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John B
11-16-2000, 08:59 PM
I photocopied this out of a 1951 Rudder magazine a few years ago. I thought it was pretty then and even more so now. You guys will know more about Commodore Munroe than me , but I believe he was a friend of capt Nat and was highly regarded in his day for his exploits .
http://albums.photopoint.com/j/View?u=1257037&a=9296207&p=33317536&Sequence=0&res=high

Frank Wentzel
11-16-2000, 11:49 PM
Munroe was an early settler in Miami. He first went there in the 1877, in the company of a sick friend, when there were a total of two dozen people living there. Among many other activities, he started designing boats for the thin waters of the area. Starting with the sharpie form he developed the “Presto-boat”- what he called “a round-bilged sharpie’. Presto herself was designed in 1885. Wabun was built around 1892. These boats were a departure from the yachts of the time, which tended to deep ballast keels. This was reaction to the “skimming dishes” which were fast but treacherous. Munroe’s designs were fast, shallow draft and seaworthy. He describes them as “ quick to lift at the impact of a wave, rising lightly over the crest… …where the ‘lead-mine’ would be swept by every sea”. Egret is one design that has gotten a large amount of attention lately. I have a boat by that name of similar dimensions to the original. However Egret’s true lines are a matter of conjecture as most of Munroe’s plans were lost when his home in Coconut Grove was battered by the hurricane of 1926.

You can get the best information first hand from “the Commodore’s Story”, written by Ralph M. Munroe and Vincent Gilpin in 1930. I think it may still be available from the Coconut Grove Historical Society. In 1952, Gilpin wrote “The Good Little Ship” (I have a 1975 reprint). Gilpin had owned Wabun for 19 years and described the Presto-boats” as “the ablest shoal–draft boats ever built. Also along the same line is “The Yacht ‘Alice’”, by Henry Howard written in 1926. Howard discussed the design of the Alice with Munroe in 1921 after Munroe had given up active designing. So John G. Alden was engaged to work up the cabin plan and a detailed framing plan based on Munroe’s sketches. S. S. Crocker Jr. did the drawings in 1923. Howard’s book goes into extreme detail including 37 pages of specifications for virtually every part of the boat. You might also be interested in the work of the Commodore’s son Wirth Munroe. In the 70’s I sailed quite a bit on the Wirth Munroe designed “Island Belle” then called “Rebel”. She was a 60-foot LOD gaff-rigged three-masted schooner built in 1942. It was a “Presto-boat”; she drew less than 5 feet with the board up. I highly recommend the type.

Thad
11-17-2000, 07:55 AM
John, I am glad to see that picture and it's source. If you read LFH's Sensible Cruising Designs and note his discussion of the plusses and minuses of different designs you will note that most of the designs in the book do poorly (not that they aren't fine boats). If you did the math for Wabun or any of the larger Presto boats you would find them showing very well. I have always found the complex of ideas/details in the Presto designs very attractive and think people would do well to build more of them. I'd like to see them around. I built a 13' boat a few years back based on the Presto plan and she turned out a charming little thing. Munroe's Carib, the hull design upon which Alice was based, may still survive. There are a few S. S. Crocker designed boats based on the Presto model including one (Jingo) that is for sale. Crocker did the design work on Alice when he was working with John Alden.
Frank, Glad to see your input!

