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Thread: Questions about boating in the year 1910

  1. #1
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    Default Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Hello! I've been trying to do some research on boats for a novel I'm writing, and I'm not finding what I'm looking for. Someone suggested trying the Wooden Boat forums, so here I am!

    Iím working on a novel based on a real person: Jane Fisher, the wife of Carl Fisher; Carl founded and built Miami Beach, but he is also known for having built the Indiana Speedway and creating the Lincoln Highway. Carl was a boating enthusiast and he had many, many yachts in his lifetime.


    The scene I'm having difficulty researching takes place on a boat in December 1909/January 1910. They are taking a trip from Cairo, Indiana, to Jacksonville, Florida, via the Mississippi River (I assume they took the Wabash to the Ohio to the Mississippi).

    I know that Carl owned this boat shortly after, so I think itís okay to assume the boat they are riding on is similar. I donít know if this link will work, but a description/picture of the boat was in the newspaper: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/2233...ht_for_fisher/ If that link doesnít work, the basics are it's a Charles L. Seabury design, twin-screw power yacht, guaranteed speed of 16 mph, 90 feet, 82 feet water line, 16 ft 6 inches beam, 4 feet draught. It's a raised dock cruiser type with large dock house, which will be used as a dining room, and fitted with two Pullman berths. (And I understand basically none of that.)

    So the questions I have:
    1) I've been trying--and failing--to research how they would cook on the boat. Would a galley have some sort of gas stove? Did they have to stop and build a fire on shore every night?

    2) According to Janeís memoir, they encountered a hurricane while on the boat, and eventually ended up beached in Mobile Bay. But Iím wondering what they would have done on the boat to help keep it afloat during the hurricane.

    3) About how long would it take for them to boat from Indiana to Mobile Bay?

    If anyone knows answers or has suggestions as to where I could find them, I'd greatly appreciate it! Thank you!

    best,
    Jennifer

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910




    It was a raised deck cruiser with a large deck house, ... not a " raised dock cruiser type with large dock house"

    That speed of 16mph would have been a maximum speed and not one they would have maintained for cruising. Something more on the order of 10 - 12 mph would have been more realistic


    A pullman berth is a folding down bunk (as on a Pullman railcar)






    So the questions I have:

    1) I've been trying--and failing--to research how they would cook on the boat. Would a galley have some sort of gas stove? Did they have to stop and build a fire on shore every night?

    A boat that early would easily have had a galley (kitchen) which would likely have been fitted with a Shipmate coal stove, or possibly a gasoline fired stove



    2) According to Janeís memoir, they encountered a hurricane while on the boat, and eventually ended up beached in Mobile Bay. But Iím wondering what they would have done on the boat to help keep it afloat during the hurricane.



    3) About how long would it take for them to boat from Indiana to Mobile Bay?




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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    A yacht of that size will have a professional crew - Captain, mate, engineer, several deckhands, cook, stewards . . . There were some owners who might be their own captain, but there will be crew for the mundane work.

    No hurricanes at that time of year. Jane may have been referring to a storm of hurricane strength. But there can be interesting winter storms that strong. It's a bit shallow so the waves will be sharp and close. Assuming that for some reason they are anchored rather than at a pier, standard storm tactic in a bay like that would be to take some strain off the anchor by running the engine. Maybe you could have an engine failure, dragging anchor, and perhaps the Captain decides to let and anchor run in an attempt to at least pick where to leeward they'll beach. You'll need to pay Mobile a number of visits, find some local sailors, and learn the season, bottom topography, and all that. Or at least pick up a Mobile correspondent.

    A dock house is on a dock or near one ashore. On the boat, deckhouse.

    There were gas (natural, don't know about propane) and electric stoves at that time but solid fuel was common on a yacht that size. Likely coal.

    Lots to research.

    G'luck

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    People in that era with that kind of money had professional crew to run the boat and do all the cooking and cleaning. And when the hurricane came along, the "they" who managed the boat would have been the professional skipper and his crew, with the owner most likely offering lots of advice which may or may not have been welcome.

    Beaching the boat was probably a last resort when they were unable to get an anchor to hold. But that's speculation on my part. It's unlikely it was actually sinking, but if the boat was taking on water beyond what the bilge pumps could handle, that would have been another reason to run her aground.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    This is super helpful, thank you! One thing I've noticed in the memoir I read is that Jane Fisher had a propensity to exaggerate, so I'm sure that the storm was not as severe as she said (she also wrote that the newspapers fretted that the Fishers were missing in the storm, but I've been unable to find a single report, and I've done a lot of digging! ).

    The boat would run on gas, I presume? Could they have beached because they ran out of gas? Jane does say they were beached for a few days, but of course, that could be another of her stories.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Google books has the first 6 months of The Rudder magazine digitized here: https://play.google.com/books/reader...=en&pg=GBS.PP5

    It’s pretty much a sure thing that Carl Fisher read all of these issues.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Trying to think of literature that sets a scene. Like the first chapter of "Captains Courageous".

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post

    The engines would have most likely been diesel.
    Even if it was built by the Gas Engine And Power Company?


    Naptha, maybe? Unfortunately print only, no ebook: https://books.google.com/books/about...d=QTF_uAAACAAJ
    Last edited by StevenBauer; 02-06-2019 at 01:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Remember that a boat that draws 4' isn't going to "beach" very well. It might run aground a ways from the shore, but Mobile Bay is very shallow in most places near the shore -- so the boat would either have been somewhat upright and 20' from shore, or on the shore and tilted over quite a bit. Can't find any plans online from power yachts of that era and size, but suspect they were fairly rounded underneath rather than flat, so they'd beach at quite an angle.

    Here's a much later 1938 Trumpy yacht the same size for comparison -


    https://www.bradford-marine.com/90-t...ford-marine-2/

    And video showing the interior of a similar period 103' yacht - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZX-M0B6goU

    Here's a video showing the interior of a similar 60' Trumpy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR8b7BJ69x0
    Last edited by Thorne; 02-06-2019 at 01:15 PM.
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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Here’s Fore And Aft magazine from 1907, amazing what’s been digitized these days. Some really cool artwork in the first pages of this one. https://play.google.com/books/reader...en&pg=GBS.PA83

    Warning! Don’t click on these old magazine links if you are trying to get anything done this afternoon...

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    I looked it up on google just for grins. Searched: carl fisher "eph" boat

    The facts and dates that I found appear to be entirely optional. I understand why you came here for help. Not that my post is much help.

    The 45 ft boat he sailed down the Mississippi was (OK, probably was) the Eph, named after his dog according to: http://miami-history.com/carl-fisher...s-miami-beach/
    Married 15 yr old Jane on 23 Oct 1909. (He also just saw her when she was 15, married her in 1913, then gave her the boat that they wrecked in 1911 on a 1909 trip and sailed the wrecked boat around Florida to Jacksonville for repairs.) Left Cairo late Oct, Christmas in New Orleans. It must have been a very slow trip, the boat was wrecked in 1911. Of course, the boat was also 40 feet long, I mean Eph 39 feet, 1911(3 Effs 12 Fisher boats). It was stranded in Mobile and Jacksonville in the same storm. More detailed account of 1911 storm: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/1138...ng_of_the_eph/ OCR text below. Maybe it was Eph III and maybe the trip was to Havana starting in 1908: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/1477...ana_boat_trip/

    I googled carl fischer eph boat. This talks about Eph VII, VIII and IX. He was overly fond of that mutt. This was 1910. So let me get this straight, his first boat, Eph was 40 and 45 feet long, built around 1910 (Nov, 1909) By Consolidated Shipbuilding, and by 1910 he was up to Eph IX. It was stranded in Navy Cove near Mobile and in Jacksonville in the same storm. (the Jacksonville link was worthless, so I left it out)

    If you have $65 million, his old house is for sale. https://www.indystar.com/story/life/...urs/594439002/

    https://www.newspapers.com/clip/1138...ng_of_the_eph/i
    MAROONED IN A HOVEL DURING A GULF STORM
    CARL. G. FISHER TELLS OF ESCAPE FROM RAGING SEA.
    SAVED BY DESPERATE ACTION
    Mr. and Mrs. Carl G. Fisher and.H. C. Buschmann, who were wrecked in a storm In Mobile bay, while on Fisher's small cruising yacht last Thursday, returned to Indianapolis Sunday, and they told their friends of their harrowing experiences.

