Tust as a painting is influenced by the artist's envi-I ronment and early training, so is the naval archi-I tect's design affected by the area in which he lives ■'and the local traditions of boatbuilding. It would be difficult to imagine a South Seas proa being developed in our cold northern waters; while all sailors like to go fast, most dislike being sprayed by cold water while doing it.
The two designs shown here are good examples of these influences. Both are drawn by masters of their trade, both designs are aimed at providing a handsome, traditional, small sailing craft for coastal cruising. Both designs are strongly rooted in the workboats of their region.
The smaller boat, a 27-foot-overall gaff sloop, was designed by the late Murray Peterson, who grew up in New England, worked for the John Alden office, and opened his own office — first in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and later in South Bristol, Maine. He became famous for designing a number of lovely small traditional schooners based on the coaster type.
The larger boat, a 32-foot-overall gaff cutter, is from the board of William Garden, who lives and works in the Pacific Northwest. He has practiced his trade long and well, turning out hundreds of handsome designs for both commercial and pleasure craft.
Let us compare these two boats, designed in and for opposite sides of the country; let us observe their similarities and their differences, and indulge ourselves in a little armchair speculation as to what made them the way they are.
An examination of their lines reveals instantly two distinct differences. The Peterson sloop has considerably more beam in relation to draft than does the Garden cutter: B/D = 2.176 for the Peterson, compared to B/D = 1.853 for the Garden. This is perfectly in keeping with our regional-influence argument. In the early days, East Coast working craft were usually of the beamy, shallow type (including the larger coasting schooners), while the West Coast designers turned out deeper, narrower vessels. My guess is that the nature of the two coasts had much to do with this. New England has many harbors and coves that are used for shelter and trade (particularly in southern New England, where these harbors are often shallow), whereas the West Coast has far fewer shelters. There, much of the coast is unbroken by harbors or inlets; the boats tend to be good seakeeping types that can, if necessary, stay offshore and handle a blow.
The full bilges and low deadrise on the Peterson sloop are in interesting contrast to the steep deadrise and heavily hollowed garboards of the Garden cutter. (There is a special reason for the deep, hollow garboards on the cutter; we will discuss this later.)
Another difference we notice immediately in the lines of the two boats is in the shape of the two sterns. The smaller Peterson boat has a very traditional, broad counter-stern with a small amount of crown and considerable rake — strongly influenced by the eastern coasting schooners and other small working craft. The Garden cutter, on the other hand, has a handsome round stern with a knuckle above the waterline. I don't know why, but this type of stern is seldom seen on New England small craft, whereas it is common on
XXXVII \A Cutter and a Sloop with Regional Roots the western side of the continent; there seems to be more Scandinavian influence on western small craft. This stern shape is prevalent in parts of Scandinavia and also in the Mediterranean. There is no doubt that it makes a handsome and seakindly after end for a small vessel.
Otherwise, the lines show two boats similar in purpose: each has a generous freeboard, a long keel, and short overhangs aimed at providing as much volume as possible within the hull to contain the accommodations desired, yet both hulls are graceful in spite of their fullness. The Peterson sloop has a displacement/ length ratio of 478; that of Garden's cutter is 463 — definitely on the heavy-displacement end of the scale.
The sail plans of both boats show a traditional gaff rig, the major concession to modernity being the roller furling jibs of both boats. The larger Garden boat has the foretriangle split between a boomed f orestaysail of 145 square feet and a large Yankee jib of 245 square feet. By going to the cutter rig, Garden is able to keep the area of the mainsail to a manageable 371 square feet, only a little bigger than the mainsail on the Peterson sloop. The mast of the sloop is well forward, resulting in a small foretriangle and a large mainsail. This is a more efficient rig to windward than that of the cutter, but it is less versatile when the time comes to shorten down. Both boats show lazyjacks on the main to keep the sail up off the deck when lowering and furling.
Now let's look at the accommodation plans. They are totally different in arrangement, yet the basic elements provided are quite similar.
Garden, in a somewhat larger hull, had more space to work with and thus was able to separate the seating space from the two principal bunks. In fact, by raising the cabin sole in the fore part of the boat and forgetting about standing headroom, he is able to create a little saloon forward with a settee on each side and a table between, an unusual concept in so small a craft. He also specifies Root berths port and starboard over the settees forward, but I suspect these would be used only rarely. I still regard this design as basically sleeping two, using the generous built-in berths on either side of the pilothouse aft.
Between the forward saloon and the aft pilothouse, Garden gives us a good-sized galley to port plus an oil heating stove, while to starboard there is a hanging locker, an enclosed toilet room, and a couple of steps up to the pilothouse. Right in the middle of this space is the mainmast, where the cook can brace himself in a seaway. The pilothouse, besides containing two berths, has a raised seat with a footrest built against the after bulkhead, and the steering wheel with controls in front of this — a grand spot from which to con the ship on a calm and wet Puget Sound afternoon while one's shipmate snoozes within toe-poke reach.