Dave Hadfield
11-18-2000, 09:17 AM
My own boat, a 40ft ketch, was built just after "The Good Little Ship" and shows (I believe) some Monroe design influence. She has low freeboard and is long and slim with a ketch rig of similar proportions, though not gaff-rigged. The masts are very light, but well-stayed, with no runners.
The hull is not quite flat floored. It has a shallow deadrise (v-shape) in order to provide a little more headroom (5' 11" aft), and a long but shallow cast-iron ballast keel pierced for a heavy steel centerboard. Getting the ballast outside also increased headroom. A flat on the bottom would be handy in a tidal environment, but she was designed for the Great Lakes.
The result is a 38" draft (board up) and a friendly easy motion in a sea. She doesn't quite point up there with a fin-keeler, but doesn't disgrace herself either.
After 2 busy seasons on her I don't see what I'd do differently (in terms of design) on a new boat.
Last winter we rented out of Key West and sailed to the Dry Tortugas. Our Hunter drew 5 ft, and we had to pass a number of neat Keys because of that. In fact there was really only 1 anchorage along the way. If we drew 3 ft, many more sheltered spots would have been available to us.
A nice thing about a sturdy centerboard is that it lets you literally feel your way into a cranny. You go in gently, board all the way down, and as the board contacts the ground you either turn or stop (leaving tides out of it). In crowded anchorages, this means you can find a spot even if you arrive at 7:00 pm on a Saturday night.
I guess I'm beating the obvious to death, but this kind of boat really works.
I'd like to spend time on a pure Presto hull someday and compare.

John B
11-18-2000, 02:45 PM
Very nice to read that about Munroe.
I'll follow up on some further reading.

If I recall the article I mentioned correctly, there was quite a bit of talk about how innovative the man was. I think he had a single line peak and throat arrangement( not shown in the plan), you can see the reefing battens and self tending jib, and the cabin had drop down curtains around the cockpit end.
That design would do the job it was designed to do just as well and as easily today as it did in the 1890's.
The biggest problem would be fending off the photographers.

Does anyone know what happened to the actual boat.?

dadadata
11-24-2000, 07:44 PM
Munroe also built a fleet of successful proas (outrigger sailing canoes).

For the articles that appeared in RUDDER, see my Cheap Pages/American Proas.
http://www.friend.ly.net/~dadadata

Around the same time (1898-1900) a sail plan for his UTILIS sharpie appeared in the Rudder - much the same as WABUN.

There's an issue of YACHTING ca 1926 which has a short article by Gilpin (I think) and a number of nice photographs which aren't in Gilpin's books.

Scott Rosen
11-25-2000, 11:50 AM
It's nice to see some mention of the Commodore's son, Wirth. My boat is a Seasailor, designed by Wirth Monroe. It's a thirty foot motorsailer, 26'5" on the waterline. Aside from being a beautiful and practical design, she sails well--actually faster under sail than power--and is the driest boat of her size in rough seas and high winds that I've ever sailed. We've made some passages in relative comfort and dryness that had the other "under 40 footers" clawing back to port.

One of these days I hope to post some pictures.

dadadata
11-25-2000, 03:53 PM
http://www.library.miami.edu/archives/recent.html

says:


Munroe Family Papers

A collection of approximately twenty linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs and negatives, clippings, and other materials relating to the Munroe Family of Miami, Coconut Grove and South Florida. The collection includes hundreds of letters written by Commodore Ralph Munroe, Vincent Gilpin (his friend and biographer), and other family members from the late 1890s through the 1950s. The files include an early draft of The Commodore's Story, Ralph Munroe's biography, and numerous family photographs of early Miami, Coconut Grove and South Florida. The photographs include many interior and exterior images of "the Barnacle" the noted family home, in addition to buildings, individuals and scenes from South Florida.

dadadata
11-25-2000, 03:56 PM
and see:
http://www.historical-museum.org/history/war/cs.htm

dadadata
11-25-2000, 03:56 PM
http://www.library.miami.edu/archives/recent.html

says:


Munroe Family Papers

A collection of approximately twenty linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs and negatives, clippings, and other materials relating to the Munroe Family of Miami, Coconut Grove and South Florida. The collection includes hundreds of letters written by Commodore Ralph Munroe, Vincent Gilpin (his friend and biographer), and other family members from the late 1890s through the 1950s. The files include an early draft of The Commodore's Story, Ralph Munroe's biography, and numerous family photographs of early Miami, Coconut Grove and South Florida. The photographs include many interior and exterior images of "the Barnacle" the noted family home, in addition to buildings, individuals and scenes from South Florida.