Preview: The Three Boats I Lust After (and Why)

When I find myself at leisure to enjoy what I call “recreational thinking” I often contemplate boats. I toy with different designs and imagine how they might fit into and enrich my life. Now my mind can, and does, drift off in any of a thousand different directions but this boat thinking is as good a diversion as any.  One boat that often slides into the ecectic mix that rolls around in my head is L. Francis Herreshoff’s ketch rigged motorsailer Walrus. This is a big, heavy 50’ boat with a displacement of over 26 tons. She’d take you anywhere in a rugged no-nonsense fashion and be comfortable in most any sea and snug in any anchorage.  But I’m not going to dwell on Walrus, at least not for this exercise.  I take ‘lust’ pretty seriously, at least where boats are concerned and part of lust is, if we’re lucky, the possibility of fulfillment. I’ll likely never own a boat like Walrus nor would such a big boat fit my life style—or budget.

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7 Responses So Far to “The Three Boats I Lust After (and Why)

  • Avatar

    Susan Wallis says:

    Hi, Bill,
    My family owned what we believe was hull #1 StoneHorse Jr. built by Lee & McMath shipyard in Harwichport, MA. It is interesting to note that she was not flush-decked. She and, I believe, two others were built with trunk cabins. The design was later modified. Built as the Wyvern for Palmer Cosslett Putnam, an MIT grad and engineer who was an early wind-power pioneer, Mr. Putnam cruised her to the Canadian Maritimes. My dad purchase the boat in the early/mid 1960s from Ken Whorf of Hingham , MA. My dad changed her name to Bluffwind. We spent many years cruising the New England coast aboard her- four of us often for several weeks at a time. The accommodations were very cozy. Mom and dad slept below and my brother and I slept in the cockpit under a boomtent. I miss those days and that boat! Dad sold her in the early 1980s when he could no longer physically maintain an aging wooden boat. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him… I surely would love to find that old boat. The last time we saw her was tears ago anchored off Providence, RI.

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    Bill Thomas says:

    If I built a Stone Horse I’d be tempted to keep the interior very simple, double birth forward, wooodstove, a few lockers and flat surfaces to work on. Come to think of it, something like our Dolphin.

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    Bill Thomas says:


    In short my experience with the boat is limited….. and I like her very much. I have built the rowing version for myself and and while I have the mast step and daggerboard trunk installed I’ve not gotten around to building the sailing rig.

    I’ve rowed her quite a bit solo and on some outings with my wife. She rows wonderful light but with enough way to carry through. In strong winds, stronger then you should really be out in, she is light and blows around quite a bit. Everything is a trade off. Last summer my wife and I lingered on a island here in Maine and came back to Mattie (our SkerrieSkiff) to find her high and dry. 100 feet from the water on a very gently sloping beach. It was a non issue to simple pick the boat up and hop her down to the water and pull home.

    I’m sure she would sail very well, but I’d make sure to build the sail with the drawn reef points. Studying the plans I’d not change a thing. I thought I’d get to the rig this winter but moving snow around and client projects have kept me from getting the boat out of the barn.

    As for building, she is as simple to build as a good boat can get. Not stitch and glue which is a good thing! That can be a fast way to assemble a hull like this but really bog down when the the sanding and fairing start. There are no instruction included with the plans but Iain’s book is really useful during the building process and the plans are excellent. I’ve build 6 of these boat at the WoodenBoat School with students and each time we have assembled a hull in 5 days.

    As an side note my boat is for sell so touch base if interested.

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      Bill Thomas says:

      PS. the boat I built is the 15′ version….. the smaller size is easier to manage on a trailer or beach…….

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    Stephen Weld says:

    Years ago I chartered a Stone Horse for a week, and sailed mostly single-handed. I found the cabin less comfortable than my Dovekie, which has next to nothing in the way of furniture. In the Stone Horse cabin I was always bumping into something. This may be why LFH specified such a simple interior for “Rozinante”. I have spent time in a Bolger “Black Skimmer” cabin, similar in that all that is built in is the berth flat, and that worked well

    I agree with you about the canoe, though for a single person a smallish double-paddle boat goes more easily. The disadvantage of the double paddle is that it inevitably drips on you.

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    Roger Mennillo says:

    Hey Bill
    I’m in the pre-contemplative phase of a hint of a dream of a build-it-yourself camp cruiser. I have only rudimentary carpentry skills, but can row pretty straight and keep a sailboat right side up OK. That said, just how easy was the Skerrie to build and how have you found her to row and sail?

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    David Wyman says:

    Hi Bill — I really like your choices, all three have filled many a daydream.