Tim Lackey & the Modern Knockabout (Part 2)

Here is a bit more of my conversations with Tim Lackey about my Modern Knockabout. These conversations were invaluable in working through some of the conceptual ideas of this project. All along Tim has been very, very generous with his time and enthusiasm.

You can read Part 1 here:

Wed, 24 Jan 2007

Hey Tim,

Wow, we are still talking about this crazy idea. I wonder if there is a twelve step program for this addiction.

Anyway more info and thoughts. Here is the best picture of the Altantic "cabin" and cockpit that I have found so far. There is also some pictures in the Boats for Sale info I have attached below.

Apparently Seafarer built some Altantics with a cuddy cabin but most were built with a flat deck. I am still trying to get info on Seafarer's involvement.

But maybe it is time to put a rough order of magnitude price on this insanity. Without knowing anything or seeing a boat can you even do this? Also what would be the next step? If I purchased an Atlantic on the East Coast, what is your time frame?

Ok, I need to stop staring at boats and get to my chores.

Thanks, Bill

Wed, 24 Jan 2007

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the additional info. There's more room in the Atlantic than I thought. Assuming that the room in the Atlantic looks like essentially enough for you (assuming a small cabin and other deck modifications), then it should be fine. It seems as if there is a possibility of finding a used Atlantic for a price that would be reasonable enough to consider undertaking the sort of project you're considering. Of course, if you haven't been on an Atlantic yourself, I think it'd be prudent to physically sit in the space and ensure that you feel it would be adequate for your needs.

At this time, I really don't have the info I need to think about pricing something like this. At a minimum, I need a better idea, specifically, of what you are considering--how extensive the deck and cockpit modifications, the style and size of the cabin trunk, and the interior components. I'd also need an opportunity to get aboard an Atlantic and check out their construction and what would be needed in order to modify the structure to accommodate the changes.

However, here are the basics. I charge $xx/hour for labor and materials at cost +xx%. When possible, I prefer to stick with time and materials on these old boat jobs because there are so many unknowns when beginning a retrofit, particularly with as significant and custom a job as the sort of modifications you're considering. But I can work with you to figure out a rough idea of what these costs might be, though, once you figure out the possible specs for the job. I don't expect anyone to go into this sort of thing flying blind, or with a blank check.

Time frame is looking like roughly this fall to begin, give or take. I can assist with storage or transport in the meantime, if desired or necessary.

I look forward to continuing our chat. It's an interesting idea and I'm extremely intrigued.

Thanks again,

Wed, 24 Jan 2007

Hi Tim,

Ok, one last email for the day. One of the crumbs that has led me down this path is this L-16 named Elusive that Doug Hylan adapted. There is a short write up and picture (much better than this one) about it in Wooden Boat Magazine issue number 177 (March/April 2004). The caption reads:

"More that a racing boat: Doug Hylan adapted the L-16 Elusive for short cruises. He widened the cockpit, lengthened the cabin, and added an outboard well behind a new bulkhead in the after cockpit. A minimal galley and cupboards complete the arrangement".

The Luder's L-16 is even small and slimmer than the Atlantic. Its specs are: LOL=26.33 ft, LWL=16.33 ft, Beam=5.75 ft. All of the issues you are thinking about with respect to weight would seem to be more serious on this small boat. She is only 65% of the displacement of the Atlantic Class. I wonder how he accomplished this. Perhaps he used a lot of light colors down below to add the illusion of space. But seriously I think he did a great of it. Here is a picture of the standard L-16 for comparison. Bill

Thu, 25 Jan 2007


I don't have access to that issue of WB, but I agree with you that if a Luders 16 could be modified to contain accommodations, there should be no reason why it wouldn't work similarly with an Atlantic class. From the picture, it looks like he did a nice job, and that the boat remains in its proper proportion and close to, if not on, its original lines.

More food for thought!

Sun, 28 Jan 2007

Hi Tim,

Ok, so I have doing a little more thought and research into my classic racer / camper. First I think I need to switch boats to one you mentioned, the Shields class. The Atlantic is just too long and slender and what really is the killer is the low freeboard. Also the Shields and the Dark Harbor 20 are both S&S designs are quite related as I have found out.

Just to get a better feel I sketched up the Shields and the Dark Harbor. Well actually also included my Bluenose Sloop and the Atlantic for comparison. Please forgive the quality of the pictures as AutoCAD still doesn't play well with others. In these overlays the Shields is in blue and the Dark Harbor is in orange.

