Thursday, October 15, 2015


"Sprite" An L. Francis Herreshoff 'Rozinante' Canoe Yawl Design.

Simple Sailing Values  - From 'The Compleat Cruiser' by L. Francis Herreshoff
"Goddard was the only other one who had read Don Quixote, so much of this explanation went over the heads of the Rozinante's visitors, just as much of the wit in Cervantes' book goes over the heads of the average modern reader.
Goddard remarked; "I think Rozinante is a splendid name for a boat whose owner has an appreciation of romance, for I am sorry to say romance is a rare thing today and some people even laugh at it, whereas it used to be the incentive that carried one through fog, calm and tempest. It even seemed to make one enjoy the hardships which occur in cruising. But the modern cruiser has to have a vessel so cluttered up with mechanical gadgets and electrical devices that the cabin no longer is fit to live in and the boat has to be served by a mechanic, whereas a sailorman in the old days could take care of everything if he had a spark of romance in him. I suppose most modern cruisers are so unromantic in looks that all romance is killed as you board them..........

........... Miss Prim then spoke up: "Pa, just what do you mean by a boat or object being romantic?"
"Why, Prim," he replied, " when a thing is out of the usual and pleasing to contemplate it is romantic. When an object is nicely proportioned and has retained some well proven ancient quality, it is romantic looking. I  suppose to a sailor a romantic vessel is one that looks like a good sea boat, one which has a good sheer and nicely proportioned ends; in short, a vessel that he falls in love with at first sight, as we all did when we saw the Rozinante."


Dan Gurney said...

Canoe yawl? Is the rudder post forward of the mizzen mast on this boat? If so it had me fooled. That's a big mizzen for a yawl.

Either way, it is a romantic boat, no doubt about it. It's hard to imagine a boat more pleasing to the eye.

Alden Smith said...

Dan you are quite correct! (Maybe!) Technically she is a Ketch (Yes the mizzen mast is in front of the rudder post) but maybe 'Historically' she is a yawl - L.F. Herreshoff describes Rozinante as a "Yawl boat that is Ketch rigged".

Let L.F.H. explain himself:

LFH wrote this in The Rudder (American Yachting Magazine) many years ago:

"This little yacht is a small double ender of a type that used to be called canoe yawls, and in the 1890’s was a very popular type in England for cruising some of their delightful waterways like the Clyde, Firth of Forth, Humber, Mersey, and of course the Solent in days gone by. The canoe yawl is sort of a descendant of some of the sailing canoes that were used in these waters for cruising during the previous decade. The name “canoe yawl” simply means a boat with a sharp stern that is larger than the usual sailing canoe, or about the size of what was called a yawl boat in those days. Admiral Smyth in his dictionary of nautical terms, 1867, describes a yawl as “A man-of-war’s boat resembling a pinnace, but rather smaller; it is carvel-built, and generally rowed with twelve oars.” The term “canoe-yawl” in its day had nothing to do with the rigs these pretty vessels used, for among them there were sloops, ketches, yawls, luggers, and cat yawls, but my knowledge of the past is not sufficient for me to state definitely that the name of the yawl rig did not come from that sail plan being often used on boats that were called yawls or yawl boats. Of course, many yawl boats had no rig. I, myself, am old enough to remember when the canoe yawls were still in vogue, so I will tell you what some of there characteristics were and that will partly explain Rozinante."

Bursledon Blogger said...

Yawl and ketch are much abused and miss understood terms. Take for example, can a boat with a transom hung rudder be a yawl? Well there are quite a few that are described that way - the Falmouth Quay Punt being one notable example.

For what it's worth I've always thought of Rozinante as a yawl and a beautiful one too.

Alden Smith said...

Max, it does get complicated. On page 94 of my edition of L.F. Herroshoffs 'The Compleat Cruiser' there is nice drawing of the original Rozinante referred to in the book - she has a gaff headed mizzen and mainsail unlike the version published later in the American 'Rudder' magazine. The caption underneath reads "Mr Weldon's whaleboat type, ketch rigged cruiser".

So to unpack the technical and historical conundrum I guess we could refer to 'Rozinante' as: A Ketch rigged canoe Yawl with a hull of both canoe and whaleboat type.

But the plot thickens! - The term 'Canoe Yawl' as you probably know also refers as far back as John MacGregor and to his book " The Voyage Alone In The Yawl 'Rob Roy' (first published in 1867). On page 58 of my 'Mariners Library' edition there is a drawing captioned "Cooking in the rain" and the cutaway drawing shows the mizzen mast in Front of the rudder post...... so MacGregors 'Yawl' is definitely 'Ketch' rigged!.....

