View Full Version : Tancook Whaler/Pinky

05-11-2001, 10:26 PM
or 'carryaway' boat - the Regina M.is a beauty: http://www.mysticseaport.org/visiting/exhibits/ships.boats/regina.m.94-7-194b.jpg
and i was wondering if anyone Out There has any information/experience of this boat. Mystic Seaport is a bit of a hike for me.

John Gearing
05-12-2001, 07:44 PM
Take a look through the Roger Taylor "Good Boats" series of books (if you can find'em, I think some of the early ones are out of print). One of them has a chapter on a Tancook Whaler, as I recall, which describes what it's like to sail one. Also, don't neglect to use Woodenboat's online archives to look up any articles they may have run in the last 25 years or so. You can probably buy any relevant back issues from Woodenboat.

One question I'd have for you is what do you want to do with the whaler? I doubt it would have the belowdecks space you'd expect of a modern cruising sailboat. But if you wanted a primitive cruiser it might do.

05-12-2001, 07:56 PM
I seem to think there is an early tancook conversion currently for sale in WB. I slept on the Vernon Langille more than one night. She was on the hard, so was I, and I remember waking and walking around that beautifully modelled form on misty mornings. Striking.

05-12-2001, 08:34 PM
As Ishmael probably knows, the 'Vernon Langille' was built by apprentices at the Bath Marine Museum's Apprenticeshop in the late 70's. Lance Lee, the director, was enamored of the design and history of the schooners and the seagoing culture of the Tancook Islanders.

Mark Swanson, an apprentice, carved a half model for the 37' hull based on lines and models from various sources, with Jay Paris, N.A., of Bath guiding him when called on.

I was aboard for the summer launching and then for a cruise from Portsmouth, NH to Bath one late fall. She sailed well, but needed a crew of three or four watchful and capable sailors. She was susceptible to taking on water over the gunwales because of her slack bilges, low freeboard and powerful rig.

Some time later in her life she got becalmed on the windward side of the Bath Bridge and was swamped when the current carried her under and caught the masts about halfway up from the partners. Fortunately a tug standing by the Bath Iron Works was near and the crew were rescued and a line put aboard to keep her from sinking.

A striking design, nonetheless, and I think well executed. The Apprenticeshop is in Rockland, Maine now and they may have collected and published some information about the Tancook Islanders and their schooners.

05-12-2001, 09:05 PM
The incident you mention rbgarr, where the Langille was swept under the route one bridge 'cause they missed a tack, was apparently the proverbial straw. As I remember, she was under command of a guest skipper, with a crew of high school students. Though she only broke her sprit, and no one was in serious danger, it was used by the new director at MMM to leave Lance Lee in the lurch. What was that guy's name? John something. I think he went on to Peabody's directorship. I arrived there shortly after, and hence slept on the Langille.

It might be interesting to compare notes, as I arrived just in the midst of it. Lived in the house at the shipyard, with some leftovers from the previous regime, and a bunch of wantabe boatbuilders. Last time I was back, maybe three years ago, the spirit was dead.

How sad. They fought in court over names and such, and I guess the most important denoument is that they no longer have an apprentice program at the MMM.

Lance Lee, purple prose and all, is one of my heroes. Makes me think of Moby Dick. What is he up to today?

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 05-12-2001).]

05-12-2001, 11:40 PM
Um, Back to Regina M... does anyone have her measurements? You know, 36C-24-36. Wait, that's a different Regina. Beam, draft, depth of hull, displacement, centerboard or not, that sort of thing. Mystic only says that she is about 45 ' loa. I imagine she sails like a bat-outa-hell. I don't think I've ever seen a sleeker classic vessel. Any experiences would be cool - she is part of the Mystic collection, certainly there's a boat museum tramp out there who's been by. Tancook whalers are one of my favorite types. I had a neighbor who built the one in Chapelle's ASSC - a 43-footer, as I recall. This same guy - Hal Chase by name - also helped build a 27-footer that was sailed down to Mexico from California. Last I heard of her was a boat4sale ad in WB years ago - from Florida, so I guess she held up okay.
"Regina M." - any info appreciated.

05-13-2001, 08:18 AM
Right- back to the topic!

It sounds like you've been in contact with Mystic, and of course they have the most in-depth information about REGINA M. I presume they told you that they have some background information and a few pictures of carry-away boats (including one of the REGINA M as a gaff-rigged cutter under power, and another showing a raised deck added forward). This is all shown in Maynard Bray's "Watercraft", pp. 82-3. The only dimensions they give there are the 45' overall length you already have, and 13+' beam. No other details except for a picture of her as she is now at her Seaport berth.

The times I've been there she has not been set up for boarding. I imagine she's one of their larger "display models" and not finished out below so they'd want company to see. It seems she was acquired sometime before 1955, and there's no indication that she has been sailed by anyone since, but my copy of the book is old (1979) and they may have done more with her since.


Lance left the MMM, but stayed in Maine, to begin again with the Apprenticeshop concept in Nobleboro, then Rockport (where the 'shop became The Artisan's College for a number of years) then moved to the Rockland waterfront as The Rockland Apprenticeshop. He has also been a leading force in the development of The Atlantic Challenge program, http://www.atlanticchallenge.org whose offices are also there in Rockland.

