Herreshoff H-20 Unveiled!
August 26, 2011
At first Dan Shea called it “just another day at the shop,” then smiled and said, “For the better part of a year it was just me in here. So now I know it’s not just another day.”
Shea, a master boatbuilder, was referring to the 60 or so other folks, including Rhode Island senator David Cicillini, who were crowded into the Bristol Boat Company shop at 18 Burnside Street to celebrate the much-anticipated unveiling of the H-20, a 20’, cold-molded daysailor designed by the late, great Nathaniel B. Herreshoff and brought to life by Shea over the last year. (To watch a video of the hull being flipped back in April, go to: New England Boating: Herreshof H20 Shape)
Shea and the design team of Halsey Herreshoff (Capt. Nat’s grandson) and Adam Langerman of Herreshoff Designs, as well as the brokerage firm of Herreshoff Yacht Sales, teamed up to make the H-20 a reality. Designed to serve as a larger version of the popular 12 1/2 still cherished by sailors throughout New England, the H-20 took over a year to complete. Fittingly, the work was performed in a building once occupied by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company (today the complex on Bristol Harbor serves as home to the Herreshoff Museum of Yachting and Herreshoff Designs).
With her brightwork and brass hardware gleaming, the Herreshoff 20, dubbed Intent, was admired by the assembled guests throughout the evening. While her lines are classic Herreshoff, the materials and techniques used to construct Intent’s hull represent a melding of old an new. The hull is built cold-molded of Atlantic white cedar carvel planking epoxy-bonded to laminated, vertical-grain Douglas fir framing. Two thin layers of Spanish cedar are then laid diagonally over the white cedar, attached with nylon staples and covered in fiberglass cloth set in epoxy and vacuum-bagged to remove any excess resin. Lastly, a layer of epoxy-infused fiberglass is laid over the lower portion of the hull to protect it from abrasion.
The entire hull and deck assembly weighs less than 1,000 pounds, much lighter than what could have been produced in Herreshoff’s day, and is stronger than standard ‘glass composite. Further, no metal fasteners are used in the construction, so there’s no way for water to enter the laminates. The resulting hull is lighter and stronger than that of a fiberglass boat, and still has the “feel” of a true wooden vessel.
During the evening, Dan Shea and Nat Herreshoff reflected on the long process of making Intent a reality, and thanked everyone who helped with the project. Senator Cicillini also spoke, saying that Intent represents the best of Rhode Island’s boatbuilding community and its boating heritage, while highlighting the skills of local marine-trades professionals. Shea agreed, adding that Intent “couldn’t have been built anywhere else.”
With Hull Number One complete (but not yet sold), Shea hopes that more H-20s will follow. At least subsequent boats will be easier to build now that many of the templates have been made and the entire process is better understood. Intent is scheduled for sea trial in a few weeks, and New England Boating will hopefully be on hand to bring it to you.