View Full Version : Tancook Schooner

Steve McMahon
08-06-2004, 07:34 AM
Pictures, drawings or other info on Tancook schooners would be much appreciated. I am looking at my "big" long term project and I think a Tancook schooner, 28-30' LOD will be the one.

08-06-2004, 09:12 AM
Steve, do you have a copy of Wayne O'Leary's book "The Tancook Schooners - An Island and it's Boats"? It should be indispensible if you are planning to build one.

I've been considering doing a design for one using updated methods & materials (I think that they are lovely boats, too!); maybe we should get together on a collaborative effort. ;)

Dave Hadfield
08-06-2004, 10:28 AM
I think they're the most beautiful small schooners ever built, judging by the book.

Maury's "The Saga of Cimba" rates the vessel very highly. Wonderful read.

If I lived there, I'd join-in!

Jack Heinlen
08-06-2004, 11:14 AM
I believe the Maine Maritime Museum, in Bath, published a monograph on Tancooks the year The Apprenticeshop built the Vernon Langille. It might be worth a look as well. Gorgeous shape, though a thirty footer is going to be fairly small down below. Someone successfully adapted it to a cruising boat. I believe 'Mockingbird' is the boat's name, but I can't remember the designer.

Steve McMahon
08-06-2004, 11:21 AM
mmd: I have the book but lent it out and haven't seen it for a while. I guess I'll get another copy.
Jack: Do they have a website? BTW - My very first boat was a 1929 Bush Island boat built by Vernon Langille!

Jack Heinlen
08-06-2004, 11:31 AM

Steve McMahon
08-06-2004, 12:04 PM
(pretty sad for me to be going to a US Museum to research a Nova Scotia Schooner design! ;) )

08-06-2004, 12:45 PM
WoodenBoat, in one of it's first six issues, had an article on a Tancook built in Texas. With in-build photos.

Two sail plans with the article, by Chapelle. Original as measured and a modified version.



Ed R.

08-06-2004, 01:57 PM
Nice boats but are you looking for a Tancook whaler or a Tancook schooner as they are two separate beasts? The transom sterned schooners are an evolution of the double ended whalers.Most of the local yacht schooners are conversions or based on the Tancook hull form.The whaler has a beautiful hull form but does have limitations for serious cruising,ie. limited accomadations,headroom,etc.
Now the Bush Island boat,that's a beauty.It would be good to see one of the museums build one.
Take care;

08-06-2004, 02:01 PM
The building of the Tancook whaler Ramona, year unknown

[ 08-06-2004, 03:03 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

08-06-2004, 03:23 PM
That's an interesting photo.What is the source or publication? The hull in the photo looks more like a "lobster boat" than a whaler,but it's hard to tell.

08-06-2004, 04:03 PM


I've always been under the impression that the "Tancook whalers" were double-ended (and in smaller sizes rowable) and the "Tancook schooners" were transom-ended (and never in a size small enough to row.) Not right?

08-06-2004, 04:08 PM
Yessir, there am a great bit o' difference betwixt a whaler and a schooner. I believe that both the boat built by the Aprenticeshop and the one in Texas were whalers.

Reddog, you may see a Bush Island boat sooner than you think. A client boatshop approached me yesterday to do up an estimate for design services to build a replica of one of Caleb Bush's boats (a double-ender). Anticipated rig is a gaff sloop with centreboard rather than the more common gaff fore/marconi aft yawl with stone ballast. Here's hoping it goes forward.

I think that the photo posted by Meerkat may be mis-labled. The vessel is probably the Cape Islander "Ramona II" which joined the Tancook fishing fleet sometime prior to 1931. The small wedding-cake cuddy forward, large cockpit, and broken sheer are all distinctive features of the Cape Island type. I believe that there was a Tancook schooner named "Ramona", but the boat in the picture ain't it.

Misnomers abound in traditional boats. I have an amicable and long-standing dispute with the powers-that-be at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic over what a particular boat in their collection (and the replica that they built of her) should be called. The museum refers to the boat as the Moose River flat (or flattie) because that is what the locals called it; I think that it should be called the Moose River wherry because that is the type of boat it is. So far, I'm on the losing end of the debate - old habits and curators trump upstart designer types every time. (Boo! Hiss! tongue.gif :D )

08-06-2004, 04:38 PM
Originally posted by reddog:
That's an interesting photo.What is the source or publication? The hull in the photo looks more like a "lobster boat" than a whaler,but it's hard to tell.

