Reader enquiry: what design was this 18ft hard-chine day sailing boat from the 1940s?

Ronan Lee 'Seagull' sailing boat 1

Ronan Lee 'Seagull' sailing boat 3 Ronan Lee 'Seagull' sailing boat 4 Ronan Lee 'Seagull' sailing boat 2 Ronan Lee 'Seagull' sailing boat 5

Reader Ronan Lee has got in touch to ask what the design of this boat in these photographs might be. Can anyone help?

He has been told that that it was built in the 1940s from plans that might have come from a magazine or book, and that his father learnt to sail in her in around 1947-8.

The boat’s builder has recently told Ronan that the boat his father learned to sail on was a Seagull 18 – though if so it’s clearly not the Bell Woodworking 18ft Seagull, which I think was a cabin boat and not a hard chine design like the vessel in the photographs.

‘The picture is one that I have been looking at in our old family album since my youth and has always inspired me as my father always spoke with great fondness of his time sailing in her.

‘A few years ago I started to research about her only to find out that it had been left for many years in the very harbour yard that I nosw sail from, but alas was now gone!’

I wonder whether there might be two separate boats involved in these family stories?

26 thoughts on “Reader enquiry: what design was this 18ft hard-chine day sailing boat from the 1940s?”

  1. West Coast USA designer Edwin Monk’s plans were very popular around that time from his books ‘Small Boat Building’ and ‘Modern Boat Building’, published by Charles Scribner’s in New York and London. Could be one of Monk’s? It’s got an American “sharpie”/ Snipe look to it…

    The sail number suggests there were more… but it could have been cut down from something else…

    Mystery boats are always good fun!

    1. I’ve got one of Monk’s books… I’ll try to find it and take a look. You’re right that it does have that look, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that his designs had arrived here at that era.


  2. I’ve was passed my father’s old yacgting books from the era by my mother recently. One, The Yachting Year, Vol 1 (Eric Hiscock – edited) 1946-7 has a very similar design by J. F. d’E. Jones, AINA. She was known as the Yachting Monthly Sharpie. She was only 16′ though, gunter or bermuda rigged. The first was built by Johnson & Jago of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, for Miss K M Palmer associate editor of Yachting Monthly. Book states that plans were being sold all over world and J&J were producing pre-cut parts for home assembly by the amateur…

    It could be a stretched version, or something else. The book also shows a picture (p.39) of a Hamble River Sharpie. Deck line and raised water stop look similar. Also main sheet arrangements aft. No kicker is in use, therefore rise of boom is common too. As is the shape of the transom.

  3. Just to clarify about the “no 8” on the sail. I have the programme of a race held in Galway in September 1944 which has the boat registered as no 8. So this is probably not a makers hull number. Many thanks for your interest in my quest. Ronan

  4. Im afraid not. The race was held to give a boost to interest in boat building and sailing ,which had taken off in Galway as the war seemed to be coming to an end.The entire fleet consisted of 9 boats in total, which were divided into two races.Cruisers and Centreboards.
    Most boats were handycapped by time to level the field.

    The interesting thing ,Im told, is that our boat no 8 and boat no 7 called
    “Sea Gull” were, although the only two boats racing that day that were identical, given different time handycaps.
    It seems levels of helm experience and boat performance were taken into account to give everyone a fair chance .
    Very different sportsmanship philosophy to where I do my racing !

    Thanks again for your interest.


    1. I’ve got one of Edward Monk’s books of plans, but your father’s boat is not included. However, I’ve ordered another, which I’m hoping will include some better clues.

      I must say Monk’s 15-footer bears what could be a strong family resemblance.


  5. Well to me it lookslike a Snipe ( they were not 18 feet but the photo looks very Snipe size as you will see in the attached link the Snipe Clss is just 80 years old which puts it in the right age bracket. If yoy Google snipe and open the images page with a line drawing which may norrow it down. We had one in Benfleet Yacht Club in the 60’s and 70’s.
    Best Regards
    Dick Smith

    1. Edwin Monk, Bill Crosby (the Snipe designer), Edison I. Schock… all Americans who published how to build small boats books of plans, including “sharpie” types, before and after WW2. And their designs were regularly published in The Rudder magazine.

