Historic schooner Lettie G Howard sailing off Stamford

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1893 schooner Lettie G Howard sailing a few days ago,
photos by Peter Vanderwaart

I’ve owed a debt of gratitude to Peter Vanderwaart for some time. He’s the gentleman who took over the Yahoogroup boatdesign when my own commitments and family troubles grew too great for me to continue as moderator. That was quite a few years ago, but I’m glad to say that the Yahoogroup continues, and that I often dip in to find out what’s going on, even if I don’t often have much to contribute.

Anyway, I was pleased to hear from him the other day, not least because he’d obviously been looking at intheboatshed.net. ‘Do you like pics of American old-timers?’ he asked.

‘Absolutely I do,’ I replied. And then he sent me a series of photos he’d taken of a schooner he’d spotted while sailing. The Lettie G Howard belongs to New York’s South Street Seaport Museum, and you can read about her here and here.

‘To fill in the background, we were out daysailing and saw the vessel several miles to the east, off Norwalk. She seemed to be beating against the breeze as best she could, and by and by, she got up to where we were off Stamford. We were sailing reefed, and she was standing up straight with all her canvas flying. (My boat is not too stiff, certainly by UK standards. I would guess we were seeing 12 knots. Not much more.) There was another sloop about our size – an old 1/2 tonner, I think – and she looked like a handful with full sail.’

In the first photo, the schooner is three to five miles away, he says. ‘The picture is notable for two things. First, it’s a pretty remarkable picture to come from an ordinary camera that slips in your picket, given the long telephoto and that it was taken from a moving platform. Second, the “mirage” effects are pretty interesting, and show that the water was warmer than the air, although the temp was in the 60s F.’

Peter’s photos of the schooner can be seen online at Flickr.

Thanks Peter!

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Pierhead painter Reuben Chappell watercolour arrives at the NMMC

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The Jane Slade watercolour by Reuben Chappell

Mrs Adams presents the painting to museum staff

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall has been presented with a watercolour of the Jane Slade by Reuben Chappell. The donation came from Mrs G Adams, whose husband was given the painting by Ernie Slade of Slade’s Boatyard, and came with book entitled Practical Navigation.

The museum’s notes on the painting reveal that the Jane Slade was named after the only woman shipbuilder in Cornwall, and that she who took control of her family’s business on her husband’s death in 1870. Her legacy lived on through successive generations of shipbuilders, repairers and mariners and in this ship named after her. Jane’s story inspired Daphne du Maurier’s first novel The Loving Spirit.

Reuben Chappell (1870-1940) is one of this country’s best known pierhead painters. An artist who spent his entire working life making portraits of ships for seamen, his work is in the best tradition of pierhead painting painted not for galleries or art collectors, but for the men whose lives and livelihoods were intimately entwined with the subjects of the painting.

Chappell lived and painted in Cornwall from 1904 until his death in 1940.

The book dated 1852 is believed to have been owned by Jane Slade’s son Thomas, one-time captain of the schooner. Inserted inside are four pages which relate to Thomas receiving his Master Mariners Certificate headed Plymouth School of Science and Navigation – these are an extremely rare find.

My Bluestone schooner design in the spotlight

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It’s quite a few years since I drew the small two-masted Bluestone, but I’m delighted to see that she has turned up in a review of small schooner designs published by Paul Austin.

It’s great to know she hasn’t been forgotten. I drew her as my entry for a design competition run by the excellent Duckworks, and a certificate that still hangs on my wall reminds me that she won!

For those who prefer a simpler build, there’s also a set of drawings for a simpler multi-chine version of the hull.

To learn more about Bluestone, click here, and here