See the boatbuilding link...
This picture is the Original Mason Boatyard located in Southeast Cove. Regretfully it is no longer standing due to demolition a few years ago. Out of this shop came the famous Tancook Schooners noted as being the best craft produced in the Maritimes during the first half of the twentieth century. In 1981 Howard and Sam Rodenhiser built their fishing vessel at the boatyard and launched it in 1982. That was the last boat built here.

08-06-2004, 04:47 PM
Found some more schoonah pictyahs... ;)

The launch of the famous Lunenburg schooner, Bluenose, March 26, 1921

More old time building pics at http://www.lostatsea.ca/shipbuil.htm

Jack Heinlen
08-06-2004, 09:25 PM
The Vernon Langile is definately a whaler. I hadn't realized the evolution into a transom sterned vessel called a schooner. Learn something new everyday.

The Langille is a beautiful vessel. I want to say 32 ft. on deck, she was built as a reproduction of the traditional type, and as such has a small cuddy and large, open cockpit. She was used as a sail training vessel by the museum.

Some say she had a pivotal role in the firing of Lance Lee. With a guest skipper aboard, the tide on the Kennebec running out hard, he missed a tack above the Rt. One bridge. He had a crew of highschool students aboard. She was swept under the bridge, knocked down and partially filled. Sad. Luckily, no one was badly hurt.

That incident marked the beginning of the end of a wonderful vision Lance Lee had built for ten years. Or, perhaps more correctly, a shift in the vision. He'd already rubbed a lot on the board the wrong way; headstrong, visionary. But the bottom line came down to insurance and lawyers, as I understand it.

I give him as much credit as Gardner for the woodenboat renaissance of the seventies.

[ 08-06-2004, 10:28 PM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

08-07-2004, 04:54 AM
Yes that certanly would be a worthy project.Plank on frame or an alternate method of construction?
Thanks for the pics and links.Schooners can become a passion.
Check out the latest issue of WB as there is a whaler for sale right here in Novie Land.Boats for Sale section.

Dave K
08-07-2004, 09:12 AM
The Tancook Whaler in the early issues of "WoodenBoat" is named the "Zebra Dun" and her builder/owner, John Nation, still owns her. He has sailed her and lived aboard her in the Bahamas and up the eastern seaboard as far as New Hampshire - last I knew he was in North Caolina. The Tancook Schooner is a later modification or development. One of the nicest (and fast for her size) was designed and built several years ago by the late Steve Slaunwhite; named the "Cala Nova", she has done real well in local schooner racing. One modified version was built, but I don't think the modifications were any improvement. Another is being built (or maybe finished by now) by a gentleman up near Pictou, N.S. Plans (sail plan and lines only) are available if anyone is interested. I think she'd be hard to improve on - Steve was a fine builder and designer. She is 27 or 28 feet long on deck.

08-07-2004, 09:30 AM
Reddog, the initial concept is for the Bush Island boat to be built in the strip/epoxy method. The owner anticipates trailering the boat frequently, and was concerned about hull integrity if this is done to a carvel hull.

A Bush Island boat moored off Bush Islland:


A Bush Island boat as built by the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding:


08-07-2004, 02:39 PM
Cool!! smile.gif


Steve McMahon
08-07-2004, 02:50 PM
Dave K:
I met Steve Slaunwhite briefly while he was building her. Unfortunately I moved away just after that and never met him again. That is exactly the boat I want to build. Where can I get the lines and sailplan?

08-07-2004, 03:32 PM
Calanova is owned by Doug Himmelman and still sails actively. In fact, she won the Classic Boat Race at this year's Mahone Bay Festival on corrected time. You can reach Doug through the Nova Scotia Schooner Association - maybe he has more info on her.

Wilson Fitt
08-09-2004, 06:20 AM
Here is a picture of the Calanova.


