View Full Version : Unusual old boat - can you help?

02-25-2011, 02:10 PM
An "anonymous benefactor" left an unusual old wooden sailboat boat (l.o.a. about 17 ft) at the Mariner's Museum at South Bay, Prince Edward County, Ontario, and the museum has been trying to find out something about it! The museum is closed during the winter months and detailed .jpg images are not presently available. However, a short article about it and composite image are available in .pdf format on pages 8 and 9 of the October 2010 newsletter (Bugle) of the Prince Edward Yacht Club. If you think you can identify the design and where and when it was published, I'd like to know. The URL is: http://www.peyc.reach.net/Bugle/October%202010.pdf

Bob Cleek
02-25-2011, 03:08 PM
Oh, it's been a while. I'd have to check my research library. Somebody may know the answer before I get around to finding it.. or not finding it. There was a naval architect back around the turn of the last century in the Great Lakes area. He is still known for his fine steam launch designs. Damn it, but his name escapes me at the moment. I believe he was connected with an outfit known as the Racine (Wisconsin) Boatworks. There was a reprint of a catalog of his designs years ago. I have a copy somewhere. Weston Farmer spoke highly of him in his "My Old Boatshop" book. This guy designed some small sailing boats that looked like the one you have, back around 1900. They were kit boats. The company would pretty much build the boat, backbone and frames, etc. Then knock it down and box it up and ship it out to the customer mail order. The customer would then assemble the boat. I'm not anywhere near the Great Lakes and the maritime history of that area isn't one I'm particularly familiar with. These boats were somewhat in your neck of the woods. Perhaps it is one of these. The nature of the design, which now appears to us unusual, appears to put it right in the 1900 period.

02-26-2011, 09:24 AM
Bob, many thanks for your helpful suggestions. May I ask that you continue to look through your "stuff". Names etc will be of great help. I'll certainly follow up on your suggestions. EWYN

02-26-2011, 10:47 AM
The PEYC will get a much better response if they post larger images of the boat directly on the web, rather than require interested persons to download and view a pdf file.

Here's the best I can do with a screenshot -


Ian McColgin
02-26-2011, 11:43 AM
Looks like some sort of sneak-box evolution.

Bob Cleek
02-26-2011, 01:16 PM
It almost looks like a wooden RIB!

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTr3CTLwlGxGPVzUP7x6G72KYc8nZxBZ aMjqk2T2TJMUVZqLag7Vg

I did look it up for you. The designer's name was Fred W. Martin. His "Second Edition - 1901 Alburm of Designs for Boats, Launches, and Yachts" was reprinted by Altair Publishing Co., Mt. Prospect, IL 60056, in 1980. ISBN: 0-9604976 (Lib.Congress no. 80-69290). (Paperback) Now out of print, it sometimes is available from online used booksellers.

My recollection that his mail order "assemble it yourself" boatbuilding company was in Racine, WI was correct.

There are a number of small boat designs in this book which are similar to the boat you have, given the photos posted. None in the book appear to be THAT boat, however. It is possible, of course, that changes or modifications were made by the owner builders. For instance, the Martin designs which are the most similar have curved cockpit coamings, while yours are squared. That difference could certainly be attributable to an owner-builder who wished to avoid the more complicated construction of curved coamings. What is most distinctive in both the boat and the Martin lines is their general shape, common shallow draft and pronounced tumblehome at the sheer. Martin's boats were centerboarders. I am unable to confirm from the pictures whether your boat had a centerboard. No centerboard case appears in the photos. Without one, it would seem sailing it would be something of a challenge!

The bail at the stern is curious. There is also a sheet horse, so it doesn't appear to have served that purpose. It doesn't extend far enough aft to serve as an effective collision guard for the rudder, not that I've ever seen such an appendage before. Quite a mystery!

I would say that with the limited data available, it cannot be confirmed that the boat is a Fred W. Martin design. However, the lines and apparent construction details do tend to place it in the same era. Around 1900, such design features were not "unusual" at all. (Some of the fashions in boats back then, especially those which are now long out of fashion, look very odd to our eyes today.) Stronger confirmation of that would require a much closer examination of materials and construction methods than the photos permit. You may wish to address an inquiry to the small boat curators at Mystic Seaport. If anybody would know, I expect it would be those guys.

Peerie Maa
02-26-2011, 01:25 PM
The bail at the stern is curious. There is also a sheet horse, so it doesn't appear to have served that purpose. It doesn't extend far enough aft to serve as an effective collision guard for the rudder, not that I've ever seen such an appendage before. Quite a mystery!

There is a small eye on it at the centre. I'm thinking back stay?

02-26-2011, 08:34 PM
I think it is a stretch, but a similarly styled row boat showed up at the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association website forum recently. I think the gang there also failed to identify the maker.

To quote the owner of the boat: "We think she was bought in Detroit, Mi. and may have been made by Clyde boat works. But we don't have a positive ID."

There are photos of that row boat here:



The WCHA Forum thread discussion about the boat is here:


Some WCHA folks over there on the Forum know a great deal about the Racine Boat Company too.


02-27-2011, 12:09 PM
Thanks for the conversion. Unfortunately, detailed .jpgs are no longer available and I had to use what was available at this time. I will get high res. images when museum opens later this spring. EWYN

02-27-2011, 12:16 PM
Will follow up on Fred Martin. This boat does have an iron/steel centreboard. The slot shows immediately aft of the mast stepping hole on the foredeck. I hope to get new images when the museum reopens later this spring. In the meantime you've provided some very helpful pointers for which many thanks, EWYN

02-27-2011, 12:20 PM
Fitz, thanks for another lead. I'll certainly contact WCHA about our "odd ball", EWYN