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HERON, the hardest working sailboat I know, was designed in 1929 by John Alden.

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,646
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Although she was built by the owners (Twig and Bonnie), and launched in 2003, she's sailed over 100,000 sea miles, since.

I was stripping my boat a couple weeks ago for winter storage as the owners of HERON docked alongside, were preparing the boat to sail to Bermuda and then on to the Caribbean.

They've done this every early November for the last 15 seasons.

Despite the cold they had just applied (with some thinner), a coat of varnish to the house and a few other quick spots. Yellow jerry cans topped off with diesel are stowed in her big cockpit well for the 15th time.

She doesn't look too worse for the wear and tear that few of our boats - non working, will see in their entire existence.

HERON ready fall 2019.jpg


HERON's days are spent on short 2-4 hour charters with a dozen or more trampling tourists visiting Maine - or the Caribbean - depending upon the season.

Twig tells me he hires a couple varnishers in the caribbean that will sand and apply a maintenance coat on her spruce spars, stepped in the boat, in two days. The spruce spars have never been out of the boat since 2003.

All her varnish, with a yearly maintenance coat added, is all applied over the original coat from 2003. No 'wooding' yet.

A topside coat of paint is applied every year or so (along with bottom paint), either in Maine or the Caribbean,...depends, upon weather and time permitting for one annual haul out.

There's very little time for those 15 haul outs. The HERON often arrives in Maine having sailed from the Caribbean, ties up for the night then takes out her first charter, the next day. No rest for the HERON.

Here she was upon a spring return, one of 15, tied up in the same spot. She likely went to work the next day.

Heron home from Caribbean.jpg


I was in the harbor last week and noticed the HERON was gone. Her window must have opened onto the North Atlantic.

"Wood, varnish, Caribbean winters - Maine summers, that's not possible Bonnie!", I once said, jokingly to HERON's co-owner and operator. She replied with a smile, "I've heard that".

Hard working people with a hard working boat. HERON sailing in Rockport Harbor.

Fog lifting Heron (1 of 1).jpg
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I'll bet that sail between Maine and the Caribbean aboard her is like a dream.
Beauty incarnate.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
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Jan 1, 2006
5,986
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Tell us some more about the rig. I'd call her a schooner because the foremast is shorter than the mainmast(?). Not sure the terminology is correct there. So the mainsail(?) is gaff rigged. What is the aft sail called? What is the advantage of the aft sail being so much larger than the gaff rigged mainsail? How does the rig work for harbor and bluewater sailing?
Great photo - the fog makes it so cool!
 
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Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
She's a schooner. Mainsail, foresail, foremast staysail, and jib or yankee.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,710
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
Tell us some more about the rig. I'd call her a schooner because the foremast is shorter than the mainmast(?). Not sure the terminology is correct there. So the mainsail(?) is gaff rigged. What is the aft sail called? What is the advantage of the aft sail being so much larger than the gaff rigged mainsail? How does the rig work for harbor and bluewater sailing?
Great photo - the fog makes it so cool!
I don’t know if it’s correct but I’d call her a two-masted gaff-rigged schooner.
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,646
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
I'll defer to Will on the rig. I think a schooner can have a gaff main or marconi like HERON? The sails go up and down on this several times a day. Maybe that was taken into account with rig choice.

BTW, I saw HERON posted from Bermuda last week. I don't know if she is in the Caribbean yet. They always bid there time to the weather. In 15 years, I can't recall any drama posted in those 30 November/May transits between Maine and the Caribbean via Bermuda.
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Those are some sizable poles. No running backstays? Her main boom overhangs the stern. She could have been converted from full gaff main. I don't know, but a marconi sail seems like it would be cheaper to cut than a gaff rigged sail.
Our schooner was designed with three shorter marconi sails to make it easier for a solo sailor to work them and still get the sail area of a two masted schooner. I think the original drawings had gaff rigging, but it also showed a mermaid figurehead. Clark's idea of playing around.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
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Jan 1, 2006
5,986
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
There might be running backstays. There's something hanging from the top-ish of the mast on the starboard side, which is what a runner would do on starboard tack.
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Full batten sails. Probably not original to Alden's design. Makes sense though. I see lazy jacks too.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Nov 1, 2017
587
Catalina 25 Tall Rig Watergate Marina, Kemah, TX
I don't know, but a marconi sail seems like it would be cheaper to cut than a gaff rigged sail.
According to the Boatswain of Elissa, it's actually roughly the same price. More charge due to the rare demand combined with a less charge due to the lesser amount of canvas used to make the sail balances out the price. I would suppose the price also depends on the material and sailmaker you buy from. Elissa, for example, still has her sails manufactured by the sailmakers in Aberdeen, Scotland who originally produced the sails for Alexander Hall & Sons shipbuilders.
 
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