      Here’s another plausible candidate, from Schock:

      Maybe some local Galway knowledge can be gleaned here…

  6. He had it right the first time. I’m pretty sure that the boat is indeed the 18ft sloop “Sea Gull”, designed by William F. Crosby and first seen in Rudder magazine, the November 1930 issue. The plans became a standard offering in Rudder Magazine’s little catalog of boat plans, selling for $10.00 I built one in the late ’50’s in the hobby shop at RCAF Station Centralia, Ontario, Canada. The planking was 3/4-in cedar, the frames, transom, stem and keel were oak, and she was fastened with brass screws….all driven by hand. I finished the hull about the time my hitch was up, so regretfully had to sell it. But I was flattered that a local professional boatbuilder bought it for his personal use. (A catamaran builder near Grand Bend, Ont.) The Sea Gull design is archived with the Mystic Seaport Museum and copies can be purchased. Note that the many comments re the Snipe similarity are a reference to another Crosby design: the Snipe being his most popular.
    Bob Bridge, St. Peter’s NS, Canada.

    1. The boat appears to be a Yachting Monthly sharpie as we had a fleet of them at the Victoria Nyanza Sailing Club Uganda when I was there 1957-1963. They were originally built with a gaff rig but ere changed many years before I was there.
      John Whiteford..Queensland. Australia. 09.01.2016

  7. Bob Bridge has it right. I am looking at the plans for the 18 foot Sea Gull.
    It reads: Sea Gull – Designed Especially For – The Rudder by William F. Crosby. In the late 1950’s my father bought a 1950 built Sea Gull with a cuddy cabin. It had been built in Oakland and birthed in Sausalito. In 1962 he replaced the center board with a fixed keel off a Zephyr class,
    and it made for a stiffer boat for sailing in SF Bay. It was good in a strong breeze but slow in light airs. We nicknamed it the Rambler of sailboats. Sadly we sold it in the mid 70’s.
    I also owned a 1950’s Snipe and the similarities of the Crosby design of the bow, the hard chine and the transom were there.

  8. My father, George L. Geiger, at age 19, built a “Sea Gull” in 1931 in Venice, California. Named “Daisy R” after his mother, she had a small cabin and was rigged as a gaff-rigged yawl. She remained the family boat until 1967. We cruised hundreds of miles every year to Catalina Island and the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara. George has two coves named after him at Catalina: “Big Geiger” and “Little Geiger” coves.

  9. I have a 21ft. Mallard design by William Crosby, my Grandfather built her in 1936 Tom Boy (my Grandmother’s college nick name). Mallard shares the same lines as 18ft Seagull and 15 1/2ft snipe. We sailed out of McKinley Marina Milwaukee, we often sail to South shore where there was a Seagull on a mooring. My Grandfather would sail out to the Snipe fleet and see how many snipes we could tow at one time motoring back to Mckinley.

  10. I was a Sea Scout in my youth in the city of Buffalo New York, USA. Our base was on the Niagara River at the east end of Lake Erie. My unit owned an 18 foot Seagull, sloop rigged, open boat with a center board. The class number was S-19. It was fast, forgiving and fun. It was not made of plywood, but planked. Another unit had a so-called cruising Gull, slightly beamier and a little slower than S-19 and was always beaten in a race.
    A friend and I sailed from Buffalo to Sandusky, Ohio in order to earn our Long Cruise Badge, It was a six day round trip, living on peanut butter sandwiches and canned corn. Odd, I know but we were buys who would eat anything. The trip distance was 250 miles and any adult who would allow a couple of 15 year old boys to set out on a trip like that today would be put in jail.
    The Gull was the best sailboat I ever handled and could be trusted with boys.
    I don’t remember the name of the designer, but he must have been very good.
    I often thought of that wonderful boat and if it was still available. I’m too old for that kind of thing now, but in past years I would have sold my car in order to own one.

    1. Daniel

      I also had a seagull which had formerly been owned by the Seascout troop from the Niagara Street area. It was the open cockpit model. I bought it in 1967 or thereabouts. It sounds like we are likely talking about the same boat. I still have photos of it. I’d be interested to know what else you remember. I also have photos.

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