Steve McMahon
08-09-2004, 07:31 AM
HR / Wilson:
That's the boat that I was looking for. I will contact Doug. I am working on a five year plan, well, maybe 10 year plan?

08-09-2004, 07:55 AM
I own Good Fortune,ex Laura S. a 46' Tancook Whaler. Her rig has been altered with a fidded topmast and she had been decked over. She was designed by Sam Crocker #181 in the book Sam Crocker and his boats design #180 is smaller and has construction plans. I can vouch for the design it's wonderfull. My boat was built in 1939 in Harwich Port on Cape Cod at the Lees' Yard (Lances Relatives I believe). There are pics of her in this forum under Tancook Whalers she is also pictured (in frame)in Tancook Whalers :Origins,Rediscovery,and Revival by Post.
The Whaler Vernon Langille sank off Block Island a few summers ago and was recovered.After that I don't know what became of her.If you would like e-mail me or if you'll be in R.I.let me know and we'll go for a sail.

Dave K
08-09-2004, 08:21 PM
Steve - I bought the plans for the "Cala Nova" design from Betty Slaunwhite, Steve's widow. I can furnish the two sheets for the sum of fifty dollars - half of which goes to Betty and the rest covers my cost of duplication at an architectural firm with a big copier, and mailing. Contact me at... Rev. David Keith, 5461 Rte. 114, Hopewell Hill, New Brunswick E4H 3M9

Geoff C
01-31-2007, 09:11 AM

You may be interested in this other article on the Vernon Langile. It was sunk and recovered in 2001.


06-07-2011, 11:03 PM
Paintings of Bush Island one lungers. at leat 2 Tancook Scooners, old salt bankers &c. seen here:


06-08-2011, 07:28 AM
FWIW, The Tancook whaler Vernon Langille may make it to the WB Show that's coming up.

06-25-2012, 04:17 PM
Two instances of Tancook schooners (the transom stern type, little miniatures of the BLUENOSE) can be seen among the collection of Jack Lorimer Gray paintings on FaceBook:



Bruce Keefauver
06-26-2012, 04:54 PM
Real nice, thanks for sharing.

karl kirkman
07-07-2012, 08:54 PM
A little late to respond, but Mocking Bird was a Ralph Wiley design of roughly WW11 vintage. He later took it furtther in other beautiful boats, particularly Fox and Vixen which were about 36 feet as I recall. Plans are in the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum collection. I spent my childhood drooling over Fox when she sat at a mooring in Gibson Island harbor; varnished strip planked topsides, and Uncle Raplh as he was called raced Vixen - beautiful Flag Blue and mahogany topsides. Sam Rabl published plans for a hard chine "poor mans" version in his Boatbuilding in Your Own Backyard. Ralph's boats were filled with many slick inventions like his opening ports made with wood wedges.


Ben Fuller
07-07-2012, 11:13 PM
Working today on Vernon; we launched her Tuesday. Been getting sticks in and the standing rigging set up. Her rebuild included a nice installation of a small Vetus to make it feasible to handle with one or two. Looking to head to Bath, MMM where on the 16th there will be some kind of watery thing 50 years for the museum 40 for the A shop. We have the stock of the Vernon Langille books.

07-08-2012, 10:20 AM

How did you handle the prop? Out the quarter or centerline aperture? I'd be really interested in any handling differences (speed, tacking angles, balance, etc.) you note between the no engine and with engine version.......thanks

07-08-2012, 04:56 PM
Where's she sitting now, Ben?

Ben Fuller
07-09-2012, 08:40 PM
Where's she sitting now, Ben?

Currently at Schooner Wharf in Rockland. I have an A shop mooring for her.

Ben Fuller
07-09-2012, 08:43 PM

How did you handle the prop? Out the quarter or centerline aperture? I'd be really interested in any handling differences (speed, tacking angles, balance, etc.) you note between the no engine and with engine version.......thanks

The engine project started because she came with a shaft and prop already installed to port at a slight angle. The engine installation that John Eastman engineered has the diesel reversed along side the shaft and the transmission via belts. There is stainless steel fabrication and bearings to deal with the side loads on the engine shaft. Prop is a max prop folder so pretty low drag.