    The party, Including - the boat hands and pilot, had ventured out on the gulf when a terrirtc storm drove them back to Mobile bay, which is perhaps fifty miles across.

    Just inside the mouth of the bay, the great waves brought trouble, and to prevent being dashed on the beach the anchors or the yacht were heaved over. At that time the craft was only a few hundred yards from the beach. The storm increased In fury, and hour after hour the boat was dashed up and down on the hare billows, being frequently submerged In the troughs. Articles of furniture, diaries and glassware were thrown about the cabin and broken. The men worked day and night to save the vessel.
    Drive Yacht on the Beach.
    After a battle of thirty-two hours Fisher decided to beach Ihe yacht, even against' the wishes of the pilot, who thought the craft would be dashed td' pieces. On the beach, a short distance away, was a. fisherman's' dock, or pier, which extended out into' the shallow water for a short distant, and over which tne wave dashed. The plan was to reach this dock. 1f possible. The powerful engines - were started.' and a dash was made for the dock, '.foing at a speed of twenty miles an hour the yacht, struck the smooth sand, and the momentum of the craft sent It skimming upward until! it landed broadside against: the dock in two or three feet of water. Ropes were thrown out and the craft was made secure.

    An old, abandoned house stood nearby -- the last remnant of a village that had been swept Into the gulf by a hurricane years ago. The party tool possession of the house and furnished it with a stove, and with other articles from the yacht. They spent two nights In the house, waiting for the storm to subside. The yacht was not seriously damaged, end the members or a fishing fleet. with jacks and anchors, got the boat off the' beach. The party went to Mobile and from there started home. The yacht was sent on to Florida waters, where Mr. Fisher will keep it for fishing purposes.
    Last edited by MN Dave; 02-06-2019 at 11:29 PM. Reason: cleaned up OCR
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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    This is an incredible resource!! Thank you so much StevenBauer for that link. I'll spend some time poking around in The Rudder.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Thank you everyone and MN Dave that is super helpful! I must have missed that because I was searching in a different year.

    In her memoir, Jane put the boat ride earlier. But then again, as you mention, it says EVERYWHERE that Jane was a 15-year-old bride. With the magic of the Internet, I discovered she was actually a 24-year-old bride (verified from census records, passport applications, and high school yearbooks). Jane and Carl were both VERY loose with their facts.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    One of the links said that they did the trip in stages. EDIT: one week installments That makes sense considering how much Fisher seemed to have going on all the time. Starting in late 1909 and finishing in 1911 in multiple short trips is plausible. A month on the Mississippi in November might not be such an ideal trip. One link said that he first saw her when she was 15, but they weren't introduced then. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/1477...ana_boat_trip/
    Last edited by MN Dave; 02-07-2019 at 03:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    I hope you will let us know when the novel is done, j. Sounds like it’ll be an interesting read.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    If in a year or so you don't announce publication I will personally demand that you be banned.. Sounds great but what's the McGuffin?

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    I agree he'd have had crew, but on a 90 footer I'd guess two or three maybe. A captain, for sure, and a cook who might also be the steward/ mate. Or, perhaps a Capt, mate/ steward, and the cook.

    You might try the Miami Beach, Florida; Montauk, NY; and Indianapolis, Indiana historical societies for more info

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    On the duration of the trip aspect, keep in mind that those boats probably wouldn't have run at night. They'd anchor in or tie up at a club someplace along the way. You might check out archives of newspaper society sections of ports of call along their route as a visit from a major developer would have made a significant splash. There may have been parties and events they graced with their presence along the way.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    You guys are all very kind! I hope the publication will be announced within a year, but you never know with the publishing world.

    To give you all context of where my general confusion came from, this is the account of the trip from Jane Fisher, from her memoir Fabulous Hoosier (pp 13-17)Jane writes that only Carl, his two friends, and his personal servant will be on the trip, which is why I hadn't realized there would be a crew:
    Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 7.38.01 AM.jpg

    Why I thought this trip took place in 1909, because Jane and Carl were married October 23, 1909:
    Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 7.38.41 AM.jpg

    Why I thought it was a hurricane that beached them, and why I couldn't find reports of them missing (because I was looking in 1909/1910), and once again, a date that must be completely wrong (February 1910):
    Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 7.39.02 AM.jpg
    Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 7.51.52 AM.jpg

    For anyone curious about Carl, the memoir is scanned in at: https://www.firstsuperspeedway.com/b...bulous-hoosier.