Pilothouses have just recently come into vogue in production sailing craft, but Garden has been using them for many years.
The engine is under the pilothouse floor, flanked by two 50-gallon fuel tanks, one under each bunk. It is hoped that the tanks are heavily baffled both fore and aft and athwartships, as there is nothing more annoying than liquid bumping and gurgling around your pillow in a seaway. Aft of the pilothouse is a 6-foot-long hold extending the full width of the vessel, accessible through a large (3-foot by 3-foot) hatch on deck with a high (18 inches) fisherman-type coaming and hatch cover.
Mr. Garden, in his notes accompanying the design, states that the boat was developed from an earlier design built in 1952 as a combination fishing and sailing boat. This dandy little hold, so useful for stowing everything from scuba tanks to bicycles, apparently was one of the features retained from the original design. Right aft, framed by the horseshoe of the stern, is a half-elliptical cockpit with matching seat, and a tiller to get you out of the pilothouse on nice days. The aft deck weatherboards curl around the cockpit to form a comfortable backrest.
All in all, this is a most unusual, yet I believe workable, arrangement plan. Notice, too, that the deck amidships is raised right up to the sheer height with a low cabinhouse and the high pilothouse for headroom. This puts her cabin sole on three different levels below, also unusual. Fore and aft, the deck level is sunk below the sheer to give good, high bulwarks for security while working the anchors or fishing.
The interior arrangement of the Peterson sloop is simple, straightforward, and very traditional. It also offers the most comfort possible in such a small boat. (She is small — only 27 feet overall — and we must remember this when comparing the layouts of the two boats; we are comparing a grapefruit and an orange when it comes to interior volumes.) The two wide, comfortable berths located right amidships are used as the seats for the dropleaf table located on the centerline. Far aft on the port side is an enclosed toilet room, small but functional.
From the after end of the port berth there is a very ingenious alcove with two drawers beneath that extend into the toilet room. This gives a surprising amount of stowage space without overcrowding the head, typical of the care that Murray Peterson gave in designing the interiors of little boats. The galley is opposite the toilet at the aft end of the cabin on the starboard side, with the companionway ladder offset to starboard. The galley is only 3 feet long, fore and aft, yet it contains a two-burner stove on the countertop, icebox with trap through the counter, a small sink with a locker under, and a large locker outboard under the
XXXWIA Cutter and a Sloop with Regional Roots deck. The two-step ladder lands on the top of a storage drawer, which makes the third step. Neat, and very compact. At the forward end of the cabin, just aft of the mast, is a Tiny Tot solid-fuel heater, nice for foggy summer days and crisp autumn nights.
To port and starboard of the mast are hanging lockers and shelves. The forepeak, occupying the forward 6 feet of the boat, has stowage for sails, anchor rodes, spare anchors, and all the other stuff you can't leave the mooring without. This space can be reached through an off-center hatch in the forward deck (off center because of the anchor windlass) or through the main cabin. The bulkhead at the after end of the cab-inhouse has a 24- by 33-inch removable section in the toilet room for access to the port side of the engine. A flush hatch in the bridge deck will allow the engineer to cozy up to the Universal Utility Four gas engine for maintenance and communion. While there, he can check the gas and water tanks, one of each, both port and starboard, for a total of 40 gallons of gas and 20 gallons of water. (Some might prefer to reverse the amount of fluids carried.)
The little sloop has a nifty, big cockpit, wheel steering, and a traditional wooden compass binnacle with a sloping, hinged viewing panel. She has no coamings or backrests, but a raised box over the steerer provides, under some conditions, a seat for the helmsman. Doors in the cockpit sides allow some limited access to the space under the deck on each side, but it is poor storage at best. Perhaps a couple of movable deck boxes could be used to give some on-deck storage for docklines, fenders, and such. Both boats have a gallows frame aft to catch the main boom, and more importantly, to provide a fine handrail across the after end of the boat.
If we can forget the difference in size between the two boats, my impression is that the Garden cutter is laid out with emphasis on shelter from the elements with a place to steer that is under cover, while the crew of the Peterson sloop will relish a day outdoors with wind and sea, and only retire to the cabin when the sun is gone and the bunk calls. Isn't this perhaps because of climatic differences between the Pacific Northwest and New England? (Not that New England doesn't have its share of drips and drizzle, and the Northwest sparkling sunshine, but overall, I think the difference is there.) The Northwest is blessed with a longer sailing season than we have in New England (almost year-round, in fact), while around here, the onset of winter abruptly ends the sailing season. The Garden cutter can be used at any time of the year, with its sheltered steering station in the pilothouse and the oil heater chasing the chill away. By the time the autumn leaves are on the ground in New England, the little sloop will be there as well, resting on her cradle, covered against the snow.
