Preview: A Sail Aboard An Alerion 26 – KITTIWAKE

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Of all of Nathanael Herreshoff’s great designs, perhaps his beloved ALERION proved to be the most seminal, spawning more than a dozen variants. Here is Boatbuilder Brion Rieff’s interpretation of the Alerion 26.

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22 Responses So Far to “A Sail Aboard An Alerion 26 – KITTIWAKE

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    Gary Grande says:

    I am curious as to how the Alerion design deals with expansion and contraction of the very wide, solid boards (which look to be flat-sawn) used for the cabin and cockpit coamings, particularly at the point where the boards are attached to parts that don’t move in the same direction, such as at the aft cabin bulkhead (which I assume is plywood).

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    Ray Chang says:

    Oh, my… there are no words that can match the absolute genius of Alerion’s designer.

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    John Wujack says:

    Ever since my first visit to Mystic Seaport, this boat still stirs me. Re watching the video, I’m struck by the similarities of Brion’s beautiful interpretation and my own Stone Horse, coincidentally named Kittiwake. Nat Herresoff and Sam Crocker’s life overlapped for a few decades. Can anyone described if they had a relationship? Friends, rivals, collaborators?

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    Michael Aspinwall says:

    Dave Corcoran’s plank on frame replica (1997) should be added to the list. He built some beautiful boats and passed away much too soon. Adelare now spends as much time as possible on Fishers Island sound and the rest of the year in my shed.

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    John Hutchison says:

    Beautiful improvement to the original design Brion!
    I particularly like your interior build-out of the very tight space available. I restored Crusader, a Fishers Island 23, and built a similar cabin, but not nearly so nice as yours. Very well done!

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    Fred Green says:

    Thank you for having Off Center Harbour on board for the sail and thank you to O.C.H. for having us along.
    A true masterpiece of a vessel.
    Well done!

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    Hugh (Jock) Beebe says:

    It’s puzzling that you present several boats, such as the full keel Fishers Island 31, that seem to have very little in common with the original N. Herreshoff Alerion which was a keel center board hull with much lower freeboard. His son, Francis, seems to have taken that original design a step further in his 1932 masterpiece the Stuart Knockabout. This extension of the true original Alerion concept is experiencing a revival of interest today. The first one built, BEN MY CHREE, has been restored by Steve Ballentine and can be seen now sailing in the waters around Cape Cod.

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      Maynard Bray says:

      Hi Jock,
      Nice to hear from you. When I first heard that the Fishers Island 31 grew from the Alerion half model I found it hard to believe. Later, Barry Thomas and I had an opportunity to interview Sidney Herreshoff while we were both with Mystic Seaport. Sidney confirmed that he started with the full-keel Newport 29 (Alerion’s half model scaled to 3/4″ = 1′ instead of 1″ = 1′, etc.) and altered it to create the FIS-31’s hull shape, full- size, right on the lofting floor. You are surely correct in that the FIS-31 has a flatter sheer, a longer bow and stern, a full keel, and other characteristics that make its shape noticeably different from the original Alerion. Sometime, I hope to create an overlay of Alerion’s lines on top of those for the FIS-31, both at a common waterline length, so the two hull shapes can be compared.
      It’s interesting you should bring up Ben My Chree. She’s lovely, for sure, and Brion Rieff has taken her shape, modified it a little, and is currently building his interpretation of her using cold-molded construction.

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    larry McKenna says:

    Nice work by the Off Center Harbor team . Very interesting to listen to the guys who know this boat so well while they sail her . The genius of the design was amply exhibited during Brion’s remarks about how well she sails in heavier air, and the shots a bit later showing how efficiently she was gliding in very light air . An altogether delightful video , and, boat .

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    John Supan says:

    Great video.

    I have a beautiful drawing of SADIE by Kathy Bray that hangs in my bedroom. Such a delight to look at day after day.

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    Brandon Ford says:

    I remember in 1981 visiting Mystic Seaport on a rainy Saturday. Of all the boats, the one I wanted to see most was Alerion. She was dusty and dimly lit, but I was taken with her beauty. It’s still the most vivid memory of my one visit to the Seaport.

    Thanks for this wonderful view of what she must have been like when she was alive on the water.

    Brandon Ford
    SV Oceanus, 1971 Columbia 43

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    James Vibert says:

    A very lovely boat! It would be very interesting to see the plan source for the seats designed by Joel White as well as similar ideas from other builder/designers.

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    William English says:

    Great video! Loved the sail as I sat in the family room but felt as though I was gliding along on board. Well done and a great tribute to a wonderful design. Thanks for the effort to make this video.

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    Gus Cartledge says:

    Hi, In Tasmania we are just coming out of a cold and wet winter.This video has inspired me to get back in the workshop to finish restoration on small sailing boat built for me when I was twelve years of age by my father Cecil.I am now sixty nine.Cecil built around fifty dinghies, motor boats and yachts including five H28s using our native Huon Pine and King Billy pine.He passed away twenty years ago but his boats live on and a year does not pass by when I dont get a call from a stranger to talk about a boat he has just bought built by cecil.He would have loved this video. Gus Cartledge

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    Gustavo Krause says:

    Thanks! I love this website! Thanks a lot for doing these videos! Here in Brazil we don’t have this culture, I’ve been so glad to see it through your videos. The main culture here is just fiber glass motor boats :(

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    Christopher Chadbourne says:

    Another great video of another great boat. I especially like the cabin views. It must be so hard to capture the feel of a small interior, but this video shows how. Thanks!


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