Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Ventnor Boat Works Moth called ELIZABETH

Back in late winter Rod Mincher at the Earwigoagin blog spot sent me a photo of a very seductive Ventnor Moth which I will reveal in a moment.  But first a little history:  Ventnor Boat Works was established by the Appel family in south Jersey before the second world war.  They were perhaps best known for their three point hydroplane racing power boat, an innovation which revolutionized power boat racing in the 1930s.  Having said that, VBW also built small sailboats, including two versions of Moth.  Several of the early Ventnor Moths with a transom bow have survived, however the largest surviving examples of Ventnor Moth Boats are the later "bull nosed" version.  I started racing the bull nosed and what I'll refer to as the "Mk II" version of the Ventnor Moth in the summer of 1959.  At that point the surviving boats which boys my age could afford from the wages of part time jobs were nail sick, leaky starter boats suitable for newbie racers.  Both of the two Ventnors which I owned were all plywood construction.  Pre-war, Ventnor Moths has strip plank decks but after the war, the Company knew it had to contain costs. The post-war, bull nose bow Ventnors had ply decks.  However thes boat which Rod M. sent me a photo of was remarkable because it had the later bow shape but the earlier strip plank deck.  This has to be a rare transition boat.

This photo from Rod Mincher caused a certain amount of "wood envy" in the hearts of certain Moth Boat sailors. She's a beaut!  At least one Moth may soon get a strip plank deck job after seeing this photo.  As always, double click the photo to see an enlarge version.  Photo credit: Amelia S.  All other pix: GPA.
I contacted  the owners of this boat, who happened to live near me in Annapolis and set a date when I could see the boat in person.  Basically the story way this: an original owner, now somewhat aged, gifted the boat to a young sailing couple in the hopes that the boat would survive.  The original owner had used the boat very infrequently and so the boat was very authentic.  The boat was named after the original owner's first wife.

Co-owners Grant and Amelia.  The sail on deck is an original Egyptian cotton sail which bares the stamp "made by Ventnor Boat Works, West Atlantic City, NJ"  In pencil is the number 32, which is not a Moth Class sail number but instead a VBW's production number.  If anyone reading this blog can shed light on the Ventnor production number system, please contact me as I have additional production numbers from other surviving Ventnor Moth Boats.  It would be interesting to be able to crack the code.  My assumption is that this boat is a very early example of the later, Mk II Ventnor Moth design.

This view shows the distinctive bow shape of the later Ventnor Moth.  The earlier Ventnor Moth borrows heavily from Russell Post's "Red Spot" Moth design.  Post worked for VBW during the war years and afterwards co-founded Egg Harbor Yachts and then later went off on his own to found Post Marine.  Post Marine is still in business building big sports-fishing "battle wagons" in Mays Landing, NJ.

Grant and Amelia had to go apply bottom paint to their big boat so we couldn't linger and chew the fat. but I hope they give this Moth the TLC she deserves and eventually come race with us.


  1. Great find and pictures! I noticed your Brigantine blog the pilings down the north end. I think they are from the old US Coast Guard station that was washed out in the 1944 Hurricane. You have a strong list of stories and I love them. I'm just getting started on my blog called South Jersey Stories.

  2. Glad you're enjoying my blog. Yes, I think that the north end piling stubs are probably from the old USCG station. I'll look for your blog.