Friday, January 13, 2006

Ride My Pony on My Boat

Just like ole Lyle Lovett says, “I wanna ride my pony on my boat.” Yeah, he’s one of my favorite musicians and I don’t know about the pony but I do know about the boat. The only problem is that I’ve got to build it first. You probably need to be 70 years old and have built these for 30 years to do it right, but here I go.

This here is a 1910 plan drawing of a North Carolina spritsail skiff (courtesy of the North Carolina Maritime Museum). The “sprit” is the diagonal pole holding up the highest edge of the sail, from whence it gets name. It looks like a flat-bottom boat but actually has a slight V-bottom, which is why it is also called a “deadrise skiff.” I’m not sure about deadrise skiffs down here near South Padre but I sure bet there’s some local history there.

It’s the hull that worries me though – I might even use it with an outboard for a while before cutting and rigging sails. She’s about 20 feet six inches long, big for a starter-kit. Why on Earth would I even attempt this? Well, because it’s a challenge. Second, my Dad had one when I was a kid and I loved it. We sailed the mighty Atlantic, anchored her on Block Island every summer, used her for a lobsterboat, and most of us kids learned how to swim by jumping off her. Third, the boat was designed for shallow waters like for oystering, so it would be great down here on South Padre Island; it maybe draws 6-9 inches. Finally, it’s because nobody else has one down here, so I’m looking for the “wow” factor.

At first I wanted to build something real easy, with ready-to-cut patterns and be done in like three or five weekends and have a nice surf dory. Sure, I may have to lay out the boat on a huge piece of construction paper, consult lots of family and friends, and maybe go on Prozac, but I have a plan. It’s sitting in the shipping tube right here in my living room.

It lurks, clawing at my mind. One fine day she will swim …


Everett said...

Hi Sam, from the photo it looks like a gaff rig with a t'gallant on top! Around here back in old sailing days, the 'sprit' was a timber/pole that stuck out from the pointy end of the boat. When I was a much younger kid, my Granfather made me learn the name of every sail on a four masted square rigged clipper ship. Today I seem to remember that one of them was called the 'mainsel' or main sail. Thats about the extent of that knowledge today. I'm an airplane guy anyhow!!

Sam said...

Here's a good one, Everett. There's a sail called a "parachute"! That's for rough weather and is basically an old sail or funnel-thing thrown off the bow. Also called a sea-anchor. So there are some plane-like things on a boat!

Char said...

Wow, wow, wow! What a fun project that will be! I have a dream of having a sailboat on the island. I do have one here in Denver, but don't get out much on it. Keep us informed how it goes! Give my best to Lori!