Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Wherry Yawlboat from Pete Culler

The wherry yawlboat designed by Captain R.D. “Pete” Culler was one of his favorites. It is a proper ship’s yawlboat, so had to be strong, but not too heavy, able to carry stores and water barrels, row well, and sail considerable distances in a seaway. They were used to kedge out anchors and lines or fish for fun and necessity.
The plank or wherry keel allows the yawlboat to land and sit upright on a bony shore, as well as providing a solid base for the centerboard trunk. This is a burdensome and very powerful hull based on yawlboats used as tenders a hundred years ago.

The distinguishing feature of the wherry is the plank keel, sometimes called a wherry keel. The keel is fashioned from 2x6 spruce stock, tapered at both ends. The deadwood aft is wedged and shaped, with the plank rabbit running full from deadwood to keel stock. The result is a round bottomed boat that is actually flat bottomed and will sit upright, on it's own, on a beach. (or as we see here, upright on sawhorses).

The scantlings are light and strong with natural crooks for knees and braces. The planking is red cedar and the trim and thwarts are spruce - all pinned together with bronze rivets. This particular little wherry has yew wood frames, small and delicate, yet almost indestructible. It's survived thirty years so far!
Durable, light and sound, this little craft is designed and built in the old way.

Proof of it's integrity is a mishap which pinned this unfortunate little tender between it's mother ship (a schooner of considerable size) and a dock. The tender survived as you see it, with a couple new planks and shear guards, but the yew wood frames, spruce keel and stem survived intact.
The boat is burdensome, with a traditional sprit rig and a cotton sail, built exactly to the Captain's specifications.

Pete says:
"Wineglass sections throughout the hull will give slack diagonals in a chunky boat (short and beamy). Now everyone thinks just the opposite, but the Norsemen knew a thing or two."

We'll go with the Captain on this one! This little wherry is a work of art, no wonder it's latest home was a local historical museum.

Now she's joined Doryman's "museum", or as it's characteristically known, his boatyard. A classic and a true yacht's tender.

Though she carries a fair amount of reserve buoyancy, this wherry yawl has very fine ends and remarkably well shaped sections, for easy rowing and hours of sailing fun! With a little spit and polish (and a new stern seat), she'll be as good as new.

There is a version of this boat being built today at Chequamegon Boat Works and is the boat in the photo shown to the left, under sail. (a very interesting site, by the way - be sure to check out Garry's work. Very nice!)

My sweetheart is quite taken with this little skiff and has an interesting back story on her wool and fiber blog.


JP said...

What a nice little boat :)

And now of course I recognise its rig as well.

doryman said...

Good to hear from you, JP!

The little skiff is getting a make-over and looks just great. More on her later...
When I commented on this rig on your site, I was confused about the line running from the top of the mast out over the sail.
Today I'm clearer (it happens sometimes!) and remember that it's called a "brail". It's a line that runs from masthead out and around the sprit and back, via a block to the base of the mast. It's purpose is to "scandalize" the sail, thus depower it by compressing the top of the sail toward the mast.
The unfortunate sailors in your painting might have been attempting just such a maneuver, called "brailing up".

Unknown said...

Can anyone tell me where I might obtain the permission and plans to build this boat.Please direct me to who has the plans , if they're for sale

Thank you for your efforts.

Rob Russell...

doryman said...

Pete Culler's plans are available from Mystic Seaport. Though they are stamped as being archives, everything is there but the explanatory text.
Pete's narrative about scantlings and building method can be found in Pete Culler on Wooden Boats, edited by John Burke.
The address for Mystic:

Mystic Seaport
75 Greenmanville Avenue
PO Box 6000
Mystic CT 06355-0990

Anonymous said...

I built Cullers wherry/Yawl several years ago. Make sure your lofting is right on especially the transom expansion. Planking this boat is very challenging.Remember that Pete only built one of these boats so pay attention to any neede adjustments in the offsets!!