Editor's Page

Beneath the Surface

Gary MacMahon’s image of the tidy Irish cargo ketch ILEN on the cover of this issue belies the fact that, more than 30 years ago, ILEN was languishing in the Falkland islands. As we learn in Arista Holden’s article beginning on page 48, MacMahon engineered the improbable repatriation of ILEN to Ireland, and her subsequent multi-year restoration. After relaunching, she voyaged to western Greenland—the location of the cover photograph.

And then there’s JENETTA (page 78). Ten years ago, she was lying on the bottom of a Canadian lake. She was in such a weakened state that when raised to the surface, she broke into three pieces. Those pieces were shipped to the Robbe & Berking boatyard in Flensburg, Germany (see WB No. 258), which eventually took on a thorough reconstruction of the boat.

It’s not the first time we’ve presented the restoration or reconstruction of a sunken and seemingly doomed boat. I’m reminded of the ketch YUKON in WB No. 220. Her owner, David Nash, acquired her when she was sitting on the bottom of a Danish harbor. At the conclusion of his multiyear restoration, he sailed her to Tasmania, where he and his wife, Ea, operate her as a charter boat. I’m reminded, too, of the Colin Archer ketch CHRISTIANIA (see WB No. 160), which sank in 1,640' of water in the late 1990s. The crew survived. Incredibly, driven by the boat’s historic value, CHRISTIANIA was raised and restored, and continues today as a voyaging yacht.

The sunken steamboat ARABIA, however, is a rarity among wrecks that have been raised from the bottom and presented on these pages. Beginning on page 68 of this issue, Tom Varner tells of how this 171' paddlewheeler sank in the Missouri River in 1856. More than 130 years later, she was discovered 45' beneath the surface…of a cornfield. The river had meandered from the wreck site, encasing it in silt and capping it in topsoil.

ARABIA’s salvors began their mission planning to sell what they recovered. But ARABIA’s treasures moved them beyond the idea of instant profit. They instead kept the collection intact and became collectors, preservationists, and curators. They created a unique museum offering a rare window into life on the American frontier in the mid-1800s.

One need not raise a boat from the bottom of the sea, or a cornfield, to find such treasures—such rare windows into the past. Consider, for example, the Bud McIntosh–designed and –built sloop GO GO GIRL (page 58), found wrapped in tarps and brought back from the brink by Paul Rollins, who had a singular connection to her history. Or the 48' Dawn Cruiser WIDGEON, a rare survivor kept in service for the past 40 years by her dedicated owner.

In his article on GO GO GIRL, Randall Peffer quotes Bud McIntosh recalling his career building wooden boats as an “emotional experience almost unique in this modern world.” As the world grows more “modern,” those words grow more relevant, and they apply as well to the restoration, use, and appreciation of historic boats, yachts, and vessels. The opportunities to own and care for them lie all about. Some of these opportunities lie waiting on the surface, in brokerage and classified advertisements. And some, squirreled away in barns or hidden under tarps, lie just beneath it.


Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Skin-on-frame dinghy
Page 22

An Eye for Details

by Text and photographs by Steve McMahon

I needed a dinghy because my inflatable, at 10 years old, had outlived its expected lifespan. I was tired of its cranky outboard motor, which wouldn’t always start. I had had enough of the leaky rubber pontoons and paying the hefty price of a dinghy slip every summer. I was dreaming of a pretty little rowboat.

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Page 28

Maintaining WIDGEON

by Anne Bryant

Maryland’s coast is lined with complex, sharp pockets of Chesapeake water that make up its magnetically beautiful estuaries. Thickly settled neighborhoods attest to the magnetism, and docks jut out from nearly every waterfront property there. One house in a quiet cove in Edgewater has a family jewel perched at the end of its dock. WIDGEON, a 48' 6" Dawn power cruiser, is turning 90 this year.

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The crew at the J.C. Williams Dory Shop
Page 36

Milford Buchanan and the Shelburne Dory

by Text and photographs by Brad Dimock

Milford Buchanan and I had already bent the pre-made bottom of the dory into the building jig—or horse, as he called the ancient cradle on the boatshop floor at the Dory Shop Museum in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. We had wedged the flat bottom tightly in place using posts and jacks that had been used to spring more than 50,000 bottoms to the standard 31⁄2" rocker.

Full Article
The ketch ILEN
Page 48


by Arista Holden · Photographs by Kevin O’Farrell

Northern gannets circled overhead and dolphins wove swift and graceful patterns alongside as the 56' A.K. ILEN made her way toward the village of Baltimore in southwest Ireland. The newly restored ILEN—the “A.K.” stands for auxiliary ketch—is among the country’s last surviving oceangoing wooden vessels, and despite considerable odds she was sailing again in Irish waters after a 10-year restoration.

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Paul Rollins
Page 58

Bringing GO GO GIRL Home

by Randall Peffer

It’s crazy,” boatwright Paul Rollins tells me, referring to the half-finished restoration of the 39' Bud McIntosh sloop that I’m admiring at Paul’s boatshop in York, Maine. “Absolutely crazy, in so many ways.”

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The steamboat ARABIA
Page 68

The Story as Artifact

by Tom Varner

In its early days, the City Market of Kansas City, Missouri, was a hub of river traffic and trade. Although the area has changed considerably since the market opened in 1857, it’s still a bustling commercial center, hosting a regular farmer’s market, an active food court, boutiques, and specialty shops. In the heart of this now-historic district lies one of the city’s prized gems: the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

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The 12-Meter-class sloop JENETTA
Page 78

Welcome Back, JENETTA

by Sam Fortescue

On November 11, 2009, the hulk of the 12-Meter-class sloop JENETTA was raised to the surface of Pitt Lake in British Columbia. The yacht had recently succumbed to years of neglect and sunk at her mooring. This might have been the end of her, save for the efforts of the German shipyard owner and silversmith Oliver Berking.

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From the Community



14' Wooden Day Sailer

For sail (sale) our whimsical 14′ day sailer “Green Flash” designed by noted small-boat designer