Three Knockabouts

Designs by B.B. Crowninshield — Commentary by Maynard Bray

From the time the first 21-foot WL knockabouts Nancy and Jane appeared in 1892, the nearly fin-keeled jib and mainsail cabin sloops — day boats, really, of up to about 30 feet on deck with moderate overhangs — enjoyed a widespread popularity undiminished until the First World War.

"Knockabout" was the name given to most of these craft, whether or not they were designed to officially qualify as 15-foot, 18-foot, or 21-foot WL knockabouts as defined by the Massachusetts Bay Yacht Association. For their day, and compared to some of the freaks that preceded them, they were sensible craft, easily handled by one or two persons and fun to sail. They were simple to build and inexpensive to buy (boats from the first batch of 17/2-footers featured here cost but $500 in 1909).

In 1908, B.B. Crowninshield, who was a well-connected Boston yacht designer with blueblood ancestry seeming to go back to God Himself, was asked to draw up a one-design class of knockabouts, which became known initially as the Manchester 17]/2-foot class. In the spring of 1909 a dozen boats emerged from the Rice Brothers building sheds at East Boothbay, Maine — all of them for members of the Manchester (Massachusetts) Yacht Club — initiating what was to become the most popular and long-lived class of their type in the history of yachting. Records indicate that another seven boats were ordered the following year and that before the building of new boats ceased in the mid-'30s, about 200 boats had been launched.

Not long after the early boats were built, the center of interest moved from Massachusetts Bay to the coast of Maine, between Penobscot Bay and Frenchman's Bay, and the name of the class was altered in a variety of ways depending on the particular yacht club affiliation. There is a group of a dozen or so boats still rac ing from the Buck's Harbor Yacht Club, and oca-sionally one finds a 17J4-footer still sailing from ofc New England harbors as well.

There's good reason for their longevity: the\ rt planked with cedar, have ballast keels of lead, and art-fastened with copper rivets and bronze bolts. Thesim-ple deck layout and canvas over cedar or pine ded discourages freshwater leaks—the bane of all wooden boats. Their continued popularity is understandable, for they are still fun to sail. They'll move along in liglt air without extra sails, they spin on a dime, and tra can take more rough.weather as a rule than their owners can, although at times they are wet since the !''•" board is low.

The most common name for this design noiwidau is Dark Harbor \7Vi, named after the summertime watering hole at Islesboro, Maine, that once had the largest number of these boats. There was smaller, equally exciting version known as [b Harbor 12/4, which was without a cabin and sold in 1915, their first year, for a contract price t1 -It is also still an active class.

Across the bay in Camden, "Bodie" Crowniiv . came up that year with a longer-ended (and eyes, better-looking) day boat for a few membip. the Camden Yacht Club. According to the avml> there were only four boats built: those by Ho' Bros., a shop that was only a stone's throw awa\ the Rice yard in East Boothbay. But at least one oi boats survives as perhaps the finest combination oi performance and beauty ever developed within tht definitions.

It may be that Mr. Crowninshield himself had little to do with the design of any of these boats and -r-ply passed on their general requirements to \w-Friday of the drafting stool, R.N. Burbank, vvhu-e

Dark Harbor Plans Wooden Boats

Three Knockabouts initials are on all of the drawings and in whose hand all the calculations appear. In any event, the owners of all three one-design classes appeared to be pleased with their boats. Office log entries read: "...these boats have proved absolutely satisfactory...all owners are pleased...boats proved satisfactory in every way." "Boat handled and sailed well and seemed quite stiff. Sails set well. Boat trims and measures almost exactly like plan."

Plans for the Dark Harbor 17'A, Dark Harbor IV/i, and the Camden Class can be ordered from The WoodenBoat Store, P.O. Box 78, Brooklin, ME 04616; 800-273-7447.

Benford Design Group Boat PlansCamden Class Sloop
How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.

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