Aboard a Legendary Boat, Herreshoff NY-30 ALERA


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Preview: Aboard a Legendary Boat, Herreshoff NY-30 ALERA

October 10, 2012

Because her restoration is so historically precise, when you step aboard the New York Thirty Class ALERA in our video, you’ll feel like you’re stepping all the way back to 1905, the year Herreshoff NY-30 ALERA was launched by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. Maybe you’ll even want to digĀ  your great-grandfather’s white flannel trousers out of the trunk in the attic before you press PLAY.

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– [Narrator] ALERA is the very first boat of a famous New York 30 class, 30 feet being her waterline length. This class consisted of 18 identical gas rig sloops all built and delivered in the year 19 five by the Herreshoff manufacturing company of Bristol, Rhode Island. These boats have been and still are so loved that 12 of the original 18 still survive today over a century later. But boats wear out in time and require restoration. ALERA’s restoration came just in time for her centennial in 2005. Compared to other restored boats of this era there’s still a good deal of her remaining, she still has 90 percent of her original planking and many of her backbone timbers remain as well as those have class led ballast keel. Boothbay Harbor Shipyard carried out the work giving her a brand new gas sloop rig that’s identical to the one she had in 19 five. Not only is ALERA a special boat but she has a special owner named Claas van der Linde. Claas knows more about the history of this class than anyone. He’s invited us to go with him today and we’ll begin by preparing ALERA for the real damn breeze that’s awaiting us this afternoon.

– And away goes the kerosene stove. And tabletop just goes on top of it. Lock which prevents it from sliding further so that’s fine. And those just go into the bank. so let’s just secure those hatches. This is where the paid hands lived, this hatch is where they were to enter or exit and dark it is. Just a safety line to prevent it from flying open. Close them off those glasses they’re not always safe here. I would propose that you man the main sheet and Maynard can you do the jib sheet?

– I’ll do the jibs.

– And then I’ll take the tiller and we’ll see how it goes. So we are fine now, now please secure the main sheet again because we’re moving otherwise. Put it round. The winds have suddenly build very good sails, I’ve also been really impressed by the thought that went into the rigging into the work they’ve done there. And of course, they have a lot of experience now. For gas rig terresolve boats, there are a few rigorous with that kind of expertise which can do temporarily secure this at the peak. It really is a very simple gas rig, you have two areas one for the peak one for the gas and the way we usually raise them is we pull both of them at the same time until the draws are up then we will lay them and only afterwards we then take up the peak because that I feel, gives the power to the sail then she wants to sail, before that, she’s docile at the mooring and doesn’t want to do anything. Ehh. that really is all there is to it. It’s two hay yards on the main sail and one hay yard on the jib and you can be sailing. So in a way it’s a very simple boat even though the lines are very long. She really wants to go there.

– Yeah she does

– Okay, let’s go on that one

– Yeah, I think so.

– Okay.

– I’m just preparing the jib sheet now for the other tech, I’m not doing anything I was just making it longer. okay, ready to check? Here we go.

– Yes

– Now we got white caps stuffing down the reach here, it’s flat water but man isn’t she stiff.

– [Claas] Whaddya think Maynard?

– Oh gosh, like I died and went to heaven.

– [Man In Red Shirt] Now you see this corner wave just peeling right off the corner of the trim.

– Must watch him doing this.

– Got a hand

– We’ve just left Benjamin River, quiet little anchorage out in the Eggemoggin Reach and while it’s flat water here, it’s blowing 15 gusts into 20. We got full sail, railed down and this boat’s just got wheels, it’s amazing.

– We’re gonna line

– [Claas] Now as we head back home let’s talk about some background of these wonderful boats. A brand new reading rule came into vogue just prior to Captain Nat Herreshoff’s designing ALERA, known as the universal rule of yacht measurement it took into account the weight of the displacment as well as the waterline length and the sail area. So instead of encouraging boats that were not good at sea the new rule promoted the moderation you see in these New York 30’s. The idea was for these sloops to race together boat for boat, without any time allowance so that the first one over the finish line would win. Because all 18 New York 30’s were identical, winning or losing depended largely on the helmsman and the sail trimmers, especially the main sheet men. The harder it blew, the better these gas riggers liked it and legend has it that they never reefed. When beating or reaching you simply trim the jib in tight and maybe slap the main sheet a little to carry on with a bubble in the main sail. That is to say by back winding that big sail so as to deprive it of its power, the boat yields less. ALERA’s hull is 43 a half feet long and her power comes mostly from her main sail. This 33 foot boom is longer than her waterline and her main sheet seems endless. Big main sail, small jib with not a single winch. You steer ALERA with a tiller, this is very different from the kind of sailing we’re used to nowadays.

– I keep thinking of why I like the boat so much and I really get her because I was interested in sailing her because I just wanted to sail that boat. Now I’ve learnt there’s actually much more to the boat.

– Yeah.

– Good.

– Man that was quite a thrill watching the stern wave blow off the corner like that.

– Yeah.

– and

– Well you know it’s quite an experience to wind yourself back to 19 five and try to understand why these boats were rigged the way they were and make it work for you which they made it work for them. They just, you know, thinking ahead a little bit and realizing that you don’t have the brute strength that you have with a sheet winch, you have to plan ahead a little bit. But that’s all the fun of sailing these boats.

– The other aspect of course is and that’s also why I got into it because I was interested in Herreshoff and so it’s the entire Herreshoff history and this is a very important part of the Herreshoff history so for that reason she really is good for.



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