Monday 17 September 2012

Historic sailing canoes Widgeon and Apache

Widgeon, a remarkable sailing canoe thought to have been built by William English, and in the collection of the Canadian Canoe Museum. Below is a link to an article on their blog, mentioning lines we took from another thoroughbred sailing canoe built by Fred Gilbert of Brockville and belonging to a friend in the Eastern United States. Apache was one of a half dozen boats built and raced in the 20s and still surviving today.

Details of the seat bridge on which the sliding hiking board travels, allowing the sailor to hike out off of the boat to balance the large amount of sail. Early racing boats such as this were built to the 16\30 class rule, which stated that the boats could be no longer than 16', no wider than 30", and carried up to 90' of sail on two masts. This was later abandoned as the English sloop rigged canoes proved superior, but the early days of sailing canoe racing utilized the ketch rigged configuration. 

Although fixed, many boats featured a seat bridge that was adjustable fore and aft, allowing the sailor to select the best position for trim.

Mizzen mast tube, showing brass flange locating it on deck. Tubes run down and locate in a block on the keelson, and must bear tremendous strain from the large sails.

Sternpost cap appears to have been replaced with a piece of cast metal cut to fit; typically the fittings were slender and sometimes delicate, and subjected to racing and rough handling its not uncommon to see replacement pieces. 

Head on profile, showing classic profile of an early non-planing hull.

Self draining cockpit, showing arrangement of main and mizzen cleats, and wooden-blocked fairlead for mainsheet. Centerboard slot runs up the middle of the cockpit and provides a drain, as the boat is sealed up with hatches and bulkheads.

From John Summers, CCM General Manager

Andre and Jeremy draw a stationI spent an interesting few hours last Sunday measuring a boat. Why would you want to measure a boat, in this case an historic sailing canoe? Well, for a old boat like this, built in the early years of the 20th century, the plans, if there ever were any, are long gone, and so the only way to build another one is to measure and draw it. This involves two related steps: 1) lines-taking; and 2) lofting.

In lines-taking, you construct a geometric box around the boat and measure in from it to points on the canoe's surface. Because a canoe is mostly curves, you need to pick up a number of points so that you can later connect the dots and re-draw the curve. In lofting, you take these measurements and draw full-sized plans of the canoe on white-painted plywood [it's called lofting because it was originally done in the mould loft, usually on the second floor over the boat- or ship-building shop]. From these full-sized drawings, you can either build another canoe, and/or reduce them to scale drawings and plans that others can use.

Andre, Jeremy and Dick with ApacheThe photos show Andre Cloutier, a canoe collector from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association, CCM Curator Jeremy Ward and canoe-builder Dick Persson of the Headwater Wooden Boat Shop in Buckhorn, ON using a finger gauge to lift measurements from the canoe and transfer them to a lofting board, and also Cookie the Golden Retriever, tired out after a long day of watching grown men crawl around on the floor drawing with pencils. An emerging drawing of the boat's cross-sections, or "body plan," can be seen next to her.

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