B. B. Crowninshield Dark Harbor 17 1/2

This is Wooden Boat Plan # 19. A early 1900's knockabout from B. B. Crowninshield. What a great time to be a sailor when Knockabouts were the rage. And this is considered a daysailer, racer and coastal cruiser. My how times have changed.

In 1908 B.B. Crowninshield was asked to draw up a one-design class of knockabouts to be initially known as the Manchester 17 1/2. The class was to become one of the most popular and long-lived of the Knockabouts; about 200 boats were built in Maine, for example, where the name was altered to reflect yacht club affiliation. The most common name for the design is now the Dark Harbor 17 1/2, named after the summer colony at Islesboro that once had the largest number of these boats.

One still finds many a Dark Harbor 17 1/2 “knocking about” New England waters. (A dozen or so reside at Buck’s Harbor Yacht Club in Brooksville, where they are still raced on Eggemoggin Reach.) The boats were built well and have lasted well, with cedar planking over oak frames, a lead ballast keel, copper and bronze fastenings and simple deck construction –canvas over cedar or pine--to discourage freshwater leaks. Most were built with self bailing cockpits as shown on the drawings, although a few were giving deep cockpits with seats for more comfort.

While intended primarily for afternoon daysailing and racing, these boats have often been used for coastal cruising; the low cabin trunk has space for two transom berths.

Knockabout sailboats seem to be gaining popularity of late. New ones are getting built and the classics are getting rebuilt. Here is a recent example from the Apprentice Shop.