I was the second 'director' of the Restorationshop at the MMM, and was involved in the building of the shop/display/storage building attached to the Donnell (sp?) House carriage house where you stayed for a while. I left the Museum in 1980, so wasn't there for the difficult breakup of the MMM/Apprenticeshop combination.

I don't know what Lance is doing now, but whatever it is, I'll bet it's suffused with his inspirational "can-do" spirit!

[This message has been edited by rbgarr (edited 05-13-2001).]

05-13-2001, 11:52 AM
ishmael said -
"Lance Lee, purple prose and all, is one of my heroes. Makes me think of Moby Dick. What is he up to today?"
it seems odd that ishmael of all people would ask that question, but as far as i know he summers in the southern ocean with his harem, spends the rest of the year fishing - squidding, actually. he's still collecting royalties from the book and the movies, of course. involved with a trademark lawsuit against Mocha Dick and Timor Tom for a while; court ruled in his favor, but he was still on the hook, so to speak, for damages to the pequod, even though he claimed self-defense, eminent domain, territorial prerogative, and fear of trying. pequod's owners maintained that sail has right-of-way over steam, and he was clearly seen to be spouting steam. case was eventually dismissed for lack of corroborative eyewitnesses.
all things considered, it's also rather odd that ishmael should consider him a hero.

05-14-2001, 08:29 PM
Pretty good John. I use the adjective pretty without implication or derision, my misplaced modifiers or prepositions, or whatever they were, in abeyance. I never have had the hang of the finer points of whaling. Always the pilgrim; without fine learning or legacy. I'm still the one who found that pagan's coffin--the only one to--and the Rachel.

Laughter is always good, and so you created.


Jeff Lane
06-01-2001, 02:12 AM
Some people I knew in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, back in the `70s, built a very finely-done Tancook Whaler in fiberglass, about 30' or so on deck. As the boat was mostly open, she was subject to loss if filled, and the fine lines aft made her subject to being pooped in a heavy following sea. Once, (off the island of Culebra, I think), she was pooped and they almost lost her; Only just managed to save her and themselves. A few years later, she went missing on a trip up the East Coast, and her owner, the only person apparently aboard, was never heard of again.
I feel that the type, while one of the most graceful and raciest of traditional designs, lacks enough buoyancy in the stern to make her a safe cruising boat. For that reason, for healthy cruising boats, I prefer Block Islanders, Pinkys, and Norwegian Pilot Boat and fisherman designs, of which I have quite a few.


Cheers, Jeff Lane

06-12-2001, 11:41 PM
I live near Tancook Island and somewhere in the mists of yore am related to the Masons who, along with the Heislers and Langilles, developed the Tancook Whaler and the later Tancook Schooners. Some beautiful small working boats came out of this area, among them the afore-mentioned Whalers and Schooners, as well as the Bush Island double-ender and the smaller Sambro Flattie. A book of interest to you folks might be "The Tancook Schooners" by Wayne O'Leary - history, anecdote, photos, lines, bibliography, it's got it all. Also, anyone interested in the Whaler or other local Nova Scotia "South Shore" boats should contact the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax NS or the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg NS. As the local old timers say, "Dem's right some good boats, you!"

06-13-2001, 06:11 AM
I was lucky enough to own a "Bush Island" boat. This boat was very similar to the "Marilla" sloop in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic except it still had fish holds and a Make and Break engine.

It looked alot like a Tancook Whaler only with a transom. It had pieces of rebar coated with pine tar for ballast.

06-15-2001, 01:44 AM
This has been a really cool subject. Thanks to all of you who participated.
- john

Dave Hadfield
06-20-2001, 11:25 PM
MMD is right. O'Leary's book, The Tancook Schooners, is wonderful. They were working boats built by working men, but I think these small schooners were about as pretty as a schooner can get.

Which is about a pretty a thing as man has ever built.

MMD, is there one in Mahone Bay, and if so, have you ever sailed it?

06-21-2001, 04:08 AM
Dave;Not to confuse matters,but the Tancook whaler and Tancook schooners are different beasts.The whalers were usually schooner rigged,but were double ended similar to a pinkey only with a finer entry and more deadrise to the sections.The Tancook schooners were designed and built by the locals from carved halfmodels and varied from boat to boat as well as from different builders.They normally have a small transom on a counter stern,And are more full bodied than the whalers.These are the schooners one sees converted to or build as yachts.There arn't many whalers around Mahone Bay but lots of the schooners.Second Peninsula and The La Have Yacht Club are good areas to look.Fine boats they are.
By the way,the Bush Island boats were built both as double enders and transom sterned models.There are a couple of these still in the area.

06-21-2001, 10:51 AM
I'd forgotten about O'Leary's book and just perused it at the library. It is a good resource. There was also a 26' pinky (called the Prospect Marsh Pinky)designed by Bob Baker and built for Lance Lee. I saw her the other day moored off the Rockland, Maine waterfront and took a picture. If I can find a way to do so I'll post it.

