

Tastes differ so widely that it is hard to advise a man as to his cuisine when afloat. What would suit an old sea dog "right down to the ground," might not be palatable to the nautical epicure with a taste for humming-bird's livers on toast, or other such dainty kickshaws. Personally, I can enjoy a good square meal of sardines and hardtack, wash it down with a cup of coffee and wind up with a pipe of plug tobacco, and conclude that I have feasted like a prince. This is probably due to my forecastle training. Others are more fastidious. Luckily this is the age of canned viands, and almost every delicacy under the sun is put up in convenient form, requiring only a can-opener to extract the hidden sweetness.

The culinary difficulty that confronts the sailor of small craft is the cooking stove. Like the servant girl problem, it is still unsolved. Many great geniuses have wasted the midnight oil and have nearly exhausted the gray matter of their brains in trying to invent a stove that shall be suitable for a little cockleshell of a boat with a penchant for dancing over the waves in lively style. Some have tried cast-iron stoves with a smokestack, and coal for fuel, and have cursed their folly ever after. Gasoline stoves, so long as they don't explode and set fire to the boat, are convenient and cleanly. Various kinds of alcohol lamps, hung on gimbals to accommodate themselves to the perpetual motion of a vessel, are in use, and are thoroughly adapted for making a pot of coffee, tea or chocolate, and for heating a can of soup or preserved meat. A hungry boatman should not ask for more luxurious fare. There are preparations of coffee and milk, and cocoa and milk, in cans, which can be got ready in a hurry and with the least possible trouble. They are also nice, and I do not hesitate to stamp them with the seal of my approval. By looking over the catalogue of the canned goods of any first-class grocer, you will find a quantity of varieties to select from, all of excellent quality and moderate in price. In order to provide against waste, it would be advisable if cruising alone to buy the smallest packages in which the viands are put up. Hardtack should be kept in airtight tin boxes to guard against damp. Matches can be stowed in a glass fruit jar, and in this snug receptacle defy salt spray and sea air which threaten the integrity of brimstone and phosphorus. The man who indulges in tobacco (and what lover of the sea does not?) will find it well to pack a supply of wind matches in a glass jar, so that he can keep his match safe replenished and be able to light his pipe or cigar no matter how the breeze may blow. I have found tobacco a mighty source of comfort under adverse mental and physical conditions, and its soothing influence has made many a trick at the tiller seem less weary.

Cooking in a small craft tossed like a cork on the waves is a confounded nuisance, but a hot meal tastes well after you have been stuck at the tiller for four or five hours in squally weather. I remember an incident that occurred on board my cutter, the Heather Bell, when ingenuity provided a hot breakfast which otherwise we should not have enjoyed. We were caught in a southerly gale in the English Channel, and under trysail and spitfire jib we were doing our best to claw off a lee shore. I had been at the tiller nearly all night, and when day broke I was thoroughly exhausted. The little cutter -- she was only fifteen tons -- was pitching and 'scending at such a lively rate that lighting a fire in the stove was out of the question. My chum, however, managed to make some coffee with the aid of a spirit lamp, and also to cook a couple of plump Yarmouth bloaters. This last-named feat was difficult, but my chum was a man of genius. An inspiration came to him. He split the bloaters down the backs, put them in an extra deep frying pan, such as should always be used at sea, deluged them with Scotch whiskey, old and smoky, and set fire to it. I can see him now, hanging on to the cabin ladder with one hand and balancing the frying pan in the other so that the blazing whiskey should not overflow and set fire to the cabin. Those bloaters were fine. They went right to the spot. It was rather an expensive mode of cooking, for the whiskey in question was choice, but we both agreed that the fishes were worthy of it. I suppose they would have tasted just as well if they had been cooked in alcohol, but that idea did not occur to my friend. A beefsteak prepared in the same way was delicious. We had it for dinner, and soon after there came a shift of the wind, which enabled us to run for Newhaven and sleep comfortably.

