View Full Version : Strange

10-05-2000, 04:23 PM
The current issue of Messing About In Boats has Wenda on the cover , under sail and looking good . I can remember when I first saw her lines in a WB plan book . I was Amazed ; had never heard of Strange , or seen a boat like her .

Over a period of years I aquired the two books on Strange and eventually a canoe yawl designed by Ted Brewer , the Rob Roy . This boat has an outboard well and a tabernacle for the mainmast .
I could never consider WB "just another glossy " . What other magazine in America would have published such a boat , let alone hire an NA to complete the plans ? The drawings and text by Phillip Bolger opened a window for me .

Strange was prolific , and I've looked through his work for my favorites . Of the centerboard canoe yawls , this is it http://albums.photopoint.com/j/View?u=1241008&a=9181596&p=31995172

This is Augustina , ex Lula ,Strange design # 102 : 25' * 20' * 7.2' * 2.25' . Tho just slightly bigger than Wenda , Augustina's cabin acknowleges the presence of the crew in a way Wenda does not . I think it's notable that none of Strange's contemporaries chose to build Wenda . The design would not have been unknown . Strange was prominent in small boat circles and it was published in 1901 in F C Folfard's " The Sailing Boat " ( publication in this book is how the design survived . The original drawings are lost ) . What John Leather describes as " sitting headroom for someone under about 5 ft. tall . " , may have been considered tight for a boat of this size even then .
Augustina was designed 10 years after Wenda and Was built , yawl rigged and with perhaps a few sister ships . I intend to make a half model . Does anyone know the current address of the Albert Strange Society ? I'm hopeing that photograghs , and the boat herself may still exist ( I've got the lines ) .

Would anyone build this boat ? I'm an optimist . Among other things I have to believe that the smallest and shortest of the current outboards could be deployed on a demountable side bracket , modified to run off a detachable tank , be run dry and aired , then stowed Without leaking gas and oil into the bilge ! It would just be for calms . A long oar for sculling or poling would do the rest .

Strange was a designer and an artist , also an experienced roughwater sailer who could have gotten killed a few times ( no engine , no radio ) . He ended a highly technical series of articles on boat design for the Yachting Monthly with this poem by John Mansfield :
We , who were born on earth and live by air ,
Make this thing pass across the fatal floor ,
The speechless sea : alone we commune there ,
Jesting with death , that ever open door .
Sun , moon and stars are signs by which we drive
This wind--blown fabric like a thing alive .

[This message has been edited by Will (edited 11-13-2000).]

Keith Wilson
10-05-2000, 04:44 PM
Ah, another Strange fan! I have finally managed to find a copy of John Leather's book, and have spent many hours looking at those plans. What amazingly beautiful boats!

"Wenda" seems quite impractical for anything more than a daysailer, with a tiny cockpit, tinier cabin, odd rig, and a truly bizarre centerboard. OTOH, Albert Strange was not just an artist; his technical writing in the latest book proves that, so maybe the problem is my modern prejudices. But oh, how lovely she'd be on the water! Only problem would be that you couldn't see her as you sailed her.

The Albert Strange Association, God bless 'em, has a web site:

10-05-2000, 05:54 PM
Being the present keeper of SEA HARMONY I'd say not seeing her sail is not a big concern when you're underway. Ghosting along everything up, then riffles heralding a fresh breeze, feel her start, heel against the pressure and drive for home. I have had a friend sail her, sail her well, and enjoyed the view, but I prefer to have the inside view and give life to her beautiful shape. I'd love to build at least one of his little ships and do as good a job of it as E. L. Woods did.

10-06-2000, 07:50 AM
Keith ; Thanks for the address , I wouldn't have gueesed they had a website . Bet Strange would have .
Thad ; I'd be interested to hear how you move the boat in calms , also , what does she wiegh ?

