New Oars for The Small Reach Regatta – By Richard Honan

Our Spring 2016 catalog featured Richard Honan, boatbuilder and signmaker and – as it turns out – rower extraordinaire. Richard has been building boats for years and we have blogged about his amazing accomplishments many times in this space. Richard has a serious following of jealous friends and he often sends them all email updates when he does something cool or builds something he is proud of (most everything he touches is worthy).DSCN3436

So when Richard told us he was heading to the Small Reach Regatta in Herrick Bay (home of Wooden Boat in Brooklin), we were thrilled to hear his newly fashioned oars were yet another TotalBoat project of his. These gorgeous oars were no afterthought and as Richard told us, he coated them with “TotalBoat Lust Varnish, my new favorite varnish.” Read on as Richard explains how he repurposed some old oars he had on hand for the Melonseed skiff he built and was planning to use for this fun regatta.  Continue reading

Building a Cold Molded Sloop

Here is a fun video to watch of a beautiful sloop built at French & Webb in Maine. Time lapse videos are a favorite at TBS and it’s because we are all so busy rolling up our sleeves and banging out our many boat projects, that the chance to see one sped up into minutes is a fun prospect.

It is a 10 month time-lapse of the construction of a cold-molded 27′ daysailer based on a Herreshoff Alerion design, with adaptations by Chuck Paine. Built in Belfast, Maine 2014-15 at French & Webb with head builder Jeremy Gage.



Tall Ships Challenge 2015

With only 4 stops along the Atlantic Coast, the 2015 Tall Ships Challenge was known mostly this summer for the special guest appearance of the Tall Ship L’Hermione from France. The Tall Ships Challenge 2015 brought this fantastic voyage of the French tall ship into the limelight, as the replica visited all 4 ports with her fellow tall ships and added another 5 Atlantic ports to her own itinerary.

Hermione is an exact replica of General Lafayette’s 18th-century ship also called the Hermione. Today, the majestic vessel is the largest and most authentically built Tall Ship in the last 150 years. The Hermione has set sail in France, launching an adventure that comes to the USA in the summer of 2015 for an unprecedented voyage. Her route is similar to the route taken by Lafayette when he came to the States in 1780 to meet George Washington. She came ashore from her transatlantic voyage with 80 sailors, making landfall on June 5 in Yorktown in Virginia, where US troops led by George Washington and French soldiers accompanied by General Lafayette scored a decisive victory over the British in 1781.

“The Hermione, the ship that reunited Lafayette and Washington and sealed our freedom, sails again for America,” trumpets the website promoting the reconstruction of the epic journey. Lafayette’s willingness to support the American Revolution was symbolized by his arrival on Hermione who sailed him to Boston, MA in only 38 days.

The project is the brainchild of a group of history and sailing enthusiasts who two decades ago embarked on the arduous task of recreating the vessel using only eighteenth-century shipbuilding techniques.

Not to be overshadowed by this great ship, the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Series of international sailing races, cruises, and maritime festivals is organized by Tall Ships America in cooperation with Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific Coast port cities in the United States and Canada. This summer was the Atlantic Coast’s turn at hosting the 2 month long event, with great interest in the 4 ports of call, as is typical when these majestic ships sail into town.

If you live near Portland, Maine, Greenport, NY or Portland and Castine, Maine you might have had the opportunity to see these ships up close for yourself. They are now onto their other summer sailing and sail training, but this video from the Greenport, NY stop shows the beauty a crowd of tall ships lends to any dock or pier.

And if you’re near Boston this weekend, you can tour America’s largest tall ship, The USCG Cutter Eagle. At 295 feet in length, the Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the American flag and the only active square-rigger in U.S. government service. She will be docked at Pier 4 at the Charleston Navy Yard as part of the 2015 cadet summer training deployment.

EAGLE will be open for free public tours:

TODAY!  – Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Did you catch L’Hermione on her US tour? How about any of the other tall ships? Let us know in the comments below!


The Wooden Boat School Alumni

Maine beckons those of us who love the rugged coast of New England and boating! It’s rich boatbuilding history is steeped in traditional wooden boatbuilding methods and there are many standout schools in the great northern state that attract the very best wooden boat enthusiasts. The Wooden BoatSchool is at the forefront of the pack of excellent schools in Maine, and this video lets their alumni explain what brings them back to the school years after their graduation.

From YouTube Page: The WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine, offers classes in boatbuilding and seamanship from June to September: Each spring, a few lucky alumni of the School from all over the United States return to the school to help commission the campus and boats for the season. For two weeks, they paint, hammer, chisel, and saw. In the process, they bring the place to life while honing their skills and forging deep friendships.

Anyone who completes a class at the WoodenBoat School is considered an alumnus and is eligible to participate in Alumni Week. So many people want to work for free we have to hold a lottery. The ones who are selected consider themselves lucky.

Maybe you can join them. Become a student at

Stephens Waring: The Spirit is Strong

Bob Stephens and Paul Waring still draw lines plans in their boat design process. Then they apply modern design parameters and materials…

Story and Photographs Dan Houston, Courtesy of Classic Boat Magazine 

To Belfast, in Maine where I am meeting the design duo of Bob Stephens and Paul Waring, who are carving a name for themselves designing Spirit of Tradition craft which are extremely easy on the eye. The office is on the top floor of a three story red brick building on Main St, just a couple of blocks up from the waterfront of a pretty harbour. It’s a pleasant airy office with extra light brought into the design studio from a floor-to-ceiling artist’s window.

