Rebuilding a Herreshoff 12½
The resurrection of a classic daysailer is completed.
- Eric Dow—August 13–26
Last summer, boatbuilder/instructor Eric Dow led a group of dedicated, hardworking students through the initial phase of bringing the Herreshoff 12½ SEAL back to life. The boat, hull #1007, was built in 1926 at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. in Bristol, Rhode Island. After suffering damage in a 2009 storm in Connecticut, the boat was deemed a total loss. A few years ago, the owner of SEAL approached WoodenBoat School to see if we would be interested in repairing his beloved craft, and after conferring with Eric we made the decision to design a series of courses around a complete rebuild of the classic daysailer.
Throughout the two two-week sessions held last season, Eric and students made great progress in the boat’s construction. In July, after setting up the numerous station molds, students got busy. All of the original oak frames were replaced, a new keelson/stem assembly was created, new floor timbers made and installed, and a new transom was built and secured. In the August session, SEAL was completely planked up and faired, turned over, had new deckbeams installed, and set the new frames in place for both bulkheads. It was, indeed, a remarkable four weeks!
This season we return to SEAL for the final stages of construction. Decking, fore and aft, will be laid out and dry-fitted. Meanwhile other students will create, steam-bend, and install the new coamings, always a challenging and rewarding undertaking. Dynel fabric will then be applied to both decks. The original ballast keel will be rolled into place and dry-fitted. Holes for the keelbolts will be drilled, followed by bolting the ballast keel into place permanently. Next the forward fairing piece, deadwood, and sternpost will be built and fastened into place.