The construction plans of the two boats make a most interesting contrast. The little sloop is pure East Coast construction — oak backbone and bent frames, 1-inch cedar planking, laid teak decks, and 3,585 pounds of cast-iron ballast keel, bolted on the bottom of all. At the joint between hull and deck frame, the traditional clamp and shelf, bolted to each other and to the frame heads, make a strong and handsome "angle iron" in wood the entire length of the boat.
By contrast, the Garden cutter has a hefty keel timber, 91/2 inches by ll1/? inches by 21 feet long, with a 2!/2-inch gum wormshoe on the bottom, and her ballast all inside; the latter consists of lead pigs in cement, poured in place after the hull is completed. Bent oak frames with l5/r,-inch planking form the hull skin.
The Garden cutter's deck and deck edge structure are quite different from those of the Peterson sloop — the raised deck through the middle portion of the boat is built of two diagonal layers of red-cedar glued together over deckbeams, with a harpin at the juncture with the hull.
A harpin is almost never seen in East Coast construction, while Garden and others use it frequently in the West. It is similar to a shelf, except that its outer edge lies against the planking with notches for the frame heads to pass through, and its upper edge lies against the decking with the ends of the deckbeams notched under it. The only East Coast boat that used this construction regularly was the Friendship sloop. This design has the advantage of putting a heavy, continuous timber where it is most needed for fastening guardrails, toerails, covering boards, lifeline stanchions, jibsheet leads, and all the other assorted hardware that follows the rail of a boat.
The Garden cutter also has a sheer clamp lower down, into which the well-deck frame (at the bow and the stern) is notched and bolted. At these well decks, the frames come through the covering board and, together with the topside planking, form the bulwarks.
On the Peterson sloop, the covering boards are not pierced by any frames or stanchions, and the bulwarks are built up on top of them, using a vertical rail drifted on and then covered by a horizontal caprail. Aft, the quarter rail and cap are piled up on top of the lower bulwark. I am always a little worried about having frames or stanchions that penetrate through the covering board, for these can be potential leak and rot areas, as on the Garden boat, but the modern flexible sealants available to builders now have done much to alleviate this problem.
The Garden boat's handsome round stern is framed with two "horseshoes"; tapered staving makes the vertical planks. The cockpit sole is 3/»-inch plywood, and lands on top of the lower rim, or "horseshoe," while the semi-elliptical seat sits on the upper rim. This is most interesting and highly unusual to my eastern eye.
Let's think about cement and lead pigs as ballast, another item somewhat rare to the East Coast, at least for small boats. This type of ballast certainly has the advantage of lower cost and easier installation, compared with cast-iron or cast-lead keels. It allows a certain amount of adjustment of fore-and-aft trim, especially if (as Garden recommends) the fore and after sections are not poured until after launching. The disadvantages would seem to be: less protection to the boat structure in case of a severe grounding, and lower bilges that are inaccessible to inspection or repair without a great deal of jackhammer work. My understanding is that this poured inside ballast works well if the boat is to be left in the water most of the time, but less well if the boat is to be hauled out for lengthy periods, especially in frosty climates. Again, this fits our theory that regional and climatic influences dictate different design and construction practices. When looking at her lines, we can understand why the Garden boat has those deep, hollow garboards that we noted earlier. That shape was necessary to get considerable volume down as low as possible in order to contain the lead pigs and cement.
Even the methods of setting up the two boats for construction are different. The Peterson sloop was built by the late Elmer Collemer, of Camden, Maine. I am dead certain that the molds were set up, ribbanded out, the frames steamed and bent inside the ribbands, and, as the planking progressed, the ribbands were removed as they got in the way. All of Elmer's boats were built that way, as are most traditional wooden boats in this part of the world.
Garden, on the other hand, shows the setup for building his boat right on the drawings, using the harpin system. The molds and ribbands are set up to the inside of the frames, the harpin is placed in position on top of the molds, which are cut to the finished sheerline and deck crown; the laminated clamp is notched into the molds lower down, then the frames are bent outside the ribbands and let into the notches already cut in the harpin. Using this method, the deck can be built prior to bending the hull frames, if desired. The ribbands are left in place until after planking is completed. In fact, Garden states that the upper ribbands may be incorporated into the structure of the boat. This is a totally different approach to that used on the East Coast, due mostly, to the use of the harpin.
So, what conclusion can we draw from the study of the two boats? First, that there is no "right" way or "wrong" way in construction and design. What works well, is good. Also, that all boat designs are based on a long series of choices and compromises having to do with shape, materials, and methods. Many of these choices seem to be influenced by the region in which the designer lives and works, as well as the boatbuilding traditions that have developed there. The designer of a boat for service in a different part of the world with differing climatic conditions might very well use other materials and methods appropriate to the area in which the boat would be used. And lastly, that the diversity and imagination of our talented designers is what makes the study of small boats so endlessly fascinating.
Plans for the Peterson sloop are available from Murray Peterson Associates, Jones Cove, South Bristol, ME 04568.
\XXXVU \A Cutter and a Sloop with Regional Roots
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