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New Materials; Classic Yacht Design; A Question...

Copyright 1996 - 2015 Michael Kasten
 

My own boat design interests lie very much in the direction described by Metal Boat Society member Stephen Yahn: square sails; brigantines; schooners; classic styling.

The vessel Stephen described is much like the classic US colonial privateers: the Halifax, the Marble Head, or the Saint Anne, all of which can be studied within the works of Howard I. Chapelle.

In fact this is exactly the type of vessel described in a recent client inquiry from the East Coast who would like to re-create a traditional 1700's packet ship in the 50' to 60' range. For this project, our intent is to use a gently rounded easily plated hull form with lapped plate edges, either "in and out" style, or "joggled seam" style.

Functionally, the key to success will be to use modern materials, and to provide the vessel with a more balanced, relatively lighter hull form (even though in steel) having much greater stability, considerably better windward ability, and optimized for speed.

Aesthetically, the key to success will be to remain strictly faithful to the style of these ships, right down to the carvings.

It is all too common these days to borrow only a few details from these vessels and end up with a "caricature" of the real thing, or worse a true Frankenstein in terms of styling.

The vessel we have in mind will possibly be rigged as a simple tops'l schooner like Saint Anne. If longer tradewind passages are anticipated, she would be brigantine rigged as would be appropriate. Spars will be metal, as they often were on the clipper ships, but in this case they will be aluminum pipe rather than iron.

We have to keep in mind that the US colonial and post-revolutionary sailing vessels were made of what was most readily available on the East coast of the Americas at that time: wood. Today the situation is much different. We now have much easier access to metal than we have to wood.

Perhaps in order to approach the whole concept of building a highly traditional sailing vessel in the very most traditional of ways, we should ask our selves: "Would the colonial owner-skipper, keenly interested in turning a profit, have even briefly entertained the notion of building a vessel out of a more expensive, more difficult to find, and weaker material?"

Without question, the answer would be a resounding "No!"

The metal hulled "1700's" vessel we have been planning will not only look like the real thing, it will in fact be the real thing.

It just won't be built in wood.
 

"How could it be aught,
Were it not thus?"
                - Ignatz (Krazy Kat Comix 1922)

Michael Kasten

Metal Boat Quarterly #9 - Spring 1997 Editorial

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