Preview: Murray Peterson’s Designs: The STORMY Story

December 19, 2020

Avatar Maynard Bray

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 create an enduring bon 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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