And I am a little surprised to see, alongside the wide computer screens with their CAD drawings of yachts from unusual angles, draughtsman’s tables with spline weights, like heavy black mini sperm whales – the traditional tool of the designer to hold the long splines in position to draw the curves of his design’s lines.

“We still draw out designs because it can actually save time at the beginning stage of the design process,” Bob says. “A hand drawing is also a great presentational tool for a prospective owner. It feels personalised and it’s a good size to be able to see the whole concept of the boat at once.” Of course I need no persuading about this and I love lines plans which are made by hand – they are far more like a work of art than the printout, albeit at A1 size, from a computer- aided design (CAD) programme.

But I’m just surprised to hear that it’s quicker. Bob and Paul avow this is so: “We use hand drawings in two ways,” Bob continues. “First it’s a quick way to develop the ideas of a design process. And secondly we find that when we are developing the construction details we also do that by hand because it’s quicker. But then we transfer that to CAD and the drawings we give to a builder will always be CAD.” I’m quite surprised to hear this because re-drawing the whole boat must surely take time. But Paul adds that this is how they mainly work in the beginning stages – even though the drawing in his desk is number four in the evolution of a design consultation.

With this faith in the speed of hand drawing it’s not too surprising that Bob says he was ten when he realised he wanted to design boats and started drawing properly aged 14 when his parents gave him a draughting set. It was some time before he was able to make his living from drawing boats – helping Joel White in his design office after a couple of years with his son Steve of the Brooklin Boatyard. “I did that for four years before he died in 1997, which was just before we launched the W Class Wild Horses.” About this time Paul had arrived in Brooklin and the pair teamed up with Steve White to become Stephens Waring and White, aiming to design lightweight SoT boats that were fast and easy to sail but which also looked good against the backdrop of so many classics in the local waters.

But after a couple of years the partnership ended and Stephens and Waring carried on as a partnership. Some of their signature designs were from this time,with boats like Hoi An, Geranium and Ginger, overleaf, redefining the way people saw Spirit of Tradition boats. The the recession struck and they had to endure some lean times: “Sometimes we would design a boat that never got built.” Three years ago they moved to the Belfast office and more recently business has turned up with several projects.

And they are excited about the future of their type of boat which can take from any classic design or tradition, from a sandbagger to a sailing barge and apply modern design parameters and building materials to make it sail faster. “It doesn’t always have to be long overhangs and a little spoon bow. There are many traditional designs that transfer well,” Paul enthuses. Watch this space…

Jet boat which acts as superyacht tender

While the SW partnership mainly concentrates on sailing yachts they have designed a number of motorboats and Bob was keen to show us Pandl, a 26ft 3in (8m) tender which is used to ferry crew to and from their 50ft (15.2m) 2003 creation, Hoi An.

But the boat is also a result of a design needing to cater for specific needs, and so, for instance she has an open transom to make it easy for owners to swim from her. Local experience of the area being littered with lobster pots also led to her being designed with a jet engine – so there’s no propellor to get caught up in a lobster buoy line, plus it makes swimming off the back easier too. To be able to access local beaches she has a very shallow draught – of just 14 inches (355mm).

“I drew this boat while I was still employed at the Brooklin Boatyard,” says Bob. “She’s very much a one-off and partly designed for the owner’s wife to be able to visit her mother on a local island offshore here. It would be 60 miles by road but only ten by sea. So she has a 240hp Yanmar four-cylinder turbo diesel that powers her along at 31 knots with a Hamilton Jet.”


Bob takes me out in Pandl to let me get the feel of the boat. She’s partly influenced by the local lobster boats which are so common in these waters… but you’d have to look twice to really see the provenance. It’s more in her lines than her steering and deck arrangement. She weighs just 5,200lbs (2,358 kg) which gives her a feeling of stability without seeming heavy. The jet is like a bucket which directs water. It takes a while to get used to but makes the boat very manoeuvrable. And an emergency stop just turns the bucket mouth from aft- facing to forward and you come to a halt in the water in a couple of boat lengths.

We don’t try this at speed because of the open transom!

Bob says there was a plan to put a gate across the stern but so far there has been no need to do that. We power up and in my notes I read that at 29.5 knots she “tracks like a witch, with no sense of waver, and you can walk around the deck without having to hang on”. But do note the calm waters we were in.

Tel: +1 207-338-6636,

Sea Trials aboard CARY ALI

CARY ALI, built by Rockport Marine, is a Friendship 36 designed by Ted Fontaine. The cold-molded centerboard sloop was launched in fall 2013. See her perform on the water, and hear design and construction comments from several team members at Rockport Marine.

Chummy Rich: Maine Boat Builder

Chummy Rich is a fifth generation boat builder from Bernard, Maine. Like his forebears going back to the 1800’s, he is a master of the craft of building wooden boats. In this thirty minute film, Chummy, with his one of a kind Downeast narrative, takes us from lofting to launching as he and his crew from Bass Harbor Boat build the 28 foot wooden cabin cruiser Andromeda.

Musings on a Maine Peapod: An American Dialogue

A short film about Maine Peapod rowboats, by Bob Barancik.