...... and Max I take your point about the Falmouth Quay Punt, in fact if you look on page 127 of a great book recently republished "Albert Strange - Yacht Designer and Artist you will drawings of 'Psyche' a 27 foot boat described as a "Humber yawl style" with the mizzen mast in front of the rudder stock because the rudder is hung on the transom just like the Quay Punt. This book shows a lot of designs termed "Canoe Yawls" where technically they are Ketches. In fact Albert Strange's famous Cherub 2 and George Holme's famous "Eel" are technically Ketches not Yawls. (Reference: "Holmes of the Humber" by Tony Watts.)

I think the reason for this loose usage of the term Yawl can be found if you examine
the very early boats of the Humber Yawl Club - they were almost all canoes with a transom hung rudder and a split rig. The aft mizzen was always of the size we would expect in a technically perfect yawl rig (not the larger mizzen associated with the Ketch rig) so the boats were referred to as 'Canoe Yawls' rather than 'Canoe Ketches' because in profile they looked a lot more like Yawls than Ketches.

Phew! that all sounds a bit like a bloody sermon doesn't it! LOL.

Ben said...

Wauw, this is complicated. I thought that I knew more or less the sailing terms. And it gets even more complicated if you try to translate them into Dutch.

Alden Smith said...

Ben, it is all a bit complicated and not helped by me leaving some words out which might make a sentence or two a bit baffling. There should be the word "find" in the sentence beginning "Albert Strange - Yacht Designer and Artist you will drawings...." It should read.. "Albert Strange - Yacht Designer and Artist you will FIND drawings ..."

But, as always your comments are valued and especially your email in response to the Rozinante story where you reminded me of the Rozinante design being built here in New Zealand not that far away from Whangarei. I will use this information and the web site link you sent me as Part (3) in this Rozinante story - Thanks!

ToddF said...

A little late to the party, but I use to sail on a Rozinante named "Sprite" out of Milwaukee, WI back in the late 1960's. It was all bright, no paint on the top sides. It was built for Calvin Howel (not sure if 1 or 2 ls). Last I saw it was a anew owner had it up in Door County, WI. It was a delight to sail. I served as a crew member for both racing and cruising.

Alden Smith said...

Todd, thanks for your comment. The Rozinante is a beautiful design. Is the red Rozinante in my blog photo the same 'Sprite' that you sailed on??

ToddF said...

Alden, I'm not sure. When I last saw her she still had varnished topsides but she had gone with tanbark sails. I thought it quite a coincidence that there would be 2 Rozinantes named Sprite.

Do you know where that picture was taken?

Alden Smith said...

Todd, I am not sure where the photo came from - possibly from the internet when I Googled 'Herreshoff Rosinante'- it may have been one of the photo that came up.

Anonymous said...

That photo was taken in Brooklin, Maine. 'Sprite' is moored in Center Harbor every summer, and winters at the nearby Brooklin Boatyard.

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for that Anon :> )

ToddF said...

Yes, thanks. Likely a different "Sprite" then.

Boatmik said...

The key is Alden Smith's quote:

"Admiral Smyth in his dictionary of nautical terms, 1867, describes a yawl as “A man-of-war’s boat resembling a pinnace, but rather smaller; it is carvel-built, and generally rowed with twelve oars.”

The Yawl is not a sailing boat at all. It is a pulling boat with usually 12 oars.

Now if you want an Auxilary sailing rig on a rowing boat the masts have to be well out of the way of the rowers. So the main mast goes up in the eyes of the bow.

And a mizzen to balance it needs to go at the back of the boat.

The confusion about "rudder posts" or "then end of the waterline" have nothing at all to do with the definition of ketch and yawl.

They were part of the CCA rating rule (and probably predecessors) that attempted to work out a rating, or handicap, for differently rigged yachts.

The position of the mizzen relative to rudderpost or end of waterline is a much later constructed idea.

A Yawl is a pulling boat. Masts, if sail is used at all, have to be out of the way of the rowers.

A ketch ... you can actually hear the resonance of the original word. "Catch" ... is a fishing boat. So it needs to lie ahull for pulling nets or trawl them ... so the main can be dropped and the relatively large mizzen hold the boat reliably at the desired angle to the wind and at the desired speed for setting, trawling and pulling nets.

Ketches - fishing boats with two masts also need clear mid decks, but they can't afford to have the mizzens too small.

Alden Smith said...

Hi Boatmik. You are correct that the origin of the term 'yawl' relates originally to a pulling boat. But definitions change and evolve over time as does language itself. The rule I guess in any definition (despite its origin) is that which has become common usage and common understanding.

So I guess the word 'yawl' is like many nouns in a dictionary that have a number of definitions and meanings. So I guess a 'yawl' is:

- A pulling boat.
- A two masted sailboat rig where the mast at the stern is aft of the rudder stock.
- A two masted sailboat rig where the mast (and its sail) at the stern are a lot smaller than the mainsail - turning a technically speaking ketch rigged boat into a yawl.

Rozinante is a 'canoe yawl' which refers to her hull (a whaleboat that is rowed) but she is a ketch because she has a large mizzen and the mizzen is in front of the rudder post. So her full definition is a 'Ketch rigged canoe yawl'