“The Lark Scow — the Laser of the 1900′s”

(Tip o’ the hat to John Hanson, who reminded me about this post from July.  John’s been on the verge of building a Lark for quite a few years.)

This post is on one of my favorite blog sites, Earwigoagin —   http://earwigoagin.blogspot.com/2014_07_01_archive.html.


(All images courtesy Earwigoagin).  John’s wife Polly tracked down a copy of that book and gave it to him one Christmas.


And I quote:

“In the winter of 1897 – 1898, C.G. Davis designed and built a 16-foot chined scow for his own use. It was a simple build for that time, the hull featuring a shallow arc bottom like the Clapham designed Bouncer (a designer Davis highly respected). Davis claims he designed the Lark scow as a general daysailor but, in 1898, he raced his newly built scow in the fifteen-foot class in several Long Island regattas and won. Sensing a great deal of interest in his little scow, Davis, at the time the design editor of Rudder, printed the plans over three issues in the fall of 1898. The response was enormous and readership in Rudder exploded. When you tap into a successful market, you keep going and Rudder started a How-To series of cloth bound boat plans offering several different boats with the Lark advertised as “How to Build the Racer”.

In the early 1900′s the Lark scow was built everywhere, worldwide. Fifteen Larks were built at the Yokohama Y.C. Builders built to plans and those who couldn’t help themselves built smaller Larks, bigger Larks, Larks with counter sterns. By the 1920′s Lark fleets in the U.S. seemed to be concentrated around the Great Lakes. By the 1930′s the Lark was disappearing as Crosby, a later editor at Rudder, in 1928 introduced his own design, the home-build V-shaped centerboarder, the 15- foot Snipe. Rudder republished the plans for Lark in 1940 but by then, on the eve of World War II, the Lark was now in competition with several popular chined centerboarders available in the United States; the aforementioned Snipe,  as well as the Comet, Moth, and Lightning classes.”

According to Tweezerman (author of the Earwegoagin), there is only fleet currently operating in the world, at Rondeau Bay in Ontario, Canada.

But here’s an interesting point he mentions:

“In 1963 Bill Kerr produced plans to build the Lark in plywood and the current fleet in Erieau Y.C has a combination of some new builds as well as restorations. They still retain the traditional wooden spars and have made the rig a gunter rig compared to the original gaff rig.”  [Bolding by me.]

Interestingly, I erred last week in saying that Will Sturdy’s Moth at Polly’s Regatta was a Mistral design.  In reality, she’s a Tweezer, designed and build by our very own Tweezerman.

What do you think?  Has anyone built the plywood version?

Thanks, Carl


Posted in My Wooden Boat of October 2014 | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Today, A Two-Parter: First, the 3-Meter Patapon Kit; Second, “That’s What Friends Are For”

(1)  Thanks to Pat Lown, WoodenBoat‘s Research Director and Facebook guru, for sending me details of the 3-Meter long Patapon kit:



(Photos and videos courtesy Chantier Naval Florance and Pascale Guittonneau.  Their urls listed below.)

She’s designed to be easy to build by a parent or parents and child or children.

Designed by Jean Marc Nourry.

Patapon 3

LOA:  3.0 meters

B:  1.35m

Displ:  42 kg

SA:  5.2 sq mtrs



Details of her construction:


She looks like a very fun boat.  Please follow the links below to see videos, etc.:

Chantier Naval Florance:  http://florance22.free.fr/index.php?categorie8/patapon-en-kit

Photographer Pascale Guittonneau:  http://www.pbase.com/beligou

Another website:  http://www.ocean-selection.com/Patapon.html

I like it.  What do you think?  Please comment below.

(2)  ”That’s What Friends Are For.”  Stiff Competition.

There won’t be much wooden boat talk in what follows.  Old friend John Hanson — mentioned here frequently — and his wife Polly Saltonstall have been producing a fun, fairly informal small boat regatta (“Polly’s Folly”) on Lake Megunticcok (Camden, ME) for 10 years.  I’ve always been meaning to go.   This year, it seemed the stars were aligned — the Mint Moth was ready.

Alas, daybreak showed 41 degrees here in Brooklin.  Also, I was missing some critical dry suit elements, so I decided to attend but not race.  Bedecked in bluejeans, Crocs, sweater, and Carhartt vest, off to Camden I went.

The wind was very light, max’ing at about 4 knots.  John offered me use of either the family’s just-refurbished Boston Whaler, or one of their older Lasers.  I chose the latter, despite being poorly attired.

There were perhaps five Lasers, sailed by topnotch sailors, one classic Moth (Mistral-design), a Lightning, John’s old Blue Jay, and various and sundry other designs.  John was sailing his modified cruising-sailing canoe.

It had been maybe 20 years since I’d last sailed a Laser.  But who cares?  They are easy boats to sail.  And, with such light wind, I wasn’t worried by my inappropriate sailing gear.

The start was a slow-moving affair, the best sailors drifting over.  I was considerably back of the fleet, either due to my long hiatus from Laser sailing, or just that I’m not a good racer.

By the time I cleared the start, most of the rest of the fleet was halfway to the weather mark.  The Laser I was sailing seemed strangely unresponsive, and tender.  Water kept filling the cockpit, and I bailed with one of my Crocs.

At some point, someone powered over to me and said, “Your boat’s sinking.”  I said, “No, I’m bailing her.”  He suggested, “Check your transom plug.”

Cautiously, I ventured out on to the aft deck.  Halfway there, the boat capsized.

I got her upright OK, but I was as wet as a collie on her first swim.  The Carhartt vest alone must have weighed 20 pounds.

A wind gust of at least 5 knots lead to another capsize.  And another after that.

Fortunately, Polly came to the scene in the Whaler, and dragged me aboard.  We ignominiously towed the Laser ashore.

Where, indeed, we confirmed that the transom plug had not been installed.

I love John like a brother, and I’ve always known what a fierce competitor he is.  But:  this?

To be truthful, John has been profuse in his apologies.

Lessons learned:  Have the right clothes.  And always check that your transom plug is correctly installed.

I had great fun nonetheless, and I’m always happy to anchor the bottom of the bell curve.

See you next week.  Thanks, Carl


Posted in My Wooden Boat of October 2014 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment