View Full Version : New boat or wreck?
08-25-2002, 02:15 PM
This Post sort of connects with Seedy's, above but not quite so I thought I submit a "New Post" rather than a "Reply".
I've been thinking about bldg something for awhile, now, in fact, I posted a while ago "Shearwater Or...?" in this forum and got some great advice and was directed to many resources.
A couple weeks ago I was talking to Randy Cutts of "Cutts and Case" in Oxford, Md. - they build wood boats but nothing under 30' , I don't think. Nice guy, he spent about an hour with me trying to, I think suss out what it was I really wanted. He said, " look, we're about the same age and I know that what I want in a small boat is one that sails well, trails well and I can sail without getting wet or capsizing, just something to go out and have a little fun with", and you know that's about right. A couple minutes passed and he said, " I've got the perfect boat for you - a Herreshof 12 1/2. Herreshof, to my mind was one of the best designers ever - Nat not his brother". Now, I'd heard of the 12 1/2 of course, re-designed into the Haven by Joel White, but at the time I was looking for double-enders and wasn't thinking much about it.
After a few minutes he went on to say, "Hell, you might even be able to find an old one up in Maine (since I spend alot of time up there near Frankfort ) sitting in someone's backyard. You know, that sounded like an interesting idea. Rather than building from plans, why not find an old wood boat sitting out somewhere on its keel in the tall grass or melting into a trailer and fix it up? It would seem that for a first time builder, that might not be a bad way to go. I think you'd learn alot about building, how it goes together, materials, repair, etc. What do you think?
08-25-2002, 05:37 PM
You would learn alot alright- like not to ever start on a project like that again! Depending on the condition of course, you will spend more time, maybe a bit less money and wind up with an old boat that has been " fixed up." You are going to have to baby it in a way you wouldnt have to baby a new hull. I have professionally restored a lot of old boats- not necessarily 12 1/2s but a tired old boat is a tired old boat.- now if you need some professional help on your restoration project...............
08-25-2002, 06:35 PM
Hey Oldman... don't hold back... But from what I've read here, the same can be said of new home built boats - centerboard not quite right, tends to want to sail in a circle, how flat is flat?? I don't think a home built new boat is any guarantee of staunchness. Remember, a tool is only as good as the hand that holds it...
08-25-2002, 07:59 PM
No guarantee of course - but unless you intend to completely rebuild a hull and just use the old parts as patterns....ie wondering if you missed incipient rot ( I guess this could happen), whether you made her screw sick, fastenings which should have been replaced but weren't and the general fatique of old wood and delignification( Ive never seen an old boat that was as sound as a new one of the same type) lead me to say dont spend the effort if you intend to do more than show her at antique rallies or enjoy lazy weekends in the quiet lakes. You asked for opinions and comments and that is mine.
08-26-2002, 01:53 AM
IMHO, no Herreshoff / Haven 12-1/2, whether new construction or old, is a good boat for a first-time boatbuilder unless you've got a LOT of woodworking experience. They're wonderful boats to look at or sail, but more complex to build or rebuild than just about anything of their size. Remember, when the 12-1/2 was first designed, Herreshoff was THE hotshot luxury yacht builder, and this in the days before the income tax when the rich were REALLY rich. The 12-1/2 cost at least twice as much as other equivalent boats, and has all sorts of fussy labor-intensive construction details - not a problem for the Herreshoff yard, it was just fill-in work between the big boats, but damnably hard to duplicate if you're building or rebuilding one in your garage. Joel White made the Haven as much like the original as possible, with all its quirks. These boats have many virtues; simplicity isn't one of them.
To address your actual question: repairing an old boat is fun and will teach you a lot. Trying to resurrect the dead, however, will teach you the virtues of fiberglass production boats. Rebuilding an old boat in very bad shape is considerably harder than new construction.
[ 08-26-2002, 02:03 AM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]
08-26-2002, 02:11 AM
I'd say size has a lot to do with it- as the boats get bigger and the costs go up to the third power, looking at used and in need or repair may make sense, as long as you aren't bringing back the dead. But for a smaller boat, especially one with the value of a 12-1/2, new seems like the easier way to go. I'm convinced the only time to do an older restoration is if it has an emotional component, 'cause financially it seems to turn into a loser every time!
08-26-2002, 08:23 AM
Having restored 3 old Chris Crafts and built one replica Gar Wood, it is now easier and much more satisfying for me to build new. Alot has carried over from the car restoration to boat restoration in recent years as newbies get into this and tends to steer the thought process as to what is original, restored and replicated. Unlike a car, a boat of similar size can be duplicated by one person with reasonable skills, shop and tools. Not possible with a car due to many more parts, steel stampings, and many specialty parts.
Having said that, I think one has to restore at least one old boat to appreciate building one. Just my opinion, that is what "worked" for me. My first restoration was very exacting (a holdover from owning an old Corvette car). The next two had slightly more "improvements". Finally, I realized that to make my dream boat I would have to start from scratch and then could modify with modern parts and adhesives and resins as *I* saw fit. And...I wouldn't have to answer to the wrath of the Boat Gods or the Originality Police.
It actually takes less time and maybe a few more materials ("You did keep at least one original board in the restored boat didn't you?") to build new. Every day is a step forward. No disassembling, no decisions on what to replace or not to replace. Done correctly, an exacting replica *in appearance* of a rare boat can be worth as much as a restored original (and much more fun with its V8 power and reliability). Some of the restorations, with their modern power plants, 12 volt systems and replacment of every board are nothing more than a "replica" with the original hull number stamped in it.
08-26-2002, 08:35 AM
Buying an old 12 1/2 would be a great idea. The question then is how much restoration work do you want to do and how much are you capable of.
If I were you, I'd look for a 12 1/2 that is structurally sound, for the most part, but that needs a lot of cosmetic work. That would make it a good project for a first-timer and would let you get out on the water sooner rather than later.
H-12 1/2's are great boats, which means they don't come cheap. Be prepared to layout some bucks for one in servicable condition.
08-26-2002, 09:23 AM
Go for it Hiram. One of the best ways to learn is to do. Besides, even though it would be an "old" boat, it's forever repairable, and you can pass it (and it's history) down to your family.
08-26-2002, 11:21 AM
I'm with Scott and Garret. Look for a tight boat that needs some small repairs and work on them. Get her to your liking and enjoy her. The big repairs will eventually come and you'll be partly ready to tackle them.
There is alot to be learned through books, this forum, and most importnantly, application.
Best of luck.
08-26-2002, 11:52 AM
Thanks, you've all given me some good ideas and advice. When I was younger I used to haul home every crappy piece of furniture I found thinking I could repair it but eventually I learned that some things aren't worth the headache and some old things are just old. But, you know, sometimes that "wild hair" just makes me want to try... .
Mr. Know It All
08-26-2002, 11:54 AM
Great advise from all. I am opinionated because I chose to restore as a first project and feel Garret said it best. Take your time and find something that really jumps out at you. Have a good ,positive attitude going in that this is the boat for you. It makes things alot easier.
Peace---> Kevin in Ohio
08-26-2002, 12:10 PM
Some things to think about before setting off in search of that H-12 1/2....otherwise known as "The Buzzard's Bay Boys Boat". These boats are carvel planked, which tends to mean that they prefer to be wet-sailed rather than left on a trailer at home for weeks or months at a time. In general, carvel planked boats tend to leak a bit when first launched, before they "take up". All I'm saying here is that this may be something to consider when you think about how you will use your new boat. Also, the 12 1/2 is a keel boat, meaning that she has a deeper draft than a centerboard boat with board up, which is something to bear in mind when considering trailering and ease of launch/loading. Another thing to consider is whether you will outgrow the boat too soon. Once upon a time I had a strong urge for a 12 1/2 and visited a well-known shop that specializes in Herreshoff restorations to talk about it with them. To my surprise, they suggested that I would in time find a 12 1/2 too small and pointed me toward the larger version, the Fish class.
In terms of new boats, you might wish to consider something along the lines of a sharpie. Relatively simple and inexpensive to build. A few years back Reuel Parker wrote in WB about building one of his own designs--a 15 x 5 two-masted (foremast forward-leaning!) centerboard sharpie. His total materials cost was a hair under $1000 which ain't bad for a such a fine little craft. And he said the unusual sailplan worked wonderfully.
I don't mean to throw cold water on your plans, really! Just intending to perhaps bring up some possible concerns that weren't mentioned in the previous posts. Choosing a design to build or restore is always difficult and pleasurable at the same time---there are just so many good designs out there. All are compromises to some degree. The trick I think is to try to home in on just how you plan to use the boat and then try to choose a design that comes closest to meeting your requirements.
PS--I dunno who Randy Cutts was referring to when he mentioned Nat Herreshoff's brother. Nat got involved with boatbuilding, as I understand it, from helping his blind older brother, John B., who built boats as a hobby. They went into business together but I am not aware that John B ever designed a boat. Possibly Cutts was thinking of Nat's son, L. Francis Herreshoff, who was an extremely talented and innovative designer in his own right.
08-26-2002, 12:22 PM
John, I guess the 12.5 was just a starting point (again). I'm not ruling out anything and the more I think about it, I should just look for something I like. Yeah, I wasn't sure about the Nat Herreshoff reference either so I thought I'd throw it out to see if it got picked up but I think he might have been referring some of Nats designs.
we've got two 12 1/2s at the Center for Wooden Boats -- both are sitting in the shop, having been disassembled and then (sadly) abandoned by well meaning boatwrights. i've never actually seen one in the water (i'm still hoping), but they're fascinating boats; the most delicate planks and frames i've ever seen. i agree with your decision to steer clear, hiram. these are a real challenge.
08-28-2002, 10:08 AM
I've participated in the rebuild of a 12 1/2 and it is delicate work. I don't think they lend themselves well to trailering either, as has been mentioned above.
For an easily trailerable boat (this usually means a centerboard boat so the cost of the trailer is lower)with good sailing qualities and a Herreshoff design, I'd consider(and I am) Sidney Herreshoff's designs, particularly the 16' Gemini, as built in fg by Cape Cod Shipbuilding. Twin canted centerboards (leaves the cockpit clear), modest cuddy, outboard well (so it could be fit to transom instead of an ugly bracket), comfortable seating and a swift for her size.
09-04-2002, 04:58 PM
Just another two cents: I think you should race down your yellow brick road! If it takes the shape of a Herreshof 12 1/2, that's what it's gonna be...
Bear in mind though what it is you *really* want to do in the short term (ie. the next twelve months or so), sailing or building. Managing your own expectations well should avoid any costly, disappointing and/or abandoned restoration projects.
Maybe I shouldn't be the one handing out an advice like this, as I'm about to take on a boat-restoration project as well as buying an old Landie, whilst being in the middle of constructing an S&G dinghy... smile.gif
Greets, Leon Steyns.
Lots of good advise here. Keep in mind that no matter if you choose to bring an old
Herreshoff 12-1/2 back or perhaps build a Haven 12.5 you will be tieing up a considerable piece of your time, unless you can work on it full time. Even then, I suspect you will end up with a 12-18 month investment in time alone. I would love to find a Herreshoff 12-1/2 to restore. I built a Haven over the course of three years and have enjoyed every minute I've been out on her. If have any good leads on a Herreshoff and decide not to go that route, please keep me in mind. Good luck to you, whatever you decide.
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