Friday, December 30, 2011

The Plans

Francis Sweisguth designed "Silent Maid" for Edwin Schoettle of Island Heights, N.J. in 1923 /24. She was built by Morton Johnson of Bay Head with spars from the Pigeon Hollow Spar Co. of Boston. Schoettle is the author of "Sailing Craft" published in 1928 and in this volume he extols the virtues of boat and designer alike. Silent Maid was considered innovative at the time. Two rigs were designed, marconi rig and gaff. In 1924 the merits of each were still hotly debated. The gaff rig had attained a pitch of perfection only a thousand years of development could give but the marconi was based on the modern aerodynamic principles that would soon rule sea and sky. Silent Maid was built with the gaff rig and sailed with it all of her long life.

Another innovation, a large chunk of lead fitted into her skeg for ballast, would contribute to the severe hog the boat developed over the years. This beamy boat had a great deal of buoyancy amidships and would come to have to large weights placed in her ends, the original ballast being one of them. At some point after her racing career was over Silent Maid's hollow mast was replaced with a solid one. The backbone construction did little to resist these forces and there is a story circulating around the yards of New Jersey of the boat having been dropped at some time. In any case gravity alone could account for the deformation of the hull.

Aside from the structural issues the plans show how the boat had changed over the years. The galley is forward on the starboard side in the plans but was shifted aft to just inside the companionway. The head was aft on port where it remained but was expanded to occupy all the space between the centerboard case and the side of the boat. This had the effect of making that part of the boat something of a cave. The centerboard case itself had been cut down to make room in the cabin to the detriment of the boat's sailing ability. Also an Atomic 4 engine had been added, offset to port, just aft of the cabin bulkhead. It is apparent that the interior arrangements and the structure of the hull could be improved markedly in a new boat though the lines, basic deck layout and rig are great the way Francis Sweisguth designed them.

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