Dear WoodenBoat: July 22, 1994
Mike O'Brien's "Shoal-Draft Sharpies" (WB 114) did not mention the design that Chapelle described as closest to EGRET. That is DANDY (Plan No. HIC-116 from the Smithsonian). In BOATS magazine for August, 1956,he described how he developed the design from the Munroe half-model and from notes and discussions with Comm. Munroe. Chapelle increased the length from the 26'-3" of the half-model to 29'-8". He increased the beam on the bottom about 3" while maintaining the flare of the sides and, because EGRET required trimming
ballast aft, moved the center of buoyancy forward "a bit" (about 1'-5" it appears). Chapelle's lines sketch of the EGRET half model is in his papers at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
The Smithsonian has another plan that supplies additional information about EGRET. The Historic American Merchant Marine Survey Plan No. 8-58 is of "Egret, a double-ended sharpie hulk, copy of 1886 vessel". It is of
a 32' O.A. boat. If you scale it to the 29'-8" O.A. of DANDY, the only differences between the hulls are those Chapelle described making. In 1984 I visited the National Museum of History and copied the field notes of HAMMS Survey No. 8-58. There are also photographs of the hulk from which the lines were taken. The maximum draft measured from "the existing waterline" of the hulk was 7˝". This confirms Comm. Munroe's
description of EGRET as having a draft of 8".
The HAMMS EGRET is described as a copy of the original boat built in 1928. This was probably right after Munroe and Gilpin finished writing "The Commodore's Story". The rig was missing and the field notes say that the rig was derived from discussions with the Commodore's son and from the book "The Commodore's Story". It has a mainmast only 10" shorter than the foremast and fully-battened sails with sprit booms. This matches Munroe's description (p. 160 of "The Commodore's Story"), "...regular sharpie rig, using sails headed by a short gaff and fitted with several battens across the full width of the sail." The photo of EGRET facing this page shows that rig clearly. It is the one of EGRET charging through breaking seas that has inflamed the passions of so many a sharpie fanatic.
(Here ends my letter to WoodenBoat; the plans ordering information and the history of the HAMMS EGRET are of later date)
The plans of DANDY, HIC-116, are (4 sheets @ $3 ea.) $12; of the HAMMS EGRET, 8-58, $5.00. There is a service charge of $5.00 per up to 12 sheets from Ship Plans, NMAH 5010/MRC 628, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560.
Until about 1996 I could not explain just what the HAMMS EGRET was. Then I made contact with Bill Schwicker (“WhatMore Could the Commodore Ask?”, WB 56) who built his EGRET from a half model belonging to the Munroe family. He told me the HAMMS EGRET was built for the Commodore’s daughter after the original EGRET was destroyed in the 1926 hurricane. Therefore, except for being lengthened, it should have been faithful to the original.
WoodenBoat’s EGRET design increased the hull draft 50% to 12 inches. I don’t know which boat sails better, but they are certainly different boats.
Anyone interested in "the real EGRET" can get a copy of the BOATS article and Chapelle’s sketch of the EGRET half model by sending me a long SASE and a buck. Dave Carnell, 322 Pages Creek Drive, Wilmington, NC 28411