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Thread: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

  1. #1
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    Default 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    To all my learned friends,

    I am restoring a 26 foot sloop rigged knockabout that is reportedly from a fleet of 20 to 30 training sailboats from the US Naval Academy. My research has been difficult as it seems there are relatively few of this fleet left. From what I can determine so far the builder was the Owens Yacht Builders from Spa Creak near Annapolis. I have talked to the grandson of the builder who confirmed his grandfather was the builder but has never seen a sailboat of the class. The grandson manages the Owens Yacht Marque Club facebook page. Furthermore, the plans and molds may have been lost to fire. I have also reached out to the US Naval Academy museum curator and my requests for information led to limited information.

    My boat:
    26 foot
    7.5 foot wide
    4.5 foot draft
    full keel with lead balist
    cedar on oak
    35 foot mast
    Name: Swan
    Merriman bronze hardware

    If there is anyone with more information regarding this (perhaps) one of a kind sailboat, I would appreciate anything you could offer.

    Best

    Ben

    Swan 1 (2).jpg

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    My Dad was USNA class of 1950. I'll ask him if he knows anything about those boats. He lives near you, in Peterborough

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    I was there 1970-74 and sailed the knockabouts and 44' Luder yawls. However that doesn't look like the boats I sailed, but that was a few years ago, and I only sailed them during plebe year. There was some other stuff going on during that year!
    Steve B
    TraditionalSmallCraftAssociation
    DowneastTSCA.org

    TraditionalSmallCraft.com
    RIVUS 16' Melonseed

    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    In the late 1980's the Charleston S.C. Naval Base special services sailing center had an old wooden 'KnockAbout' that was said to be ex-Navel Academy. I taught sailing on it and remember one time when someone checked it out and somehow swamped it in the Copper River in front of the sailing center. The flotation kept it up and the recovery of the boat was the big exciting event for that day. Memory has faded but that may have been the end of her.
    In any event the special services sailing center historical angle might help you find people with some memories/knowledge. When the academy phased out boats they were probably put in the Gov-Surplus system and picked up by special services at various stations . . . also some undoubtedly became part of the Annapolis sailing scene so find some old sailors from that area/era to ask.
    The picture above seems very similar to what I remember.
    I did like sailing her.
    This is the first lesson ye should learn: There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, it doesn't behoove any of us to speak evil of the rest of us.
    E. Cayce

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    Steve- Did you sail in the Kennedy Cup regatta during your years at Annapolis? if so, I may have sailed against you. Those yawls were great fun to sail.
    "And so the seasons went rolling on into summer, as one rambles into higher and higher grass." Thoreau, "Walden"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    Thank you all for your responses. Here is another photo.

    Swan 2.jpg

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    I might have, but I have no recall. I only sailed the yawls my plebe year and we did and went where we were told! For some reason I was more into scuba back then and didn't return to sailing until I got out of the navy.

    And looking at the pictures again the knockabouts we sailed were nothing like the OP's. They were open and utilitarian and got knocked about a lot.
    Steve B
    TraditionalSmallCraftAssociation
    DowneastTSCA.org

    TraditionalSmallCraft.com
    RIVUS 16' Melonseed

    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    I think the knockabouts at Annapolis then were Shields class sloops. Or maybe there were other classes of knockabouts also.
    "And so the seasons went rolling on into summer, as one rambles into higher and higher grass." Thoreau, "Walden"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    Got this back from my Dad:

    The boat pictured is nothing like the knockabouts there in the 40's. They were more near to 18 - 20 feet and looked pretty tubby compared to the one pictured, and I'm certain I never saw one like that there. Also, there weren't more than a dozen of them. No one liked sailing them. The entry was not nearly as fine and there was little stern overhang. Good for beginners - built like cast iron.
    I found this picture, and it looks pretty much like the knockabouts as I remember them.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    Here is another photo which I believe is the water front at the Academy with knockabouts that look very similar to my sailboat. Perhaps I am wrong about the 1940's time frame or it could be a completely different boat history all together. Any help I could get would be appreciated.

    SWAN photo by Dave (2).jpg

  11. #11
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    Can't help with ID-ing the boats but that's the USNA waterfont for sure, Mother B (Bancroft Hall) in the background. But where the boats are is now an athletic field, probably Dewey Field.
    Steve B
    TraditionalSmallCraftAssociation
    DowneastTSCA.org

    TraditionalSmallCraft.com
    RIVUS 16' Melonseed

    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  12. #12
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    I know I'm risking drifting the thread, but any likely ID on that barquentine in the background?

    Alex

  13. #13
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    so... any photos of the boat, work and progress Ben?
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  14. #14
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    I know I'm risking drifting the thread, but any likely ID on that barquentine in the background?

    Alex
    From Jack Lesser, USNA '50

    That was the configuration of the small boat harbor then. The low roofs in the background were the boat sheds. They are gone as well. That whole area is now filled in. At the FAR left and almost invisible is the "station ship". The enlisted personnel who waited table in the mess hall lived there. It is long gone.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    I know I'm risking drifting the thread, but any likely ID on that barquentine in the background?

    Alex
    Might help us find out when the picture was taken.

    The boats didn't have jumper struts, so I think that design dates from the 1920s at the latest.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    I seem to remember seeing boats like this in New London, CT, in the '50's. They belonged to the Coast Guard Academy, and they were just called K-boats.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    >>That was the configuration of the small boat harbor then. The low roofs in the background were the boat sheds. They are gone as well. That whole area is now filled in. At the FAR left and almost invisible is the "station ship". The enlisted personnel who waited table in the mess hall lived there. It is long gone.<<

    My Father-in-law (USNA '44) was asking about that ship at our last reunion. I didn't know anything about it as it was long gone before my time.
    I'll send him the photo, he's 95 and still going strong.
    Steve B
    TraditionalSmallCraftAssociation
    DowneastTSCA.org

    TraditionalSmallCraft.com
    RIVUS 16' Melonseed

    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    USCGA had Knockabouts/K-boats in the late '60s. As I recall, they were very much like the boats pictured in post #10. Checked yearbooks from '68 and '69 but found no photos of those boats.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: 1940's US Naval Academy 26 foot vintage Knockabout sloop rig

    Continuing a bit OT my F-in-L (USNA '44) reports "I remember the knockabouts well. I first learned how to sail in them, followed by the whaleboats on Monday afternoons. What nostalgia! I’ve often wondered whatever happened to the Reina Mercedes. It was a beautiful boat but I think it disappeared from the boat basin in the mid 50’s. "

    I've asked him again to see if he can ID those K-bouts.

    Steve B
    TraditionalSmallCraftAssociation
    DowneastTSCA.org

    TraditionalSmallCraft.com
    RIVUS 16' Melonseed

    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

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