Monday, January 16, 2017

Header Photo: 1880's Small Cruising Cutter

The previous header photo was a side view of small cruising cutter of the early 1880's, designed by C.P. Kunhardt, then sailing editor of Forest and Stream magazine. By the Civil War, Americans had begun to cruise their native catboats along the East Coast. By the late 1870's, the importation of these English style cutters into New York City and, American designers following up with their own cutter designs, marked the acceleration of the proliferation of the pocket cruiser and the democratization of, what had been, a sport of the mega-rich with their massive yachts. The appearance of these narrow beam, deep draft cutters, both small and large, also ignited a firestorm in the American yachting press, as nativists, in letter after letter to the editor, extolled the better cruising qualities of the beamier American shoal draft, centerboard designs, the catboat and the sharpie. As the sport entered the 1880's, three camps, the cutter and the two types of American shoal draft sailing craft, were building small cruisers of three widely disparate shapes to match the increasing demand of the well-to-do middle class.

The lines to C.P. Kunhardt's pocket cutter cruiser.

Traditions and Memories of American Yachting

C.P. Kurnhardt, an early and vociferous proponent of the English cutter, later relented and tacitly admitted the abilities of the American craft when, in 1886, he designed a small centerboard catboat (shown below) which he took on a long cruise down the Eastern Seaboard.

Traditions and Memories of American Yachting

A photo taken from an W.P Stephens' history of the New York Canoe Club shows one of the early English pocket cruisers hauled out next to the clubhouse. W.P Stephens' caption:
"The yacht Coquette beside the house was at one time owned by Mr. Whitlock; she was brought to New York in 1879 by Mr. Henry W. Eaton, a member of the Rowing Cub... Coquette was built at Southampton, England, in 1874 and was modeled closely after the single-handed yawl Rob Roy in which Capt. MacGregor cruised in 1867; she was 24 ft. over-all, 21 ft. waterline, 7 ft. breadth and 4 ft. draft.

W.P. Stephens, who succeeded C.P. Kunhardt as sailing editor at Forest and Stream magazine, was also predisposed to the English type. In 1898 when he designed and built his own pocket cruiser he went in a different direction, using the Humber canoe yawl as the basis for his canoe yawl, Snickersnee. This was not surprising given W.P. Stephens background as a designer and builder of canoes.

Traditions and Memories of American Yachting

A sketch of Snickersnee by George F. Holmes.

Traditions and Memories of American Yachting


doryman said...

Excellent post. As for Kurnhardt's cat boat, I want one!

Alden Smith said...

Interesting post - we owe a lot to these early enthusiasts whose values (small, simple and relatively inexpensive) are becoming popular again.