Sunday, March 28, 2010

A visit with Sjogin and Russ

My first impression of Sjogin, from photos on Russ' website, of unpretentious elegance, was confirmed on seeing her.

The surprise was in seeing her generous beam, somewhat apparent here, but more noticeable in the bottom photo. At about 22' loa, her beam of almost 8' is generous, she's shallow with nearly flat bilges.

She's sweet and workmanlike, true to her ancestry. I was impressed with not only her clear and most pleasing lines but also the absence of anything extraneous. Her finish and fit out are pure work boat, very clean and appropriate.

On climbing aboard, I was first struck by her stark geometries.

Anchor stowed in the cockpit.

Looking forward from the companionway.

Quite simple below decks,

Her elegance continues.

Some necessaries, including wood for the stove.

A tidy little bookshelf.

Here's Russ' tall frame enjoying sitting headroom while we jabber. We're both sitting on a berth flat Russ put in recently.

courtesy John Armstrong

Teapot stowed. Notice the interior is finished bright, with no oil, no varnish and very little fade in 50 years, evidence of a dry and well kept boat. Copper rivets throughout, but the backbone is bolted with iron, and showing a bit of "iron sickness", which will eventually need to be addressed.

This lovely little Navigator Sardine keeps Sjogin warm and dry, even on the most bitter days.

courtesy John Armstrong

Russ pointed out the prominent 'F' on the forward chainplate, presumably the makers reminder to himself.

Looking aft from the companionway, simplicity.

Russ allows the only 'bling' he's added recently are these handcrafted Ash blocks from the Netherlands, which "cost the earth" but look great (and function superbly) on Sjogin.

Simply rigged, as well.

Another angle on the block and chimney vent. I enjoyed crawling around topside.

Across the way, an unpretentious little summer getaway.

We head off for a tour of the boatyard, more to come...

Russ give's a wave as we depart. Sjogin's beam is evident here.

all photos Thomas Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

Brother John and I made the trek down to Brick, NJ Saturday for a visit with Russ Manheimer and his tidy little bombshell Sjogin. It was a brisk and sunny day, but rather blustery, so a planned (and hoped for) sail was not in the offing. Guess we'll have to make the journey again, in gentler weather, in order to heave to off Swan point. We'll do that. John will bring lunch and Russ will provide the magic carpet.
We had a great visit nonetheless, sitting in her cabin for hours yakking, and later being treated to a tour of David Beaton and Son's legendary boatyard where Sjogin resides. We met Tom Beaton, the grandson of David and current proprietor and had a bit of a gam there as well. More on that soon.
Sjogin was built, as the story goes, by a retired Swedish sailing captain named Gullberg between 1960-62, to lines typical of Swedish or Danish coasting fishing workboats. Or almost typical, but not quite. There's something different about this boat, something special. Whoever crafted her was an artist indeed, there is something so balanced, so right about this boat, something ineffable. This is not just my opinion. A recent thread on the WoodenBoat Forum evinced widespread admiration for Sjogin. Indeed, it sort of ignited and has resulted in at least four prominent small boat designers stating interest in adapting this boat with her elegant lines into their current offerings. Francois Vivier has made a preliminary drawing of his interpretation available here. The thread was started by a fellow who wanted to initiate the work of taking off her lines. That hasn't happened yet but probably will within the year. This is an exciting turn of events, as not only will it preserve the design, but also allow future development from what is generally acknowledged to be an aesthetic triumph.
Little more is known about her builder and origins, so anyone who can shed some light is invited to do so.
A delightful day and John and I are looking forward to another road trip, and a sail...

Thanks Russ.

...After a brief tour of Mantoloking and Bay Head, John and I headed back toward home, stopping for lunch at a small 'crab shack' opposite the entrance to Beaton's. We both tried the fried Silver Hake sandwich. Excellent. Caught locally by the area's lobstermen, they bring their extraneous hake to this longstanding little business, so it's local and very fresh. Hit the spot.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Man on the River 1.2.: 'Clodia' christenend

Roland's clamping system

Roland on top

She's beginning to glow

And is looking great

A future sailor from the Steiner School of Montecchio

The hull complete

Another view

the Ness Yawl leaving the Art Waiting Room at Lago

don't try this at home

Giacomo addreses the audience at Antiruggine

Mario Brunello playing his 400 year old cello

all photos courtesy Man on the River

Giacomo de Stefano's Man on the River project took a huge leap forward yesterday with the christening of Clodia, the Iain Oughtred Ness Yawl he's building for the project. As befits a project approached as a total art work, having social, political, environmental and sculptural aspects, the boat was christened with a serenade from Mario Brunello playing a 400 yr old cello. Giacomo confessed:

"Something special happened aboard the Ness Yawl yesterday.
A 400 years old Cello played by Mario Brunello created some of the most incredible vibrations of my entire life."

On his website, Giacomo elaborates:

"Last night, the Ness Yawl has been Christened by the art of Mario Brunello, who delighted the audience by playing a Bach’s Suite for cello, aboard the boat.

We proudly announce the new Ness Yawl name: “Clodia”, from the latin name of Chioggia, a city near Venice, with whom Giacomo feels a special kinship.

The event, held at Antiruggine (the art and culture centre created by Mario and Arianna Brunello in Castelfranco Veneto), has seen many people coming to hear Giacomo’s speech about his story and the reasons that drew him to dedicate his life to water related projects.

During the two hour discussion, Giacomo presented and thanked many team members, notably Jacopo Epis, the co-rower that will join him along the journey. In the background, the “Clodia”, just a few days away from completion.

In the end, Mario Brunello honoured Giacomo and the team by playing aboard the boat, used as a giant soundbox."

Our best wishes are with Giacomo and crew.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coigach Rules!

all photos courtesy Coigach Lass

My news friends in my old stomping ground on Rhu Coigach on the northwest coast of Scotland are making progress with their build of the Ian Oughtred designed St. Ayles Skiff, intended for participation in the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project. They've turned the boat, a big day, and she's looking lovely. This is a real community project (obvious in the photos). Coigach is small. When I was there in1976 it was about 200 people spread over an 11 mile peninsula, and everyone was in walking distance of the sea! It's grown slightly in the intervening years, but not a lot. This is a fairly isolated part of the NW coast of Scotland, and when I was a youngster and visiting in 1976 I had to hitch a ride on the mail truck from Ullapool to Achiltibue, along the mostly single track road just to get there, and it's definitely one of the most starkly beautiful landscapes in the world, riding between deep lochs and high mountains. I have been in touch with some old friends and new and it's simply heartwarming to see them cooperating on this new project. 'Buie Boats rule'! New friend Lesley Muir writes the Coigach Lass weblog and is doing a great job, my untold thanks to you, Lesley. And hello to Iain Campbell, my mentor for cement, house building, the SNP and all things local Scot's culture. It was a wonderful time for me. Thanks Iain.

postscript: Lesley reports there's been a new bagpipe tune written for the Lass!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mystery Boat


 all photos courtesy 'the seller'

Here's a little 23'er that I'm thinking about. She's quite lovely but the seller has little information on her other than that she was built in 1947 and has an Onan gasoline auxillary. Looks to be maybe a gaff cutter, with some keel and also a steel cb. She's located in the NE and probably reasonable, but a lot of work. I would like to know more before I bite. Please, if any of you recognize this boat or boat type and have any info on her please email me, my email is located to the left in my intro. Thanks to anyone that can help

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


 courtesy BBC

I've been shipwrecked! A few posts back I imported directly from someone's blog and it's caused some html havoc. Most of the issues have been resolved, but I recently got an email from a fellow blogger stating that he could not leave a comment and sure enough, my comments had been disabled. If you wanted to post a comment on a recent post and were unable to do so, please leave one now, here, and reference the post in question. Sorry for the inconvenience!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chuck Paine's Frances


The inspiration, somewhere in Scotland.

from Chuck's notebook

from Chuck's notebook

from Chuck's notebook

from Chuck's notebook

from Chuck's notebook

Sweet, clean lines

An obviously elated Chuck Paine with the completed hull

Ahh, the first Frances, Chuck's own boat

Sail plan and profile with tender.

Dick Cross' Francis, Karma

Acclaimed yacht designer Chuck Paine's first independent design and build was the lovely Frances, a 26' double ender inspired by Scottish workboats. She was originally designed as a modified flush deck cruiser and built by Chuck in Maine, strip planked. Later she was produced by the incomparable firm Morris Yachts of Bass Harbor Maine in both the flush decked version and a cabin version which was, I believe, more popular, understandably, but aesthetically, in my opinion, not the equal of the flush decked version. Chuck was traveling in Europe when he spotted some Scot's workboats he realized would make a very nice yacht with some alterations. He'd carried with him a sketchbook which happily survived the trip, so we are privy to his initial thoughts on this seminal design. Upon his return to the States in 1973, Chuck rented workspace in Camden, Maine and began building. She's fuller in the bilges and probably deeper than her progenitors, influenced by lessons learned from working for Dick Carter designing IOR racing yachts. He completed the build in 1975 at Tom Morris' yard, beginning a long and fruitful relationship. Chuck designed many boats for Morris and established his own design firm, C. W. Paine over 30 years ago. Chuck has retired recently but plans for many of his desgns, including Frances and her little sister Carol are available from Mark Fitzgerald at Fitzgerald Marine Architecture. I've sent for the Frances study plans, my first set. Not because I intend to build, as of now, but simply because she's so compelling. Anyone contemplating a big voyage in a small boat should take a look at these two designs, reading especially Chuck's thought's re: Carol.