10-07-2000, 06:53 AM
She has an MD1B single cyl. Volvo diesel. She had had a Stuart-Turner 2 cyl. gas engine installed in 1954. Originally no engine, anchor and wait, or pole. Displacement is some 12,000 pounds. She is the last of four boats to Strange's last design, VENTURE, shown in the John Leather book. The four were built over 20 years for the Suffling brothers of Great Yarmouth. The four were built in different sizes, first the designed 29.5', then 33', then 40', then 33' again. These are counter sterned gaff yawls. The last three were built by Ernest Woods. Sea Harmony was sailed across in 1974.

10-10-2000, 11:43 AM
Remember that many Strange papers wound up among the WP Stephens Collection at Mystic Seaport's Blunt Library.

I tried to find Humber Yawl Club yearbooks &c among their various collections but had very little luck; doesn't mean they aren't there.

Strange plans are NOT held by the Mystic Ship Plans Collection/Division/whatever. I went and looked.

John B
10-10-2000, 06:22 PM
the "Sheila" is here in NZ still(only just).
(Sheila in the Wind)
I saw her after she was wrecked in the mid 80's and recall standing on the footpath with my upper body through the turn of her bilge . the hole was about 6 ft x 4 or 5ft plus all the other collateral damage.she was subsequently bought and dreamed about by 2 or 3 different people but in the last year or so, changed hands to a man with a restoration record so will sail again I'm sure.

10-11-2000, 06:01 AM
John B, That is good to hear. I just recently read Sheila in the Wind. Which is about her four year sail from England to NZ in the early fifties. Great sailing, politics, starvation, good people, desperation, and success, that sort of thing. Sheila is a 33' canoe yawl.

10-12-2000, 09:36 AM
I guess the beauty of some boats is functional after all . It impels people to pick them off the rocks and patch them up when a plainer boat would get left .

Keith Wilson
10-12-2000, 11:48 AM
You're damn tootin'. A really really lovely boat will generally last a lot longer than one which may perform better but doesn't look so good. A Strange canoe yawl or a Rozinante is much more likely to attract generation after generation of drooling besotted owners who will lovingly repair anything and everything, never counting the cost. Most boats that have been rescued from the marshmallow toasters at the last possible instant are the really gorgeous ones.

10-17-2000, 03:40 AM
That's Sheila II. Her older little sister Sheila 1 is in Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, cared for by Mike Burn who wrote about her in a back issue of WB. We also have two other Strange yawls, both owned by the Clay family! Careful inspection of the very gorgeous hulls, immaculately maintained, of all three, and comparison with the late Harrrison Butler cutter Keepsake, also much loved and kept in Woodbridge, suggests to me that Harrsion Butler did suceed in acheiving his mentor's mastery of the canoe stern in his last boats.

Pretty boats usually sail better, too.

10-17-2000, 09:27 AM
Would any of you post photos ? Photopoint.com is free and easy .

10-17-2000, 10:38 PM
I promise to post photos when I am back in England!

10-18-2000, 10:50 AM
Look at my SEA HARMONY photos under the Pinrail post in Building/Repair.

John B
10-19-2000, 03:43 PM
there are some great shots of sheila floating around. A lot in Classic Boat.

Here is a photo out of "Sheila in the wind" of Sheila 2. sorry about the quality

10-19-2000, 08:08 PM
Keith Wilson, above, mentions the Albert Strange Association website. I would encourage all interested not only to check out the site but to check out the membership invoice and join the fun!

10-19-2000, 08:08 PM
Keith Wilson, above, mentions the Albert Strange Association website. I would encourage all interested not only to check out the site but to check out the membership invoice and join the fun!

10-19-2000, 08:08 PM
Keith Wilson, above, mentions the Albert Strange Association website. I would encourage all interested not only to check out the site but to check out the membership invoice and join the fun!

