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This fine museum-quality scale ship model of the paddle steamer Nantucket captures the ship in the year in which it came into service, 1886, operating as a ferry serving the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
This model epitomises the period, after recovery from the civil war, in which the potential of the area for visitors was starting to develop rapidly, as was the USA itself.
The model particularly captures the elegance of the side paddle wheels and paddleboxes, with the Vineyard Gazette saying that the Nantucket “had decorated paddleboxes that made large, rhythmic and beautiful half-circles on the sides”. Paddle wheels were the first practical form of mechanical propulsion applied to a boat, and use seems to go back to the Romans, using oxen to drive them.
Although superseded by the screw propeller, on coastal craft and riverboats, they allow extra width in the design, and extra manoeuvrability. And of course great beauty, as we can see from the photographs of this exquisite scale model, which capture the attention to detail and the high quality of workmanship of the skilled and experienced artisans at Abordage.
The plank-on-bulkhead construction, using the best well-seasoned precious hardwoods, capture the lines of the original, copper-fastened with a double frame of oak, American larch, and cedar. The photographs bring out the detail of the superstructure of the craft, as well as of the paddle wheels and paddleboxes. The quality of the model makes it easy to evoke the thrill of taking the ferry itself, in a country with its recent problems behind it, working hard, and enjoying its free time as it develops rapidly and in liberty.
The Nantucket was in service until around 1907, but the name has been retained, and a ferry with that name continues the service to this day.
|Size||66 cm Lg X 25 Hgh|
With over 2000 hulls built, Nathanael Greene Herreshoff’s 1914 design for a “Buzzards Bay Boys Boat” – the Herreshoff 12 ½ – has been in production for 113 years and is likely the most popular small yacht ever. Versions include a fiberglass redesign – the Bullseye, from Cape Cod Shipbuilding; exact fiberglass replicas like William Harding’s Doughdish, and Joel White’s Haven 12 ½ – a centerboard design built to sail shallower water. Uncounted copies from custom wooden boat builders also testify to its appeal.
With a 12 ½ foot waterline, the H 12 ½ is16 feet long. Proposed as a children’s training boat, it handled the choppy seas and brisk breezes of Massachusetts’ Buzzards Bay with an easy motion and a comforting sense of security. The design is informed by Captain Nat’s critical, innovative eye and long experience building trophy winning sailing yachts. By 1914 he was in his mid-sixties and drawing some of his best-loved designs – the Buzzards Bay 25s, Newport 29s and his own Alerion. Instead of rule-stretching high speed sleds his pen now drew human sized, sweet-sailing and uncomplicated boats that spoke of his deep appreciation for the arts of sailing and naval design.
Herreshoff gave the H 12 ½ a short ballast keel for stability and a deep, spacious cockpit to carry multiple kids and/or adults. Sold initially with a gaff and later with a Marconi rig, the sail area is small enough to be handily managed by a boy or girl – steel biceps not required. In experienced hands, however, the rig is big enough to slip along with a bit of a bone in her teeth. Adults have been known to downsize from trophy yacht to H 12 ½ just to relish casual sunset sailing into their golden years. It’s ironic that no one alive sailed on Captain Nat’s masterpiece, Reliance – a brilliantly engineered, extreme racer – but thousands have memories of sailing his “children’s” boat.
Particularly popular in Southern New England, H 12 ½ s are found all along North America’s Atlantic coast. In some families they’re handed down through generations, and rarely is one in need of repair not rescued and relaunched. Surprisingly, they have also traveled quite far afield: they sail in Norway, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and many countries far from Bristol, RI. The H 12 ½ truly has a hull shape and history for the ages.