Wednesday, June 26, 2013

OD-OY Review - The Blue Jay

Back in the 1960's, a period I consider the apex of dinghy sailing in the U.S. (some might say this is old guy nostalgia but, in the 1960's, there were more people sailing and racing dinghies, more dinghy classes, and more home built dinghy fleets than at any time since), the magazine One Design and Offshore Yachtsman (OD-OY for short, the precursor to today's Sailing World) published a very well done dinghy class directory in it's January issue. As a teenager, besotted with sailing, I used to pore over this issue very closely as each class review included (and there were a lot of classes featured) dimensions, a photo, and a short blurb.

I have scanned some of these individual class reviews thanks to Elliott Oldak, long time Star class racer, who still had some old issues of OD-OY in his library. All of the classes I've picked out can be built out of plywood. The first one is of the Sparkman and Stephen's 13' Blue Jay daysailor which was the junior trainer on Long Island Sound for many years but today, as a racing class, has been supplanted by the modern nexus of the Opti and Club 420.

From OD-OY:

There are a couple of Blue Jays that show up for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival; one young family in particular that seems to be always out sailing around the St. Michael's harbor. If you are shopping around for a stable daysailor that you could singlehand, or sail with an adult, or sail with your kids in a nice deep cockpit, and of small enough size so it is easy to manhandle on shore, you can't do much better than a Blue Jay.

I did help build a Blue Jay as an older teenager. After moving to Youngstown, Ohio we joined Berlin YC, but I also joined a nominal Sea Scout troop led by top notch Pymatuning Lightning sailor, Dr. Chuck Maltbie (I say nominal Sea Scout troop because we had no uniforms, no scheduled meetings, no formal command structure). Chuck decided a good project for this Sea Scout troop would be to build a Blue Jay (probably thought that we would all end up as Lighting sailors down the road). I don't remember much about the build other than the Blue Jay took a lot of wood screws, which had to be filled before painting (a nice canary yellow, same as Doc Maltbie's Lightning). The Blue Jay was finished (I think Doc worked on the boat 10 hours to every Sea Scout's 1 hour - the only way it was going to get on the water in any reasonable amount of time), a nice sailing dinghy, but my young head at that time was into faster racing dinghies such as the Fireball.

A photo of one of the Blue Jays at the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival.

Update on June 29, 2013: Looks like the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has one for sale out of it's donation pile; 1853 BLUE JAY SAILBOAT-wood-13’6”-5.17” beam- $550

No comments: