Build Your Own Plank Constructed Pond Yacht
Build Norumbega, a vintage Marblehead-class pond yacht designed for radio-control
- Thom McLaughlin—July 5–11
Pond yachts are exquisite small wooden sailboats raced in urban settings. In the height of their popularity, the 1920s to 1940s, they were a common sight in public parks. They conformed to class ratings and were raced in international competitions, including the 1936 Olympics. Today we admire them for their beautiful woodwork, simplicity of form, miniaturized fittings, and their ability to be sailed without high maintenance costs or storage and slip fees.
In this course each student will be gaining experience in building a hull for a Marblehead-class pond boat. This type of small sailboat originated in 1932 with the minimal design requirements of 50″ LOA and 800 square inches of sail area. Over the years, this type of pond boat became the premier example of a racing pond yacht. Norumbega has been designed by the course instructor, but it exemplifies the classic qualities of boats from another era. Norumbega’s form is inspired the 1930’s Cheerio designs of John Black, which garnered him a medal in pond yacht racing at the 1936 Olympics. When fully rigged for sailing, the pond boat is over 7′ tall, which makes it very impressive from shore when under sail. The boat can be easily dismantled for transport in keeping with the origin of the 50″ length, which was to facilitate fitting the boat into a 1930s car rumble seat.
Working from lines drawings, each student will work on their own hull using the tapered plank building method. Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) parts for the strongback, molds, and keelson will be used to facilitate the initial building steps. Several past students have gone on to build other designs of pond boats using methods learned in this course. Besides actually building a pond yacht, this class is excellent for someone interested in building plank-constructed examples of model boats or being exposed to the fundamentals of full-sized boatbuilding.