Preview: Murray Peterson’s Designs: The STORMY Story

In this,  the second of the Murray Peterson series, we feature a lovely little schooner named STORMY, who throughout her 56 years has also carried the names RAVEN, MAGIC and CONCERTINA. When I asked some of her former owners to share with us what it was like being her custodian, some heartfelt words came in that I’ve added to Bill Peterson’s essay which follows.

It’s obvious that not only were his boats, including STORMY, much loved, but so was the man himself, as evidenced by what former owner and friend Art Brendze had to say.

From Art Brendze:I was in my Marblehead shop in 1974 when my friend Kay Vosburgh came through the door. She beckoned me over and quietly said, ‘I have bad news. Murray’s gone. I know how much he meant to you, so I thought I’d better come down and let you hear it from me.’

“Kay was part a group of older friends who I had been close to for many years. They were my parents’ age and I adored them. I listened carefully to every word they said. I learned a lot: about their boats, their designs and their lives. They’re gone now, but what I learned from them has always been an anchor-to-weather through life’s inevitable blows.

“Murray had been one of the youngest of this group, and since Murray had been about my father’s age, I had simply assumed that he would be around at least for some years yet. Yet, here was Kay telling me otherwise. We sat for a while, remembering this much-valued friend, this good-hearted, gifted, creative, responsible man who was a classic example of American genius and integrity. At some point we smiled at each other, hugged, and Kay left. I went back to fastening the Swampscott dory’s prodigiously wide and cantankerous garboard strake, recalling that there’s “… nothing half so worth doing as messing about in boats.”

“As a boy, Murray had been intoxicated by traditional, New England working watercraft and he excelled at, “…messing about in boats.” As a grownup, he became a first-class designer of yachts that utilized what he’d learned, creating designs that were culturally based American time-capsules. They remind to us of the transcendent standards once nurtured in the pursuit of excellence, as opposed to today’s degrading standards of mediocre convenience.”



By William M. Peterson

Owning a boat can provide some of life’s more rewarding experiences which is why so many people search for that special vessel to fit their individual or family desires. Large portions of their time is planned around launching and outfitting as well as choosing a name for their craft, if newly acquired, to summarize this unique and personal relationship.

STORMY’s Sail Plan, drawn by Murray Peterson. (Courtesy Peterson Associates)

Some owners actually get to experience the design and construction of a new custom boat that then becomes an integral accomplishment alongside their home and work. Being part of a successful “dream come true” can ceate an enduring bond between the owner, designer and builder, especially when complications are kept to a minimum. That was my father’s stated goal in 1961 during the design and construction of what he considered his smallest and most basic, clipper-bowed schooner. Despite its small size and his noble aim it turned out to be one of his more complicated projects; thus she was to be christened STORMY.

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7 Responses So Far to “Murray Peterson’s Designs: The STORMY Story

  • Avatar

    Kent and Skipper says:

    STORMY has a new Owner and Skipper, she will be in good hands, but we’ll let them fill in the details :)

    Huzzah to all who have been her proper stewards through the years.

    Clark and Skipper

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    Alex McMillin says:

    I think the one photo (2nd colored pic) might be the LaHave River on the south shore of NS. I grew up there and thoroughly enjoyed see the many classic old schooners sailing us and down the river. The Lahave River Yacht Club was host to many schooner race weeks. It was always special to get a ride on one.

    Alex M

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    Donald Ziolkowski says:

    Ignoring for a moment that I would like to find study plans for the original COASTER in order to make a model: There is a gentleman on the Woodenboat forum who is trying to contact Mr. Peterson using the information provided above, and is not having any luck. Is there a way to connect the two?

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    Karl Bischoff says:

    I am near to finishing a Peterson schooner SUSAN here in Seattle. Bill has been very helpful. We are changing the rig by adding this topmast (with Bill’s plans).

  • Avatar

    Maggie Peterson says:

    Absolutely wonderful narrative of Stormy’s beginnings, history, lasting exuberance, and devoted owners; a love story of its own kind. Readers await chapters of Stormy’s adventurous future.
    M.R. Macy

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    Jerry Mattas says:

    Very nice story!
    I happen to be lucky enough to own a Murray Peterson design. I recently Purchase “Northstar” She lies in Cape Cod Ma

  • David Tew

    David Tew says:

    I hope there will be many more contributions from Bill like this!