WoodenBoat Magazine Issue 294

September / October 2023

Editor's Page

Pack Rat or Archivist?

On page 12 of this issue, Nathaniel Howe reports in a news item about the impending (at this writing) demolition of the 1888 schooner EQUATOR in Everett Washington. She is, he says “not your average abandoned hull.” Her storied history includes a stint being chartered by Robert Louis Stevenson for a voyage to the South Pacific; she also had several commercial careers. And perhaps most notable is the fact that she is the “last remnant” of the output of a legendary shipwright named Matthew Turner.

I like to save old stuff. There’s a derelict Herreshoff 12½ moldering out behind my boat barn, and I just can’t stand the thought of cutting it up, even though it will never see the water again unless every stick of it is replaced. In the loft of that building, I have, squirreled away, boxes of original but obsolete gear from my boats and former boats and other people’s former boats. I have files of letters that serve as touchstones to long-absent friends and family. And yet I also value the possibilities that come with fresh and uncluttered space, and orderly tools and resources relevant to the tasks at hand. I like blank spaces and I value archives and collections. It’s been a long and ongoing tug of war for me, determining what to save, how to save it, and how it fits my life.

When I first read of EQUATOR’s demise, it was with a twinge of sadness. Couldn’t the hulk be stabilized and interpreted? But to what end and at what cost—in terms of time, space, and money? Portions of the vessel were collapsing, after all. Howe is a nautical archaeologist, and he worked with a crew of top-tier professionals who were measuring the vessel’s shape and recording its most minute details. This record will be available to researchers, modelmakers, and replica builders in perpetuity. If you think this isn’t important, and potentially monumental in the purest sense of the word, turn to page 48 and read about the San Francisco Bay area’s new sail-training ship, the MATTHEW TURNER, which appears on the cover of this issue.

The ship’s namesake, beginning in the mid-1870s, built 228 wooden sailing ships—a record for that century. His archive, however, was lost in a fire, and only one of those vessels survived on paper. This was the brigantine GALILEE, which made a record run in 1891 from San Francisco to Tahiti and which, in 1934, was purposely grounded in Sausalito, California, to become the home of a British sea captain. Before she entered this new career as a mud-bound home, however, GALILEE’s lines were taken by the Smithsonian Institution. Those lines became the basis for the MATTHEW TURNER, which is a
state-of-the-art sail-training vessel with electric auxiliary power. The new vessel has a footprint in the 19th century only because of the dedicated work of a crew of nautical archaeologists who, nearly 90 years ago, couldn’t have imagined that their documentation would yield so significant a ship—one that could carry the Bay area’s shipbuilding legacy into the 22nd century.


Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Page 24


by Nic Compton

On a fine summer morning in 1947 I watched a sleek, white-hulled yacht come ghosting down the Blackwater [River] in the light breeze. She looked new, her Egyptian cotton mainsail and large genoa catching every zephyr of the faint north-easterly which had our chubby craft merely lolling indolently. Almost magically this vision of all that a sailing yacht should be slipped past, her crew intent on getting the best from her, and soon she showed us a shapely canoe stern.

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SALLY (left) and BRANTA
Page 38


by Randall Peffer · Photographs by Steve Jost

It’s not exactly a rare thing, but there is something about this spectacle that brings a smile to your face that just doesn’t leave. Sometimes the occasion is a formal race such as the classic Yesteryear Regatta or the no-holds-barred Opening Day Race of the San Diego Yacht Club (SDYC). But sometimes, as on the day I visited the boats in April this year, it just begins with a puff of wind and a twinkle in the eye. Then there is a sly smile from either the owner of SALLY or BRANTA to his rival, and a nod toward the crystal waters of San Diego Bay.

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Page 48


by John Skoriak and John Riise

When the 135' brigantine MATTHEW TURNER first slipped into the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay in spring 2017, it was to the sound of horns honking, bells ringing, and cheers from a crowd of several thousand. There was much to celebrate and much for history to note: She was the first large wooden ship built in the Bay Area in almost 100 years. She was built with the help of volunteers numbering in the hundreds.

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Page 58

Restoring ZEST

by Karen Sullivan

The kid could not stop drawing boats. Greg Marshall drew them everywhere—on his homework, on the chalkboard at school. It didn’t matter that the teacher erased them; he’d draw more. Growing up on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, during the 1960s and ’70s, he loved to dash around with his family on their small Bayliner out of Canoe Cove near Sidney, north of Victoria. On the way past the naval architect William Garden’s famous homestead, Toad’s Landing, with its superb collection of wooden boats (see WB No. 60), Greg would marvel at a long, skinny, and insanely fast-looking 70-footer called CLAYMORE. Garden wrote in his classic book Yacht Designs that “A boat of this size and power seldom becomes airborne, certainly never on purpose.”

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Page 66

A Lightning Sloop Strikes Again

by Douglas Wright

I pulled into the parking lot of the Southampton Yacht Club on Long Island’s Shinnecock Bay, New York, on a warm July afternoon in 2022 with my wife, Robin, and daughter, Bella, after a six-hour trip from our home in Manchester, Massachusetts. We arrived just in time to meet my brother, Ken, and sister, Dorothy, and get our newly restored 1958 wooden Lightning-class sloop out on the bay for the start of the class’s traditional Wednesday-evening races. This was the first time our boat had sailed in 45 years.

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Elmer Collemer
Page 74

Elmer Collemer

by Roger Allen Moody

Frank Elmer Collemer, known to all as “Elmer,” was a Camden, Maine, boatbuilding legend. He usually worked by himself, in a barn, and built at least 20 substantial sailboats between 1948 and 1968. He also built a few yawlboats, including a diesel-powered 16-footer for Capt. Jim Sharp to use with his 121' Gloucester fishing schooner ADVENTURE, which had recently been converted for carrying passengers.

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Page 80

Bending-On Sails

by Michael Sauter

After doing extensive repairs to the hull and deck of the 12-Meter yacht HETI (see WB No. 287), the volunteers who maintain and sail the yacht had much more to do to make her ready to sail a full season for the first time since the cancellation of all regattas during the Covid-19 pandemic. Varnishing and engine overhaul were done over the winter, but after relaunching in spring one final task remained: bending the sails onto the spars.

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From the Community



Herreshoff 12 For Sale

Well maintained. Sailed regularly. Winter storage in Salem, MA. $20,000 or best offer.


21' Handy Billy launch

21' Handy Billy launch designed by Harry Bryan and built by Geoff Kerr/Two Daughters Boatworks.