WoodenBoat Library

The WoodenBoat Library holds a private collection of more than 6,000 maritime books, and thousands of yachting-related periodicals, some dating back to the 1800s, as well as a large number of yacht and boat plans and other resources. While we regret that we can no longer provide open public access and research services, active subscribers to WoodenBoat magazine are invited to inquire about these collections, including access to our online Library Card Catalog. Inquiries to wblibrary@woodenboat.com (please include the 9-digit subscriber number from your mailing label or 8-digit number from your renewal notice) will be answered as swiftly as we can manage.


  • These images of Light on the Water appeared in The Rudder Magazine, February 1910, painted by Warren Sheppard. They show the artist’s favorite yachting harbors and landmarks in fond detail, with cumulus storm clouds and eerie moonrises drawing a sailor’s attention. Can you identify which harbors they show?
  • In 1978, a standard 39′ Concordia yawl named BABE won the MHS Division (the new Measurement Handicap System, developed in 1978 by MIT to measure and handicap racing boats, including older boats) of the renowned Newport-Bermuda Race. As one of the smallest boats ever to win that challenging 630-mile ocean race, she added an important chapter to the glory and appreciation of a much-loved class of wooden boat.
  • View PDF of Merriman Brothers catalog. The MERRIMAN Bros. Inc. was founded in 1898, and published catalogs of yacht hardware up until the 1960s; it offered for sale most of the well-known bronze fittings that you have seen on the decks and in the rigging of the finest sailboats. The trident stamp set into the bronze winches, turnbuckles, wood shell blocks and other hardware parts, mark them as...
  • In a famous book published in 1918, author Cole Estep takes on the challenge of enticing and educating a new workforce of boat builders, aiming for nothing less than a “revival of the art of wooden shipbuilding…”
  • The bowline is a knot taught in every seamanship class. This article by Edwin Frost, in the April 1948 issue of The Rudder , shows the standard bowline and two of its less well known cousins.
  • Author Charles G. Davis takes a personal joy in each of the boats that he presents in this book, How to Design a Yacht , published by The Rudder in 1906. He talks about owning one sailboat, designing another, delivering a third down the coast to her new owner. He seems to love every one, and shows us through his illustrations and his first-hand encounters scattered through the book.
  • In this 1920 painting by Charles Pears , the sky is cloudless, the breeze seems steady and brisk enough to cause a curling wave at the bow on the boat nearby, and a white wake flows off the stern in a sea of Caribbean blue. Competitors are close, all light sail set, evenly matched. A well-dressed woman is looking ahead; while an assistant is near at hand, ready to leap up at the call to trim! Or perhaps he is the tactician, whispering advice to stay low on the course.
  • A jackyard topsail is rarely seen today, and there are good reasons. The jackyard topsail is a sail with murder on its mind, swinging long spars along the deck, intent on sweeping the crew overboard. If you see a jackyard topsail set today, such as on the P-boat JOYANT or on the NY50 SPARTAN, you should take notice, because under a jackyard topsail lies a brave captain and braver crew, whose full attention will be on that large sparred piece of canvas hoisted high into the sky.
  • A companion piece to Dixon Kemp’s Jackyard Topsail . Kemp’s detailed explanation of the proper way to handle a jackyard topsail safely was perhaps the best possible advice in the 1890s when he wrote it. Compare that with the methods of high-latitude sailors, Tim and Pauline Carr, and the Captain of MARIQUITA, Jim Thom.