SailNet Community

SailNet Community (
-   Boat Review and Purchase Forum (
-   -   sharpies (

garyp 03-09-2002 06:27 PM

Looking for experience or opinions regarding sharpie types or other extreme shoal sailing craft, leeboard or centerboard, such as the Herreshoff Meadowlark. I am especially interested in opinions regarding their seaworthiness and offshore abilities.

Jeff_H 03-10-2002 05:11 AM

Sharpies are a tough call in many ways. Traditional New haven Sharpies and their many derivatives were very tricky boats to sail. They carried huge sail plans so that they could sail in the light winds of Long Island Sound and were unballasted except for thier catch. In order to sail well sharpies had to be quite narrow. Beamy or heavy sharpies really were miserable boats in all ways. They depended on flexing (or breaking) of thier very light, unstayed rigs to depower in a gust. If you read accounts of the New Haven Oystering fleet, these boats would fairly routinely capsize or loose rigs.

In a chop these boats were known to really pound and so windward performance was never optomized because a real beat would be horribly bone jarring. Bearing off a little and heeled over the pounding was a bit less. With thier flat bottoms and huge rigs these boats were very fast (for their day) on a broad reach or a run.

Commodore Monroe really made huge gains in improving the design of the sharpie to make them more suitable for offshore work. The legendary ''Egret'' was a very interesting exercise in improving the seaworthiness of a sharpie. She was a ballasted double ender which Monroe referred to as a ''sharpie lifeboat''. Her expoits were legendary, sailing out through surf to meet ships, she performed wonderfully and many copies of the the conjectured design of Egret have been built. (There is little beyond a couple blurry photgraphs to record what this wonderful little boat looked like) Egrit worked because she was constructed with very light materials above the waterline(juniper cedar which is a southern form of white cedar that bears no actual relation to juniper and which is nearly extinct), was very heavily ballasted (partially with her cypress bottom) and was fully decked. In her day she was a real wonder.

The other thing that happens about that time was the development of the Nonpariel Sharpie. This happens at the western end of Long Island Sound and spreads quickly. Originally vee bottomed they get to be a molded shape. This molded shape corrects some of the pounding problems of prior flat bottom sharpies. Again these are heavily ballasted boats and were much better suited to yachts and being offshore than the flat bottom boats. The problem with the Nonpariel sharpies is that they gave up one of the really big advantages of the original flat bottom sharpies which was ease and low cost of construction. They also went to stayed rigs which really was at odds with the somewhat tender nature of a well designed sharpie.

Again, Commodore Monroe came up with a variation of the nonpareil sharpie that was a wonder of its day. But in my mind it is very far afield of the original sharpie concept and while a good boat for its era, really should be seen as something other than a sharpie in my mind.

The Meadowlark is a variation on the Nonpariels. It was L. Francis''s attempt to blend a diverse collection of ideas into a single boat. The hull is loosely based on the nonpariels and the rig and leeboards were based on traditional Dutch watercraft. They were designed for a purpose that really did not include offshore passages.

When you talk about sharpies as offshore boats there are some fundamental problems in the type. Sharpies by their very definition were heavily dependent on form stability. They also have pretty high wetted surface to displacement and pretty high wetted surface to stabilty numbers. This means that they are not exceptionally easily driven hulls (although their narrow beam helps improve the ease with which they are driven). To overcome this compartively large drag, you need to carry a big rig and carrying a big rig with minimal stability is not a great set up for offshore work. The other thing about form stability is that it results in a very quick motion and in general these high form stability boats loose positive righting moments somewhere down around 90 to 100 degrees of heel which is not considered adequate for offshore work,

If you were to evolve a sharpie for offshore work they would look very much like a modern IMS typeform. The flat bottom has been modeled to have fine vee''d bow to reduce pounding. The hull sections are carefully modeled to reduce wetted surface. A fractional rig that can be quickly depowered has become the norm. A deep keel with a large portion of the boats weight in a bulb has been added to dampen the quick motion and allow the boat to stand to its rig, BUT it is no longer a shoal draft boat.


garyp 03-10-2002 09:42 PM

Thanks for your historical grounding on sharpies Jeff. I''m interested in a seaworthy variation on the sharpie theme. Ted Brewer advertises his "Egret" design as being capable of blue water passages. It is certainly not a true sharpie with deadrise fore and aft, as well as a shallow ballast keel supporting tandem centerboards, but at 44 feet she is quite shoal with a draft of 3 feet. Scaled down to 35'' this boat would be drawing less than 2 1/2 feet, boards up.
My present boat is a self-designed and built plywood sharpie type, 22'' LOA and 4'' beam, steel centerboard, with lug sails in a cat-schooner (periauger) configuration. She is very fast with a stiff breeze on the beam, but would be better balanced as a cat-ketch.

I would like to hear more from anyone with experience with this type of boat. Has anyone crossed the Gulf Stream in a Herreshoff "Meadowlark"?

Jeff_H 03-11-2002 01:50 AM

One other thought here, I don''t know if you are familiar with Anne Hill''s Book called something like "Voyaging on a Small Income". She and her husband built ''Badger'', a Jay Benford designed double-ended sharpie and did quite a bit of distance sailing. I have always thought that Badger was about as nice a sharpie cruiser as I had seen.

I never crossed the Gulf Stream in a Meadowlark, but I sailed one up from Matheson Hammock to Dinner Key. It was a beat into gusty winds and a pretty steep (but not terribly high) chop and I was not very impressed with how she behaved. She really pounded a lot, made gobs of leeway and was very slow in stays (we had to motor through the tacks). At this point in time, 30 years later, I have no idea what shape the fellow''s sails were in or much else about his sailing abilities. He had owned the boat for many years and had kept her in the Keys and on the West Coast of Florida.


Jeff_H 03-11-2002 03:47 AM

Another thought here, You might try to call Davis Craven. Davis owned (and maybe still owns a Meadowlark) on the Chesapeake. His numbers are 410 867 4640 (home) and 410 867 2182 (business) in Maryland.


garyp 03-11-2002 02:59 PM

Jeff, thanks for sharing your experience and the contact regarding Meadowlarks.
Any opinions on the Freedom 33? Those fat masts seem like an interference with clean air flow, but I otherwise find the boat interesting. (I am stuck on centerboards and two sticks)
Fair winds Gary P

Jeff_H 03-11-2002 04:48 PM

I am probably the wrong guy to ask about Freedoms. They have never appealed to me but then again if I have a unreasoned prejudice, as a close friend with a Freedom often points out, it is against Freedoms in general and especially against the Freedom ketches in particular. I know that the 40 has done some pretty remarkable stuff, but the smaller ketches especially just have never made any sense to me. Please understand if they appeal to you, I am not in any way trying to put you down, which is a hard thing to say on this medium without sounding sarcastic.


garyp 03-12-2002 01:27 PM

Jeff, don''t give "put-downs" a thought. Opinions make the world go ''round, or a least give us such a wonderful variety of boats to explore.
Hope I run into you (not literally) on the water some time.
Pax Gary

Arcb 05-26-2017 08:12 PM

Re: sharpies
I have been doing some research on my new boat and I came across this very old post, which has some excellent info.

I'm big on local history. I know a vessel known as a bateau (not French for boat, but a boat known as a bateau) was used to settle the St Lawrence Region. I have observed some similarities in design between the bateau and the more modern Sharpie.

I am curious if the Sharpie design is derived from the Bateau but maximised for sailing ability?

Jeff_H 05-27-2017 10:07 AM

Re: sharpies
I have seen the use of the term 'bateaux' or 'bateau' applied to larger flat or vee bottom boats. For example here on the Chesapeake one of the popular vernacular work boat designs was a'three-sail bateaux. These were vee bottom boats with similar hull proportions to a Bugeye that also have the distinctive sharply raked, leg-of-mutton ketch rig used by the Bugeye.

In Georgia, large narrow skiffs were used as work boats. These were also referred to as Bateaux.

I have seen reference to a battle fought on the great lakes during the war of 1812 in which the US used Gundalows (I am not sure of the spelling) which I have seen described as gun bateaux. The Gundalows were also flat bottom boats.

I guess my point is that the term 'bateaux' doesn't seem to point towards a single type of boat as much as a construction approach with a flat or vee bottom.


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:02 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
(c) LLC 2000-2012

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome