The Stuart Knockabout

The NW Maritime Center's new boat, the Stuart Knockabout. Photo from Doughdish, Inc.

The NW Maritime Center’s new boat, the Stuart Knockabout. Photo from Doughdish, Inc.

From the Stuart Knockabout website.

L.  Francis Herreshoff designed this stunning boat in 1932 for Mr. Willoughby Stuart. Her plans are entitled 28′ Knockabout – Design No. 53. Mr. Stuart’s boat was built in 1933 and named BEN MY CHREE*, Gaelic for “darling of my heart”, BEN for short.  He took her to his island home on Penobscot Bay, built a boathouse and railway for her, and she remained in the area for over 40 years, enjoyed by him and his family.

No true sistership ever followed, perhaps because the boat was kept in relative obscurity, or because for some time the country was in hard times and customers for yachts were few and far between. Once more, however, Design No. 53 somehow failed to surface when, in 1972, Mr. Herreshoff’s entire works were reviewed in Sensible Cruising Designs, compiled by Roger Taylor and published by International Marine.

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William G. Harding, an avid sailer and racer of classic Herreshoffs who had been constructing the Herreshoff 12 ½ in fiberglass (the Doughdish) for 15 years, came upon BEN some 55 years after her construction.

Stuart-7I found Mr. Stuart’s boat in the summer of 1984, then owned by his grandson. She was sitting idle in a boat yard. It was like love at first sight. She bore a composite resemblance to other familiar Nat Herreshoff “classes”, but she also obviously was not one of them. My curiosity led to identification of her origins. I took possession of her and spent four interesting years sailing her with more than just a notion she’d be a great candidate to be reproduced in fiberglass. (Bill Harding)

Mr. Harding used his experience with building the Doughdish to start constructing Design No. 53, which he named The Stuart Knockabout after the original owner’s of BEN.  As with the Doughdish, he subcontracted Edey and Duff to do the construction. Ballentine’s Boat Shop did the finish, and together they built and sold 76 Stuart Knockabouts.  Some boats now hail from as far as California, Texas, Montana, Nassau, and New Brunswick, Canada. Many others remain relatively local and about 12 are still currently in the care of Ballentine’s Boat Shop.

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