    So when I say Jane was creative with her facts... she was very creative! Oddly enough, I'll be using fiction to try and see if I can make it more historically accurate!
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    If you set the book on the earlier, forty something foot boat, then just the one personal servant makes sense. Those guys sound adventurous enough to undertake the operation themselves and certainly handled the business of being stuck on an island with aplomb.

    Maybe the young bride wrangles her way on the trip by becoming cook. Canned food with some fresh bought along the way and almost every night dinner ashore.

    The trip is part of what's now called the Great Circle so there's an abundance of cruising guides that will tell you lots about modern conditions. You'll need to adjust the times for various legs by the fact that this forty footer probably had a best cruising speed of around 8 knots and much time might be more like 6.

    It must be fun learning about the heavy river and coastal traffic in those years of industrialization and "taming" the Mississippi.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Carl Fisher was a seriously adventurous guy who pulled a ton of crazy stunts, so I would not put it past him to try and do this on his own!

    One more question: If there is a storm on the level of what was reported in the 1911 article, would Jane--who would have wanted to be out of the way--have been safer belowdeck or on deck? Originally I assumed she'd stay belowdeck, but if water is coming onto the boat, as it indicates in that article, I'm wondering if she might have needed to stay higher up?

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbrown View Post
    Carl Fisher was a seriously adventurous guy who pulled a ton of crazy stunts, so I would not put it past him to try and do this on his own!

    One more question: If there is a storm on the level of what was reported in the 1911 article, would Jane--who would have wanted to be out of the way--have been safer belowdeck or on deck? Originally I assumed she'd stay belowdeck, but if water is coming onto the boat, as it indicates in that article, I'm wondering if she might have needed to stay higher up?
    If the newspaper account was correct, I think that 32 hours on deck in a January storm would have been fatal.

    There was a contemporary ad in a motor boating magazine for a 60 foot Eph that the ad said was making its way down the Mississippi at about that time. Fisher apparently had several Ephs for sale about that time, and bought more Ephs. If you pardon the pun, who the Eph knows which Eph boat he was in where and when? Without a Shadow of a doubt, he owned a lot of boats with very few names. (mostly Shadow and Eph)
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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Quote Originally Posted by MN Dave View Post
    If you pardon the pun, who the Eph knows which Eph boat he was in where and when? Without a Shadow of a doubt, he owned a lot of boats with very few names. (mostly Shadow and Eph)
    Ha! You just made my night! And the name Shadow came from his first Miami house, and he named his houses after Shadows even though they weren't in shadow, as the first one was.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Some of the articles talked Fisher's concern about safety. He was very fond of bulkheads, flotation, cork deck chairs that could support 250 lbs. If you have to ride out a storm in a 1910 yacht, one of his might have been a good choice. I have used this link before.
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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Well, the plot thickens, as they say. It does look more and more like it was the 40-foot boat that was taken down the Mississippi. The dates seem to line up, as does the fact of the limited number of people on board. But what a character -- he put race car drivers with no boating experience in a batch of new race boats he had built just to fill out the starting line.
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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbrown View Post
    The scene I'm having difficulty researching takes place on a boat in December 1909/January 1910. They are taking a trip from Cairo, Indiana, to Jacksonville, Florida, via the Mississippi River (I assume they took the Wabash to the Ohio to the Mississippi).
    Looks like you're getting lots of help and information already. Just a note: I think the Cairo you mean might be the Cairo in Illinois, on the Mississippi River, not in Indiana?

    Edit: I see that Cairo, IN is near, but not on, the Wabash. Doesn't seem like much of a town, though.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 02-08-2019 at 04:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    Hull #s - 2216, 2233, 2227,2263, 2282, 2311,2317 all appear to to built for Carl in 1911 ?
    http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com/s...nsolidated.htm

    There is an email contact, perhaps more details are available.

    The Gas Engine and Power Company became Consolidated Shipbuilding... a "Big Deal"
    Last edited by Canoeyawl; 02-08-2019 at 12:09 PM.

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    Default Re: Questions about boating in the year 1910

    That's just the ones from Consolidated, there were more from Matthews.

    Not to take anything away from Jeff Bezos, Carl jilted his old GF for 22 yr old this time Jane.
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