10-22-2000, 12:23 PM
Thad : tho I won't reply in triplicate , I've enjoyed your photos and storys about Sea Harmony very much . Fishers Island Sound is definitly home waters for me . I've been flushed in and out Watch Hill Passage under sail many times , often in fog . My brother still has a boat on his own mooring in Noank and I got to sail with him a bit this fall .
I'll definitly join the Albert Strange Association , tho I need to consult a banker . " overseas sterling payable in a UK bank with a stated Sort Code and UK Bank Address do not cost the ASA Bank Charges. All other sterling overseas cheques cost the ASA 8.00 please add this to your subscription . "
Have you done this ? I post this in part because it also relates to properly paying Iain Oughtred , which has come up in the past . Apparently he's not cashing the checks because the bank fees are greater than the remittance .

Ben Fuller
10-30-2000, 07:17 PM
The extAnt Strange plans ARE part of the W.P.Stephens collection at Mystic. Numbers are in the 1.700 ranbe. A list of AS designs is in the back of Leather's book on Albert Strange. Wenda is not one whose plans survived in the WPS collection. There seem to have been 140 known designs, Mystic has 87. Don't know why; not in correspondence in the WPS collection. WPS did travel to UK and meet Strange. The National Maritime Museum Greenwich has a set of Humber Yawl Club yearbooks I have not seen a set on this side of the pond.

11-02-2000, 07:25 PM
Keith ; If your still there ; Stranges' " lever action " centerboards have always bugged me too be cause they force the cabin back into the cockpit , but we know that competent soul must have had a reason for it beyond the fact that the suppressed cabin top helps in the design of a handsome profile .

I hesitate to profane this Forum with mere speculation (........I'll Do It ! ) , but I think the point of the design is to enable the board to be powered down on occassion as well as up . Many of these boats lived on estuaries and took the ground at every tide . Presumeably there was some centerboard jamming . The long wrought iron plates may have gotten a bit bent on occasion as well when grounding out under full sail . The board would require some persuasion to come out of the case in these situations .

The way the boats are rigged, if the board refuses to drop : unhook the turning block from the mast , shorten the pennant with a sheepshank , and haul the board down . The pennant is attached to a burton rigged on the cabintop giving a 4 to 1 advantage when hauled aft from the cockpit .

In turn this use of the centerboard pennant provides a functional rationale for the downswept curves on the front of Wendas' and Augustinas' cabintops .Seen in crossection , the curves of these cabins , if extended , land right on the attachment point of the pennant to the fully lowered centerboard . This is how it has to be set up to use the pennant tackle to fully extend a sticky centerboard .

I don't have the full record , just a couple of good books and Augustinas' plans . And I haven't had a chance to consult those in the know accross the sea . Of the plans I've seen ( Wenda , Agustina and Psyche ) , all the lever arm centerboarders from Wenda on have this feature . Strange used the radiused cabintop for visual effect on many kinds of boats , but I think the detail had its' origin in the practical requirements of these centerboarders .

My own boat has a more typical arrangement with the pennant attached to the top rear edge of the board . I 've had to retrofit a detail I found in Chappelles' writeings . I drilled a large hole in the top rear edge of the centerboard case and capped it with a wooden plug ( tho it's above the waterline ) . A heavy brass rod and a 2 lb. hammer compleat the outfit . When things are stuck I pop the plug and push down with the rod . If it's still no go , I start hammering .

[This message has been edited by Will (edited 11-04-2000).]

11-02-2000, 11:40 PM
Ah, yes, the Strange L shaped centreplate!
See "Little ships and shoal waters" by Maurice Grffiths for a first rate discussion of centreplate and centreboard problems and solutions.

Reasons for use - firstly, to lower the height of the centreboard case in the cabin, thereby allowing more room, as compared with a rectangular plate, which had been normal until then, as I can confirm having sailed on some very Ancient British centreboarders!

Secondly, to avoid the risk of the centreplate lifting strop carrying away, due to rust or whatever. Strange's design gets the lot - all moving parts - blocks, line, the works - up on deck where you can get at it.

