View Full Version : Meadow Lark design

Peter Adams
11-26-2001, 10:46 PM
I am considering building Francis Herreshoff's Meadow Lark design and would appreciate any comments from people having experience with this design.

11-26-2001, 11:41 PM
My family owned one for five years in the early seventies, a wood version built by Allen Vaistes (sp) to the original specs in all regards with the exception of being outboard powered. We sailed it on Puget Sound and lake Washington in the Seattle area, where it drew quite a bit of attention.

There were no winches on the boat, and I remember it being quite a work out to sail at times. The jib, lee boards, topping lifts and halyards all had two to one tackles on them at a minimum with the lee boards having four to one, so there was a lot of line pulling as you tacked up the lake! Also, the rudder wasn't balanced so it took some effort to swing it over to turn 8,000lbs of long, narrow boat with a big skeg.

On the plus side it was very fast, easily pacing our neighbor's Cal 39 which could beat us only by out pointing, and then not by that much. Down wind he was history when we made the effort to pull the board(s) and even the rudder up . The boat would sail itself for 15-20 minutes at a time at any point from a broad reach up to hard on the wind, and was easy to steer down wind, but would wander more if left alone on anything but a dead run. A major improvement was adding a 175 square foot jib for winds up to about 15 knots. But with only a two to one tackle you had to sheet in before the boat fell off too much!

Our boat had inside ballast when purchased- during its last year we put it in a slab bolted to the outside of the keel, a major improvement. Although the boat was stiff enough with it inside, it was never properly secured and would shift when you took a knockdown. The boat will float on its side if built as designed. Plus it was nice to have the cleaner bildge.

The interior was sparce with four bunks, a wood stove, and porta-potty. Despite what looks like a small cabin, it seemed open and more than roomy enough. I'm 6'4".

Don't even consider an outboard, whether in a box or on a tramson or rudder bracket, it was always a weak link. We threw 3 of them overboard in frustration in the coarse of five years.

While we had ours a 37' glass version was popular and often talked about as a desired modification. It would be faster and offer some more room, but I don't think the differences would be significant.

All in all a bit of an odd boat, especially on the West coast where its' shallow draft was not as neccessary as its' home grounds, but one worthy of its reputation, faster and more fun than one might originally think, and a lot of utility for the money.

E-mail me if you have more specific questions.

Frank Wentzel
11-28-2001, 09:16 AM
Bolger did a large article on LFH some years ago in Wooden Boat. At that time he said that the leeboards were too small but that LFH never went back to correct or improve old designs. If you want to build a meadowlark you might look into that.

I have leeboards on a variation of Munroe's Egret. They are no fun when short-tacking but the increased interior space and lack of a leaky centerboat trunk make up for the extra work.

/// Frank ///

N. Scheuer
11-28-2001, 10:50 AM
Meadow Lark is one of my favorite designs. On a business trip to Massachewsetts twenty five years ago I took some time to prowl Harbors around the Cape and found three Meadow Larks.

Some years later, sailing our Dovekie to one of the Flamouths from Martha's Vineyard, we encountered a Meadow Lark which appeared to be headed for Nantucket under sail and were unable to keep pace when we turned to chase her for a closer look.

A friend in Florida who often crews in a Meadow Lark prevailed upon the owner to furnish information about this customized rendition, built by A. Vaistes, which incorporates stnading headroom, center cockpit, and aft cabin. You can see photos of this boat, the PATIENCE GREEN, at <http://www.msnusers.com/thefloridadeppmeyers/photoalbums>

I consider my 28 ft Shearwater Yawl, designed by P. Bolger and built by Edey & Duff, to be a smaller, much lighter displacement variation on the Meadow Lark theme. My TRUE NORTH also features pivoting leeboards and rudder, very shoal draft, and a rig which is easily lowered. The one huge difference is that Shearwater is emminently trailerable, not merely "transportable on highways".

Moby Nick

John B
11-28-2001, 02:18 PM
I've never seen one.
BUT, I just read the article that Frank is talking about last week. I'll look for it and get the number.
Conrads, that sort of insight into the real thing is fantastic.

Zane Lewis
12-04-2001, 02:40 AM
Question for Conrads

How was your OB mounted and what size was it. How did it do pushing you into a head wind with a chop on the water. Any thoughts as to how one of the new 4 stroke OB with reverse exhaust venting would have been.

I am working on a modified sharpie style hull 34LOD and about 5500 to 6000 lb. What sort of head room does the Meadow Lark have


12-04-2001, 12:25 PM
Zane- originally we had a ten horse outboard mounted on a heavy bracket on the rudder. It was a huge failure mostly because it was extremely hard to steer, although it did offer some advantages in reverse since you could swing the rudder to help back against the prop rotation.

Next up was a 14 hp specialty outboard with reduction gearing and an oversize four bladed prop. It was mounted in a box to port of the rudder, similar to a thunderbird and others. This was much better, but with 50:1 2 cycle mix required it kept fouling the plugs on its' own exhaust despite a variety of attempts to improve ventilation.

Finally we settled on a 15 hp. running 100:1 mix, which ran pretty well but the smaller 3 bladed prop took a while to get any bite, especially when hitting reverse. We had three of these engines over 4 years- they had to work too hard. Running at about 80% they gave 7-7.5 knots, but the props were quite inefficient. I always thought that 10 hp. with the right prop would have given 8+ knots since the hull was so easily driven.

The newer 4 cycle engines would surely overcome a lot of the problems we had. especially the ones with reduction and over size props for sailboats. Conrad

12-04-2001, 05:30 PM
Peter, I beleive that there is a Meadow Lark for sale on www.yachtworld.com (http://www.yachtworld.com) I think that the asking price was $14,000 and that it was located in Conn. It looks like a neat boat. A little strange but neat...
You might be able to call or email the seller with specific questions regarding the design.

Good luck.

Zane Lewis
12-05-2001, 01:04 AM

Jon Agne
12-05-2001, 09:16 AM
You might want to consider one of Ruell Parker's designs. He's got some great shoal draft sail designs. Website too:


John B
12-05-2001, 02:26 PM
Hey Zane, wouldn't a Meadowlark be the bees knees for the Manukau.....

Zane Lewis
12-08-2001, 04:45 AM
Did you see that re run a few weeks back of Heartland on the Kaipaira. Another place I could imagine a year of exploring. Then trailor or pick your weather and down the westcoast to the next large harbour.

(For info the Kaipaira is one of the largest harbours n the southern Hemisphere.)

01-06-2002, 09:03 PM
Beware of lemons.