You should take with you a box of seidlitz powders, a bottle of vaseline, court plaster, a box of your pet pills, a bottle of extract of witch hazel, a bottle of extract of ginger, a bottle of Sun cholera mixture, and a bottle of Horsford's acid phosphate. These should be stowed away in a medicine-chest, which, if you have any mechanical skill at all, you can make yourself. If you are no hand at a saw or a chisel, a small medicine-chest, filled with all the requisites and adapted for use in a boat, can be obtained from any good drugstore at a reasonable figure.

A locker for the storage of ice is indispensable for one's comfort when sailing in these latitudes in summer. The locker should be lined with zinc, and should be fitted with a brass tap to draw off the waste water. Wrap your ice up in paper first, and then in a piece of coarse flannel, and you will be surprised at the length of time it will keep. A porous earthenware bottle should form part of your equipment. It can be suspended in the draught, and will supply you with a moderately cool drink when your ice is all used.

Remember that sea air generates damp very quickly in a cabin. Bedding should be aired and sunned if possible every day, and the cabin should be well ventilated. Cleanliness and comfort go together in a boat, and scrubbing-brush and swab should not be allowed to get dry-rot by disuse. Cultivate order and tidiness so far as the domestic economy of your yacht is concerned. Have a place for everything and everything in its place, or your little cabin will present a slovenly appearance instead of looking pretty and snug.

If the interior of your cabin is painted white, use enamel paint, which dries hard and smooth, and can be easily cleaned by washing with warm (not hot) water, soap and sponge.

Cocoa-nut matting is better than carpet or oilcloth as a covering for a small craft's cabin floor. It is difficult to dry carpet when it gets thoroughly drenched with salt water. Oilcloth is comfortless and cold to bare feet, but cocoa-nut matting is open to neither of these objections. It is easily washed and dries quickly.

The cushions for the cabin may be stuffed with cork shavings or horsehair and covered with india-rubber sheeting. These may again be covered with corduroy or blue flannel, as the india-rubber sheeting is cold. Mattresses made of deer's hair are in the market, and are quite comfortable. Being buoyant, they can be used as lifesavers in an emergency.

Cups, saucers, plates and dishes of enameled iron or agate ware are unbreakable and much superior to those of tin, which rust and are hard to keep clean. Cookery and glassware are easily destroyed in a cruising craft, in spite of the ingenious racks and lockers invented to preserve them.

Don't omit to include fishing tackle among your stores. There is lots of sport in catching bluefish or mackerel when under way, and many a weary hour when your craft is becalmed may be beguiled with hook and line. Besides, a fish fresh from the water forms an agreeable and appetizing change from the monotony of canned goods. There is no necessity to purchase expensive tackle for sea-fishing. All that is wanted is strong and serviceable gear. For blue-fishing provide yourself with a well-laid cotton line, which is not liable to kink. The line should be seven-sixteenths of an inch in circumference for the big fish one catches in spring and fall, and the hooks should be strong. It is well to carry with you several varieties of squid. For smaller bluefish a lighter, cotton-braided line is good. When I go blue-fishing I take rubber finger-stalls along to prevent my fingers being chafed by the line. My readers should do the same. Horse-mackerel and Spanish mackerel are often taken with a bluefish line.

For navigating purposes all that is really necessary for a coasting voyage is a chart of the waters you propose to sail in, a pair of dividers and parallel rulers, and a book of sailing directions. A patent log may be added if so desired, and will add to the accuracy of your dead reckoning.

Thus equipped, the navigator may boldly venture forth either by himself or with a congenial companion. If he does not enjoy every moment of his cruise, and gain health and strength from the tonic sea breezes, he can safely conclude that Nature never intended him for a sailor. In that case, he should dispose of his craft at once and seek such consolation as agricultural pursuits afford.

 
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1.0 07/30/00

Edited by Craig O'Donnell.
Etext & images ©2000 Craig O'Donnell, all the usual whining applies.

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