Drawbacks are three:-

1. The arrangement only suits yawls - CLR in wrong place, otherwise.

2. No easy way to rod through the case when bunged up with mud, as you describe.

3. The continuance of the slot up on deck means that, what with the cockpit, the coach roof and the centreplate slot, there is precious little tying the two sides of the boat together - half beams almost everywhere! For this reason, many boats built with this type of centreplate have had modifications in their old age!

The Maurice Griffiths type of centreboard, not a plate, developed after he had studied US types during a long visit to cover an America's Cup challenge, is far better. It is also L shaped but the long arm is aft, not forward, with the lifting tackle running forward along the coach roof from a turning block beside the offset companion, (the galley being behind the L shaped part of the case) and the aft face of the board has a projection on it which engages with a lug on the aft side of the case and prevents the centreboard dropping right down if the tackle parts. All the benefits; none of the drawbacks.

Until Griffiths, we British had, foolishly, always used steel plate centreplates, not weighted wooden boards. This was probably a way to use a narrower keel, as much as anything. They are heavy to hoist and if they bend when out of the case, which can happen falling off a wave, you have real trouble.

Keith Wilson
11-03-2000, 09:34 AM
As I understand, centerboards/plates were fairly uncommon in British craft in the 19th century; maybe that's why Strange used something that's so dreadful from an engineering point of view. That narrow L-shaped board is about as bad as possible at resisting side-loading (which is, of course, what a centerboard is supposed to do). About the only worse arrangement I've seen is also in a Strange design - also L-shaped, but with the vertical leg aft, and a very long narrow horizontal leg so there's a gap between the hull and the horizontal leg of the board when it's lowered. Surprising that it worked at all. The Maurice Griffiths arrangement is much better; I'll have to reread that part of "Little Ships".

I think most 19th century centerboard design had a lot to do with a lack of understanding of the behavior of underwater foils. The modified Wenda that was in WB a year or so back had a very different centerboard that looked much better, although I'm skeptical about some of the other changes they made.

Some American boats used steel centerboards too (centreplate is, I think, a purely British term)- I have a Town Class sloop, sort of a sailing semi-dory designed in '32, which uses a 1/4" steel plate, although in that case it may have been for economy of construction (pre-plywood) rather than any functional reason. Sticks sometimes. Pete Culler's designs always included a hole in the top of the centerboard trunk with a long belaying pin to bash the board down. Sensible man.

[This message has been edited by Keith Wilson (edited 11-03-2000).]

11-04-2000, 12:22 PM
There's a profile drawing captioned "Typical Humber Yawl Heavy Type " illustrating an article by Strange on shoal draft boats . She has the lever plate and radiused housetop , looking a bit like Wendas' ugly older sister . It seemes that Strange simply adopted the plate detail in current use . Too bad , especially as he praises and promotes the wooden " American " board in the same article .

I'm going to model Augustinas' hull in any case . I don't think anyone today would say that Strange got the canoe stern wrong . To capture the shape of the shallow hull I've decided to stack typical lifts along the waterlines from the LWL up . Below the LWL , in a darker wood , I'll stack the "lifts" horizontally allong the buttock lines . It seems like this will save time ( there's fewer of them ) and be at least as accurate .

My boats' board has the vertical extention of the after edge and showes a small triangular void when fully lowered . Seems to work fine , tho I agree this must cause turbulence that slowes the boat . ACB , I located and bought the book you recommended at abebooks.com . The only copy . It's in the air as I write , sent from Hollettt and Son , Sedberg Cambria . Hail to the internet ! I hope the author addresses the issue of the foil's crossection . I found some info on the net that I never fully understood , but the edges of a parralell sided plate were elliptical as I recall . I may take a stab at designing the perfect board and switching it with the original to see if ther's any difference .

By the way , I was interested in Stranges' use of the word " ardency " to describe weather helm . Is this still common useage in the UK ? " Ardent" would be a great name for a catboat .

[This message has been edited by Will (edited 11-04-2000).]