This book germinated more than 52 years ago, when my wife Carol and I bought our first fiberglass boat—an 8-foot sailing dinghy, in 1957. At the same time, we started collecting sailboat brochures at boat shows and saving our old and dog-eared boating magazines in a closet, so we could keep track of ads and editorial reports of new fiberglass sailboats being introduced, in anticipation of some day moving up in size.
Every few years we did indeed move up, which resulted in an even greater accumulation of paper. Over the years, the closet became a room full of literature—brochures, ads, books, magazines, plans.
In the 1960s Carol wrote an article for Yachting magazine on how she and I had built a fiberglass cruising sailboat (a Carl Alberg-designed South Coast 23) from a kit in our backyard in Darien, Connecticut. Shortly thereafter I wrote my first boating magazine article. Figuring she was ahead of the game with one acceptance and no rejections, Carol retired from writing to pursue other interests (such as bearing and raising two kids in the 1960s, working for a local yacht charter firm in the 1970s, and becoming the first female harbormaster for the town of Darien in the 1980s) while I continued to write (and occasionally illustrate with pen-and-ink drawings) as a sideline to my regular jobs for big corporations doing engineering, financial and corporate planning, business analysis, and consulting in New York City.
Eventually, just as I realized that corporate life was no longer as much fun as it once had been, I found I could make a living as a writer and illustrator. In the mid-1980s I left corporate life and began a career as a freelance writer for boating magazines, among them Sail, Yachting, Yacht Racing and Cruising (now Sailing World), Small Boat Journal, WoodenBoat, Practical Sailor, and others (including some powerboat magazines). I even helped start a new magazine, Sailor, which unfortunately folded after a couple of years despite excellent editorial reviews—a victim of bad timing in a "down" sailboat market.
Also in the mid-1980s, Carol and I acquired our first computer and began to tabulate data on our favorite boats. In 1991, we moved from Darien to Sarasota, Florida, bringing a freelance writing business and a roomful of boat records with us. Every once in a while I'd look at the old brochures and magazines to check my memory on the statistics for this boat or that, or just to admire the crisp draftsmanship of a Philip Rhodes or Charlie Wittholz drawing.
One day in 1995, Carol surprised me by asking when I was going to throw out all those old boating files. When I said I had no plans to do so, she asked why I was saving them. I replied that someday I might write a book that summarized the material—maybe a compendium or catalog of some type. (By this time I had already written three successful books, so Carol knew I might be serious.) She asked when I was going to start. Knowing from past experience that I was on shaky ground, I answered: "Now." And so I started.
In looking through the literature to see what "Sailboat Guides"—one-shot books as well as magazine annuals— were already on the market, I realized that none came close to what I had in mind. None covered anywhere near the number of different designs I wanted to include (especially in the under 30-foot range). None provided, for each boat reported, a group of comparable boats—"comps"— that were truly similar in size and performance. In fact, few of these guides applied any kind of penetrating analysis at all to the boats being reported. And few used large-scale drawings with good legibility. I resolved to avoid these problems whenever possible in my book.
So what took me fourteen more years? Among other things, several serious illnesses and other nonwriting activities slowed my continuing research. The job has turned out to be much bigger than I thought it would be. Data on some boats has been elusive. Accommodations plans have not been available on every design. Many letters and e-mails to designers and builders have gone unanswered. Still, it has been an experience I am glad to have had. I hope you will find the results worthwhile.
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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.