Here is a close up of the hulls:

Again the Shields is in blue. Talk about a family resemblance. Here are some additional pictures that I used to get these sketches. First the Shields sail plan:

and a nice hardware layout:

They have started to make new Dark Harbor 20's out of fiberglass but this info is the wood version. First the sail plan:

and here is the deck plan:

So I have mostly include all of this bandwidth to sort of explain where my mind is going with all of this. It appears to me that the DH 20 has the kind of campable interior I am looking for. The cabin is about 5 feet long and has about 3.75 feet of interior "head" room. S&S put 2-6 ft berths on the sides. Ok so not much to work with. But that is sticking with the DH design and I just needed to see if I am even in the ball park (I don't think I was with the Atlantic).

As far as cabin design goes I don't think the DH is that great.

I much prefer these two. The Center Harbor 31

or this one.

Oh, and this one just ain't too bad either :).

As I have done this research and looked into Shields boats I do find myself in a bit of an ethical dilemma. That is cannibalizing a one design class race boat and removing it from the fleet. Do you have any thoughts about this?

Just a few more thoughts and I will put this email to bed. As I looked over these boats some themes kept coming up for me. Here are some thoughts, in no particular order. I would like to keep the Shields as stock as possible. Same mast, boom, sails and deck hardware if at all possible (I already am worried about the boom vang). I would like to maintain the racing hardware setup wherever possible. I am quite attacked to some wood on a sailboat and I love the look of wooden cabintops. And last, I prefer quality and simplicity over abundance.

I still thinking about the details of the cabin and will send something when I have clearer thoughts.

Thanks, Bill

Mon, 29 Jan 2007

Hi Bill,

Again, this continues to be a fun proposal. It's too bad that you have to abandon the hope of using an Atlantic Class, but it seems that your findings echo my own initial concerns about the potential space--or lack thereof--in the Atlantic for what you propose. As you say, it's all about the freeboard, as well as the depth of hull. The Atlantic has little of either, and this certainly limits the space for a reasonable interior. Certainly a cuddy cabin could be added, but whether it would truly be an acceptable space for you is the question. It would seem that your further research indicates that the space just isn't adequate.

That said, one could conceivably overnight in something as small as an Ensign, so it comes down to how little space you are comfortable with.

Fortunately, the Shields is also a nice-looking boat, and might even be enhanced visually by the addition of a small trunk cabin. I think they seem somehow sparse without any sort of deck projections or coamings, even one as small as that found on the Atlantic Class. From the deck layout and the overall look you're going for, it appears that building a trunk cabin that would cover the space currently occupied by the benches at the forward end of the cockpit and extending to just aft of the mast might do the trick. One could possibly extend the cabin trunk just beyond the mast step location and still retain the long foredeck. Again, this depends on visual demands and also how it works with the space beneath.

For argument's sake, I'd be interested in seeing an overlay of the Atlantic and the Shields, if you have that readily available.

In terms of cannibalizing an existing fleet boat, my opinion is that this can be OK depending on the boat's situation. My justification for the Triton conversion was that I was not ruining a fine, sailing example of the class, but was instead providing a new lease on life for a specific individual boat that was likely to never sail again otherwise. I wouldn't make a habit of destroying boats in good condition in favor of customizing the design in weird ways, but to take an old boat that has fallen into neglect and create something aesthetically pleasing seems like only a good thing to me.

There will always be naysayers. I had surprisingly little negative reaction to my conversion plans, however--at least not that I ever heard. Who knows what people were saying at the coffee shops or whatever. To that end, I'd be more reluctant to take a fine example of any classic boat and morph her for selfish reasons. But a neglected, somewhat sorry example of any class needs fresh thinking sometimes in order to ensure her longevity. I think a boat that undergoes a significant transformation, particularly one that is done with style and taste, sure beats a neglected boatyard bone anyday.

Would you be criticized by some if you modified a Shields or Atlantic? Probably, depending upon the circles in which you discuss the idea. But in the end, it comes down to doing what you think suits your needs and desires best. If the end result is a quality and attractive execution, even the naysayers would be hard-pressed to be overly negative. Yes, you'll be removing a member of an active class...but mostly likely the boat in question won't have been a recent or active participant in the class anyway. So I think it's certainly possible to justify the conversion.

That said, I wouldn't buy the trophy winner from the nearest fleet and rip her apart for the conversion! Projects like this make the most sense, in all ways, when beginning with a neglected and sorry version, of course. Despite that, one should always question the motivation for such a change, but if it can be reasonably justified, I don't see any problem with it.

Maine Maritime Academy used to have a small fleet of Shields used for sailing instruction, etc. 10 or so years ago, they sold them off, and I knew someone who bought one. (I considered it myself, too.) These boats were tired and worn, and were not part of any active fleet. I just don't see any problem with modifying a boat from circumstances like this. I see it as saving the boat.

People have been modifying boats for years. I think the real stigma comes from the potential for changing a boat of which there is only one, or a very limited number. As nice as boats like Shields and Atlantics are, they were--and still are--production boats that are not unique. There are plenty of both out there, one can still order a new one of either class, and one fewer existing old one that meets the actual class rules is not a terrible thing.