06-21-2001, 07:20 PM
Yes, David Hadfield, there was an absolutely spectacular Tancook Whaler in & around Mahone Bay about a decade or so ago. Her name eludes me at the moment, but it will come to me. It was rigidly traditional - no stainless, no motor, no electricity, just tanbark sails over a green hull with taseful varnish and gobs of saltiness. The last time I saw her I was skippering a small schooner at the Tall Ships (sorry, but that's what they called it!) event in Halifax in 1986. On the last day of the event, after watching the "Parade of Sail" as the large ships left for Quebec City, I was at anchor in the Northwest Arm, sitting in the cockpit sipping a pint of Nova Scotia's finest ale (Keith's, of course!) and trying to get rid of the stress of having spent the week ferrying 'lubbers around the vertically-gifted ships on a rediculously crowded waterfront three times a day. I was to leave the next morning to sail Timberwind back to her home port of Lunenburg and was treated to a front-row seat to watch the 'whaler silently ghost out of the arm on the dying evening breeze on her way back to Mahone Bay. In conjunction with a warm evening, an overdose of all things properly nautical, a cold beer, the sublime sight of an achingly pretty traditional working sailboat filling her ruddy sails with the setting sun as she set out to sea sure washed away any twitchies I had from the day's tribulations with the paying public. It has become one of those mental images that I keep with me as I try to capture the grace of earlier vessels in my own designs. Shortly thereafter the 'whaler was tragically the victim of some pyromaniacal ***hole who thought it would make a good bonfire while at anchor, resulting in a total loss. I believe there was an article in WB about her loss by the owner shortly after the dastardly deed was done. A shocking and senseless loss. Since then I have not spotted a 'whaler in the area. I hope that this is a temporary situation, not permanent.

06-22-2001, 04:17 AM
Actually mmd I believe that would have been Mr. Ed Porter's Pinkey schooner.She was built by the late Steven Slaunwhite of Maders Cove,Just down the road from Mahone Bay.She certainly was a beauty and sadly was torched while at anchor.A great loss for the Porters and us all.

06-22-2001, 04:21 AM
PS:I believe her name was Ellen.I have slides of her somewhere.

Dave Hadfield
06-22-2001, 09:09 AM
Thanks for the story, mmd. I've gotta get out there. I've been to Halifax many times, but never made it to Mahone Bay.

It's the Tancook Schooners that really caught my eye, in O'Leary's book. Workmanlike, but perfect gems all the same. Mind you, I'd've been quite happy to have been there with you, quaffing an India Pale Ale and watching the Whaler head out.

If the outfit I work for ever opens a base in Halifax, I'll be first in line.

06-22-2001, 11:10 PM
I guess I shoulda taken a picture to aid in identifying the hull type after the beer fog had evaporated. Still, it was a damned fine image of a trad boat. Thanks for the clarification, reddog. Maybe we'll meet some fans of the local boat types at the Mahone Bay Wooden Boat Festival this summer. Did anyone see the Labradore Whaler (built by the Fisheries Museum) there last year? By the way, Dave, if you're in the area, ya gotta do the whole enchilada - start at Chester and travel the old #3 highway thru Chester Basin, Mader's Cove, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg, Riverport, Lahave Islands, and Petite Riviere. Lots of boatshops, wooden boats, great scenery, good sailing, and uncrowded roads & beaches. It's a drive that can be done in three hours, should be done in three days, and can easily take three months. Gimme a call and we'll meet at the Mug & Anchor in the 'Bay for a Keiths and a boat story.

[This message has been edited by mmd (edited 06-23-2001).]

06-23-2001, 05:05 AM
mmd;You're right,it certainly made a beautiful picture.And you're right on about the drive from Chester to the Dublin Shore.Lots of neat places to get into and a boat lovers heaven.Great beaches too.
All the best;Earl

Dave Hadfield
06-29-2001, 09:28 AM
Here's a Tancook Schooner, the real thing, for sale.

Look under 40ft schooner.

Ken Hall
06-29-2001, 12:20 PM
Interesting thread...one of the first things I'm planning to do after finishing my MBA next year is to order the plans for George Buehler's 29' Uncle Sam. Buehler describes the hull as "sort of a chine version of a Tancook Whaler" (it's no good trying to talk me out of it, I read Buehler's Backyard Boatbuilding a few years back and now I'm in the cult, 'a sickening Bobbie' the SubGenii would call me, maybe that makes me a sickening Buehlie http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif).

Uncle Sam sports a pilot schooner rig with a Marconi main. I'm giving myself 15 years to build it, and will use it for weekending and potting around.


07-24-2001, 02:29 AM
Um... yup - as the nominal cause of this thread, I must (once again) tha nk & congratulate all who have contributed so far. Did I mention Hal Chase? He was a dyed-in-the-wool hippie who built a Tancook Whaler from Chapelle's book in what could be called his back yard. He made every piece of that boat himself. Much of it was made from eucalyptus - the crappiest wood on earth - because he could get it for free - as a tree. He then them milled himself. It was anchored in Tomales Bay, California, for many, many years until his sons grew old enough to take over the project and - as far as I know - make it ready for sea.
Quite a story, but absolutely true.